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National Instruments (NI™) offers four product lines for data acquisition and processing, which of course are all integrated in LabVIEW and LabWindows CVI with excellent drivers. The most important functions are built into the DAQmx driver library in such a way that a simple code works without modifications on all platforms presented here.

cDAQ (Compact DAQ)

A cDAQ system always consists of a controller or chassis and the modules installed in it. There are controllers with their own integrated computer (cDAQ-9132, cDAQ-9133, cDAQ-9134, cDAQ-9135, cDAQ-9136, cDAQ-9137) and passive chassis that are connected via USB (cDAQ-9117, cDAQ-9174, cDAQ -9178, cDAQ-9179) or Ethernet (cDAQ-9184, cDAQ-9185, cDAQ-9188, cDAQ-9189) can be connected to a normal PC or laptop. You can put 1, 4, 8 or 14 modules into such a chassis. Modules are available for the different signals (analog or digital) and with different sampling rates.
  • very easy to program
  • universally usable due to the large number of available modules
  • No real-time behavior, only limited control options
  • Complex modules such as CAN bus interfaces only work in the cRIO

To the catalogue

cRIO (Compact Reconfigurable IO)

At first glance, a cRIO system looks exactly like a cDAQ system. The important difference lies in the backplane, there is no passive bus installed here, but an FPGA (hence the name "reconfigurable"). A cRIO system has different layers in which user-written software runs:
  • the FPGA backplane
  • the cRIO controller
  • the application program in a PC
LabVIEW with additional toolkits FPGA and Realtime allows to implement the code of all three levels in LabVIEW. With a pure chassis (NI-9144, NI-9145, NI-9146, NI-9147, NI-41-48, NI-9149) the middle programming level, the controller, is omitted, only the FPGA and the application software are programmed. With a cRIO controller (cRIO-9040, cRIO-9041, cRIO-9042, cRIO-9043, cRIO-9045, cRIO-9046, cRIO-9047, cRIO-9048), a computer is already installed in the device that can take on tasks which are too complex for the FPGA. A cRIO system can also work autonomously without a connected computer (measuring, controlling, regulating, recording, ..). The individual devices differ in the size and design of the FPGA, you can easily determine the size required for your task yourself by trying to compile your LabVIEW FPGA code for a simulated device. Most cDAQ modules also work in a cRIO system (mechanically the same), there are a few additional modules for the cRIO. a> , which cannot work without FPGA.
  • Real-time behavior, fast controllers can be implemented
  • Additional cards such as CAN bus, but also special modules such as injector control for the automotive industry
  • universally usable due to the large number of available modules
  • Programming much more complex, LabVIEW RealTime and FPGA required
  • more expensive than cDAQ
A cRIO system can also be operated as a "dumb" measuring device (like a cDAQ) with the help of the "Scan Engine", but then you have no advantage from the FPGA.

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PC based Systems (PCI, PCIe, USB)

The plug-in cards are the classic of PC-based data acquisition, but they have to be installed in a computer, making sure that the mainboard used has the right slots (PCI, PCIe) free. National Instruments offers over 100 different cards in different configurations (bus system, number and type of analog inputs, number and type of analog outputs, digital inputs and outputs, timer and counter).
  • very easy to program (like cDAQ)
  • very high transfer rates possible in the PCIe bus
  • Special cards such as bus interface ... available
  • No real-time behavior, only limited control options

To the catalogue

PXI based Systems (PXI, PXIe, FlexRIO, SLSC)

A PXI system is basically the same as a PC with plug-in cards, but everything from a single source and in an industrial form factor. There is always a PC in the system, which can be used with a Windows operating system or as a real-time system. The selection of cards is even larger than for plug-in cards, since only one bus system has to be taken into account here and the possible transmission rates are even higher.
  • PXI system with Windows operating system on the controller:
    • very easy to program (like cDAQ)
    • very high transmission rates possible in the PXI bus
    • Many special cards available
    • More slots than a classic PC
    • No real-time behavior, only limited control options
    • more expensive than industrial PCs with plug-in cards
  • PXI system with RealTime operating system on the controller:
    • Real-time behavior, fast controllers can be implemented
    • very high transmission rates possible in the PXI bus
    • Many special cards available
    • More slots than a classic PC
    • Programming much more complex
    • Requires LabVIEW RealTime

PXI chassis and controller catalog

To the catalog of PXI Modules

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