Team Feedback

Our NI USB-DAQ 6009 arrived in the mail today. I haven’t yet hooked it up to the computer but I did install the two screw terminal blocks. The only problem I had was with the labels. I thought they were peel and stick, but after peeling, there was no adhesive.

The device is really cute. It’s about 3" x 3" and weighs about 3 ounces. It has a molded loop in the plastic packaging. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to attach a lanyard to the loop so I can carry the device around my neck or if the loop is for attaching a security cable so the device doesn’t “walk away”.

Per the instructions in the NI email, I downloaded a 30-day evaluation copy of LabView 8. I viewed a few of the online tutorials and set up a simple data acquisition application collecting data from a microphone connected to the sound board on my PC (this was before the DAQ 6009 device arrived). As promised, LabView makes it easy to set up a custom data acquistion program. The LabView programming environment consists of the block diagram and the front panel. The user programs the block diagram by selecting functional blocks from a menu and “wiring” them together to specify the data flow (from input block to analysis block to output display block). The front panel shows the user controls and displays. It’s easy to add graphs (similar to an oscilloscope) and add knobs and sliders for user input. I haven’t used LabView professional for about 10 years, but the basic user interface hasn’t changed significantly. They’ve made improvements mainly by increasing the sophistication and variety of the functional blocks available and adding dialog boxes for customizing the block’s parameters. Several of the students on our team have had experience with RoboLab during their tenure with FIRST Lego League. RoboLab, used for programming the LEGO RCX controller, was based on an earlier version of LabView. Given their familiarity with selecting functional blocks, wiring them together, and pressing the RUN arrow button, I anticipate the students will be able to set up their virtual instruments with LabView without too much coaching.

I’ll provide more feedback after we hook up the device to the computer and to the robot.


Interesting. They actually are peel-and-stick, the adhesive used to hold it on the wax paper back is the same adhesive you use to adhere it to the terminal blocks. A little of your favorite thin adhesive will adhere the strip to the terminal block (remember there are several strips with pin numbers, descriptors, etc…) and if all else fails let us know ( and we can probably ship you more labels.

This device was designed with the academic market in mind so while a lanyard is a very good use for the loop it was meant for a security cable - unless you have students who are extremely “attached” to their projects… :wink:


I’ve been playing with the USB-6009 device and LabVIEW this past week, and teams need to be aware of a few points:

  1. Install LabVIEW first. The version 8.0 download from NI is about 450 MB, so don’t even attempt it without a broadband connection. You can play with this software even without hardware, so teams that aren’t participating in the trial can also get some experience. (Edit: I am told that a disc with LabVIEW 8 is in the KOP, so if you can wait it’ll avoid a huge download…)

  2. Next, install NI-DAQmx. The NI-DAQmx version that came with Team 1676’s shipment is 7.5, instead of loading that you need to download version 8.0 from NI’s website. This is essentially the device driver for the hardware, but more. Again, this is a huge (over 450 MB) download.

If you are unable to find the “DAQ Assistant” in the Express Inputs area of the Functions menu, you have the older version of NI-DAQmx installed. This caused a bit of frustration for me until i realized the problem.

  1. Remember the DAQ device is static-sensitive!! Although reasonably robust, you CAN damage it easily enough, especially in the dry winter weather. Now would be a good time to invest in a few anti-static wrist straps.

  2. Once you’ve attached the connectors and stick-on labels (be careful to get them right!), you can attach the USB-6009 to the computer. Windows will sort everything out just fine.
    (Run through the test panels to check everything is working OK)

  3. Go through the “getting started” tutorials, they are well worth the time. The .PDF is 80 pages, but print it out anyway, it’s awfully convenient. Especially have the students run through these!!

  4. After the tutorial, create a Virtual Instrument (VI) to both generate a sine wave on an analog output and to look at it from an analog input. Once you can do that, you have the basics down, start thinking about interfacing with the real world - for example, the Robot Controller. Read a PWM output from the RC and display the value on a VI.

Please, all teams involved with this program, I urge you to record your experiences here so we can all learn from each other. In particular, any interesting applications or uses of the hardware would be interesting.


Good Point. Unfortunately most, if not all, of our kits are currently being upgraded from LabVIEW 7.x compatible drivers to LabVIEW 8.0 compatible drivers, but since LabVIEW 8.0 is so new it’s possible that not all of the kits have been transitioned yet - I guess the DAQ device has fallen victim to the inevitable rekitting lag, especially since we had the devices priority shipped from the warehouse. I’ve made a note in the LabVIEW FAQ about this, hopefully we can avoid this problem in the future. :ahh: