Electronic Design

Connectivity Software Suite Harnesses LANs To Accelerate Testing

The connection of instruments and application programs of all types is the driving force behind a new suite of I/O and toolkit software for communications over local-area networks (LANs) like Ethernet. As the originator of the GPIB (IEEE 488), Agilent Technologies is now looking to LANs in addition to the GPIB to satisfy future connectivity needs.

"We want to make the LAN the new GPIB for test and measurement instruments," says Eric Taylor, Agilent's system components business manager. The aim is to make the LAN a communications backplane that's free from hardware architectures such as PXI and VXI.

The 2094N libraries suite version 14.0 includes updated I/O libraries and new automated connection tools that automatically detect instruments connected to a PC, configure the interfaces, and verify connections even in test systems that mix Ethernet/LAN, GPIB, RS-232, USB, and VXI instruments from multiple vendors.

"It will find any instrument from any vendor and will quickly make connections in minutes, not the days it usually takes," says Hob Wubbena, Agilent's software product manager. The multivendor test software lets engineers establish error-free connections in less than 15 minutes and creates test programs in the development language of the user's choice.

The suite's Connectivity Expert (CE) automatically discovers connected instruments, configures interfaces for communication, and simultaneously manages all T&M and computer standard interfaces. A "smart defaults" feature automatically identifies defaults of prior installations and configurations and lets engineers customize the defaults if needed.

I/O utility tools for expert debugging and system optimization include an interactive I/O and the Visa Assistant and IO Control for test-system control as well as bus and instrument debugging. Also incorporated are sample "hello world" programs in common development languages.

Additionally, Agilent's Toolkit 2.0 with test automation offers a rapid method of sequencing measurements and analyzing results. According to the company, it's significantly easier to use than off-the-shelf executive software. It creates tests using built-in branching logic, limit checking, and debugging.

The kit then automatically captures test results in XML and easily exports them to Excel. Or, it will analyze them instantly using automatically generated control charts and histograms. It quickly controls and automates measurements by sequencing SCPI commands, VEE code, any Microsoft .Net language code (including VB .Net, Managed C++ and C#), VXIPlug&Play, and IVI-Com drivers.

Toolkit 2.0 (W1104A-TK2) will be available in September for $1495. The price includes a full development license and one debug and runtime license for Test Automation. Additional Test Automation (W1140A-TAD) debug and runtime licenses cost $495. Engineers developing test systems that include at least one Agilent instrument, I/O hardware, VEE, or Toolkit will receive the E2094N I/O library suite free of charge. The software also can be purchased as a standalone item for $395. Ordering starts in September. Shipping starts in November.

Agilent Technologies
www.agilent.com
(800) 452-4844 (Toolkit 2.0)
(800) 824-4444 (enhanced libraries suite)

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