NI LabVIEW Environment Basics


LabVIEW programs are called virtual instruments, or VIs,such as oscilloscopes and multimeters, because their appearance and operation often imitate physical instruments. LabVIEW contains a comprehensive set of tools for acquiring, storing data, analyzing, displaying, as well as tools to help you troubleshoot code you write.

We create a new VI you will see two windows the front panel window and the block diagram.

The NILAVIEW Environment Basis includes the following things

Front Panel

When we open a new or existing VI, the front panel window of the VI appears. Front panel window is the user interface for the VI. Figure 1 front panel window.

 

1  Front Panel Window

2  Toolbar

3 Controls Palette

Figure 1. Example of a Front Panel

Controls Palette

The Controls palette contains the controls and indicators you use to create the front panel. we access the Controls palette from the front panel window by selecting View»Controls Palette or by right clicking on any empty space in the front panel window. Controls palette is broken into the various categories; you can expose some or all of these categories to suit your needs. Figure 2 shows a Controls palette with all of the categories exposed and the Modern category expanded.

 

Figure 2. Controls Palette

To view or hide categories (subpalettes), by clicking Customize button and select Change Visible Palettes.

Controls and Indicators

Every VI has a front panel that you can design as a user interface. We also can use front panels as a way to pass inputs and receive outputs when you call the VI from another block diagram. We create the user interface of a VI by placing controls and indicators on the front panel of a VI. We interact with a front panel as a user interface, we can modify controls to supply inputs and see the results in indicators. The Controls define the inputs, indicators to display outputs.

Controls are typically knobs, dials, push buttons, strings, sliders. Controls simulate instrument input devices and supply data to the block diagram of the VI. Indicators are the typically graphs, LEDs, status strings, charts. The Indicators simulate instrument output devices and display data the block diagram acquires or generates.

Block Diagram

Block diagram objects include terminals, functions, subVIs, structures, constants, which transfer data among other block diagram objects, wires.

 

1  Indicator Terminals

2  Wires

3  Nodes

4 Control Terminals

Figure 3. Example of a Block Diagram and Corresponding Front Panel

After you create the front panel window, we add code using graphical representations of functions to control the front panel objects. Block diagram window contains it graphical source code.

 

Figure 4. Block Diagram

Terminals

Objects on the front panel window appear as terminals on the block diagram. The terminals are entry and exit ports that exchange information between the front panel and block diagram. The Terminals are analogous to parameters constants in text-based programming languages. Types of  the terminals include control or indicator terminals and node terminals. The Control indicator terminals belong to front panel controls and indicators. The data you enter into the front panel controls (a and b in the previous front panel) enter the block diagram through the control terminals. Data then enter Add and Subtract functions. We Add and Subtract functions complete their calculations, which produce the new data values. Data values flow to indicator terminals, where which update the front panel indicators (a+b and a–b in the previous front panel).

Controls, Indicators, and Constants

Controls, constants, indicators, behave as inputs and outputs of the block diagram algorithm. The Consider implementation of the algorithm for the area of a triangle:

Area = .5 * Base * Height

In this algorithm, Base and Height are inputs and Area is an output, as shown in Figure 5.

 

Figure 5. Area of a Triangle Front Panel

The user will not change or access the constant .5, so it will not appear on the front panel unless included as documentation of the algorithm.

Figure 6 shows a possible implementation of this algorithm on a LabVIEW block diagram. It block diagram has 4 different terminals created by 2 controls, 1 constant,  2 indicator.

 

1  Controls

2  Indicator

3 Constant

Figure 6. Area of a Triangle Block Diagram with Icon Terminal View

You can view terminals with or without icon view. however, the same distinguishing characteristics between controls and indicators exist.

 

Figure 7. Area of a Triangle Block Diagram without Icon Terminal View

Block Diagram Nodes

Nodes are objects on the block diagram that have inputs and/or outputs and perform operations when a VI runs. They are analogous to statements, functions, operators, subroutines in text-based programming languages. Nodes may be functions, Express VIs, structures, subVIs. The Structures are process control elements, For Loops, While Loops, such as Case structures.

Functions Palette

The Functions palette contains the VIs, the functions and constants you use to create the block diagram. We access the Functions palette from the block diagram by selecting View»Functions Palette. The Functions palette is broken into various categories; you can show and hide categories to suit your needs. Figure 8 shows a Functions palette with all of the categories exposed and the Programming category expanded.

 

Figure 8. Functions Palette

For view or hide categories, click the Customize button and select Change Visible Palettes.

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