Instrument Control (GPIB, Serial, VISA, IVI)

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NI488.2 drivers for Intel-based Mac?

Every (physics) lab I've worked in uses GPIB fairly extensively, and even my newest instruments come with GPIB ports. Given that we have intel macs in the lab now, this is a serious issue. I've done some digging however, and come across this:

It has drivers for intel macs, but I'm not sure how NI software will work with it, as I only have a very basic understanding. Does anyone have any idea how well this will work with VISA (if at all)? It seems to set itself up as an extra COM port. It would be a shame to miss out on the ease of use that comes with LV. Unfortunately if the interaction between this device and NI software is poor, then I'm out of options and this software is effectively excluded from our lab.

Please update the GPIB drivers for new macs! The mac is a growing format and I think the effort would pay off in the long run.

Message 21 of 32

Send the same request to the Product Suggestion Center. The forums are great, but don't really get anyone's attention I have been told.

LabVIEW ChampionLabVIEW Channel Wires

Message 22 of 32
Thanks! Will do.

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Message 23 of 32
Just to let you know we do monitor our forms but they are better suited for questions. Product suggestions should be submitted using the link Sth provided. Doing this sends your suggestion directly to R&D were they look at every single suggestion. Have a great day.

Krista S.
Applications Engineering
National Instruments
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Message 24 of 32
I've submitted a suggestion, but there's a question in my original post too. It could be that this device is just picked up by NI software, which would be great. I'm just wondering if that's even possible. To reiterate, this device looks to the OS like another COM port. Thanks for putting me onto the request form. 🙂

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Message 25 of 32
I will take a stab at it. The short answer is "no". A GPIB device is not a "COM" port and cannot look to the OS just like a serial port. There are fundamental differences which is why GPIB is so much better than a serial port. To translate this into NI terms, to make this device available to VISA for use, one would have to create a "Passport" file. These are part of the VISA infrastructure and connect VISA to hardware. However, NI does not make the API for Passports public, thus it is impossible for any third party to create a Passport. That being said, for some reason HP has a passport created to talk to their PCI-GPIB card!

Creation of this passport is probably non-trivial and this is why NI has not created a passport for their USB-GPIB or their Firewire-GPIB devices. The actual connection to the hardware for USB and Firewire is relatively trivial for the Mac OS X.

The device you mention probably has a USB kernel extension to handle calls to the hardware and a Framework for programs in user space to call it. The LabVIEW connection is relatively easy with the "Call Library" function to the Framework provided by the vendor. But you will have a hardware specific program and cannot take advantage of various features of VISA.

I did this for my PCI-GPIB driver before NI got around to finishing theirs. I made a bunch of "VISA-Like" VIs but they were not VISA and thus the programs became hardware specific.

If the vendor will give enough specifications for their USB-GPIB device, VISA could be used to access the RAW USB data. This is a bit tricky and not well documented at all.

In summary, GPIB is not a COM port and that device will not work as well as a native VISA implementation. But since NI has not created such an implementation it may be the way to go.


LabVIEW ChampionLabVIEW Channel Wires

Message 26 of 32
So I was able to download the beta of the NI488.2 for Intel Macs. However, I still can't get my Labview App to commpunicate properly with my ethernet GPIB box. I am not sure where the problem is coming from but I am getting VISA errors. I have VISA 4.1 installed. I tried to follow the instructions in the beta documentation about updating the visaconf.ini file but the line that they said to modify did not exist in my visaconf.ini file.

How are other people's experiences with the beta?
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Message 27 of 32
I haven't installed the beta yet (and I don't think we can talk much about it in a public forum).

But I will say this:

To add a VISA passport, you need to add those lines to your visa.conf file. And increase the counter for the number of passports.

Edit the file "/Library/Preferences/NIvisa/Passport/nivisa.ini" (the instructions are wrong).

You will see the lines referenced. Make sure that there is a line enabling the new passport, and that the total number of passports is the same as you have in that file. Mine have more passports, but I don't have a default install.


LabVIEW ChampionLabVIEW Channel Wires

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Message 28 of 32
Probably this discussion should be taken to another thread?

LabVIEW ChampionLabVIEW Channel Wires

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Message 29 of 32
It just appears that the mac platform no longer has the support by NI it once had when it was the the only platform that would run LabVIEW before windows hijacked the apple improved xerox technology. Apparently NI has forgotten its roots and no longer cares for the mac crowd that supported them when the LabVIEW was a grayscale version. Though we have remained loyal to NI and the mac, our numbers no longer compare to big time windows/microsoft businesses who run LabVIEW. I really believe this and it shows when you try to get drivers for what is standard drivers in windows(created by NI not microsoft). What happened to the original innovation at NI that went in to creating LabVIEW, those mac programmers/users and engineers who started this once Mac-Only Innovation?

Guess you didn't ask the right question or person about driver support. I don't know about you but it is easy to assume that driver support for all previous and current NI hardware would be there for all platforms supported, as it should be, but is only there for windows.
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Message 30 of 32