Welcome to the second installment of our Live from NI Week coverage! Today we will be covering the first day of the Main Conference, and what everyone thought about what they saw on the floor!
While on the Expo floor I was amazed to see all of the different ways others’ used LabVIEW. So many projects were amazingly creative, like this robotic Etch-a-Sketch arm that was programmed to illustrate a design using LabVIEW.
It was fantastic to see how many companies were able to incorporate LabVIEW into both creative and industrial uses, drawing in observers like myself, and I am always particularly susceptible to any project involving robotics (especially if the robot is programmed to have a personality).
To support LabVIEW MakerHub, Digilent opened a store in the exhibition hall. Inside was stocked the all three of the Physical Computing Kit options (WF32, Raspberry Pi and Beagle Bone Black, the LabVIEW Interaction Parts Kit and the Analog Discovery 2). All of these kits have corresponding LabVIEW example VI’s, tutorials and projects that can be found on the LabVIEW MakerHub!
The LabVIEW MakerHub is supported with LINX 3.0, which allows use of the BeagleBone, Raspberry Pi and WF32 as LabVIEW targets. Using the BeagleBone Black and Raspberry Pi, the Battling Sumo Bots project used LINX to create deployable mini-sumo robots found in the LabVIEW Zone. The LabVIEW Interaction Parts Kit was also available as a great kit for getting started with LabVIEW. This kit includes all of the necessary materials users might find helpful when creating their own devices that connect to LabVIEW, and is supported with a fantastic online tutorial available on Instructables.
Finally check out the Analog Discovery 2, a pocket lab station with both analog and digital tools. Using the LabVIEW driver and VI, you can now create custom user interfaces, harnessing the power of LabVIEW.
I personally really appreciated the fact that Digilent already occupies a very valuable design space: parallel processing. All of the Digilent FPGAs inherently perform parallel calculations and two of the booths in the Expo Hall relied on that capability to successfully perform their demos.
Opal-RT was using a PXI based solution to simultaneously measure multiple inputs to a system and then report multiple outputs or desired data in real time. One of the embedded systems demo from NI was using the FPGA present in CompactRIO to simultaneously control 9 motors that picked up tiny ICs from one disk and relocated them to a specified location to a second disk, much like how Kaitlyn’s Claw Game used the FPGA inside of the Basys 3 to control the sets of motors representing the bane of her childhood.
Day two of NI Week was another exciting day. The day kicked off with another keynote speech that included an intro by Dr. T, followed by some more technical sessions, but the thing that drew my attention the most early in the day were the demos that were being presented at booths across the Expo floor. I have attended conventions of various kinds in the past, as well as exhibits for things such as research projects at schools, but the variety of things that were being presented at a professional technology convention like NI Week was what I found most impressive.
Today was the first day we got to show off the SumoBots, and many kids flocked to our booth to try them out. Often I split my time between explaining our project to their parents and repairing the bots after the particularly intense crashes. The kids didn’t understand the differences between the BeagleBone Black and the Raspberry Pi, nor did they care to find out, but they loved what they could do with them. I saw many kids light up when I told them they could create their own bots at home. Every kid reacted differently to the experience but the end result was the same, they wanted to create their own. Many of the parents that had taken their children to NI week to get them interested in electronics were thrilled by this revelation and immediately grabbed our demo card promising to make their dream of building a SumoBot a reality.