LabVIEW Interface for chipKIT Digilent UNO32 Development Board

Introduction

The chipKIT development platform with prototyping-friendly 32-bit MCU packages (based on PIC32 microcontrollers) from Microchip is an open-source hardware and software solution intended for beginners and users with little or no knowledge of embedded controllers wanting to explore embedded applications.

The chipKIT environment advances the art of open-source, physical computing by expanding support to more chip platforms and introducing new, high-performance libraries. It combines low-cost hardware with free software that is fast, powerful, and extendable. Inspired by Arduino™, chipKIT controller boards and software tools are easy to use by beginners of any age and specialists in any field. These boards and tools are compatible with the standards established for the hobbyist community and also offer a clear migration path to professional-grade tools for experienced engineers(1)

Most recently LabVIEW Interface for ChipKit has been made available.  The LabVIEW Interface for ChipKit (LIFCK) Toolkit is a FREE download that allows users to acquire data from a ChipKit development platform and process it in the LabVIEW Graphical Programming environment. LabVIEW (short for Laboratory Virtual Instrument Engineering Workbench) is a system-design platform and development environment for a visual programming language from NI (National Instruments). The graphical language is named “G” (not to be confused with G-code). Originally released for the Apple Macintosh in 1986, LabVIEW is commonly used for data acquisitioninstrument control, and industrial automation on a variety of platforms including Microsoft Windows, various versions of UNIXLinux, and Mac OS X. The latest version of LabVIEW is LabVIEW 2013. (2)

Objectives

Install the required hardware and software to interface NI’s LabVIEW to Digilent’s chipKIT UNO32 board,  and test an application that blinks a LED.

main+image

Requirements

– Digilent UNO 32 Development Board

chipKIT-Uno32-obl-500

MPIDE software
LabVIEW 2013 software

NOTE: If you do not own a copy of LabVIEW, you can download a non-commercial student license and request usage for 6 months.

A free, 45 day evaluation of LabVIEW is available at ni.com/trylabview. You are required to obtain a NI user profile to extend the 7-day evaluation to 45-days!

Procedure

1) chipKIT running on Windows

The fundamental steps to get chipKIT running on a PC are:

a) Download the MPIDE environment

The MPIDE programming software can be dowloaded from chipKIT’s website. It is a zipped file that you can unzip to a location on your hard drive say C:\chipkit. You will end up with following file structure:
mpide-exe1-1024x571[1]

b) Connect UNO32 board

Connect the USB cable to one of the PC’s USB ports and then to the mini-A USB connector of UNO32. UNO32 can be powered via USB connection, or with an external power supply.  The power source is selected automatically by sensing circuitry on the board. So for this set up we will not need external power supply as UNO32 will be powered from USB port of your PC.

c) Install the USB drivers

The installation procedure will depend on the OS of your PC. UNO32 use a FTDI USB interface chip. Your OS should detect the device once it is connected:

new_hardware

If you allow Windows to search online, it should locate the driver and install it properly. Nevertheless if you do not want to risk you can install the drivers from the folder of MPIDE. Within drivers sub-folder you will find FTDI USB Drivers:

ftdi_drivers

Alternatively drivers can be downloaded here on FTDI’s website. Once the driver is installed check in Definitions -> Control Panel -> System -> Hardware -> Device Management -> Ports (COM and LPT) and check the port number of your USB connection. In my case it is port 21:

usb_port

d) Run MPIDE

Now we are ready to run MPIDE programming environment. In your chipKIT folder you will find the MPIDE icon. Click the icon (in my Windows XP  set up I have to start the program as Administrator, so you may have to do the same):

run_mpide

 When it is launched you will see the following screen:

mpide_sketch

In Tools -> Board choose chipKIT UNO32:

uno32_mpide

Next again in Tools -> Serial Port choose the serial port where your USB connection is made (in my set up is port 21):

mpide_serial

The codes for UNO32 are called sketches. The word “sketch” is inherited from Processing an open source programming language.

The Processing project was initiated in 2001 by Casey Reas and Benjamin Fry, both formerly of the Aesthetics and Computation Group at the MIT Media Lab. One of the stated aims of Processing is to act as a tool to get non-programmers started with programming, through the instant gratification of visual feedback. The language builds on the Java language, but uses a simplified syntax and graphics programming model.

