Lab bench

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Problem Statement (Finish description)[edit | edit source]

What an operating system does is connect hardware to applications
Existing Lab Hardware and Software Problem .. don't connect to each other

Today software and hardware from one vendor dominates educational institutions. Students are trained through labs to use this equipment. But there are drawbacks:

  • no community of users on the internet
  • constantly being updated requiring constant purchase/constant obsolescence
  • no easy interconnect with other vendors
  • never will be seen again because industry doesn't use it
  • can not put on resume to get summer jobs
How is LabView sold to an Educational Institution?

To convince educational institutions to change, the goal is to:

  • show solutions that embrace emerging technology .. new
  • solutions that maintain the ... old
  • use test equipment in a remote lab .. borrowed
  • connect emerging open source hardware ... blue

If implemented poorly, LabView is compared to a procedural language such as Java, C, etc. In reality LabView is teaching the world how to program parallel CPU's ... and computers computers. It's only competitor is MathWork's Simulink.

Connect everything

LabView is used to run the Large Hadron Collider. It is used by Space X for mission control .. coordinating activity all over the earth. launch rockets It essentially creates an operating system on top of all computers and lab equipment.

It can collect data and respond by activating output devices. It potentially could connect every piece of lab equipment in a school or company automating all repetitive scientific/engineering processes. It also provides a common, easy to learn, graphical mechanism to do all this.

Our Kids are learning it

LabView is found in everything from children's toys (Lego NXT mindstorm), High School First Robotics Competitions to PC based electrical engineering test equipment (Digilent).

The point is that are kids are learning this software indirectly. Industry wants direct experience with the product.

Conceive[edit | edit source]

What we have works .. but not really

Most institutions are full of equipment that comes with it's own drivers, it's own programming environment and it's own "family" of add on products. The term for this is "stove pipe or silo". The goal is to find examples of things that can not be done with independent technologies. Example silos or stove pipes include:

  • Vernier hardware and software
  • Xbox kinect and controllers
  • Arduino and its IDE
  • AR drone and cell phone flight controllers
  • Leap Motion and it's driving software
Lab View is a Real Time Operating System

The goal is to break up these silo's by connecting them through common software to each other. For example connect an arudino to a veriner logic gate. Connect a Leap Motion to DR drone.

LabView is an operating system that evolved out of the real-time world. Real time operating systems were used to collect data from experiments without dropping any data. Today they coordinate many computers through high speed networks so that data is not lost.

LabView runs on PC's to coordinate devices hooked up through a network. When the speed is not fast enough, the PC's themselves can be replaced with specialized hardware and the networks can be upgraded to Gigabit Ethernet.

  • LabView is software from a company called National Instruments
  • LabView connects input to output devices and collects data from computers.
  • In the past this software required dedicated computers
The programs are called VI's (Virtual Instruments)

VI stands for virtual instrument. It is a dataflow programming language that has it's roots in a 1960 paper called a "Block diagram Computer" and is very similar to VHDL which is taught in FPGA class. Most software allows just one execution path through it's code. This type of programming allows things to happen in parallel.

The result of a VI is something that looks like a flight simulator or oscilloscope simulator .. a screen with lots of virtual knobs and guages that help control, collect data and visualize results .. a virtual customized instrument panel.

Design[edit | edit source]

What can be done with LabView, that can't be done now?

The goal is to use existing equipment within an institution that is lying around unused and connect it all with LabView. This is similar to how Wordperfect began to connect all printers (1990-1995) before Microsoft moved printer drivers into the operating system and sold Word to everyone.

List of things to connect

This is the potential hardware to connect

  1. Microphone in Laptop, use Lab View to start application when fingers are snapped
  2. Arduino Motor shield, use Lab View to control motors
  3. MIDI shield, use Lab View to play songs
  4. LED array, use Lab View to blink lights
  5. Kinect, use Lab View to interpret what the Kinect sees
  6. Leap Motion, use Labview to interpret what the Leap Motion sees
  7. DR Drone, use Lab View to control quad copter
  8. Agilent MSO, collect data from it
  9. iRobot, use Lab View to control it's motion
  10. Digilent FPGA, Digilent Analog Discovery, Digilent Electronics Explorer

The Kinect could be used to control a quad copter through LabVIEW

Implement[edit | edit source]

Install the software

Download LabVIEW software from National Instruments

Learn the software

How is he switching between front panel and block diagram?

Play with Examples

Examples are found in the VIPM or VI Package Manager. It maintains a list of the example names which can be downloaded. If VIPM can not connect with the VI server, then go to Options->VI Server->Machine Access, add localhost to the list and just below it in Exported VIs, add * to that list.

XBOX Kinect

Connect LabVIEW to XBOX Kinect

Turning off and on Arduino Uno onboard LED

Connect LabVIEW to Arduino UNO


Flying AR drone
xbox controller was hooked to VI also

AR Drone

Causing VI to launch notepad or calc on another computer

VI's can be used to connect programs. System Exec is a VI that can launch programs.NI's databases can be used to search for VI'S. VI's are created by connecting icons of other VI's. VI'S "Simple TCP" and "TCP Named Service" are good example VI's. Send continuously to work. Here is how the above VI's were connected:

Opening Notepad and Other Programs Notepad

  • LabVIEW System Exec VI
  • Copy VI program
  • Use for loop to open just one file, make boolean incidator true so file opens after program is run

Other programs

  • Use same program as notepad
  • Type in "calc.exe" to open calculator
Connecting Laptop Microphone

"Snd Read" "Acquire Sound" function

Reading Data from Microsoft Kinect

Kinect for Windows has to be downloaded Video of using depth capture and color video Video] of Vi Hiearchy and How to Clean them Up Video of hooking up to VI

Microsoft has changed Kinect models. It is difficult to tell them apart. So far this is the test .. look at the ball joint:

Counting Fingers with Leap Motion

Leap Motion looks at your fingers in the air. The VI software reveals more about what the Leap Motion controller is capable of than any of the corporate demos.

Using "Unbundle by Name" was able to extract just one of the possibilities.

Video using LeapMotion to turn on a control panel button]

Failure to connect Lego Mindstorms NTX robots

Lego's forces purchase of their licensed version of LabView own program

  • Mathworks Simulink can.
  • LabView can not because Lego is preventing this.
  • The problem is not the company NI or the LabView community. The problem is Lego making their brick proprietary.

  • One brick has a problem with lines appearing on the display
  • People have fixed the problem.
  • Some tools may need to be purchased.
  • Lego service websites replacement for non-functioning parts.
iRobot Connection Status

The robot has as a USB port on it and it has a removable command module that also has a usb port on it. It has to infared walls that the robot will avoid and a charge it can locate, drive up, park and recharge itself.

Can get both USB cables to create a functioning device in the windows device driver window. But these were generic USB devices.

Next step is to download the Command Module software which was found in iRobot support. A Video overview of the LabView VI was made.

Operate[edit | edit source]

Demo[edit | edit source]


Non-Engineers Oriented Presentation

Next Steps[edit | edit source]

  • Connect Lab View to Arduino Motor shield, use Lab View to control motors
  • Connect Lab View to MIDI shield, use Lab View to play songs
  • Connect Lab View to LED array, use Lab View to blink lights
  • Connect Lab View to Agilent MSO, collect data from it
  • Connect Lab View to iRobot, use Lab View to control it's motion
  • Connect Lab View to Digilent FPGA, Digilent Analog Discovery, Digilent Electronics Explorer
  • Use Kinnect and VI to do something similar to one of these videos: