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NIWeek 2011

August 2011

Last week NI hosted the 17th annual graphical system design conference in Austin, Texas. More than 3,000 engineers and scientists made it down to NIWeek and had the opportunity to network, attend technical presentations, and see NI tools in action.


In case you weren’t able to make it to NIWeek this year, here are some of our favorite apps from the show floor.


Angry Eagles

This cool app consists of an Angry Birds game recreated in LabVIEW and an actual slingshot that uses NI CompactDAQ with digital and analog I/O. Users can launch the slingshot, as they would in a regular game of Angry Birds, thereby launching a bird in the game running in LabVIEW.




Going to the Stars With NI LabVIEW

If you never thought you’d get to travel into space, think again. Commercial space flight is on the horizon. Star Systems Inc. made an appearance on the NIWeek expo floor with its prototype spacecraft for private space flight. The system includes a PXI controller and LabVIEW to integrate all the subsystems and test engine setup.




Soccer-Playing Robot

One of the objectives of RoboCup is for an entire soccer team of humanoid robots to play a team of World Cup champions and win by the year 2050. Dr. Dennis Hong and his team are getting closer and closer to meeting that goal. This year, their CHARLI-L2 humanoid robot won first place in the 2011 Adult Size RoboCup Competition. Hong brought two robots, powered by LabVIEW, to NIWeek. Not only are they adorable – they are pretty good at soccer too.




>> Follow the Sweet Apps blog to read about some of the coolest applications created by NI customers.


We had a blast, and we hope you did too. Join and continue to visit the NIWeek community to view presentations or demos you may have missed during the conference.


We also hope you're already planning to attend NIWeek 2012, so be sure to visit before September 15, 2011, to register and receive a $255 USD discount for your company.


See you at the next NIWeek, August 7–9, 2012.


Last night NI hosted the annual conference party at The Moody Theater in downtown Austin, also home of the music program Austin City Limits (ACL). Attendees relaxed and networked with colleagues and new NIWeek friends as they enjoyed a drink or two, delicious BBQ, and live music on the ACL stage. The halls of the ACL theater are lined with photos of some of the most iconic music figures, including Johnny Cash, Norah Jones, Ray Charles, and, of course, Willie Nelson, who performed on the very first taping back in 1976.


It's been a busy, action-packed week so far, and NIWeek attendees were more than ready to bring the NIWeek fun over to ACL. We asked a few of them to tell us about one of their favorite ACL artists, what they thought of the conference party, and about their NIWeek experience so far.




And did I mention that they served donuts for dessert? They did, and it was the perfect way to top off an evening of fun.


Wow. Talk about an audience of 3,300 getting blown away. After a heart-pounding keynote presentation by extreme storms researcher Tim Samaras, the NIWeek Community team caught up with Peter Olivias from Los Alamos National Lab and Doug Ary from Lockheed Martin on the expo floor. Standing in front of Samaras' storm-chasing truck, Peter spoke about how lucky his TWISTEX team is to get paid to do something as adrenaline-pumping as chasing tornados. Attending his fifth NIWeek, Douglas expressed his excitement about recently switching to NI LabVIEW software. He says the change has made his work "easier and faster" and that LabVIEW is simply "the way to go."




The NIWeek Community hopes that all attendees enjoyed their NIWeek 2011 experience as much as Peter and Douglas did. We look forward to seeing everyone again next year!


The final day of NIWeek 2011 kicked off with amazing illustrations of how NI graphical system design tools are powering the future of innovation, particularly for the engineers of tomorrow.


Ray Almgren, NI VP of marketing for core platforms, gave the stage to high-school and university students from around the world. They demonstrated how they have been using LabVIEW and other NI tools to design and prototype all sorts of unique technologies, including the following:


  • A really cool 3D display from university students from Beijing, China
  • An autonomous device for plugging leaks in deepwater oil pipelines, created by MIT students
  • A unique medical device – and an automated test system to analyze it -- created by two Austin high-school students
  • A baseball pitching analysis device from Rice university students
  • A haptic feedback system for tumor detection from the University of Leeds in the UK
  • An automatic horn tuning system stimulated by live audio data, created by students from the University of California, San Diego


The keynote event closed with a fascinating presentation from severe storms researcher Tim Samaras, star of the Discovery Channel series, Storm Chasers. Tim demonstrated how he uses LabVIEW and other NI tools to analyze tornadoes. His video footage alone – featuring up-close and personal experiences of thrashing storms and ultra-high-speed footage of lightning – was enough to mesmerize the crowd.


All in all, today’s keynote was a perfect closing to a week jam-packed with innovation.


Visit to check out the videos from all of this week’s keynotes.


And of course, be sure to register for NIWEEK 2012. See you next year!


