Instrument Control (GPIB, Serial, VISA, IVI)

Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

New guy here with HP8566 and GPIB-USB-HS

Hi all - I'm new to NI and GPIB to USB adapters.  I have the GPIB-USB-US from NI and an old HP8566 spectrum analyzer.  I also have Measurement and automation explorer installed on my PC, and I'm trying to figure out how to do a few things:


1. configure the SA settings from the PC: start/stop freq, res BW, ref level, etc.

2. Once a sweep is completed, is it possible to get the data from the 8566 to my PC?


I'm a relatively experienced HW guy, but an absolute newb at running NI software and talking to my instruments through them.


Are there some basic tutorials I can read through somewhere?




0 Kudos
Message 1 of 6

@gdgross wrote:


2. Once a sweep is completed, is it possible to get the data from the 8566 to my PC?



Depends on if there is a command for doing this.

You'll need to get the programming manual which is also required for #1.



0 Kudos
Message 2 of 6

Well I found a free program for grabbing the screen plot over the GPIB-USB bridge, and it seems to work great for the plot.  Now I just need to figure out if it's possible to get the actual data.  (I'm not 100% these old machines actually digitize their waveforms...)

0 Kudos
Message 3 of 6

Keysight (previosly HP and Agilent) has a lot of information about HP8566. It is scanned documents in PDF-format, so to look up in the manuals you have to go back to the time when we just had printed manuals without search possibilities 🙂
Just make a search for HP8566 on google, or 8566B on Keysight website. Or use the links below.  To download the documents you need to register on their website.

Full document library:


I think this manual is the most valuable for you.

8566B Spectrum Analyzer 100 Hz-2.5 GHz/2-22 GHz Operating and Programming Manual (Mar84):


Section Programming (page 110) contain information about programming, commands and examples in basic for how to send commands and receive information.
Page 112 has an example command with description:
OUTPUT 7 18: "IF'; CF 4.621GZ; SF 10MZ;"
OUTPUT 7 18: is the programming language command to send a string through GPIB interface number 7 to instrument with GPIB address 18. 
The output-command send three commands, IF', CF and SF (with parameters). It seems that this is an example command which may not be valid for this instrument, i can not find the commands IF' and SF in the manual.
For a simple test i may suggest for example the command CF (center frequency) on page 160.
Example: "CF 200MZ;", or the full example in manual.

0 Kudos
Message 4 of 6

Thanks all - I'll take a look through the manual, but learning GPIB programming and scpi commands may be more of an investment than I'm willing to make at this point!

0 Kudos
Message 5 of 6

You can get a jump on learning all the commands by trying the LabVIEW instrument driver for the Hp8566B.  See -


The driver has basic command implemented as VIs you can recycle in your own code to build applications.  It should also have examples that you can examine and build upon.


Hope that helps.


0 Kudos
Message 6 of 6