LabVIEW was first released in 1986 by National Instruments. It was originally for Macintosh only, but now has versions for Windows, Mac, Linux, Sun SPARCC stations, HP 9000/700 workstations, and HP-UX. LabVIEW is popular in industry and research. Since many companies use LabVIEW, students who have been exposed to LabVIEW in a physics course may have an edge on some job searches. Special features of LabVIEW include
- G language, graphical programming, data flow programming
- Cross-platform compatibility. We routinely move VIs from on type of computer to another (Macintosh, Windows, Linux)
- Great debugging tools
- Modularity and hierarchy, quick feedback (no compile/run cycle)
- The ability to create executables (with extra software)
- The ability to publish measurements on the internet easily.
- It provides a way to create data collection and control apps for Linux
- It is fun way to program.
To learn more about LabVIEW, to see a movie of it being used, or to try out a demo version, go to: http://volt.ni.com/niwc/common.jsp?page=labview_overview
Vernier Software & Technology has always encouraged instructors and students to do their own programming using our lab interfaces and sensors. We started experimenting with LabVIEW in 1999, with sample programs (called virtual instruments, or VIs) for ULI and Serial Box Interface. In 2001, we introduced our first VIs for LabPro. Since then we have improved these samples and added new ones. We now have a full-time LabVIEW programmer.
Here is a summary of the materials that are available on our web site, which are related to LabVIEW. All of this is available for a free download. For each of the programs, we offer both the LabVIEW source code and also an application. We actually have separate downloads for Macintosh, Windows, and Linux version of the source code and the application as three different applications that can be run on Macintosh, Windows, and Linux.
A word about the applications: They were built in LabVIEW using an add-on called Application Builder. If you own Application Builder, you can create applications with LabVIEW, which can be run on a computer that does not have LabVIEW on it. However, you do need to have the LabVIEW Runtime Engine installed on the computer. The LabVIEW Runtime Engine can be downloaded (free) from either the National Instruments web site or the Vernier S&T web site. There are separate versions for Macintosh, Windows, and Linux.
Simple LabVIEW 5.0 VIs
These are very simple VIs, which will collect data or control the analog or digital output lines of a LabPro. Since they are simple, they are relatively easy to understand and can be a good place to start your LabVIEW programming. They were written with LabVIEW 5.0, so they can be loaded into older versions of LabVIEW, if that is all you have. There are 14 main VIs and many sub VIs. Some of the VIs in this collection include:
Real Time (RT) Analog
Non Real Time (NRT) Analog
Non Real Time (NRTF) Fast Analog
Rotary Motion Sensor and Analog
Digital Output and the Digital Control Unit (DCU)
One of the more recent improvements made to our LabPro interface is the ability to generate analog output signals. With this LabVIEW code you can turn your computer and LabPro into a fun and useful function generator. This program will work only with LabPro and requires LabPro operating system 6.22 or higher (available, free, on our web site.).
Rotary and Analog
One thing that Logger Pro 2.x does not do when used with LabPro that is sometimes useful is to monitor an analog signal and plot it vs. the position read by a Rotary Motion Sensor. (FYI, Logger Pro 3.1, due in April 2003, will solve this problem.) With this application, you can take that data. Among other things, it can be used to study diffraction by moving a light sensor connected to the Rotary Motion Sensor across the diffraction pattern.
This program is for using our new Drop Counter. It is used mainly in chemistry. It counts drops and measures pH in titration experiments.
Real Time Collect
Collects analog data from up to four sensors at rates up to 50 readings per second. The data is graphed as it is collected. A data table is displayed and the data can be exported as a file.
Collects analog data from up to four sensors at rates up to several thousand readings per second. The data is graphed after all data is collected. A data table is displayed and the data can be exported as a file.
Does timing with one or two photogates connected to the LabPro digital inputs. A data table is displayed and the data can be exported as a file.
Other Resources on the Vernier Software & Technology web site.
The LabPro Technical Reference Manual at: http://www.vernier.com/mbl/labpro.html, is a booklet of about 100 pages with all the details of how Vernier LabPro operates. It is an essential reference for serious LabPro programming.