Academic Company Events Community Support Solutions Products & Services Contact NI MyNI
7 ratings:
 4.57 out of 5   

Instrument Driver Troubleshooting Guide

Primary Software: Instrument Drivers/IVI>>LabVIEW Plug and Play Driver
Primary Software Version: N/A
Primary Software Fixed Version: N/A
Secondary Software: Instrument Drivers/IVI>>LabWindows/CVI Plug and Play Driver

I have downloaded an Instrument Driver from IDNet and it is not behaving as expected.  What steps should I take to troubleshoot the issue?

Here is a list of steps to take in order to troubleshoot instrument drivers:
  1. Check the instrument driver's readme or download page for required software and any other special instructions.
  2. Confirm that the proper supporting software is installed, and that your computer was restarted after the software was installed.
    • Also, make sure that the software was installed in the correct order.   
    • Examples of necessary software
      • NI-VISA
      • IVI Compliance Package
      • NI Modular Instrument Driver (NI-SCOPE, NI-DMM, etc)
      • etc...
  3. Confirm that you have the currently released instrument driver.
  4. Confirm successful communication through NI-VISA (or other supporting software)
  5. Confirm that the instrument driver is installed correctly
    1. LabVIEW Plug and Play instrument drivers should be located under <LabVIEW>/instr.lib.  (For example: C:\Program Files\National Instruments\LabVIEW 2009\instr.lib\Agilent 34401) Plug and Play instrument drivers do not have installers, they just need to be extracted into instr.lib.  When extracting them, make sure that your extraction software does not create an additional folder layer (...\LabVIEW 2009\instr.lib\Agilent 34401\Agilent 34401).
    2. LabWindows/CVI Plug and Play instrument drivers just need to have the source code referenced properly in the project that you create. They do not have installers and just need to be extracted.
    3. IVI Instrument Specific instrument drivers should be installed in the IVIStandardRoot directory(s). (For example: C:\Program Files\IVI Foundation\IVI\Drivers)  If the IVI Instrument Specific instrument driver is maintained by NI, it will also create IVI driver entries in MAX, as shown in the image below.

  6. If you will be using IVI-C Class Drivers, you will need to configure the IVI Logical Name and Driver session in MAX and then Save the settings.
  7. Try communicating through a simple VISA example to confirm that VISA is working through the ADE (LabVIEW, LabWindows/CVI, Measurement Studio).
  8. Open the ADE that you will be using and find an example for the instrument driver
    1. For LabVIEW PnP (project-style), you will need to run the Example Finder (Help»Find Examples).
    2. For IVI-C Drivers, create a CVI project and add the driver files and example to the project.  The files can be found at <IVIStandardRootDir>/Drivers.
    3. For CVI PnP, just open up the .prj file and run the example.
    4. For IVI-C Class Driver examples:
      1. In LabVIEW, use the example finder (Help»Find Examples then Hardware I/O»Instrument Drivers»IVI)
      2. In LabWindows/CVI, use the example finder (Help»Find Examples then Hardware I/O»Instrument Drivers»IVI)
  9. Confirm that you are using the correct VISA resource or IVI Logical Name and run the example
    1. If the example runs correctly, skip ahead to step 11.
    2. If the example does not run correctly, try the following:
      1. Just running an Initialize and Close
      2. Disabling IDQuery
      3. Restarting the computer and re-confirming VISA communication
      4. Seeing if the problem reproduces on another computer or with an identical instrument
      5. If using IVI, try using the Specific Driver directly
  10. If none of those steps were able to communicate through the instrument driver, then skip ahead to step 12
  11. If you can communicate through the instrument driver, but see a problem, isolate the problem down to the minimum number of VIs or function calls that reproduce the error
    1. See if the problem persists in highlight execution mode (LabVIEW) or single-stepping
    2. Confirm that you are closing the instrument driver reference at the end of your application
    3. Look up any error codes on
  12. Take an NI I/O Trace capture of the error occurring
  13. If the Instrument Driver is NI-Supported, collect the following information:
    1. Operation System version and bitness
    2. ADE version, type, and bitness
    3. Instrument Driver name, version, and bitness
    4. Exact instrument model, revision, and firmware version
    5. Is the instrument listed as being supported by the instrument driver?
    6. Was the instrument driver working well before? If yes, what has changed since then?
    7. When was successful VISA communication last confirmed?
    8. What error codes are being generated and what did you find when looking them up on
    9. Does the problem reproduce on other computers?
    10. Does the problem reproduce with other identical instruments?
    11. Instrument control bus being used (USB, GPIB, Serial, etc.)
      1. Does the problem occur in all buses?
  14. Once you have all of the previous information, contact NI Support.
  15. If the instrument driver is not NI-Supported, try posting your problem to the NI Discussion Forums or contacting the instrument driver vendor for support.
  16. Advanced troubleshooting
    1. Based on the error information and NI I/O Trace capture, look at the VI or function where the error is being reported from.
    2. Look at the commands being sent and compare them to the programming manual.
      1. If the commands being sent do not match those in the programming manual, try changing them and see if that resolves the issue.
    3. For debugging an IVI driver when using the LV wrappers, see this document.
    4. If available, try a different instrument driver.
    5. If using an IVI Driver, see if the problem occurs when simulating a device, or when range checking is turned off.

Possible Reasons for incorrect instrument driver behavior:

  1. The commands are incomplete or incorrect.
  2. The instrument model/revision is not supported by the instrument driver.
  3. The communication settings are not correct in the instrument driver (most common in RS-232).
  4. The values being passed by the user application are out of range.
  5. The instrument driver is not installed or configured correctly.
  6. The particular instrument model that you are using is supported by the driver, but was not available for testing.
  7. The instrument control bus that you are using is not supported by the instrument driver (most common with RS-232).
  8. The IVI driver is in simulation mode, and you do not expect it to be.

Related Links:

Instrument Driver Network
Getting Started with NI Products
Getting Started with Instrument Control


Report Date: 01/15/2010
Last Updated: 08/15/2017
Document ID: 55EE3N0K

Your Feedback! poor Poor  |  Excellent excellent   Yes No
 Document Quality? 
 Answered Your Question? 
  1 2 3 4 5
Please Contact NI for all product and support inquiries.submit