Asee peer logo

A Virtual Instrument Bus Using Network Programming

Download Paper |


1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.50.1 - 2.50.8

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

D.M. Hummels

author page

D.J. Rawnsley

author page

Bruce E. Segee

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1559

A Virtual Instrument Bus Using Network Programming

D.J. Rawnsley, D.M. Hummels, B.E. Segee University of Maine, Orono Maine ’


This paper provides an overview of a virtual instrument bus created at the Uni- versity of Maine Orono. Software to support automated tests has become difficult to maintain as the number of test boards and test instruments grows. A variety of test instruments such as logic analyzers, signal generators, and data caches connect and communicate to workstations using a General Purpose Interface Bus (GPIB). This paper describes two software packages. The first is a “virtual instrument bus” that makes a large number of GPIB buses on separate networked computers appear to be on a single bus. The second is an object-oriented instrument library. The Library is designed to support a variety of instruments using a common framework in an easily maintained software package. The virtual instrument library is developed using remote procedure calls (RPC). All workstations supporting an instrument bus run a background program called a Bus Server that handles bus communications and provides an interface to the computer network. The Bus Server can be programmed to handle any kind of bus, not just the GPIB. Communication to the various Bus Servers is handled by the Virtual Bus Library. This interface makes the physical configuration of the instrument buses transparent to the software developer. The library supports a small set of routines modeled after the IEEE 488.2. It also provides searching functions for locating specific instruments on the computer network, and maintains a list of all machines that have instrument buses connected to them. The virtual bus software provides easy code reuse for quick program generation used for automated testing, at the same time making all instruments appear to be located on one single bus. This software will greatly facilitate the future development of complex experiments requiring multiple bus instrument coordination.

1 Introduction

This paper presents the development and implementation of instrument control software for use in a networked computer environment. The project was motivated by ongoing research ‘This work has been supported in part by the ARPA HBT/ADC program under a contract administered by the Office of Naval Research Grant N000149311007 and the DEPSCoR program through the Army Research Office Grant DAAH04-94-G-0387

Hummels, D., & Rawnsley, D., & Segee, B. E. (1997, June), A Virtual Instrument Bus Using Network Programming Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 1997 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015