PXI- PXI extension for Instrumentation

PXI is a high performance and low-cost development for measurement and automation systems for applications such as manufacturing test, machine monitoring and and industrial testing application. PXI was introduced as an open industry standard. Today, PXI is governed by the PXI Systems Alliance (PXISA), a group of more than 70 companies chartered to promote the PXI standard.

PXI System

PXI systems are composed of three basic components – chassis, controller and peripheral modules.

PXI chassis

PXI chassis is the backbone of PXI system. They offer range of I/O module and slot types.

PXI peripheral modules

PXI is open industry standard so nearly 1500 products are available from more than 70 instrument vendors.

Modules are available for variety of application i.e

  • Aircraft MicroAFDX communication that might be required for testing aircraft components
  • Motion Control
  • RF communications
  • Timing Input and Output
  • Receiver devices
  • Power supplies
  • Image Acquisition
  • Digital I/O processing
  • Analogue I/O processing

PXI Controllers

PXI controller is simply an embedded PC with OS, RAM and Processor to run app for peripheral modules and other I/O connected on controller. All controller options include remote controllers from a desktop, workstation, server as well as high-performance embedded controllers with either Microsoft OS or a real-time OS (Labview Real-Time). With embedded controller option, there is no need for an external PC.

NI PXI Controller with Remote Desktop – MXI chassis

If embedded controller is not used and an external PC is required to control National Instrument PXI chassis, then MXI-Express Remote Control Kit is required to control PXI system. The kit consists of PCI/PCI Express board installed in expansion slot of PC and PXI/PXI Express Module in Slot of PXI system. The MXI-Express kit can also be purchases with two ports for interfacing to PXI chassis. Two ports can control two PXI systems simultaneously from a single PX so to create multichassis star topology. Another option is to daisy chain multiple chassis to a single controller creating a line topology. 

Undoubtedly, PXI platform offers great flexibility to design a modular control, measurement and test applications.
With benefits such as high throughput, timing and synchronisation and reliability, PXI platform could be used to achieve a significantly low cost system.  Further the plugin peripherals, modules that are available to do what laboratory instruments do, for instance – oscilloscope, network and power analysers, power supplies, DMM. I think it is probably safe to conclude that it is time to say no to Boxed instrumentation and opt for module-based PXI hardware. Such modularity and flexibility to connect PXI to variety of different hardware makes it often a very good platform for Automated Test Equipment ATE.

I hope article has been worth reading. Until next time …