ECE 1100
Introduction to Engineering
Intro to LabVIEW:
Programming for Symon
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University of Houston
Diana de la Rosa-Pohl
Len Trombetta
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The tutorials provided here are designed to show you
some useful LabVIEW programming constructs,
designed to show you what you need to construct the
Symon Game for ECE 1100 Project 3.
National Instruments also provides a lot of help on their website:
Tutorials for myDAQ:
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“Getting Started with LabVIEW” pdf:
LabVIEW Programming Intro
Table of Contents
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T/F Case Structure and Boolean Control of LEDs
Random Numbers; General Case Structure, FOR LOOP
Array Build: Symon’s choices
Local Variables: Player’s response
Other Stuff
• Finer Points
• Errors and De-Bugging
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Case Structure (T/F)
We will illustrate the use of a T/F case structure
by configuring the myDAQ to turn an LED on or
off when we push a button on the front panel.
For this exercise we assume you have an LED (and
a resistor) connected between digital output 0 and
DGND (digital ground). For details see
“ECE_1100_Symon.pptx” on the course website.
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Controlling LEDs with Digital Out
Choose DAQ Assist from Express>Input>DAQ Assist
Configure: Generate
Signals>Digital Output >
Line Output.
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Choose a port (port 0 in this
case). This writes to digital
output bit 0.
Controlling LEDs with Digital Out
Click “Finish”. Choose “1 Sample (On
Demand)”. Click “OK”.
Now we put a T/F Boolean constant inside an
array constant, and wire it to “data”.
Programming>Boolean>T or F Constant
Array Constant
Booleans are indicated by green
boxes and wires.
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Boolean means: having two possible values: True or False
Controlling LEDs with Digital Out
Put a Case Structure around your DAQ Assistant.
For the “True” case, make
the Boolean constant “T”.
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For the “False” case, make
the Boolean constant “F”.
Use the “hand” tool to choose between T and F.
Controlling LEDs with Digital Out
Go to the Front Panel and
choose a Boolean button.
I expanded this one using the pointer
tool, and changed the label using the
text tool “A”.
Right click on the button and do “Change to Control”. Now look at
the Block Diagram – there is a corresponding button there.
Wire the new button to the select input
of your case structure.
• Control: the user sets values
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• Indicator: displays values that
cannot be changed.
Controlling LEDs with Digital Out
That’s it! Now when
you press the button,
the LED will light.
When you press
again, it will go off.
In the next section we will learn how to turn off the
LED after a brief interval using a sequence structure.
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Here we will see one way to turn on an LED, wait
a pre-determined time, and then turn off the LED.
We will use a sequence structure to do this.
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We’ll start with the LED on/off vi we created earlier. The figures
below show the LED on, and the case structure for on (TRUE),
as well as the LED off and the case structure for off (FALSE).
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In the block diagram, right-click and choose Flat Sequence.
Surround the LED control with the sequence structure.
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Right-click on the frame, and do Add Frame After. Repeat to
get three frames (including the first one).
In my Symon, I put a wait statement in the middle frame from
Programming>Timing. Then I wired a 500 ms numeric constant to it.
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In the third frame, we copy and paste the LED control DAQ
Assist and wire a F Boolean to it.
That’s it!! When we RUN the vi, if the switch is on (TRUE),
the light will go on for one-half second and then turn off.
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Random LEDs
In this tutorial we will use a random number
generator to randomly turn on LEDs four times.
This will make use of a general case structure
and a FOR LOOP.
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Random LEDs
Once again we begin with our DAQ Assist that turns on/off an
LED at Port 0. We enclose it in a sequence, but this time we rightclick on the sequence frame and choose Stacked Sequence.
Frame 0: Turn on LED
and wait 1000 ms (1 s).
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Frame 1: Turn off LED.
Both frames in the sequence will execute every time, so
when an LED goes on, it will go off again in 1 s.
Random LEDs
Now we put a case structure around our stacked sequence.
It comes up True/False, but we want
to handle more than just T/F. We
can simply type in the cases we
want (0, 1, 2, …for example), but it
is easier to tell the case structure
what the cases are going to be.
To do that, we create the random
number generator. Multiply by 3.5,
Round to Nearest Integer, and
Convert to Unsigned Quad Integer.
