National Instruments (NI) offers the engineering approach, platform and software LabVIEW, through which engineers and scientists around the world design, prototype, run testing, data collection and management systems. It perfectly fits STEM curriculum.
Many people do not think that in the graphical programming environment of robots LEGO MINDSTORMS – this is a simplified LabVIEW. LabVIEW is short for Laboratory Virtual Instrument Engineering Workbench. It was originally released in 1986 for the Apple Macintosh for data acquisition and instrument control. Now there are not only several versions for different operating systems MacOS, MS Windows, Linux, but also two types of classic LabVIEW and LabVIEW NXG. It should be noted that in the development of the first Estonian satellite ESTCube-1, which successfully entered orbit in 2013, NI technologies were also used.
Striving for flexibility NI proposed the concept of modularity of measuring equipment. When various expansion cards can be inserted into the system unit changing the functionality of the main device and getting the synchronization of modules on a single bus. In 1997, NI was one of the founders of the PXI standard, meaning PCI eXtensions for Instrumentation. PXI solution is somewhat similar to a personal computer, where its main parts are a controller and a chassis with a bus connecting all modules, as well as expansion cards. A similar concept is incorporated into the CompactRIO platform, which is often used for data collection. Even for very fast speeds, such as signal processing At the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.
For project education in higher education institutions NI offers:
• NI ELVIS
• NI MyRio
• Analog Discovery
NI ELVIS (Eng. NI Engineering Laboratory Virtual Instrumentation Suite) is a combination between the platform, which can be expanded by add-on modules and SOFTWARE allowing to design printed circuit boards , as well as to make measurements from the connected platform. ELVIS combines such devices as:
- function generator
- arbitrary waveform generator
- Bode analyzer and impedance analyzer
- digital multimeter (DMM)
- dynamic signal analyzer (DSA)
- digital reader and programmer
Due to the modules, the ELVIS platform can be used for laboratory workshops on analog and digital electronics, power electronics, mechatronics, linear and nonlinear control systems, communication systems.
USRP (Eng. Universal software Radio Peripheral) – software reconfigurable radio input / output device. These are devices of reception and transmission of radio waves in which you can change the type of modulation, do tuning of operating frequencies, and quickly make changes to the system as new requirements and standards of communication by updating the software.
MyRIO is this controller, often used as the basis for controlling robotics. More than 10,000 educational institutions around the world use MyRIO for training and preparation for robotic competitions, such as (WRO, FIRST), as well as in the subsection “Mobile robotics” WorldSkills. The controller is popular because it has a sufficient number of digital and analog inputs / outputs, built-in accelerometer, FPGA Xilinx and dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor, support Wi-Fi, USB port. It can be programmed with the help of LabVIEW or C. It is also the “brain” of TETRIX PRIME plus MyRIO.
ANALOG DISCOVERY 2
Analog Discovery 2 turns any PC into an electrical workstation. This USB-powered device allows students to create and test analog and digital circuits. In addition to the dual-channel oscilloscope with a speed of 100 MS / s. Analog Discovery 2 provides dual-channel signal generator, 16-channel logic analyzer, 16-channel digital pattern generator, spectrum analyzer, network analyzer, voltmeter and adjustable DC power supplies ± 5 volts.