LabVIEW Robot Modeler / Simulation Kit for FRC Teams


National Instruments and WPI are almost finished developing an FRC Robot Modeling and Simulation Toolkit for LabVIEW. This robot modeling and simulation toolkit will ultimately allow teams to prototype, develop, and test robot code on the FRC Robot Controller without the need of a robot. By using LabVIEW and the USB-6009 DAQ device - attached to an FRC Robot Controller - to simulate the characteristics of a chosen robot design, teams can effectively create a Hardware-in-the-Loop simulation that can help programming teams develop and tweak their robot code weeks before the actual robot is made available for testing.

The concept is simple - you control your robot via code on the IFI Robot Controller. This code activates/controls systems that actuate pneumatics, power motors, turn servos, and perform a myriad of other actions. Your robot in turns provides feedback to the controller through gear tooth sensors, gyros, accelerometers, limit switches, and others. LabVIEW can use the Operator Interface’s Dashboard, as well as the USB-6009 DAQ device, to “see” what your robot code is asking the robot to perform; LabVIEW can then provide the necessary feedback to the IFI Robot Controller via the USB-6009 DAQ device to simulate the sensor feedback of a real robot. Therefore, once a robot design is decided upon by an FRC team, the programming team can immediately begin working on developing a model of the robot and actually write and test REAL CODE on the IFI Robot Controller before the build team even has a rolling chassis!

While the LabVIEW modeling kit is still not 100% complete, we would like to release it to teams as it is currently for general feedback as it contains several extras that all teams, even non-Pilot-Program teams, can make use of (like an enhanced Dashboard viewer!). This kit also comes with a set of video tutorials developed by the WPI team to help teams quickly become accustomed with the programming environment as well as provide real examples of using the FRC Modeling/Simulation Kit. There will eventually be 3 tutorials, but only 2 have been completely developed and are ready for use.

The components of the FRC robot modeler/simulation toolkit can be found at the following location(s):

The Robot Modeling Toolkit for LabVIEW package can be downloaded here:

Tutorial #1 - Using the USB-6009 for sensor modeling and input/output:

Tutorial #2 - Using the FRC Robot Modeling/Simulation Kit:

You can find downloadable packages of both tutorials in case you wish to view them offline here:

Installing the FRC Robot Modeling/Simulation Toolkit:

  1. Install LabVIEW 8.5 AND the supplied Driver CD as directed. All teams received LabVIEW 8.5 in the FRC Kit of Parts.
  2. If LabVIEW is already installed, please close down LabVIEW if it has already been started.
  3. Extract the contents of the FRC Toolkit ZIP file into the LabVIEW 8.5 directory - this should overwrite the contents of the user.lib directory already created in that folder. If you installed LabVIEW in the default location, that directory is “C:\Program Files\National Instruments\LabVIEW 8.5”.

Using the FRC Robot Modeling/Simulation Toolkit:

  1. Install LabVIEW 8.5.
  2. If not installing the Driver CDs, download and install NI-VISA 4.0 for Windows.
  3. Download and complete the FREE online “Learn LabVIEW in 3 Hours”]( course.
  4. Watch Tutorials 1 and 2.
  5. Download and Install the FRC Toolkit Software.
  6. Model your robot! :smiley:

It’s that simple. Please review the tutorials (sorry, they’re about 30-40 minutes apiece) and NI Pilot Program teams with the USB-6009 DAQ devices are encouraged to use the devices for sensor modeling and for use in the toolkit as sensor feedback. We will make periodic updates to add functionality, release examples, release tutorials, and so forth, so please watch this thread for updates. Any questions should be posted in the LabVIEW subforum.

Thanks, and happy modeling!

Thanks to Jon Mittelman (Team #236 the TechnoTicks) for pointing out a problem and testing an update for me! I’ve now got an update of the FRC Robot Modeling and Simulation Toolkit, and it can be found updated in the previous thread.

Jon also brought to my attention that teams who are downloading or receiving LabVIEW ONLY will need to install the latest version of NI-VISA in order for LabVIEW to be able to access the Serial ports for the Dashboard. If you install the Driver CDs when you install LabVIEW on a PC, or when you install LabVIEW on the Mac, NI-VISA is automatically installed for you - otherwise you need to install it seperately. You can download the latest version of NI-VISA here:

The changes in this update are:

  1. Corrected the Dashboard Provider to prevent the Serial port reader from hogging 99% of the available CPU on a single-CPU system.
  2. Added feature to detect presence of the Datasocket Server when launching the Dashboard Provider; if the Datasocket Server is not already running, the Dashboard Provider will auto-launch and auto-minimize the Datasocket Server for you (so you don’t have to manually launch the Datasocket Server any more!).

Please continue to use the toolkit, and stay tuned for more updates!


I am releasing a “preview” of the 3rd tutorial in the LabVIEW FRC Robot Modeling Toolkit series. Please note that this is a preview, but it does contain the following:

  1. A more advanced explaination about how the FRC Robot Modeling Toolkit works.
  2. Additional documentation about FRC Robot Modeling Toolkit functionality.
  3. Motor configuration parameters for use in the FRC Robot Modeling Toolkit.

Once I receive the video source from WPI, I will provide it as a download as I have for the other two video tutorials.

Tutorial #3 - Advanced Robot Modeler Toolkit



I’ve released a new update to the FRC Robot Modeling toolkit, primarily consisting of adding extra error handling to the Dashboard Provider. I recommend you update your software, the main link in the first post has been updated to reflect the new version. The toolkit was updated last on 01/20/2008.


Hey all.

I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on this topic, so I decided to address everyone at once. This tool is no longer being supported by anyone. This Simulation kit was designed as a Hardware In the Loop simulation environment for the IFI FRC Controller. The IFI FRC Controller is no longer being supported by FIRST in their competitions, all of the tutorials were not delivered (the 3rd tutorial has been effectively lost forever in the bit bucket in the sky), and the modeling environment is incomplete with respect to external hardware (i.e. camera, et. al.), and definitely requires a LOT of work still, so I have decided to stop supporting it. This kit DOES NOT support or work with or even come close to representing the cRIO controller nor its environment nor its theory of operation.

It is possible that a simulator will be created for the cRIO, but to my knowledge such a project has not been kicked off yet nor has it been funded nor has it been staffed nor have any of the details been worked out yet. As a mentor I completely understand and value the benefits of such a simulator, but the complexity is immense and the expectations of the FRC community are monumental; this is something that, if done, will need to be done right the first time - so, I cannot even begin to postulate when or if such an activity will be launched.

If you have any feedback, I would definitely love to hear it, at FRC [at] ni [dot] com. Otherwise, thanks for understanding. These tools as they currently are will soon be deleted.