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$240 PCI drop-in is GPIB controller

Posted: 25 May 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:usb? gpib? national instruments? pci-3488?

Although USB is increasingly being used to glue test systems together, the tried-and-true IEEE-488 General Purpose Interface Bus is still widely deployed, and there are lots of legacy GPIB-compatible instruments out there, too. As such, Adlink Technology's PCI-3488 IEEE-488 controller card is a viable product with wide appeal.

Once installed in a host PC, it can control up to 14 IEEE-488.2-compatible instruments, with high throughput, as these graphs reflect.

With a National Instruments-like driver API (applications programming interface) and VISA (Virtual Instrument Software Architecture) support, the fast PCI-3488 also ensures compatibility with existing applications and instrument drivers.

Its driver API is also binary-compatible with NI's GPIB library through GPIB-32.DLL, so all programs written based on the GPIB-32.DLL can be executed on the PCI-3488, without modification.

Plug-and-play compatibility

Similarly, the VISA library support can be used with most common instrument drivers written by instrument vendors. Not mentioned in the company's press release is that the board will also work with the Agilent IO Library.

You can also write your test programs in Visual C++, VisualBASIC, Delphi, NI LabVIEW, or just about any other application development environment. All of those factors, and the ability to work on either 3.3V or 5V PCI buses, makes this plug-in quite adaptable.

In use, as a plug-and-play component, the card requests an interrupt number via its PCI controller. Your PC's BIOS responds with an interrupt assignment, based on the card information and on known system parameters. These parameters are determined by the installed drivers and the hardware load seen by the system.

Board configuration is done on a board-by-board basis for all PCI boards on your system, and, because configuration is controlled by the system and software, there's no jumper setting or DIP switches to fiddle with for things such as base-address, DMA and interrupt IRQs.

Finally, the PCI-3488 card also ships with an interactive Windows utility program that aids quick card test and diagnostics. Put all of that together, and factor in the attractive special offer of $240, and you have quite a package.

- Alex Mendelsohn


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