Instrument Control (GPIB, Serial, VISA, IVI)

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Bridging tools with different interfaces

I have a characterization lab that has about 10-15 different tools, which is a number that is likely to grow with time to about 35-40 tools, all of which will be added to the existing rackmounts. The tools are flexibly connected with a probe station, and other defined setups used for the purpose. Some of these tools are new, and have LXI interfaces, which can in principle be used through a wired router (we are using two of these) to get a unified class C address space (192.169.30.x, x=1-255). These define an internal lab network. However, some are legacy tools like lock-in amplifiers, electrometers, etc. which do not have LXI interfaces. A single non-externally networked Windows machine hosts LabVIEW, which we plan to connect to all the tools.


I have a GPIB-USB HS interface that we are using with these legacy tools for simple measurements. Now, I could connect two different buses to our measurement computer - one for GPIB, and another to cascaded routers for the rest, and juggle VISA resources in LabVIEW at run time. However, I would like to avoid that if possible because this involves maintaining two lookup tables, and then I have to worry about the speed of the intervening interface, which can complicate coding.


For purposes of orderliness, and ability to do interesting things programmatically, I want to be able to put all my tools on the internal net in a single unified space. Can the GPIB-ENET/1000 interface do what I am thinking? Or is the user-facing interface over there GPIB centric (limiting number of tools to 31, etc.)? I have never used this interface, but want to be sure that this interface would internally map GPIB addresses to fixed IP addresses on the router, making GPIB transparent to the user (can do router configuration to statically tie addresses to each tool, just the way I am already doing), before I invest in it.

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When you ask about the GPIB-ENET/1000 interface, are you referring to the protocol or the device itself?


With regards to it being GPIB-centric in its limitations, each device interfaces to and shares up to 14 GPIB devices from several network hosts, and you can control up to 100 GPIB‑ENET/1000 interfaces with a single computer.


And then in terms of statically tying IP addresses to each tool: "You can easily manually configure the IP address using the intuitive, password-protected Web interface provided with the GPIB-ENET/1000; or you can use the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) provided by your network to automatically assign the GPIB-ENET/1000 an IP address. Contact your network administrator to verify that your network has DHCP available. By default, the GPIB-ENET/1000 will try to get an IP address using DHCP. If DHCP is available, you are ready to configure your unit and write your application. With DHCP, some servers also assign a name to the GPIB-ENET/1000. You can modify that name later and use it instead of the IP address, when referring to the GPIB-ENET/1000. If DHCP is not available, LEDs in the GPIB-ENET/1000 will so indicate and you will have to assign it a static IP address." This is pulled from our whitepaper on Developing Distributed GPIB Test Systems Using NI Ethernet-to-GPIB Controllers.

Lindsey Nestor
Program Manager, Hardware Services
National Instruments
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