Jaegen Milley (@jaegen) with this ode to one of the new features in LabVIEW:


Create SubVI

Is *customizable* now

Thank you more, Darren!


Congrats Jaegen, and thanks to everyone who submitted an entry! We received 10 haikus (and one limerick, which was kind of cool even if it wasn't a haiku). Here's the complete list (in no particular order).


@dnatt: Full sessions abound / Huge #NIWeek attendance / Must be the weather?


@dnatt: Create SubVI / is better in #LabVIEW now. / Thanks, community!


@jaegen Create SubVI/is *customizable* now/Thank you more, Darren!


@AlphaTreo Can the Storm Chaser / Bring some quick cooling relief / To Austin TODAY?


@dnatt I'm free for an hour / Before another session. / More haikus for you!


@dnatt At the barbecue / last night, the poetry was / limericks instead.


@jaegen Should be studying / for my CLA exam / Procrastinating


@kabong See cool tech demos / learn new techniques in two days / give us more robots


@jaegen NIWeek party / proves that LabVIEW cannot teach / engineers to dance


@dnatt #LabVIEW discussions / with tipsy partygoers. / Lots of crossed wires


Tim Samaras is a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and costar of the Discovery Channel series Storm Chasers. He is passionate about the advancement of science and engineering and an expert on all weather phenomena. And one other thing - Samaras knows a lot about tornadoes. In fact, he's the Guiness Book of World Records holder for measuring the lowest pressure of a tornado and the only person to collect video from inside a tornado. Whatever you decide to do on Thursday, do not miss his closing keynote presentation.


In addition to Samaras' address, you'll see Ray Almgren, NI Vice President of Software, Education, and Training, and student teams from around the world as they showcase innovative solutions using graphical system design that tackle socially relevant engineering challenges.


And if you've been keeping up with the LabVIEW Coding Challenge, stop by the Tech Theater at noon to watch the finals. The highest scorer in the week-long challenge will compete against a member of LabVIEW R&D.


For more information about Thursday's events, see the NIWeek program.


By mixing energetic presentation of neat user interface tricks with occasional rants about the injustice of iPad distribution in the world,  Jonathan Cohn kept an audience attention past the end of the session time, a neat trick for the last session of the day.  Jonathan works for Bloomy Controls. He showed how to create "dark modals" -- when a modal dialog comes up, darkening the main window. He walked through the basics of creating plug-in property pages. And he showed a robust system for disabling or enabling different parts of a user interface based on the privilege level of the user currently logged in.


This is a presentation that Jonathan has done the past two years, and it continues to be more impressive. If you missed it this year, he's sure to be invited back next year. Although, as Jonathan himself admitted, he does need to come up with some new jokes. :-)


We’ve all heard of LinkedIn. To some, the tool is just another social networking platform. But the reality is LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with 101 million members around the world. Rather than being another network to tell your friends and followers what you’re doing or thinking at a single point in time, LinkedIn helps you build valuable relationships with those business contacts that you met at NIWeek and other business gatherings.


So, how do you start networking with the nearly 9 million engineers who are already on LinkedIn? Presenters Rod Siebels from the NI Regional Marketing Communications group, Deirdre Walsh from Jive Software, and Terry Stratoudakis from Wall Street FPGA provided great insight into using LinkedIn to build your professional reputation during Wednesday’s Community Exchange session titled “The Missing Link.”


As Rod described, LinkedIn is like a 24/7/365 networking event. He also showed great examples of quality LinkedIn profiles in which the members included detailed and thought-out summaries of their professional backgrounds. Rather than looking like a resume, Rod said, a good basic profile summary will include keywords about your job position, skills, and goals.


Terry Stratadoukis, Executive Director of Wall Street FPGA, began using LinkedIn a few years ago. He quickly saw the business value of being an active participant on the platform and provided good tips for joining groups, maintaining a personal brand, and networking on LinkedIn.


Deirdre also provided some good tips for those thinking about creating their own LinkedIn group. She recommended that one start by participating in existing LinkedIn groups with similar goals, and then start contributing content, discussions, or comments. Once you’ve earned credibility as an expert within that group, that may be the time to start your own group that serves your specific purpose. Invite others to join and keep the group updated with timely, valuable content. She also added that it’s important to recognize top participants in a group so they know you value their feedback and conversations.


After listening to all the great advice from these experts, I’m really looking forward to expanding my network on LinkedIn by joining more groups, working on my profile, and adding new connections. If you haven’t joined already, NIWeek is the perfect opportunity to get your LinkedIn profile up and running.


Today’s keynote presentation was filled with information on innovative technologies of the future. We all were amazed by the soccer-playing robots, biomimetic robotic tuna fish, and programmable water wall!


We met up with JKI Product Marketing Manager Justin Goeres from the San Francisco Bay Area, and he was very excited about the future technologies. He was most passionate about how much LabVIEW software has evolved in the past 13 years and is eagerly anticipating what’s to come on the final day of NIWeek.



If you aren’t at NIWeek in person, make sure to stay tuned into the NIWeek Community for more updates on new product releases, keynote speeches, and inspiring demos featured on the expo floor.


In the printed manuals, there is a 1pm session titled "Hands-On: Introduction to OOP in LabVIEW".

The correct title is "Hands-On: Introduction to Design Patterns in OOP in LabVIEW".


Those three missing words are kind of important. This is a session for intermediate OOP users, giving you a chance to explore some more complex architectures in an environment where people are around for you to ask questions. If by chance a new user interested in OOP comes by, that's ok... we'll give them some materials to get started with. But this session is really for those of you who are already familiar with the basics.


After hearing the buzz in this morning's keynote about the new Zynq technology from Xilinx, I decided to head down to the Technology Theater to listen to Yvonne Lin talk more about how it can solve embedded application challenges ranging from industrial automation to industrial imaging. Now I know that Zynq is like having a microprocessor with an FPGA wrapped around it, rather than embedded inside it. I also got to hear all about the advantages Zynq offers over ASIC, ASSP, and 2-chip solutions.


I hope you'll stop by the theater over the next two days to take advantage of one of the many other sessions offered. In fact, you should head down there right now to check out the Industrial Robotics Applications With Intel Processors happening at noon!


The great thing about this venue is it's less formal than the technical sessions and hands-on presentations, so even if you're running late, it's easy to slip in, grab a seat, and hear a quick talk on topics ranging from the Hermes Spacecraft Project (today at 12:30!) to how you can get real about teaching science and engineering (tomorrow at 11:00 a.m.!).


Here's the remaining Technology Theater lineup:

Wednesday,  August 3
Noon–12:30 p.m. Industrial robotics applications With Intel Processors
12:30–1:00 p.m. Where Passion and Drive Meet – The Hermes Spacecraft Project
1:00–1:30 p.m. Extreme-Speed HIL on NI Real-Time Platforms
2:00–2:30 p.m. Spintronics Simulations – High-Performance Computing Based on LabVIEW for the Future of Computing
3:00–3:30 p.m. Jumpstarting Distributed Process Control and Data Logging Applications in LabVIEW
4:00–4:30 p.m. High-Fidelity Real-Time Simulation Using LabVIEW


Thursday, August 4
11:00–11:30 a.m. LabVIEW in High School: Get Real About Teaching Science and Engineering
Noon–1:00 p.m. LabVIEW Coding Challenge Finals


Jeff Kodosky, NI cofounder and “Father of LabVIEW,” opened the second day of NIWeek by summing up the 25-year history of LabVIEW and its graphical structured dataflow programming language, explaining how it basically beats the pants off of sequential programming languages. He detailed why he pursued a graphical dataflow language in the first place and why it holds great promise for the future of innovation, especially over text-based programming.


For example, “The explosive growth of mobile devices and multitouch interfaces is changing how we use computers,” said Kodosky. “This new technology makes text-based programming look…outdated and irrelevant.”


Building on Kodosky’s statements about the future, NI director of software marketing, Shelley Gretlein, hosted several engineers on stage to demonstrate exactly how LabVIEW and other NI graphical system design tools are driving the future of innovation. From medical technologies, urban infrastructure engineering, and even gaming, all the way to research in smart grid development and fusion for alternative energy, presentations from multiple NI customers and engineers proved that Kodosky’s invention already is building the future.


Highlights of the keynote demonstrations included…


  • Creating a new OCT scanning system (that’s only about the size of a six pack) using the LabVIEW FPGA Module and NI FlexRIO
  • Improving urban infrastructure and monitoring bridges with new NI Wireless Sensor Network devices and the forthcoming NI Technical Data Cloud
  • Developing smart grid technology in India using NI Single-Board RIO
  • Researching fusion energy by controlling plasma inside a Tokamak device using LabVIEW Real Time and multicore targets
  • Having fun with soccer-playing robots, biomimetic robotic tuna fish, and programmable water drawings (You had to see it to appreciate it.)
  • Dancing with a gesture-recognition interface application that turns body movements into programming commands within LabVIEW (Seriously!)
  • Using fingertips to physically draw a functional LabVIEW block diagram on a large multitouch interface screen


To get the specifics behind these interesting applications of NI graphical system design tools, check out


Want a chance to show off your haiku-writing skills and win a 7-inch digital photo frame? Tweet out your best LabVIEW haiku (and use the hashtag #lvhaiku) before 8 a.m. Thursday and see if you can best last year's winner, @JustinGoeres. We'll announce the winner Thursday morning, and you must be present at NIWeek to win.


