USB based GPIB Controller
In contemporary research laboratories various measurement techniques are used comprising several high-end instruments. These instruments are usually connected to a Personal Computer (PC) for measurement automation and data collection. Although different communication interfaces exist, a General Purpose Interface Bus (GPIB) is still the most widely used. For that a suitable GPIB controller has to be applied to a PC, which can be in a form of an internal PC card or an external device.
Till now two versions of controller were developed. Both are designed as Universal Serial Bus (USB) 2.0 compliant external devices, which provides plug-and-play operation, high speed of data transfer and are powered fully from the USB. With regard to conventional GPIB controllers in the form of PC cards, such a design extends its usage to notebooks or other computers with no available I/O slots. For simple controller usage we developed the appropriate driver in a graphical programming language LabVIEW, which we use for instrument control software development.
First version of the controller is the one that is described in article in EDN. For that version all the source files are available, so you can build it yourself. However, we do not provide programmed microcontroller or PCB. The second version has a newer version of microcontroller making it two times faster but protocol compatible with the old one. The controller is also smaller in size. This version is on sale as an assembled KIT. Source files for this version are not publicly available.
Manual.pdf - Description of protocol between the controller and a PC and description of LabVIEW functions (212 KiB)
The controller communicates with the PC through a logical serial interface implemented with D2XX driver for FTDI chip. The driver provides WinAPI (DLL) access to the controller. You can download the latest version of the driver from FTDI's homepage. As an alternative you can download it from this page.
D30104.zip - D2XX driver for FTDI (version 3.01.04) (90 KiB)
CDM 2.06.00 WHQL Certified.zip - CDM driver for FTDI (version 2.06.00) (877 KiB)
We designed a driver in LabVIEW environment as a collection of VIs, since LabVIEW is successfully implemented in our laboratory and at the same time it is one of the most popular programs for measurement control and automation. The driver is designed to be as compatible as possible to the built-in one. To adapt existing LabVIEW program to our GPIB controller, one has to replace GPIB sub-VIs with ours.
USB-IB-FT_v3_3.zip - D2XX library v3.3 for LabVIEW 6.0 (with VISA) and higher(971 KiB)
Driver structure - diagram of driver structure
You can make a GPIB controller by yourself. The design uses easy-to-get components with a total component cost of around 50 USD. For comparison, a commercial controller costs about 10 times more (500 USD - 1000 USD). The controller is built on a double-sided PCB that fits into a box of outer dimensions of 123 mm x 30 mm x 70 mm3.
Source files are available here.
Contacts and inquiry
If you would like more information on GPIB Controller or you would like to buy one you are invited to our page on Services.