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Measurement & Automation Glossary

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  • a

  • ATE
    A term describing equipment that is used to automatically test a unit. The size of an ATE system can range from a single computer connected to a benchtop measuring instrument, through to large scale multi-rack based(...)
  • Automatic Test Equipment
    A term describing equipment that is used to automatically test a unit. The size of an ATE system can range from a single computer connected to a benchtop measuring instrument, through to large scale multi-rack based(...)
  • Automatic Test Markup Language
    An XML schema for exchange of information relating to automated test.ATML on IEEE
  • c

  • cDAQ
    A DAQ hardware platform from National Instruments which is interfaced to a PC via a USB or Ethernet interface. The unit consists of a chassis where plug-in c-series I/O modules are inserted.
  • CompactDAQ
    A DAQ hardware platform from National Instruments which is interfaced to a PC via a USB or Ethernet interface. The unit consists of a chassis where plug-in c-series I/O modules are inserted.
  • CompactRIO
    A hardware platform from National Instruments which combines a realtime embedded computer, an FPGA and the range of plug-in c-series I/O modules together. National Instruments CompactRIO Website [font_awesome icon="external-link"  size="12px"(...)
  • cRIO
    A hardware platform from National Instruments which combines a realtime embedded computer, an FPGA and the range of plug-in c-series I/O modules together. National Instruments CompactRIO Website [font_awesome icon="external-link"  size="12px"(...)
  • d

  • Data Acquisition
    The process of automatically gathering information from analogue or digital electrical signals into a device, such as a computer. A DAQ device often contains an analogue to digital convertor to change analogue electrical waveforms into binary computer data.
  • DIAdem
    A data analysis and reporting software package from National Instruments, which integrates with LabVIEW and the TDMS data format. National Instruments DIAdem Website
  • f

  • Field Programmable Gate Array
    An integrated circuit consisting of a large number of software configurable logic elements. FPGAs combine the parallelism and reliability of hardwired logic circuits, with the more rapid development process of a software based system. FPGAs can be programmed using a hardware description(...)
  • FPGA
    An integrated circuit consisting of a large number of software configurable logic elements. FPGAs combine the parallelism and reliability of hardwired logic circuits, with the more rapid development process of a software based system. FPGAs can be programmed using a hardware description(...)
  • h

  • Human Machine Interface
    Strictly, this is a method by which an operator can interact with a machine. When applied to computer-based measurement, monitoring or control equipment this typically refers to the interface between an operator and the computer program. This is usually in the form of a graphical display with(...)
  • i

  • IEEE-488
    A digital communications bus originally developed by Hewlett Packard in the late 1960s, which is still widely used today for communicating with a wide range instrumentation. IEEE-488 is a parallel communications bus which uses a 24 wire connection consisting of 8 data lines, 3 handshaking(...)
  • In-circuit Test
    A form of testing where the UUT is treated as a 'white box', so that testing examines the operation of internal interconnects and components. When testing a printed circuit board, in-circuit testing may use a bed-of-nails test fixture to directly access components. Techniques such as boundary(...)
  • Instrument Driver
    An Application Programmer Interface (API) allowing a developer to control an instrument using a high level set of functions. Therefore, instead of having to send low-level commands to an instrument and interpret the responses, the instrument driver abstracts this level of complexity away from(...)
  • Interchangeable Virtual Instruments
    A standard for instrument drivers to ensure consistent functionality and software interfaces, independent of the instrument vendor. IVI Class Compliant drivers go one step further by allowing instrument interchangability within the same class. For example, application software could be(...)
  • IVI
    A standard for instrument drivers to ensure consistent functionality and software interfaces, independent of the instrument vendor. IVI Class Compliant drivers go one step further by allowing instrument interchangability within the same class. For example, application software could be(...)
  • l

  • LabVIEW
    Introduction National Instruments LabVIEW is a programming language which is commonly used within science and engineering for building test, measurement and(...)
  • LAN eXtensions for Instrumentation
    Intended as the successor to GPIB, LXI uses Ethernet as the physical connection to external instruments (i.e. instruments not integrated within the computer). This increases data rates, simplifies wiring and allows the maximum distance between instruments and the host computer to be increased(...)
  • LXI
    Intended as the successor to GPIB, LXI uses Ethernet as the physical connection to external instruments (i.e. instruments not integrated within the computer). This increases data rates, simplifies wiring and allows the maximum distance between instruments and the host computer to be increased(...)
  • p