Here's last year's winning haiku:


"I program LabVIEW"

She said, smiling quietly.

He bought the next round.


To see all of last year's submissions, check out this blog post.


Last night, more than 180 people, including engineers, scientists, students, researchers, NI leaders, and industry experts, attended the 2011 Graphical System Design Achievement Awards ceremony to honor the 16 contest finalists competing in the following application categories: Automated Test, Embedded Monitoring, Advanced Control Systems, Life Sciences, Robotics, Validation Test, and Education. In addition, all finalists were considered for the following featured awards: Community’s Choice, LabVIEW FPGA Innovation, sponsored by Xilinx, Green Engineering, Humanitarian, Editor’s Choice, and the Customer Application of the Year.


So, which engineers took home these awards? Dave Wilson, NI director of corporate marketing and academic segment, gave the audience an overview of each and every finalist’s application before revealing the big winners.


Advanced Research


Winner (also Customer Application of the Year and LabVIEW FPGA Winner): FPGA-Based Feedback Control of a Single Atom Trajectory by Christian Sames from the Max-Planck Institute of Quantum Optics

Finalist: Using LabVIEW and PXI to Measure the Temperature and Density of Fusion Plasmas on a Tokamak COMPASS by Milan Aftanas from the Institute of Plasma Physics AS CR, v.v.i.


photo (6).JPGCustomer Application of the Year Winner, Christian Sames, With Michael Dams From NI Germany


Advanced Control Systems


Winner: Positioning Actuators for the European Extremely Large Telescope Primary Mirror With LabVIEW and PXI Hardware by Miguel Núñez from Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias

Finalist: Developing a Solar-Powered Milk Chiller With LabVIEW and NI Single-Board RIO by Sorin Grama from Promethean Power Systems

Finalist: Powering Remote Villages with Revolutionary Airborne Wind Technology Using NI CompactRIO by Matt Bennett from Windlift


Automated Test


Winner: Texas Instruments Increases Firmware Test Platform Throughput, Coverage, and Reliability with NI Hardware and Software by Sambit Panigrahi from Texas Instruments

Finalist: Using NI FlexRIO to Develop a Cost-Effective Solution for 3D and HD Video by Mauro Arigossi from Alfamation




Winner: MIT Students Use LabVIEW and CompactRIO to Design and Implement a Dynamic Output Feedback Controller by Professor Jonathan How and Brandon Luders from MIT

Finalist: Using LabVIEW, CompactRIO, and PXI to Study Renewable Energy Sources by Prof. Peric and Prof. Željko Ban from University of Zagreb


Embedded Monitoring


Winner: Remotely Assessing the Structural Health of the LIRR Railroad Viaduct by Jim Campbell, Brian Lander, and Dan Fridline from Viewpoint Systems and STRAAM Corporation

Finalist: Creating a Distributed Wireless Monitoring System for Aircraft Noise by Luis Pastor Sánchez from Center for Computing Research, National Polytechnic Institute, Mexico City, Mexico


Life Sciences


Winner: Using NI FlexRIO to Develop a High-Speed, Compact OCT Imaging System by Takuya Suzuk from Santec Corporation

Finalist (also Humanitarian and Editor's Choice Winner): Developing the World’s First Real-Time 3D OCT Medical Imaging System With NI FlexRIO by Dr. Kohji Ohbayashi from Kitasato University




Winner: Simulation Software Improves Design Process for Robotic Manipulator by Lisa Mosier

Finalist (also Community’s Choice Winner): Developing a Leg-Wheel Hybrid Mobile Robot Using LabVIEW and CompactRIO by Pei-Chun Lin, Shen-Chiang Chen, Ke Jung Huang, Shuan-Yu Shen, and Cheng-Hsin from National Taiwan University


Validation Test


Winner: Using LabVIEW, PXI, and CompactRIO to Rapidly Develop Structural Test Systems for a Space Exploration Vehicle by Dave Baker from G Systems

Finalist (also Green Engineering Award Winner): Using CompactRIO and LabVIEW to Verify the Design and Test the Durability of a Wind Turbine Drive Train by Rasmus Vistisen and Morten Petersen from Vestas Wind Systems and CIM Industrial


Congratulations to all the winners! Visit to read more about the contest and the finalists' and winners' papers.


We hope your NIWeek is off to a great start! Here are a few of today's highlights:


  • Keynote address featuring the "Father of LabVIEW" starting at 8:30 a.m. in Ballroom D - Jeff Kodosky, NI cofounder and Business and Technology Fellow, will look back at the creation of graphical programming and share fundamental programming concepts vital to the next 25 years of graphical system design for meeting the most demanding application challenges.
  • Annual conference party at The Moody Theater (Austin City Limits) from 7-10 p.m. - The biggest part of them all! Enjoy drinks and dancing to one of Austin's coolest cover bands at this NIWeek tradition. Buses will run from the convention center to the museum between 6:30 and 11:30.
  • Technology Theater sessions from 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m. in the Expo Hall - If you didn't get a chance to stop by the Tech Theater yesterday, be sure to check out some of Wednesday's presentations.


