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E8363b, USB-GPIB 82357A, T&M Toolkit and VS.NET 2005 - ?

Question asked by CraigEwens on May 30, 2007
Latest reply on Jun 12, 2007 by odanzy
Subject: E8363b, USB-GPIB 82357A, T&M Toolkit and VS.NET 2005 - Advice required


I have recently found myself with a few spare minutes/day to investigate & learn a new technique of controlling all our Agilent test equipment.

I was intrigued by the T&M Toolkit so have downloaded my 30day trial. I have borrowed a E8363b PNA and have it connected to my laptop via a USB-GPIB 82357A. The T&M Toolkit has been installed and all seems well... I’m just a little confused (due to the vast number of options I have) as to the "best" way to proceed.

There appears to be much help scattered all over the Agilent web site, but no single place (that I can find) which uses a configuration like mine with the goal of using .NET. Although I have the latest PNA firmware, the help file only discusses COM and SCPI methods for controlling the instrument.
Q1 – Is there a .NET reference to use or is COM my only choice at the moment?

I particularly wanted to move away from having to type SCPI commands so I’m left with COM for now.

Part of the T&M Toolkit is the Agilent Instrument Explorer, this identifies my PNA effortlessly but upon an instrument drag&drop into my coding window I am given the options to choose my connection method through the session wizard; Driver Session or DirectIO. The DirectIO method wishes me to type SCPI so that’s out.

The “help me choose” button suggests I have 4 options
From reading the help, it would seem I’d be happy with IVI-C (appears to be a .Net wrapper of IVI-COM?) and according to the following site Agilent don’t particularly recommend the VXI or IVI-COM drivers. 
It appears I don’t have the IVI-C driver, so upon following the link to browse Agilent web site I find myself here with only the IVI-COM driver available… d’oh!

Q2 – Which Driver Session would you recommend I should I be using, I want to try and adopt the most modern method possible taking all advantages of .NET 2005?

During my quest and though reading various pages from the Agilent web site I cannot seem to find examples which use my current configuration. I've found ways using DirectIO and I’ve found ways which use COM (but they’re all from VB6, not .NET and certainly no examples with the T&M Toolkit). I’ve found methods which discuss the PNAProxy.exe application but this didn’t appear to operate with my 82357A only over a LAN.

From using other VS.NET 2005 functions I was kind of hoping that the T&M toolkit would have allowed me to simply search for instrument (it does wonderfully), drag one into my programming window and it have created me an instrument object fully utilising the MS Intellisense… maybe it does and I’m just missing that vital link? I can only make it perform by using methods like this:
Dim Instr As Agilent.TMFramework.InstrumentIO.DirectIO
Instr = New Agilent.TMFramework.InstrumentIO.DirectIO("GPIB0::16::INSTR", False, 2000)

So, firstly thank you for reading all my ramblings and secondly if anyone would like to offer some advice on the way things should be done or snippets on where I’m going wrong please do.

For using the T&M Toolkit, my plan would have been to generate a base class for each instrument type. Starting with the PNA for now, having options and different models being handled though the use of separate classes for specifics using inheritance. Once this was established I was then going to plug these into the TestAutomator and run a test… does this sound like a sensible way forward?

Also, on the subject of the TestAutomator… can test sequences be initiated though this from an external application? Maybe a command line run with a switch defining which sequence to run?

Many thanks