LabVIEW Primer

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Textbook for this Primer

This LabVIEW primer is based off of the book "Hands-On Introduction to LabVIEW for Scientists and Engineers" by John Essick. Two copies of the book can be found in the lab to the right of the computer setup.

Accessing LabVIEW

Currently LabVIEW is installed on one machine in the lab. When looking at the desktop computers straight on, the rightmost computer closest to the books contains an installation of LabVIEW. This computer runs Linux but has Windows 7 installed as a virtual machine. Our version of LabVIEW is installed on Windows, so the Windows virtual machine must be ran before LabVIEW can be accessed. Running Windows is simple; there is a shortcut on the Linux desktop called "Hankwin" which can be clicked to open. Once Windows is running, LabVIEW can be found in the Programs menu.

What is LabVIEW?

LabVIEW (Laboratory Virtual Instrument Engineering Workbench) is a development environment and system-design platform for a visual programming language called "G". LabVIEW is commonly used by scientists and engineers for the purposes of data acquisition, instrument control, and industrial automation. It is developed and maintained by National Instruments.

LabVIEW is made for engineering and experimental science. It is a programming language and underneath the hood it does most things similarly to other text-based programming languages, but all of this information is presented to the user very differently. LabVIEW is a visual and graphical programming language. Instead of pages of text, LabVIEW source code appears as a graphical block-diagram. These graphical block-diagrams contain function-nodes (analogous to functions in Python for example) that the user draws virtual wires between. These virtual wires between different function nodes allow the transfer of variables. This style of programming is called dataflow programming.

LabVIEW also includes extensive hardware support for interfacing with cameras, sensors, and other devices. Users can interface to hardware by either writing direct bus commands (USB, GPIB, Serial) or using high-level, device-specific, drivers that provide native LabVIEW function nodes for controlling the device. LabVIEW's ability to interact with and control different devices is essential to experimental physics and lab work in general.