For more info on these and the rest of Wednesday's events and session, see the NIWeek program.


LAVA and OpenG BBQ #10

Posted by AristosQueue Aug 2, 2011

LAVA is the largest community-based support forum for LabVIEW in the world. OpenG is a community-maintained, free-for-everyone set of VIs to augment vi.lib. Wholly independent of NI, these two web sites serve as repositories for a wealth of LabVIEW wisdom. Each year for the last 10 years, on the Tuesday of NI Week, LAVA and OpenG have hosted a BBQ dinner to give users who only know each other online a chance to put a face with a user handle and socialize. A record-setting 115 people attended this year's event.


This year's venue was Sholtz Garden. Because of the large crowd, the event was held outdoors. Yes, that's right... these 115 people like LabVIEW and each other so much that they enjoyed hot BBQ outside in the 100+ degree evening. Lucky thing there was shade and big blowing fans. The sit-down meal is a unique chance at NI Week for users to talk to each other -- and those of us from NI are there as users, not as NI reps. The event is much less business-oriented that most of NI Week, and it generally turns into a bull session for every topic under the (very sweltering) sun. After the meal, famous LAVA users Jim Kring, Justin Gores and Chris Relf gave brief speeches about the history and future of LAVA, and then they ran the raffle. The raffle of door prizes is a tradition at LAVA BBQ, where the prizes are donated by a wide range of people. This year's haul included a bottle of wine from the Truchard winery (yes, that Truchard), an Android tablet, a thumb drive containing a working version of a LabVIEW 1.0 emulator, mouse pads, silly putty, and other items related to LabVIEW and/or computer programming.


The event cost $30 a ticket, which is expensive for a BBQ dinner, until you realize that ticket sales are a major source of fund raising to keep the LAVA web site up and running. When you think of it as the subscription fee for the content of the LAVA Code Repository and the instant online help that LAVA users provide to anyone who posts questions, $30 starts to look like a real bargain.


The evening concluded with a selection of limericks about famous LV users from Darren Nattinger -- he of Darren's Nuggets fame. I will leave those to your imagination, though there is a standing challenge to complete "There once was a node from the palettes..."


Until next year...



Talk about a grand finale to the first day of NIWeek 2011! This year's annual Block Diagram Party featured a toast to honor the 25th anniversary of LabVIEW, a double-dare style trivia game, and an action-packed NIWeek Scavenger Hunt. Jeff Kodosky, better known as the Father of LabVIEW, kicked off the night's festivities with a toast to the original developers of LabVIEW 1.0, the entire LabVIEW community, and the current software development team, who put their brilliant heads together to design today's most exciting product release, LabVIEW 2011. As a robot powered by LabVIEW buzzed around the audience, the group raised their glasses to the past, present, and future of graphical system design.



photo1.jpgCheers to LabVIEW!

The LabVIEW 1.0 developers (above) and a copy of LabVIEW signed by the original team (below)


Next up: the much-anticipated Challenge of the Champions! Two four-person teams (the Challengers and the Champions) faced off, each answering trivia questions to avoid a coding challenge tie-breaker. Their LabVIEW knowledge was put to the test with simple questions like, "Who is the Father of LabVIEW?" (Hint: see above) to real toughies such as, "What four block diagram structures were available in LabVIEW 1.0?" In the final moments of the contest, the underdogs pulled through, ultimately defeating the LabVIEW champions and winning $50 gift cards (Don't worry, the former champs didn't go home empty-handed. NI just gave them $25 gift cards instead).

photo 2.jpg

Underdogs...Can't Help But Love 'Em.

In an exciting head-to-head competition, the challengers defeated the LabVIEW champions.


But the fun didn't stop there. NIWeek attendees finished their evening with a scavenger hunt that boasted some pretty awesome prizes, if we may say so ourselves: an Apple Parrot AR.Drone Quadricopter, Apple Beats by Dr. Dre Solo Headphones, and Apple TV. The tasks integrated with social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and the NI Community, and ranged from the simple, such as "Update your current Facebook status and tag NIWeek," to the straight-up silly: "Form a conga line for at least one minute and get at least five people to join you." After twenty minutes of racing around the expo floor, the teams turned in their score sheets and the lucky winner was announced.

photo 5.jpgTo the Winner Goes the Spoils...

First-place winner Michael Reed poses with his new Apple Parrot AR.Drone Quadricopter



Think the Block Diagram Party sounds cool? You betcha...but it's only Day 1. Check in with the NIWeek Community tomorrow to catch more exciting news and events!