Many example sketches are included with the MPIDE environment. We will blink a LED, so we will choose in File -> Sketchbook -> Examples -> Basics -> Blink:

mpide_blink

As you will note the syntax is quite simple in MPIDE environment. If you are familiar Arduino Processing environment you will note they are the same.

e) Run the Blink sketch on UNO32

Click the “Upload” button in your MPIDE environment as shown:

mpide_upload

If everything is OK, you will see that the sketch is uploaded into UNO32:

mpide_uploading

If it is successully uploaded in your MPIDE environment you will see “Done Uploading”:

mpide_done_uploading

And after few seconds you will see the green LED on your UNO32 blinking every one second.

You have successfully programmed UNO32! At this stage it is quite convenient, for learning purposes, to register yourself in ChipKIT forums, and to check around.

2) LabVIEW environment

This is your development environment where you will write your computer program to control the chipKIT device UNO32.

a) Install Labview 2013 and NI-VISA

Download and install LabVIEW 2013 if you do not have it already.

Next install NI-VISA device driver. This is a library of functions that enable LabVIEW to send and receive commands for various communication protocols such as RS-232 and IEEE488.2. VISA drivers are free for use and can be downloaded from ni.com/drivers.

If you have doubts, please check the NI website and follow instructions.  Installing Labview and drivers is quite an easy process!

b) Install JKI’s VI Package Manager

JKI is a NI Alliance Partner (jist like my company Aliatron is) and is an integrator of NI solutions. The Package Manager will allow you to install the LabVIEW interface for chipKIT add-on with all functions, examples and help files. Download JKI’s VI Package Manager and install it by clicking on the JKI’s icon in your PC’s folder where you have downloaded it.

c) Install LabVIEW interface for chipKIT

This is an API (set of functions) that allow LabVIEW to control and communicate with the chipkit UNO32 board. It is a free tool that for download on the Labview interface for chipKIT community.  Current release is 1.0.0.8. Click on the icon:

package_manager

And JKI’s VI Package Manager will open inviting you to install the LabVIEW interface:

install_lick

Once installed you will see the following re-assuring screen:

installed_lick

Click Show Examples button. And choose “chipKIT Blink (digital Write).vi” clicking on the icon.

show_examples

Check if your UNO32 is connected to PC with USB cable.

LabVIEW will open with the launched VI. Change the chipKIT setting as shown in red box of the image:

blink_vi

Now Run the VI clicking the run botton . After few seconds an error will occur:

vi_error

As the pop up indicates our UNO32 has not the latest firmware. In fact it has no firmware to communicate with LabVIEW. The firmware is found in LabVIEW folder in vi.lib\LabVIEW Interface for Chipkit\Firmware\Chipkit.

d) Deploy LabVIEW interface for chipKIT firmware (LIFCK)

Launch MPIDE environment as before.

After doing File-> Open, navigate to C:\Program Files\National Instruments\LabVIEW2013\vi.lib\LabVIEW Interface for ChipKit\Firmware\ChipKit\LIFCK_uC32 and choose LIFCK_uC32.pde sketch as shown:

firmware

Note: You may need to teak again  in Tools the Board and Serial Port number.

Once the fimware is loaded, click on Upload to board button 

The firmware sketch will be uploaded to UNO32 board, and if everything goes well the result will be “Done uploading”:

upload_done

The green LED on the board will now be permanently ON.

NOTE: The firmware for uC32 (another chipKIT board from Digilent) is same as for UNO32 board.

3) Run blinking VI in LabVIEW

Exit MPIDE environment, and launch LabVIEW 2013 again. Choose the VI as shown which should be now in LabVIEW screen:

lv2013_arranque

Change the chipKIT setting as shown in red box of the image:

blink_vi

The port number will be the one found in your PC as shown earlier.

Now Run the VI clicking the run botton . After few seconds you will see the green LED on UNO32 blinking once every second.

In Tools choose Block Diagram. This will show the graphic components of LabVIEW.

