NI Week: The Main Conference Day 2

Hello and welcome to our coverage of the second day of the NI Week main conference! Today we will be recapping some more of the incredible projects we got to see, and were inspired by.


During the second main conference day, I discovered a project using accelerometers to measure vibration values a toy truck made while it was bounced around on a moving display. Like most moving projects, I was immediately captivated and stopped to ask a little more about this demo.


This display was modeled after work the company performs to prevent system damage during vibration caused by movement. For their demo, the company attached an accelerometer to a toy car and sent an analog signal to the device. The signal was then measured by LabVIEW in a monitor off to the side, showcasing the movement in four different measurements.


The waveform plots of their LabVIEW display reported measurements that could be similarly replicated by WaveForms 2015 with our Analog Discovery 2. Meanwhile, the bottom displays reported the x, y, and z axis measurements and the inclination degrees of the toy car (shown on the circular inclination gauge).


After watching their toy car for longer than I would like to admit, I realized that this project would be easily replicated using some of our peripheral modules, such as the PmodACL or PmodACL2 and LabVIEW Home Edition. These products have done similarly amazing feats recently, and have been showcased in projects such as our Pmod Racing Ruler, which you can find in our Pmod Monthly series. Check out the video below to see this project in action and be careful not to get too distracted!


Along with our store on the main expo floor, Digilent had the SumoBots in the LabVIEW Zone, and a stand in the LabVIEW Tools Network Pavilion. The LabVIEW tools Network Pavilion was a space where customers could go check out tools that can be used with LabVIEW to enhance productivity. I split my time between the store and the pavilion, depending on where I was needed.

20160802_105219At the LabVIEW Tools Network Pavilion we had the ECG machine going. The ECG was a project created by Austin, one of our LabVIEW interns, to show the power and versatility of the Analog Discovery 2. With an Analog Parts Kit and the Analog Discovery 2, you can make an at home ECG, following our Instructable.


The ECG takes advantage of the variable power supply and oscilloscope on the Analog Discovery 2, and the wide range of components in the Analog Parts Kit. It takes advantage of the LabVIEW WaveForms VI, allowing software filtering to enhance the user experience.

While I was manning the booth James and I demonstrated the ECG for booth visitors. When hooked up to the demo, James displayed some textbook ECG results, while I did not.

A text book ECG from
A textbook ECG from

The ECG displays the voltage difference between the electrodes put on your body, which ends up displaying peaks that match up with your heart beat. The peaks on my ECG  reading were so small that they were lost in the noise if I moved around.

20160802_164646We suspected that since I am a much smaller person, and the distance between electrodes is smaller, I may have a smaller voltage difference. I also have a brace on my wrist which restricts movement, and may result in a weaker pulse in my left wrist. To combat this Austin was able to change parts of the LabVIEW code, for my specific case. Because some of the signal conditioning was done in LabVIEW rather than the analog circuit, it was easy to make these kind of modifications during the conference.


Today came with a lot of challenges, and most of the day Ella and I worked as the SumBot pit crew. The bots would crash and we would have to quickly grab them and replace the wires that has been knocked out. Because of this we decided to hot glue the wires into the motor headers. This seemed like a good plan until a big crash pulled cause the right motor control header to be pulled off the board and we had to have it soldered back on. day3While putting the robot back together the washers between the chassis and the metal plate that screws onto the bottom of the board fell out, and this caused a short. As soon as I plugged in the LiPo battery it began to heat up and smoke. I quickly realized my mistake and unplugged the battery before any harm was done to the robot… but the LiPo battery was toast. The struggle to get the bot back together was worth it though when we got to watch a kid celebrate after knocking his older brothers SumoBot out of the ring.


The last day of the expo hall proved to be far more difficult than the first. We had numerous technical difficulties with our router, a LiPo battery shorted and began smoking, but the biggest upset was a component that snapped off of one of our bots. We figured the bot was going to be out of commission and our demo was done – we were going to need to solder the component back onto the board and at first glance there was no way it was going to happen.13898711_10208595547318985_1052043146_o
However a booth on the floor happened to have a solder station as a demo on the floor. I asked if I could use the soldering iron and the staff at the booth was incredible – a National Instruments employee made his way over to see what was wrong and offered to solder the board. It was clear that we are in such a incredible community of engineers, programmers and people in general. The National Instruments engineer and the staff from the booth came and waited to make sure the bot was able to get up and running before they went on their way. The bot ended up working perfectly afterwards and our demo got another shot at life.

One of the coolest aspects of NI Week are the numerous technical sessions offered throughout each day during the week. These sessions range widely in topics, from optimized FPGA applications to LabVIEW programming best practices, and were offered to a range of audience knowledge levels by both NI employees as well as professionals from NI partner companies.


As an electrical engineering student who is studying power, I was excited to find sessions relating to my field of study as well as my personal technology interests like IoT and embedded systems. One particular session I attended featured a project that was done to automate watering of a rooftop garden with a myRIO. The project itself was really cool, and the presenters did a great job of detailing some of the theory behind the operation of the device they used.


Although NI Week is an amazing event for customers, it’s also a time that all of the regions of the company come to one location. For Digilent, we were able to get together with our Digilent China team and make plans for the rest of the year!
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So, if you are curious what we do in China, can read Chinese (or are armed with google translate), check out the website!
Or if you have WeChat (popular social media messaging in China) use this QR code to follow Digilent China’s Instructable Channel!
Chinese Maker Hub

For us here at at Digilent, NI Week is an unparalleled opportunity to meet people from diverse backgrounds, countries, and research interests come together to solve engineering challenges. As the Digilent Pmod Product Marketing Manager, today was all about seizing the opportunity to have meaningful discussions about how Pmods can further facilitate Digilent and NI collaboration, continuing to bring a range of products and support to engineering education.

Currently NI sells several product kits that use Pmods such as the NI myRIO Embedded Systems Accessory Kit  and the myRIO Mechatronics Accessories Kit. Together these kits use 10 different Pmods, all of which have LabVIEW sub VI’s for easy drag and drop into LabVIEW designs. I’m greatly looking forward to more and more Pmod integration into the NI Platform. We have some exciting plans ahead!

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