Instrument Control (GPIB, Serial, VISA, IVI)

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What instrument control should I get for our old GPIB instrument?


What instrument control should I get for our old GPIB instrument?

Back in 1995, our company purchased a Shimadzu Universal Testing Machine (model number UH-200A) that came bundled with National Instruments software “Shimadzu UH Software for Single mode test (Metal)” for MS DOS.


Ever since, our UTM has been using the same PC, which until now still runs on Windows 98 DOS, and that is starting to worry us.


Few motherboards have ATI slots now, and ATI-GPIB cards are hard to come by, so I have some questions about instrument control as our company is now considering upgrading the PC.  They are as follows:


1)    Should the National Instruments “Shimadzu UH Software for Single mode test (Metal) “ software be compatible with Windows 2000 / ME / XP / Vista’s operating systems’ DOS, just as it does for Windows 98?


2)    Does National Instruments have newer software compatible with the old  Shimadzu UH-200A?


3)  Will the GPIB-USB-HS or NI PCI-GPIB allow me to run the old Shimadzu software on newer PCs (given they have USB or PCI slots on their motherboards)?  Since both are equally priced, which one is the better buy? 


4)  What other GPIB instrument control options do I have to get the old Shimadzu running on a new PC?


Thanks for reading about my situation.  Replies will be greatly appreciated!

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Message 1 of 9

Re: What instrument control should I get for our old GPIB instrument?


I think you are make an easy task very difficult.  My company specialises in materials testing machines and ensuring that they meet the requirements of all international standards.  We can modernize testing machines from any manufacturer, and as the global leader in automated testing of metals we have standard solutions available, or if you prefer we have software solutions which allow to to create totally customised tests in minutes without programming knowledge.  The benefit for you is that dont spend time learning how to control testing machines  - you just create your test setup and work on the data.   Come back to me for more help or information.

...and by the way, our systems dont use special PC cards - so you will not get the problem you are experiencing when the next PC generations arrive.

David Phillips

Message Edited by davidtphillips on 02-02-2007 04:21 AM

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Message 2 of 9

Re: What instrument control should I get for our old GPIB instrument?

Are you sure that National Instruments wrote the program or was it written by Shimadzu for use with a National Instruments GPIB board? The only reference to Shimadzu on NI's site is for some instrument drivers. I think it unlikely that NI itself wrote an application program.

In any case, I'm not sure if a USB device would be supported in DOS. According to this, someone was able to get a PCI-GPIB card to work in XP. I would assume that the same would apply to win2K. I wouldn't assume anything would work on Vista and ME is a joke.

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Message 3 of 9

Re: What instrument control should I get for our old GPIB instrument?

Thanks for the quick replies davidtphilips and Dennis Knutson.


You are right that I am making a big deal out of nothing.  The reason for my paranoia is that I'm new to our company and I talked to Shimadzu earlier, concerned that ATI slots are hard to come by nowadays.  They replied saying that our company should upgrade our UTM's entire panel (without mentioning any National Instruments options), and that costs a large sum of money.


I only chanced on National Instruments NI PCI-GPIB and GPIB-USB-HS when I searched online for better options. 


Dennis Knutson, I was mistaken -- the UTM's software appears to have been developed by Shimadzu, not National Instruments.  Thanks for pointing that out.  Though a little outdated, our old software runs fine, and we don't see any reason to change our panel either.  So I suppose my real questions can be summed up as: 1) can the same Shimadzu software still run properly the moment I switch from an ATI-GPIB to PCI-GPIB or USB-GPIB (Windows edition and drivers are secondary concerns)?  And 2) which among the PCI-GPIB and USB-GPIB at the moment, appear to provide better time mileage ?  ATI was phased out, and I'm wondering whether to place my bets on PCI or USB for the future...


I'm still a little paranoid, but feeling a little better now Smiley Happy  If a NI product can help us out, we will seriously consider making a purchase soon.


Any input from anyone is appreciated.