Every year there are sessions with titles that include "easy" or "explained" or "for non-experts". These sessions have various levels of success. I just walked out of one that was a clear winner. "Fuzzy Logic For Most of Us" by Norm Dingle took on the task of teaching an audience, most of whom are fairly far from their last math course, the principles of fuzzy logic and how to use the Fuzzy Logic Toolkit available for LabVIEW, all in one hour. And he did it. Multiple people leaving the session commented that they now understood the basic idea and felt they could apply the idea to some of their problems. Norm spent the first 20 minutes showing how the basic mathematics work, with a graphical approach that was easy to follow. Then he used the toolkit to build a fuzzy function for changing the speed of a motor based on the ambient temperature, with fuzzy concepts like "if hot then run fast". Then he showed a couple of example programs of other successful fuzzy logic apps. He moved through the topics quickly and made sure to deliver useful information in every sentence.


Definitely a successful session!


The NIWeek expo hall opens today! Meet with more than 200 exhibiting companies, which you can find on page 68 in the NIWeek program, and stop by the following pavilions:


  • LabVIEW Zone: The LabVIEW Zone highlights how graphical system design helps users tackle some of the most challenging engineering and scientific problems of our time. Stop by to see examples of systems built with LabVIEW and to hear from users about how LabVIEW has increased their productivity. Also sign up for the Challenge the Champions contest and the LabVIEW Coding Challenge in the LabVIEW Zone.


  • Connect @NIWeek Lounge: Take a break and relax in the Connect @NIWeek Lounge in the back of the Exhibition Hall. In the lounge you’ll find comfortable couches, Wi-Fi connection, and electrical outlets so you and your devices can recharge throughout the conference.


  • Technology Theater: Check out page 72 in the NIWeek program to see the schedule for the Technology Theater. These 30-minute sessions include presentations from NI, Intel, Xilinx, MIT, and more.


In addition, be sure to check out all the awesome demos showcasing NI hardware and software. If you’ve already had a chance to scope out the expo floor, leave a comment and tell us about your favorite demos so far!


After the much-anticipated release of LabVIEW 2011, an exciting keynote presentation, and an endless amount of cool demos, the expo floor was buzzing with excitement on the first day of NIWeek. This is the largest NIWeek to date, with more than 3,300 attendees, 222 sessions, and 108 exhibitors, and everyone is ready to see what else is in store.


We met up with Norm Dingle from Noblesville, Indiana, who is now attending his third NIWeek. Norm is most looking forward to meeting up with industry friends and enjoying this year’s NIWeek.



If you aren’t at NIWeek in person, make sure to stay tuned into the NIWeek Community for more updates on new product releases, keynote speeches, and inspiring demos featured on the expo floor.


At the LabVIEW Partners Network luncheon today, NI announced the winners for LabVIEW Add-On of the Year. These are products from our users that increase the power of other users.



Congratulations, again, to all the winners!


All of these -- and many more -- are available on the LabVIEW Tools Network. Visit it today to enchance the power of your LabVIEW application:


The first keynote event of NIWeek 2011 represented a veritable Chex Mix of fun for technophiles. From a crash course on the history of measurement technologies to the future of LTE communications and everything in between, no matter what industry you represent, there was something in the event for everyone to get their fix.


NI president, CEO, and cofounder Dr. Truchard opened the day by explaining how, when he entered the industry in the early sixties, general purpose analog instrumentation was king of innovation – and had been since the 1920s. The sensitivity and cost of those instruments, among other drawbacks, kept the process of invention and deployment at a snail’s pace compared to today. Then came the era of transistors and ICs, which started a continually accelerating trend of efficiency gains and miniaturization that carried engineering through the next 45 years, until now. Truchard then summarized how we are now in the era of graphical system design, where software, not instrumentation, takes center stage. How engineers can now reach new levels of productivity by using LabVIEW system design software as the tool that pulls together instrumentation of any type, for any application.


Following Truchard was Eric Starkloff, NI VP of test and industrial embedded marketing, who hosted several teams of NI engineers and customers who demonstrated all sorts of productivity gains achieved with NI products. The demonstrations included many new NI products, including the following:


  • NI VeriStand 2011 for real-time test, demonstrated in an avionics solution
  • The first multicore NI CompactRIO and one-slot Single-Board RIO, seen in evolving smart-grid technologies
  • The industry’s highest-performing 14 GHz RF PXI Vector Signal Analyzer, outperforming the Agilent PXA in head-to-head RF test combat
  • Multiple new products for semiconductor test, including new SMU and PPMU tools
  • Wireless CompactDAQ and other cDAQ devices, used to create an NI version of the popular Angry Birds video game – Angry Eagles. (Complete with a giant slingshot device on stage.)
  • LabVIEW 2011, of course, the heart of the NI approach to graphical system design


Starkloff and his team unveiled these and many other products as well as teasing the audience with talk and demos of some forthcoming NI innovations. It was a great opening to NIWeek 2011. And if today was any indication of what the rest of the week holds, we’re all in for an exciting time.


