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Sometimes, you really just want a RT front panel. Of course, there is no real front panel, but when you run in interactive mode Labview is automatically setting up network communication to pull data from the RT target and push data to the RT target. Wouldn't it be great if you could just convert that whole front panel into a basic host VI? Right now, you have to manually convert all controls and indicators to shared variables. Granted, this does force you to be very careful about limiting the number of network-shared items that you have, but sometimes you really just want to run the VI in interactive mode...but deployed.
Or, better than that, convert everything into a web service and automatically build a silverlight UI (using Web UI Builder) which is hosted on the cRIO. Anything that provides you with a quick and easy way to convert from the rt debugging UI to a basic host VI would be great.
Wouldn't it be nice to have a native LabVIEW XML parser available on real-time targets? Storing your config data in XML rather than in Config-ini files is more flexible, techniques like XMLRPC would be easier to implement etc. Yes I know about the third party EasyXML library, but I don't want to spend extra money as we are already paying for LabVIEW 😉
I really miss the ability to debug reentrant VIs in LabVIEW real-time. Currently there is no way at all, short of indirect probing by programming your own debug functionality (logging of some sort).
I understand there are inherent difficulties in this, since LV RT systems are typically headless, and definitely GUI-less (except for maybe www-access).
But, maybe if we had a way to send a BD reference to a Host PC, the block diagram could be opened there? Something like an Open.BD method with a "destination" input on it? Then the reentrant VI could open its own BD on another LabVIEW instance running Desktop LV.
Windows PC Host <-> cRIO-9024 <-> NI-9114 backplane <-> NI-9144 EtherCAT #1 <-> NI-9144 EtherCAT #2 which is run in hybrid scan mode, during development I wish that it were possible to, for example, tell the project to run without EtherCAT #2 being physically connected, instead using virtual/simulated IO. As things stand now, when I try to switch from Configuration to Active mode, I get an error saying that "the slave device cannot be found".
More generally, I often find myself thinking that the project explorer needs a good way to "comment out" various pieces of the project without having to resort to "Remove From Project".
We have the ability to get memory usage and cpu use. I'd also like to also monitor network usage to see if my application is getting close to the point where it would have to either buffer or drop messages.
On all of the RT platforms, if the CPU maxes out at 100% the RTOS goes through a sort of "load shedding" and begins suspending non critical threads to lower the CPU overhead and hopefully maintain determinism. One of the first threads that gets suspended is the TCP thread which essentially cuts off the RT target from the ethernet and outside world.
While I understand the concept of the load shedding, I believe that if you have the CPU pushed that hard, then your determinism is out the window anyway. Dropping the TCP thread only serves to disconnect the RT system from the development environment or the built application with no real benefit. I have yet to see a single application that was actually able to accomplish anything substantial after the point that the TCP thread was suspended. In most cases, the high CPU usage happens during the development of the application or when something is critically wrong with the setup of the deployed app. In those cases, it wouldn't matter how many threads you suspended, the CPU will still be maxed out.
It is akin to blowing out a match in the midst of a forrest fire.
I would propose that the RTOS be reconfigured to show the TCP thread as one of the critical threads and keep it from being suspended during high CPU excursions OR give the developer the option to turn this feature on or off throgh the device properties.
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.
I'd like to see NI develop a bullet proof way of communicating with a cRIO over TCP/IP to command that it reboot with no startup program, etc. I'm sure it can be done. The question is whether the cost to do this is warranted. I've had the cRIO lock up because of a corrupted deployment and it would not respond over the network until someone physically attended to it by setting the "no app" switch. This cRIO was mounted on a bridge over the Delaware river and was a real hassle to get to, and throw, that switch.
Suggestion: Dedicate a portion of the processor code to servicing the Ethernet ports that can't be consumed by the startup program. The user needs to always be able to reboot the cRIO and download new code.
If you have an RT target set up with a startup application (ready to be deployed in the field), running a VI on it from the IDE should not change anything permanently.
