Report from NIDays 2006

11 December 2006

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During October, National Instruments UK and Ireland hosted NIDays 2006, the annual professional development conference and exhibition for engineers and scientists, in association with the IET (Institution of Engineering and Technology – said to be Europe's largest professional engineering society), at Savoy Place in London.

Hundreds of engineers, scientists and industry experts from across the UK and Ireland – including representatives from AWE, Dyson, Motorola, Renishaw and Rutherford Appleton Laboratory - gathered at this one-day, multi-track event to learn about the latest developments in graphical system design and virtual instrumentation. Industry experts and fellow users described how to increase productivity and lower cost by combining off-the-shelf technologies with innovative software and modular hardware using this approach to embedded design, industrial control, and test and measurement.

NIDays delivered hands-on training and in-depth technical sessions covering the latest in test, control and design – including new National Instruments LabVIEW 8.20, the 20th Anniversary edition of its award-winning graphical system design software, and NI CompactDAQ, its new USB data acquisition platform.

During the conference, delegates networked and exchanged ideas on innovative approaches to technical challenges, studied future industry and technology trends for engineers and scientists designing test and control systems, and explored three core technology themes: software development technologies; data acquisition, instrumentation and test; and real-time control.

During the keynote presentation, Graphical System Design: Design, Prototype and Deploy in Today's World, delegates heard from experts on the hottest industry topics and saw the new LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT – Powered by NI LabVIEW – in action. They also enjoyed seeing an engineer beat up a marketing guy with a baseball bat and were treated to a competitive dance-off competition – all in the cause of graphical system design!

A broad range of technical sessions included:

  • Machine Monitoring for the Masses: What Your Equipment Wants to Tell You
  • Evaluating PCI Express and Multicore Processor Technology for Test and Measurement
  • Head-to-Head Instrument Control Bus Comparison: GPIB, PCI, PCI Express, USB and Ethernet/LAN
  • New USB Data Acquisition: As Easy as it is Powerful
  • Tips and Tricks to Improve LabVIEW Performance
  • Methods for Benchmarking and Optimising Real-Time Applications
  • Implementing RF and Wireless Communications Applications with LabVIEW
  • Build a Complete Automated Test System from Scratch

Delegates also: sat down informally with qualified consultants to discuss their application in 'Meet the Engineer' sessions; customised their conference experience through introductory, intermediate and advanced sessions; built application development expertise through hands-on workshops such as Introduction to LabVIEW and Introduction to Real-Time; discussed membership, training and professional development with IET personnel; visited the NIDays exhibition, where Technology and Alliance Partners, including Tektronix, Analog Devices, Amfax and Electronics Workbench, were showcased; and joined NI in celebrating the 30 years of National Instruments excellence and 20 years of LabVIEW innovation.

Sessions were filmed by for web broadcast and can be viewed, along with the presentations from the day, online at

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