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Recommendations for debugging test equipment through GPIB interface.

Discussion in 'Electronic Equipment' started by JW, May 1, 2007.

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  1. JW

    JW Guest

    Hello all, I'm looking for recommendations for debugging test equipment
    through their GPIB interface. I'm just getting started in the field of
    test equipment repair, (after having been a tech for over 20 years, but
    *no* GPIB experience) and have found that some equipment will only respond
    to test diagnostics through their GPIB port. For example, I have a number
    of HP 3457A DMM's where the power on self test fails. In the
    (50MB!)service manual
    (pg 8-36 and 8-37), it states that a ERR? command or an AUXERR? command
    must be sent to the DMM in order to retrieve a bitmask of what test
    actually failed.

    I currently have no GPIB hardware or software, but have taken a look at
    National Instruments who have both a USB and a PCI based GPIB card which I
    suppose come with drivers. Is this all I need to
    get a simple terminal-like interface which will enable me to communicate
    with the meter? Looking through the docs on these two devices tell me
    nothing but how to install the hardware, not how to use them. I don't want
    to have to fork over $1000 or more for a sophisticated program like
    Labview (and have a huge learning curve to learn the software!) when all I
    need is a simple user interface similar to Hyperterminal or some such. My
    programming skills are practically nil, unless you count simple BASIC
    stuff... (And I mean VERY simple - hey, I'm a hardware guy!)

    Thank you for any help or recommendations, I really appreciate it.
  2. Go with the HP card and drivers. Still not cheap for a PCI card. Which
    leaves ebay for an older card using the AT interface and maybe DOS or
    Win95 and a bit of ingenuity. Go digging through the HP website and you
    may find the drivers for this stuff. Haven't used any of this stuff in
    years, and when I did it was seriously buried.

  3. Steve

    Steve Guest

    Sounds like you'll be doing some very basic HPIB
    work. Consider getting an old HP-85 computer. These
    have HPIB, a monitor, keyboard, printer, and BASIC
    language built in. Nice small package as well. Been using
    mine for years. Be sure to get the books.

  4. Franc Zabkar

    Franc Zabkar Guest

  5. Joerg Hau

    Joerg Hau Guest

    Even easier ... apart from Steve's idea with the HP-85, I would suggest to
    get some old PC with an ISA slot, plus an ISA-slot GPIB card such as the
    HP82335 (which you can get *much* cheaper than any PCI card today).

    Install Linux on the PC, install the linux-gpib package, and off you go :)
    If you need some sample code - command line only, no GUI involved - feel
    free to have a look at my website (link below).

    In my home "lab", I'm using such a setup on a P-II (recently replaced by a
    P-III, whew!) for several years now, and it has all the functionality that
    I need to read out several DMMs, control a power supply, etc.

    Cheers + HTH,

    - Joerg
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