To get detailed information about the new products unveiled today, visit


Monday's technical session titled "The Actor Framework: Communication Among Independent Top-Level VIs" included a note that one of the demos during this morning's keynote would be powered by the Actor Framework, although that tidbit wouldn't be discussed in the keynote itself. Audience members were told to watch for the NI Eagle over a moonlit sea. Well, it appears that the keynote presenters decided to go with a sunny beach instead of a moonlit bay, but the Angry Eagles demo was still powered by the Actor Framework. There were multiple actors in that application, one controlling the actual drawing UI, one updating the physics engine, one monitoring the sensors and a few others for various internal processes to give a seamless application out of mutliple independent parts.


To learn more about the Actor Framework, including watching a video of yesterday's presentation, visit the Actor Framework in the Community forums:


On Monday at NIWeek, Ryan King presented "Advanced Error Handling". This session will be reprised today at 3:30pm. I encourage anyone writing applications with LabVIEW to attend Ryan's talk.


Error handling is a tricky topic. It is far more than "skip downstream functions if error in is set" and "display an error in a dialog box". There are times when you need to trap an error and translate it to a different error. There are times when you need to retry a function until the error does not occur. There are times when you just need to suppress the error. And then there are an endless list of activities that you might need to do in your particular app to compensate for a specific error ("hardware on fire" may require "start fire suppression system").


Ryan walks the audience through APIs available from National Instruments and third parties to create a truly robust error generation-propagation-handling-reporting system -- far more comprehensive than General Error Even if you don't absorb all the details about error handling in this one session, you will at least have a better awareness of the complexity of the problem, so the next time you're writing an application, you can pause and think about that error wire and whether it's really doing what your system needs it to do.


And we're back for another awesome NIWeek. In addition to all the tracks, summits, special events, and Peer2Peer roundtables that begin today, here are a few things to keep on your radar:


  • Dr. T's opening keynote at 8:30 a.m. in Ballroom D - Don't miss today's keynote, featuring Dr. Truchard and Eric Starkloff, NI Vice President of Marketing for Test and Industrial Embedded. Be sure to tune in as these NI leaders get us ramped up and excited to celebrate the 25th anniversary of LabVIEW. We'll also get to check out some of the latest product and technology demos and hear about real-world graphical system design solutions.
  • NI Community Block Diagram Party at 5 p.m. in the Expo Hall - I love that we will do anything to get "block diagram" into an official conference party name. Works every year! Anyway, don't miss the first party of NIWeek! Enjoy food and drinks and hang out with your fellow LabVIEW developers. And if you're up for a little friendly competition, participate in the third annual scavenger hunt (starting at 6:20 p.m. in the Connect @NIWeek Lounge) for a chance to win an awesome grand prize!
  • Texas Day from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the Austin Convention Center - Tuesday is also Texas Day at NIWeek! If you're an engineering professional from around the state, be sure to attend the special luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Expo Hall Cafe to meet local NI field engineers and NI Alliance Partners.
  • Challenge the Champions from 5:45 to 6:15 p.m. in the Expo Hall - Sign up in the LabVIEW Zone to participate in an interactive trivia competition that puts a team of NIWeek contestants against the LabVIEW Champions for bragging rights and prizes.


Check back here all week for real-time conference updates, new product demos, videos of cool stuff happening on the show floor, and more. Also, for official conference info, or to tune into what attendees are saying about Shark Week, follow @NIWeek and @LabVIEW.


NIWeek attendees are lifelong learners, so it’s fitting that one of the first events is the Academic Forum. The forum brings professors and researchers together to share best practices and ideas for using NI products in the academic space.


If you’ve ever tried to teach another human anything, then you know it’s not always easy to keep an audience engaged, and it’s all the more difficult when you’re dealing with complex engineering curriculum and an audience of young people. But the NIWeek presenters I got to see today are innovators, and they’re pairing NI education solutions with unique classroom approaches to make sure the future spectrum of engineers is as broad as possible.


For example, Texas Tech University is investigating the different learning styles of engineering students and how products like NI myDAQ can help retain students that might leave the discipline after a year or two because the typical engineering education format didn’t fit their learning style. Texas Tech plans to also test out an inverted lecture/homework format with the NI myDAQ this fall, and I can’t wait to hear how it turns out.