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Random LEDs
When we wire the output of the conversion icon, the case
structure knows we are connecting an integer value to its input,
so it puts integer values in the case field.
This will be an integer…
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…so integer values are created here.
Random LEDs
The output of the random number generator will vary from 0 to
3. So we create an LED on/off function for LEDs 0, 1, 2, and 3.
To add cases, right-click on the top of the case structure and
do Add Case After.
The figure shows the case for LED 2, but for Symon we will need the
others as well (not shown here).
Right-click here to add cases.
When the output of the
random number generator
is 2, case 2 will execute.
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Case 2 lights the LED on port 2
(yellow in this case) for 1 s and
then turns it off.
Random LEDs
We want Symon to light four LEDs randomly. So we
enclose what we have so far in a FOR LOOP.
Programming>Structures>For Loop
We want to do
everything inside
four times (no pun
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We are executing “for” values 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Random LEDs
That’s it!! This program will light LEDs in random order four times.
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Array Build
Starting with the vi that lights LEDs randomly
four times, we will add an array structure that
keeps track of the order in which the LEDs were
turned on.
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Array Build
First, we create an array indicator on the front panel that
we can use to the see the result of the array build.
Modern>Array, Matrix, and
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Array Build
Now we set up the Build
Array function.
Build Array
Drag down to add one
layer to Build Array
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This is the array we added on
the front panel.
Array Build
Right-click and Add Shift Register
Wire the output of the
random number
generator to the Build
Array, and wire the
Build Array to the
Shift Registers
Wire the array output to
the MyArray indicator.
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Array Build
That’s it!! The array is now built, element by element , by sending
the output to the shift register on the right. It then gets “passed”
around to the other side the next time the loop goes around, so
we can add another element to it.
The output from here…
…shows up over here.
Elements are
added to the
array here.
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Local Variables
Local variables create a “proxy” for another
variable in the program. What you do to the
local variable will be done to the original
We will show how the Symon program uses local
variables to build an array of the player’s responses.
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Local Variables
We create an array on the front
panel (called Player), and place
a numeric indicator into it.
1-D Array
In the block diagram, we
initialize the array as a 1-D
array with all elements 0.
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Programming>Array>Initialize Array
All elements
initially set to 0
Local Variables
We also create an LED button,
for illustration, on the front
panel. In the end, Symon will
have four of these.
The default for the button is an
indicator, so we right-click and
change to control.
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Local Variables
WHILE LOOP will continue until we press
Continue on the front panel (not shown).
TRUE case will
execute if we
press the Red
LED button.
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The WHILE LOOP will continue to execute, looking to see if we
have pressed the Red LED button. If we have, it will execute
what’s inside the TRUE case. We will create a sequence of events
in that case…but how do we communicate with the Player array?
Local Variables
We do this by creating a
Local Variable…
Right-click the array, then
Create>Local Variable.
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Local Variables
Anything done to the Local Variable will be done to the Player
array. We will use the “Read” form of the Local Variable to add an
element to the array, and then “Write” back to the array. To “Write”
we will need to create a second Local Variable.
The Local
Variable comes
up as a “Write”.
Right-click and
change to “Read”.
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Local Variables
Here’s what the whole thing looks like.
Local Variable set to
Build Array.
In this illustration, we
assume that the Red
LED corresponds to
port 1, so we add “1” to
the array.
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Second Local Variable
created and set to “Write”.
Local Variables
That’s it!! Now when an element is added to the Local Variable, it
will be added to the original Player array.
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In my Symon, I put a 500 ms wait statement in the second frame
of the sequence and then turned off the LED in the third frame. If I
don’t do that, the LED remains on. I’ll let you figure that out!
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Finer Points
Change font size and
color from here.
Add comments using
the text tool “A”
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LabVIEW has terrific de-bugging routines…
If your program has an error, the “Run” arrow will
break. Click on it to see the error(s).
In this case the error is a bad wire.
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Before you RUN, click the light bulb to have LabVIEW show
you where data is flowing. It moves very slowly but you can
see everything happening.
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You can also put a “probe” on any wire in the circuit. LabVIEW
will give you a pop-up window showing any changes in the
value of data running along that wire.
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