Today (LabVIEW RT 2013), doing this will not just temporrarily stop the VIs running on the target (from the executable) - as you get warned about, but also cause the RTTarget.LaunchAppAtBoot=True line to be removed from the ni-rt.ini. So the startup application will not be launched the next time the device is started up, rendering your device useless in the field. Why?
- We had an incident where we narrowly escaped such a scenario. The RT target was embedded into a cannister that was about to be sealed, but an unforseen issue made it necessary to run a special test on it, with a VI from the IDE. The startup application in this case provides the only way into the system once the cannister is sealed (no Ethernet access, just RS485), so having it no longer start would be a catastrophy. No one expected running the VI would actually change anything permanently. We tested it of course, and saw that it stopped the startup application (and so we loaded an image of the correct setup afterwards to be sure all changes were removed), but it would be much better and more intuitive if no such permanent and fundamental changes occured (if actually possible to implement in a such a way).
Many of the features that are not supported on LinuxRT are things that one would expect not to work (due to the underlying technologies), but why no menu and cursor functions?
The lack of menu support in particular means that most GUIs have to be customized to run on the target....even though Xfce should be perfectly capable of handling them in their original design... I was really hoping we could port some of our GUIs straight to the embedded GUI and replace our industrial computers immediately with cRIOs...(the differences in appearances are easier to handle, after all we use system controls and take cross-platform variations into consideration already).
Now we'll have to (decide if we want to) spend time on customizing the GUIs.
It would be very useful that RT FIFOs could be of type lvclass as long as the class' private members are of static types (perform the same check that is done for clusters when you try to use them as the type for RT FIFOs).
In some critical installations, it is absolutely unacceptable for the cRIO to be able to "go to sleep" (as it can do now) and be unreachable via its Ethernet connection, especially when it runs out of real-time in the software. Currently when a cRIO becomes unresponsive, it requires manual intervention to kill power, push buttons, and/or set DIP switches, etc. to bring it back to life. Our company is dealing with cRIOs that are located in places that are very difficult, expensive and time consuming to reach.
I strongly recommend that NI add, Ethernet accessible, hardware based reset/restart functions to the cRIO. These functions should be completely separate from current cRIO software and hardware and should allow remote control of the cRIO power supply, and setting of the dip switches and reset buttons mounted on the cRIO front panel. NI-MAX should be enhanced to allow a user to remotely control cRIO reboots via these functions.
Today we have to remember to build the application prior to deploying it. Instead of just throwing an error if we choose to deploy without having built first; either automatically run a build if necessary, or offer to do so.
Very often it would also be nice to just be able to select "Run as startup", and get all 3 stages done automatically (build, deploy, run as startup).
I do not know about most people use cases with RT system, but I have the reflex to click the run arrow to test all my VIs. When I am on site and I do have access to the hardware, everything is rosy. But, when I do not have access to the hardware, and depending on the system complexity, I now have to wait up to over a minutes before I can resume working. It would be nice if somehow once I realized my mistake I could notified LabVIEW (right away) to run my VI in the main application instance instead of attempting to deploy it on the missing target.
Alternatively, once I made the mistake once, LabVIEW could automatically run the VI in the main application instance.
I do not know what is the best approach to fix this, but I know that I am very annoyed every time I make that mistake.
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.
Create an RT FIFO Primative similar to the Get Queue Status VI that returns the number of elements in the RT FIFO. Currently RT FIFO Read and RT FIFO Write return the number of elements in the RT FIFO, but calling these VIs will affect the contents of RT FIFO.
A workaround for this would be to maintain a count on a shift register and increment/decrement it each time the RT FIFO Write/RT FIFO Read VIs are called. This solution does not work when trying to monitor the size of an RT FIFO in a running VI in another VI that is used to detect memory leaks.
It has a number of improvements over the plain Reliance FS. One of them is, that there is no (less) preformance degradation when there are over x*100 files in one folder. One thing to note is that the system suffers even if you are not reading the files from the folder in question.