After lunch, I heard about how high school students visiting the University of Manchester for interview day get to simulate a simple alarm system using NI Multisim, actually build it using NI ELVIS, and then program it with LabVIEW to send a text message to their cell phone when the alarm is triggered. This engages students from day one with a device they’re very familiar with… their cell phone, and it’s just the beginning of how the university is embedding NI hardware and software into their curriculum.


Another highlight of the Academic Forum was getting to see some really impressive students showcase their Student Design competition entries. The overall winner of the competition will be announced at the Graphical System Design Achievement awards ceremony, but you can see all the entries on the NI Student Community.


After checking out some of today’s technical sessions at the Academic Forum, I certainly wouldn’t mind being an engineering student in 2011, and I bet some of our seasoned NIWeek attendees wouldn’t have minded an NI myDAQ in their backpack during college, either. The future of engineering education and research looks pretty bright and today got me even more excited for Thursday’s keynote, which takes a look at how students are using graphical system design to engineer a better future.


I missed today's keynote on the Future of Engineering Education, so if you were there, be sure to let us know what you learned!


NIWeek Scavenger Hunt

Posted by andreatapia Aug 1, 2011

If you’re looking for a little friendly competition during NIWeek, participate in the scavenger hunt during the NI Community Block Diagram Party on Tuesday, August 2. During 20 action-packed minutes you can earn points for completing tasks around the expo floor, networking with other attendees, and socializing on the web. The first prize winner receives an Apple Parrot AR.Drone Quadricopter!


How to participate:

  1. Meet at the Connect @NIWeek Lounge at 6:20 p.m. for instructions.
  2. Take the scavenger hunt activity list with you to get signatures confirming you have completed each activity.
  3. Complete as many activities as you can.
  4. Return to the Connect @NIWeek Lounge at 6:40 p.m. to tally up your points. The person with the most points takes home the grand prize.



  • Some activities are assigned greater point values than others.
  • If you do not have a mobile device or a laptop with Internet access, you can use the computers at the Connect @NIWeek Lounge.
  • If you have any questions, return to the Connect @NIWeek Lounge to ask them.



Good Luck!


Welcome to NIWeek 2011!

Posted by jaking Aug 1, 2011

Welcome to NIWeek and welcome to  Austin, Texas! We hope you are as excited as we are about the action-packed week ahead, including keynotes, technical sessions, and, of course, some great parties. Check  back here all week for real-time conference updates, new product demo videos, videos of other cool stuff happening on the show floor, and more. To leave comments or participate in group discussions, be sure to join the NIWeek 2011 group by logging in and clicking on "Join this group" in the right-side menu on the group homepage.


And if you want to follow along on Twitter, be sure to follow @NIWeek and type #niweek in your tweet to send updates to the entire NIWeek community. 


Track and summit sessions begin tomorrow. But if your NIWeek experience starts today, here's what's happening at the Austin Convention Center:


  • Alliance Day: Hundreds of product developers, consultants, and systems integrators are joining members of the NI leadership team to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the NI Alliance Partner Network.
  • Academic Forum: This forum is a platform for academic professionals to share best practices, discuss the future of engineering, and network. During his keynote, Dave Wilson, director of Academic and Corporate Marketing at NI, will explore the future of engineering education and the innovative technologies that are required to effectively prepare students for the challenges of tomorrow.
  • Big Physics Symposium: The symposium brings together scientists, researchers and specialized vendors to network and discuss best practices and instrumentation strategies that can be applied in control, measurement and diagnostics. Ryotaro Tanaka, director of Controls and Computing Divison at JASRI/Spring-8, will give a keynote, “Adapting the Accelerator Control System – How Do We Meet the Demands,” that explains advanced accelerator operations.
  • NIWeek Kickoff Happy Hour from 5:30-7 p.m. in the Expo Hall: Don't miss this opportunity to hang out and network with NI sales engineers, National Instruments Alliance Partners, the NI R&D team, LabVIEW Champions, exhibitors, and other NIWeek attendees


See you tomorrow!


While you’re exploring all there is to offer on the NIWeek Exhibition Hall floor, be sure to check out this gem: the NI Services and Training Booth. NI applications engineers will be on hand to offer hardware services, including warranty, repair, calibration, and system assurance; software services, such as support, maintenance, and volume licensing; and training and certification options. With the help of these experts, you can shorten your application development time by half, stay up-to-date on the latest and greatest LabVIEW features, and keep your hardware running more accurately with calibration. And bonus…you can even register to win a one-year training membership worth $6,000 USD!


But the number-one reason to visit the Services and Training Booth? You can make an appointment for a free demo of LabVIEW 2011 with one of our applications engineers. Be one of the first to learn all the tips and tricks for the new software the same week it’s released.


>> Take advantage of the NI Services and Training Booth during NIWeek, or schedule your personal online LabVIEW demo now.