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Proposal for GPIB to USB cable purchase

Summary:
There have been two predominant buses for instrument control the RS232 serial bus, primarily
used to control scientific and analytical instrumentation, and the IEEE 488 GPIB, primarily used
to control traditional test and measurement equipment.
While RS232 ports have been readily available on both desktop and notebook computers
worldwide, controlling instruments through GPIB requires the use of special controller hardware.
The NI GPIB-USB-HS with NI-488.2 driver transforms any computer with a USB port into a
fully functional IEEE 488.2 controller for up to 14 programmable GPIB instruments
Limitations with RS-232:
The serial connection prevents the operator from controlling more than one instrument at a time.
Key Differentiators:

Performance - With unparalleled hardware throughput and highly optimized driver


software, you can run more tests in a shorter amount of time increasing your overall
efficiency and helping you create more products and generate more revenue
Reliability - Hardware and software reliability give you the peace of mind that your
system will run error free over long periods of time without interruptions. This reliability
results in less downtime, saving you both time and money
Productivity - GPIB (general purpose interface bus) is a parallel port device. it can
transmit more than one bit at a time. It is faster than RS- 232 port, which is a serial port
can transmit one bit at a time.

Equipment in PSPE Lab with GPIB Interface:

Keithley
BK Precision DC Power Load
Agilent Power Supply
Function Generator
Oscilloscope
Multimeter

NI-PXI: In NI-PXI chassis we have SMU, HSDIO, DAQ modules which we can control using
LabVIEW and develop codes for the various tests of the mixed signal ICs.

Savage: NI-STS (Semiconductor test system) enhouses SMU, HSDIO which too can be used
for developing the test codes for the Digital logic and other parametric tests.
In both NI-PXI and Savage, we lack the AWG modules which is required to fully automate the
ADC and DAC testing along with the dynamic tests for these ICs. Purchasing the AWG modules
for PXI from NI (PXI-5422) will cost $8049, however with GPIB-USB cable in place we can
integrate the function generator available in the lab with PXI and can control all the instruments
with LabVIEW and synchronize them. Hence its more viable and cost effective plan to
purchase GPIB-USB cable than purchasing PXI module.
Advantages from GPIB-USB cable:
1) We can control Keithley ,Power Supply, Digital Multimeter, Oscilloscope using personal
laptops with LabVIEW installed and be able to complete all the tests related with basic
logic gate testing and complex mixed signal ICs.
2) We can integrate function generator and all the above mentioned instruments either with
PXI, Savage in case we feel the need of additional SMUs, Power supplies and AWG
modules in our tests. Hence we can scale the productivity and are not limited with the
resources.
3) We will be able to automate completely the testing of the power amplifiers and other
power management ICs which usually have high power requirements and we need the
modules which can supply high voltages and sink, source high current at output. With the
present PXI, we just have channel 1 of NI-PXI-4130 which has voltage range 0-20v and
current range 0-2A.With bench equipment integrated with PXI, we can have more
channels and can complete the required tests.
4) Functionalities available in the instruments can be relatively more easily exploited
through the program control rather than reading the manuals and have more scalability as
changing parameters in the tests are easier when controlled through LabVIEW.
5) With GPIB-USB cable in place, we can reduce the downtime for the students during the
peak usage for the NI- PXI and Savage as they can use automate the bench equipment too
to perform the tests.
How to use GPIB cable:
We can download the instruments drivers for LabVIEW from the vendor website and can use
those drivers in programming the instruments and develop the test code.
Plan:
Though GPIB to USB cable can be bought in use for building numerous tests for the different
devices, however the goal here is to completely automate the ADC/DAC testing which
includes testing both the Static and Dynamic parameters for these devices. This project will
exploit all the resources available in the PXI with bench equipment integrated and can further
can serve as guidelines for developing the other similar tests.

Costs:
$649 as per National Instruments
(http://sine.ni.com/nips/cds/view/p/lang/en/nid/201586)