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Instrument Control Toolbox Overview

Getting to Know the Instrument Control Toolbox Software

Instrument Control Toolbox™ software is a collection of MATLAB® functions built on the MATLAB technical computing environment. The toolbox provides you with these features:

  • A framework for communicating with instruments that support the GPIB interface (IEEE®-488), the VISA standard, and the TCP/IP and UDP protocols. Note that the toolbox extends the basic serial port features included with the MATLAB software.

  • Support for IVI®, VXIplug&play, and MATLAB instrument drivers.

  • Functions for transferring data between the MATLAB workspace and your instrument:

    • The data can be binary (numerical) or text.

    • The transfer can be synchronous and block access to the MATLAB Command Window, or asynchronous and allow access to the MATLAB Command Window.

  • Event-based communication.

  • Functions for recording data and event information to a text file.

  • Tools that facilitate instrument control in an easy-to-use graphical environment.

Instrument Control Toolbox provides access to Agilent® Command Expert from MATLAB to control and script instrument actions. In addition, Agilent Command Expert generates MATLAB code that can be used from Instrument Control Toolbox. To learn more, see the documentation for Agilent Command Expert version 1.1 or later, or

MathWorks provides several related products that are especially relevant to the kinds of tasks you can perform with the Instrument Control Toolbox software. For more information about any of these products, see

Exploring the Instrument Control Toolbox Software

For a list of the toolbox functions, type

help instrument

For the code of a function, type

type function_name

For help for any function, type

instrhelp function_name

You can change the way any toolbox function works by copying and renaming the file, then modifying your copy. You can also extend the toolbox by adding your own files, or by using it in combination with other products such as MATLAB Report Generator™or Data Acquisition Toolbox™ product.

To use the Instrument Control Toolbox product, you should be familiar with the:

  • Basic features of MATLAB.

  • Appropriate commands used to communicate with your instrument. These commands might use the SCPI language or they might be methods associated with an IVI, VXIplug&play, or MATLAB instrument driver.

  • Features of the interface associated with your instrument.

Learning About the Instrument Control Toolbox Software

Start with this set of topics, which describe how to examine your hardware resources, how to communicate with your instrument, how to get online help, and so on. Then click on the Getting Started link at the top of the page and read the topics contained there, which provide a framework for constructing instrument control applications. Depending on the interface used by your instrument, you might then want to read the appropriate interface-specific chapter.

If you want detailed information about a specific function, refer to the functions documentation. If you want detailed information about a specific property, refer to the properties documentation.

Using the Documentation Examples

The examples in this guide use specific instruments such as a Tektronix® TDS 210 two-channel oscilloscope or an Agilent 33120A function generator. Additionally, the GPIB examples use a National Instruments® GPIB controller and the serial port examples use the Windows® specific COM1 serial port. The string commands written to these instruments are often unique to the vendor, and the address information such as the board index or primary address associated with the hardware reflects a specific configuration.

These examples appear throughout the documentation. You should modify the examples to work with your specific hardware configuration.

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