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Currently, if you have hardware in a LabVIEW project (e.g. a cRIO controller, cRIO chassis, or R-Series PXI card), the only way that you can change this to another product is by adding a new one to the project and deleting the old one. It would be nice to be able to use a configuration window to change the model number of a piece of hardware to a different, but similar one. For example, if you have a 9072 in the project but wanted to change it to a 9073. Another example would be the ability to change, via menus, a PXI 7813R to a 7854R. Of course the user would have to update any code written to account for changes due to the new hardware. This is especially convenient when you are simulating and configuring test systems but aren't quite sure exactly what hardware you need. Currently, for each new piece of hardware (similar or not) you have to create a new device and copy all of the IO, VIs, libraries, etc. under the new device in the project.
Dual network interfaces is often part of the requirements for redundancy, however in such cases it is also very common to specify that the behaviour of borth of these should be identical. You see it in subsea control systems where they have an "A" and "B" channel, you see it topside where the device might need to be on two networks etc.
Unfortunately this is not the case for any of the dual port RT targets from NI. The secondary port is really a second class NIC. It has limited configuration options. It does not support DHCP, you cannot specify a gateway for it - and the code to do programmatic changes to its configuration is not easily available.
Please make the two ports fully interchangable. Port 1 or 2? It should not really matter which one you use.
Many measurement and process control application run at relatively slow rates (<100Hz). Using SCAN Engine on the CompacRIO for data acquisition is ideal for these applications because you don't need to program the FPGA and all the measurement and control logic can be implemented on the Real-Time controller.
In many cases you want to process your data before you analize it. Currently you only have the ability to get the raw measurement data from the AI modules, so you need to add the data processing code to your existing LabVIEW program. It would be helpful if the SCAN engine could offload some of the data processing (ex. lowpass filter or sample average) to the FPGA and provide the user with already processed data. For example, this functionality can be added to the module configuration page:
As far as I know, a thumb-drive or hdd that you connect to a cRIO USB port has to be formated using FAT. It would be very handy if NI would support attaching drives formated with the Reliance NITRO file-format. This could in some cases also lessen the pain of being stuck with Reliance (old version) on the cRIO main drive. It would also ensure deterministic file IO on the USB drives in case of power failure, un-expected device disconnection etc.
Any controller that contains either a USB or SDIO card would have a bootstrap loader, available when the controller is in safe mode, that would allow the controller to be loaded up to operational status (OS, Drivers, RTEXE, etc...) from a deployment image contained on the removeable media. This would allow a replacement controller to be unboxed and installed in a stand alone system without the need to install software from a development computer.
This is one of those things that sort of bridges between a hardware and software request.
The only functionality of RT USB is mass storage. It would be helpful to add at least RAW Data USB support to use USB port for connecting i.e. USB / RS232 adapter. Many analyzers use integrated serial/USB converter chips to transfer data to PC, because no need of specialized driver (you get the driver with the chip). The ability of RAW USB support allows to connect these analyzers to cRIOs and RT PC Targets.
We could solve a lot of our designs with sbRIO and LabVIEW RT if the sbRIOs' CAN interface was designed to be a slave, and there was a DS301 compliant CANOpen slave API available for LabVIEW RT.
I'm a bit surprised that only the master side is covered today, as I'm sure a lot of people will utilize sbRIOs in devices that are more natural to define as slaves, not masters.
Throw in a dual set of equivalent network interfaces and the sbRIO platform and RT is an ideal platform for subsea instrumentation, with SIIS Level 2 (CANOpen) and SIIS Level 3 (Ethernet) communication capabilities, at least as long as the power requirements are kept low.
To allow expansion of DAQ capabilities from a real time PXI Rack it would be nice to be able to add a Compact DAQ chassis to the ethernet port and address it like you can on a desktop. I understand this is possible for USB connected chassis but not ethernet.
This would allow an existing RT DAQ system to be easily expanded, or to acquire data from remote points without the necessity of wiring every channel back to the main rack.
In lack of a hardware idea exchange I'll post this here. I know composite ideas are not ideal either, but my main point is to voice the wish for a different kind of RT controller:
We basically use cFP-2220s as small, low power, rugged embedded computers in our systems. We've looked at sbRIOs, especially the newer ones like the 9606, but they do not have dual networking, nor the 4 in-built serial ports (yes you can use the mezzanine, but the power consumption, size etc. goes up). No FPGA is needed, nor any IO other than communication ports like Ethernet/Serial (USB and CANbus is nice though).
In an ideal world we would have a sbcFP version of the 2220, designed for embedded use, and at the price of a sbRIO withoyt an FPGA. The only thing we would miss then is lower power consumption. The cFP-2220 is specified to use around 6W. In real stand-alone use it typically draws around 3.2W (other applications might push that though), but that's still a lot for many types of embedded use.
Perhaps underclocking could be a solution to lower the power consumption of NIs controllers, when customers need a less power consuming device? Imagine beeing able to adjust this dynamically from the System Configuration API / NI MAX...An sb-cFP with 1-2W consumption would remove any reason to abandon LabVIEW RT and NI-hardware in favour of controllers running micro-linux e.g.
I have just gone through a somewhat painful support process to figure out how to adjust something as simple as the analog channel scaling on a NI-9203 module installed in a cRIO rack. Why there is no external way to adjust those properties, besides having a development system hooked up and accessing them through the Project Explorer, is a little baffling. After going a little round and round on the support call, it came down to this: modify your embedded program to include property references, where you can adjust the scaling programmatically. That means I need to modify my code, rebuild the executable, email it to the customer, get them to shut their entire line down, put the cRIO in the "don't run your startup VI" mode, upload the new program, restart, then finally get their entire line back up and running. All because they need to change the scaling on one 4-20mA analog channel from 0-400 to 0-500 units to match their PLC control system changes.
Seems like there should be a way to get into that configuration, maybe in MAX? We can see the cRIO processor, but can't get individual module or channel configurations. Distributed System Manager might be another place that properties could be adjusted. Anything to make the cRIO simpler to support in the field!
It should be nice to create a low level CAN toolkit which could create or parse the 64 data bits of a CAN frame, without having to use the existing heavy tools.
What i would like to see is a list of low level VI's like readBoolean, readInteger, readFloat, readSingle ... writeBoolean, writeInteger ... with direct handling of the data coding (Intel / motorola)
These VI's could read/write channels directly to the 64 data bits of the frame.
These VI's are not very difficult to build ... and everyone who has already use the frame API, without DBC or NCD has done this work before.
My need is to create an official, validated list of low level channel read/write ... without having to use the channel API or CAN engine which ar not very powerfull.
For example :
ReadInteger ( in data, in startBit, in integerLength, in coding(Intel/motorola) , out integerValue )
ReadUInteger ( in data , in startBit, in integerLength, in coding(Intel/motorola) , out UIntegerValue )
ReadFloatCodedInteger( ........ offset, gain )
When you speak with NI CAN users they all say ... NI CAN is too slow ... I think that this toolkit could help many CAN users to come back to NI CAN.
The top would be to create, using this low level API and a little bit scripting, a wizzard which could generate automaticaly the read and write VIs for selected frames of a DBC/NCD file. ( A frame = 1 read VI, One write VI and 1 cluster per frame containing the channels )
The generated result could be something like a polymorphic VI.
It would be good to enhance access security to also include program-control of cRIO's. As it is now you can set user access for a cRIO in a project by opening the Real-Time CompactRIO properties and set Allow/Deny access by IP. However, this only limits access to deploying settings and eventual RT applications on the cRIO. You can still control the cRIO (e.g. set outputs and, as in my case, control servo motor drives connected to the cRIO) from a LabVIEW application on any PC on the LAN.
This added access control could eventually be set up in MAX.
Having used our LabVIEW 2011 StateChart module with great success on a CompactDAQ system, I now have a new project using a CompactRIO 9075 which will be controlling a hydraulic test unit. I would like to again use our StateChart Module so the functionality of the machine is understandable to all stakeholders.
The best NI example project I could find is the Chemical Mixing Example w/StateChart. It is exactly what I need except that it is a "headless" architecture. I need a 1:1 networked communication to my host PC for recipe entering and data logging much like the Bioreactor Example in the CompactRIO Developers Guide. See attached architecture jpg. I need to know how, specifically, to add a Host UI and incorporate network streams for the Host Command sender -> RT Command Parser.
In other words, what software architecture would combine the Chemical Mixing Example (w/StateChart) with the Bioreactor Example?
Different versions of NI-RIO only support certain versions of Labview, see link below. You can not have Labview 8.5.1 Real-Time & 2011 Real-Time co-exist on the same PC because NI-RIO 4.0 only supports up to 8.6.1. Wouldn't it be nice if you could install multiple version of NI-RIO just like you can have multiple version of Labview?