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Message 4 of 9

Re: What instrument control should I get for our old GPIB instrument?

As I said, my only concern is with DOS recognizing USB - not just GPIB but USB in general. I have never tried it and see no reason to.

For use with windows, the USB controller works great and as pci slots also become fewer and fewer, they are great option. PCI will be gradually replaced by computers with PCI Express and USB I think. The downside to a USB device is that it is more exposed being outside the pc and the connection to the pc is pretty easy to get knocked out.

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Message 5 of 9

Re: What instrument control should I get for our old GPIB instrument?

Hi once again,
Your dilemma is not unusual.  You should bear in mind 3 points. 
a) If you succeed in getting the interface hardware to function I am not sure if the Schimadzu application software will still function OK because the command set on the new interface card may have changed.  As Shimadzu is already trying to persuade you to change the entire panel (as I was in my original mail), I guess they do not support the software any more.  So this may cost you money and you still have no solution.
b) Even if you solve the problem, your machine electronics is more than 10 years old.  Should you be unfortunate to get a break down in future in the panel then I think Shimadzu will come up with the same argument - change the entire panel.  This was also behind my comment in my last post.  From my experience sooner or later you will have to consider this, so why not do it now?  It is probably a little expensive but if you factor all your time and future potential problems its probably not a big amount (btw. how much is a panel?)
c) We have found that some specially written DOS application software packages do not run on newer windows PC's, so if you change your PC in future you may find that the DOS application does not run any more.  Then you are at the same point.  In addition International testing standards change and your software may not be up to date/compliant.  As I dont know your application I can comment in detail on this point.
Universal testing machine hardware will run for decades - so you only need to bring the electronics up to date.
Hope this helps you to reduce your paranoia.  Come back with any more questions.
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Message 6 of 9

Re: What instrument control should I get for our old GPIB instrument?


The GPIB AT card can probably be replaced y a pci-gpib card.
It it was an older card than that you could run into trouble.
The mail from David is anyway also correct, are you going to replace only the broken parts or are you upgrading the whole system.

If it is a mision critical process I would upgrade completely either via Shimatzu or via David.
If you can afford a few weeks of problems I would try the pci card not the USB version.

To run old programs on a new pc you can always use under-clocking instaed of over clocking but not without limits.
greetings from the Netherlands
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Message 7 of 9

Re: What instrument control should I get for our old GPIB instrument?

I belive that your Shimadzu software for DOS simply requires NI-488.2/DOS API .  According to the NI's GPIB driver info, PCI-GPIB, GPIB-USB-B, GPIB-USB-HS, and other adapters still support NI-488.2M/DOS API under Win98/Me/2k/XP when uing NI-488.2M VER2.2~2.4.  Therefore you will be theoretically able to use recent GPIB hardware with recent OS for use with your old DOS software.  (But I am not sure about if each DOS software correctly works under such DOS emulators.)

The following is a copy from NI-488.2M 2.2 README abou DOS support.
(But VER 2.4 README does not include the same paragraph though...)

Win16 and DOS Support
NI-488.2 for Windows, Version 2.2, does not support Win16
applications for Windows Me/9x platforms. Win16 support is
available under Windows 2000 and Windows XP. To use these
applications under Windows 9x/Me, you must use a previous
version of NI-488.2 for Windows.

DOS support is available on all operating systems supported
by this driver.


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Message 8 of 9

Re: What instrument control should I get for our old GPIB instrument?

I have recently read your query. After 5 years I assume you do not have the problem anymore. Just in case, I shortly tell how did I solved a problem identical to yours.


I own a Shimadzu UTM UHF500KN. It was running under a PC-AT in MSDOS. After getting no help from Shimadzu I decided to buy a NI-GPIB with Spy option. Thanks to this Spy option I got all the machine commands and I wrote a totally new software with LabView. So right now, the machine is working, I am using a modern PC under Windows 7 and I do not get any problem.


Best regards

Message 9 of 9