NOTE: You will see a set up of how to connect UNO32 board in LabVIEW’s Block Diagram of a breadboard plus resistor and LED. In fact for this tutorial purpose, you do not need to connect to external LED on a breadboard, as the green LED on UNO32 is connected to port 13 andl LabVIEW sends the digital command to port 13:

labview_env

Digilent offers many connectivity solutions including a quite interesting board Basic I/O Shield for UNO32:

uno32_ioshield

I/O shield on top of UNO32 board

Also, if you want to write the VI we have used, there is an excellent step by step tutorial at https://decibel.ni.com/content/docs/DOC-29229

Watch our uploaded video on Youtube, showing the Digilent UNO32 board being controlled by LabVIEW:

And also watch video showing Digilent UNO32 board and Basic I/O shield and blinking of LED on port 29:

Resources

1) NI Community: https://decibel.ni.com/content/groups/labview-interface-for-chipkit
2) Digilent UNO32: http://www.digilentinc.com/Products/Detail.cfm?Prod=CHIPKIT-UNO32
3) Digilent Basic I/O Shield: http://www.digilentinc.com/Products/Detail.cfm?NavPath=2,719,935&Prod=CHIPKIT-BASIC-IO-SHIELD

Conclusions

We have shown how to interface LabVIEW to chipKIT Digilent UNO32 development board. This solution of interfacing LabVIEW offers enormous potentiaties for projects. Though we did very little extra work (we based on already existing work), the idea behind this tutorial is to show how easy it is for LabVIEW to communicate with chipKIT devices. Check here in this blog other tutorials for LabVIEW that may interest you.

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About Tayeb

Electronics engineer, part-time webmaster and owner of "Aliatron", a tech-oriented company registered in Portugal and Mozambique.
This entry was posted in Electronic Projects, Programming and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to LabVIEW Interface for chipKIT Digilent UNO32 Development Board

  1. Pingback: LabVIEW and VISA interface, with chipKIT Digilent UNO32 and Basic I/O Shield | RedAcacia

  2. Pingback: Remote Viewing with NI LabVIEW, Digilent UNO32 and Basic I/O Shield | RedAcacia

  3. Pingback: Using the Chrome Serial API with chipKIT Digilent UNO32 | RedAcacia

  4. Mustafa Ekelik says:

    Q: Can I deploy code to the chipKIT device from LabVIEW and disconnect the USB so that it can run autonomously?
    A: The LabVIEW Interface for ChipKit allows users to interface with the ChipKit and requires a constant connection (via USB) between the ChipKit and LabVIEW running on the host computer. The goal of the LabVIEW Interface for ChipKit is to enable users to interact with the ChipKit while taking advantage of the processing power of the PC and signal processing and user interface power of LabVIEW. It is currently not possible to run LabVIEW code on the ChipKit autonomously.

    • Tayeb says:

      Welcome to my blog. Thank you for your intervention in case someone does not understand the purpose of connecting Labview and chipKIT. I have also shown here remote connecting without USB cable with recourse to bluetooth module.

  5. Leonardo says:

    hello, i’m trying to do a blink led, but with the led 5 (pin 43), but it doesn’t work, could you help, me?

  6. Sebastian says:

    Hello Tayeb. I am student of electronics engineering in Colombia. I am making a student project. It’s a data acquisition system. My partners and I had thought a solution based on Arduino Mega+Labview but we have a big problem. One of the requirements for the project is the sample rate. We need at least 10kHz and this was not possible with Arduino Mega+Labview. Reading some forums I found Chipkit Max32 and now I read your blog and I see the development for ChipKit Max32+LabView is similar to Arduino+LabView. My question is: Can I get a sample rate of al least 10kHz with ChipKit Max32+LabView?

    Arduino Mega card has this sample rate but using with LabView this reduces.

    • Tayeb says:

      Welcome to my blog. Sorry it took me so long to reply. I have abroad without Internet access. I am not sure about Labview reading so fast. Surely with NI cards you can achieve fast rates of acquisition.

  7. Bobillier Eric says:

    Hi Tayeb Thanks for your tutorial. Just for information, do you know than Labview Hackers have create a new toolkit for Arduino/ChipKit. You can fin it hear: http://sine.ni.com/nips/cds/view/p/lang/fr/nid/212478
    Best regards from France
    Eric Bobillier

  8. Pingback: LabVIEW: LINX and chipKIT » chipKIT Development Platform

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