  • PCI Express eXtensions for Instrumentation
    The successor to PXI, PXI Express has the same physical size as PXI, but utilises the faster PCI Express bus, allowing for 2GB/sec dedicated per slot bandwidth - enabling high speed data streaming from instrumentation where this was not previously possible. In addition, PXI Express provides(...)
  • PCI eXtensions for Instrumentation
    A standard platform for modular instrumentation based on compactPCI. PXI uses a 4U high chassis which 3U instrumentation modules slot into. The chassis backplane carries a PCI bus which allows communication between the modules and either a controller in the(...)
  • PDF/A
    A standardized version of the PDF (Portable Document Format) that is designed for long term document archiving. PDF/A applies a number of constraints to PDF files which aim to ensure that they can still be rendered in the future despite obsolescence of associated formats. Requirements for(...)
  • Process Capability
    A statistical measure of how well a process is performing, with respect to its variation and how well it is centered between its specification limits. It can be used to predict the number of defects or errors produced by the process. Process Capability is often expressed as one or more of the(...)
  • Programmable Logic Controller
    A programmable real-time computer unit which is often used for industrial process automation. PLCs usually have I/O connection modules attached allowing them to be connected to variety of sensors and actuators. Modern PLCs are usually programmed via a PC based development program, using either(...)
  • PXI
    A standard platform for modular instrumentation based on compactPCI. PXI uses a 4U high chassis which 3U instrumentation modules slot into. The chassis backplane carries a PCI bus which allows communication between the modules and either a controller in the(...)
  • PXIe
    The successor to PXI, PXI Express has the same physical size as PXI, but utilises the faster PCI Express bus, allowing for 2GB/sec dedicated per slot bandwidth - enabling high speed data streaming from instrumentation where this was not previously possible. In addition, PXI Express provides(...)
  • r

  • Real-Time
    Real-time computer systems consist of hardware and software that is designed to guarantee a response to an event within very tight timing constraints. This type of system is often described as being deterministic. Modern PC systems running a standard operating system can often perform(...)
  • s

  • Standard Commands for Programmable Instruments
    A standard of defined command strings for controlling programmable instruments. The SCPI standard was an attempt to harmonise the variation in syntax and command structure between instruments and vendors. Many modern instruments follow the SCPI command structure and syntax for low level(...)
  • Step Type
    In relation to National Instruments TestStand, a Step Type is a reusable software module that can be inserted into a test sequence. A Step Type might perform an action such as configuring an instrument, taking a measurement, or checking results against limit(...)
  • Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition
    Refers to a large-scale, high-level data acquisition and control system - often used for monitoring an industrial process. Typically a SCADA system will monitor inputs and update control outputs at a slow rate (5Hz), with high-speed, or real-time control operations being driven by a separate(...)
  • Switch Executive
    National Instruments Switch Executive is a software tool for managing computer controlled switching within automatic test equipment. By providing features such as aliases to physical switch channels and automatic routing between end-points, Switch Executive(...)
  • t

  • Technical Data Management Streaming
    A standard data file format for storing streamed measurement data developed by National Instruments. Creation of TDMS files is supported in NI LabVIEW and NI CVI.  Files can be read back using NI LabVIEW, NI CVI, NI Diadem and also through plug-ins for Microsoft Excel and OpenOffice.
  • TestStand
    Introduction National Instruments TestStand is a test management software environment which allows the development and execution of automated test sequences. The(...)
  • u

  • Unit Under Test
    A term used to describe a device or assembly that is being tested. UUT is commonly used in the electronics industry to describe a device that is being tested by test equipment system.
  • v

  • Virtual Instrument Software Architecture
    VISA is a low-level I/O library allowing data communication over a variety of data busses. A standard software interface is presented, independent of the physical communication path. For example, this would allow the same software to be used whether communicating with a USB instrument or via(...)
  • VISA
    VISA is a low-level I/O library allowing data communication over a variety of data busses. A standard software interface is presented, independent of the physical communication path. For example, this would allow the same software to be used whether communicating with a USB instrument or via(...)
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