LabView 2010 and Single Board RIO

Aug. 3, 2010
Technology Editor Bill Wong comments on National Instrument's Single Board RIO and LabView 2010.

NI Embedded Software Evaluation Kit

National Instrument's CompactRIO

Single Board RIO sbRIO-9601 board

LabView's graphical programming

LabView hierarchical composition

Ok. I'm cheating. I had wanted to do a quick hands-on article with the NI Embedded Software Evaluation Kit (Fig. 1). This is based on National Instruments (NI) Single Board RIO. NI did ship one out when it was first released and I did get a chance to work with it on and off since then including mating it up to a couple robot platforms. The Single Board RIO is the same platform used on National Instrument's robot kit I wrote about in Tools Turn Robot Projects Into Child’s Play. I am actually going to forego a long hands-on article this time because so much has been done already.

I don't think I could add much to NI's 5-minute Single Board RIO demo. I did have a discussion on NI Single Board RIO that is on Engineering TV website. Engineering TV is part of Penton Media as is Electronic Design.

The Single Board RIO is based on the same technology as the CompactRIO (Fig. 2). The big difference is the enclosure. CompactRIO has one. Single Board RIO goes inside the one you supply. I did a hands on review of CompactRIO entitled NI-RIO: Fast Prototyping. These boards can work with modules that have 15-pin VGA-style connectors but they are designed to connect the modules to the FPGA found in every system. The FPGA is a front end to the processor that is also part of the system. The kit has a PowerPC processor.

So here it is the eve of NI Week 2010 and I took the system out of the box again. I happen to have LabView running on a virtual machine. I tend to do this with test software in general since I can start out with a clean platform each time. The kit actually comes with a 90 day license for LabView but this will likely translate into a purchase of the latest incarnation of LabView. I don't have the latest LabView 2010 but will hopefully get it soon.

One thing I can add to the mix is that the FPGA support is significantly better than it was when I first tried out CompactRIO. What will surprise most non-LabView developers is how seamless the use of the FPGA is with LabView. The FPGA provides connectivity between the processor and modules. This approach is significant for a number of reason. First, it provides timing synchronization that is critical to test and measurement applications as well as process control applications. Second, the FPGA can contain logic that links two or more modules directly together instead of requiring processor intervention.

The newer production versions of sbRIO include the sbRIO-9601 (Fig. 3). It as a 266 MHz processor, 256 Mbytes of flash, 128 Mbytes of DRAM and 1M gate FPGA. It also has a 10/100BASE-T Ethernet port and RS232 serial port. The sbRIO-9602/9602XT has a 400 MHz processor and a 2M gate FPGA.

Well, the kit goes back into the box until LabView 2010 rolls across my desk. Hopefully then I will have more time to it check out with the latest software. In the meantime, get your own NI Embedded Software Evaluation Kit if you want to try out Single Board RIO-based development. The documentation is excellent and it highlights the power of LabView. It also highlights the graphical nature of LabView (Fig. 4) including the hierarchical nature of the virtual instruments (Fig. 5). I did not provide many details here but I can definitely recommend it based on hands-on use of the dev kit.

About the Author

William G. Wong | Senior Content Director - Electronic Design and Microwaves & RF

I am Editor of Electronic Design focusing on embedded, software, and systems. As Senior Content Director, I also manage Microwaves & RF and I work with a great team of editors to provide engineers, programmers, developers and technical managers with interesting and useful articles and videos on a regular basis. Check out our free newsletters to see the latest content.

You can send press releases for new products for possible coverage on the website. I am also interested in receiving contributed articles for publishing on our website. Use our template and send to me along with a signed release form. 

Check out my blog, AltEmbedded on Electronic Design, as well as his latest articles on this site that are listed below. 

You can visit my social media via these links:

I earned a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology and a Masters in Computer Science from Rutgers University. I still do a bit of programming using everything from C and C++ to Rust and Ada/SPARK. I do a bit of PHP programming for Drupal websites. I have posted a few Drupal modules.  

I still get a hand on software and electronic hardware. Some of this can be found on our Kit Close-Up video series. You can also see me on many of our TechXchange Talk videos. I am interested in a range of projects from robotics to artificial intelligence. 

Sponsored Recommendations


To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Electronic Design, create an account today!