"The best way to minimize risk is to not take it needlessly"

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Pocket VNA (My New Toy)


A few years back, actually a lot of years back, when I got into the industry my boss sat me down in front of the HP8510 Vector Network Analyzer (VNA).  It was brand new, still had that factory smell to it.  I was told it was serial number 0002 and if I broke it, I'd be working the rest of my life to pay it off.  The entire setup was around $500K.  What made this VNA special, it was one of the first true digital analyzers.  The HP8510 took advantage of onboard computing.  Up until this point the way you normalize a trace was to take a grease pencil and mark its location on the screen.  For a microwave engineeer this was like trading in your horse for a car. 

So, one night in boredom I was looking on the internet and I found an ad for a pocket VNA (NanoVNA, image on the upper right).  A touch screen VNA with a USB interface for $50.  For $50, I figured what-the-hell.  OK, it is bandwidth limited to about 1.5GHz, dynamic range is only about 50dB, and it really is only a glorified one port analyzer but it is a true VNA, and only costs $50.  It comes with software so it can be used with a computer, tablet, or cell phone.  The software allows you to save & load calibrations, perform adapter removal calibrations, correction offsets, reference extensions, and even has built-in functions to convert to Time Domain.  No longer will you need to grab 2 people to push the VNA up the ramp into the screen room.  Now you just put it in your pocket.  Yes, "the times are a-changing".

Brain Drains

LabVIEW 2020, Great but ...

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For years I have maintained a LabVIEW perpetual license, but I never took the time to update it.  LabVIEW 2012 did everything I needed so why bother.  The other day I was reading about LabVIEW NXG (Next Generation) and I wanted to see what it was all about.  So, the other night I had some time and downloaded the new 2020 LabVIEW.  And it was at that moment I remembered why I haven't upgraded. 

LabVIEW 2020 comes with both LabVIEW and LabVIEW NXG in the same package.  It took about 4 hours to load everything and installed pretty painlessly.  But then I loaded a couple of VIs that I had written a while back when all the problems started.  LabVIEW cycled through updating everything the way that it does but when it came to the NI-DAQmx references it choked.  All of the cDAQ references in the VI came back unresolved.  As it turns out, the cDAQ I have (cDAQ-9172) is no longer supported in the NI-DAQmx API.  The drivers for cDAQ-9171 & cDAQ-9174 are but not the cDAQ-9172.  They are all the same family, so why NI would support one and not the other is beyond me.  In any case, I lost 3 days screwing around with it.       

I was looking though some of the NI forums when I found an article which says you can install LabVIEW 2020, then removed the existing NI-DAQmx driver and replace it with the 17.5 version.  So far, everything seems to work but I do not think I am out of the woods yet.  I'll write a couple of new VIs to test it out and will let you know.  BTW the cRIO which I bought for FIRST Robotics is no longer supported either.  With all that said, I'll probably not upgrade again 'til 2028.  

NI-DAQmx 20.1 Readme
Status Code - 209852



Favorite Quotes

"The best way to predict the future is to create it." (Abraham Lincoln)

"Our greatest weakness lies in giving up.  The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time." (Thomas Edison)

"If all else fails try anything" (BT)

"The best way to minimize risk is to not take it needlessly" (My Dad)

"Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can't lose" (Bill Gates)

"Change before you have to"
(Jack Welch)

"The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do"
(BF Skinner)

"It's not a faith in technology. It is a faith in people" (Steve Jobs)

"Don't reward the people who know, reward the people who can do" (?)

Video of the Month

My Favorite Video(s)

Think About It

sample imageWhat two letters do not appear in the Periodic Table?

If I were to just write them out it wouldn't be any fun, at least not for me.  A hint: 6A and 71.