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Vol. 245, Issue 6, October 2020, pp. 90-98




R-testbench: a Journey in Open Source Programming
for Remote Instrumentation with Python

1, * Alexandre QUENON, 2 Evelyne DAUBIE, 1 Véronique MOEYAERT and 1 Fortunato DUALIBE

1 University of Mons, Electrical Engineering Department, 31 Boulevard Dolez, 7000 Mons, Belgium
2 University of Mons, Physics Department, 6 Avenue du Champ de Mars, 7000 Mons, Belgium
1 Tel.: +32 65 37 42 33

* E-mail: alexandre.quenon@umons.ac.be


Received: 23 September 2020 /Accepted: 23 October 2020 /Published: 30 October 2020

Digital Sensors and Sensor Sysstems


Abstract: Nowadays, instrumentation involves remote control and test benches automation, because of the required accuracy or to guarantee the safety of the operators. In parallel, open source has known a fast expansion, and has helped scientific communities in industry and research to build strong collaborations to design effective and user-friendly software tools. This paper presents R-testbench, an open source Python library that offers high-level programming capabilities for instrument remote control and test bench automation. Comparatively to well-known off-the-shelf software solutions, it has been designed to be open source, reliable, adaptable and user-friendly. It relies on the Virtual Instrumentation Software Architecture (VISA) standard, and enables high-level features, including automatic instrument recognition, thanks to the object-oriented paradigm. It works with PyVISA, a Python front end that calls the VISA libraries, and uses the popular NumPy and pandas packages to offer an optimized data management that is efficient regarding the execution time and the memory use. The proposed library has been validated thanks to continuous integration, performance characterization, and alpha tests in the frame of experiments with nuclear material. It has also been released publicly on the GitHub platform, under the Open Software License 3.0, to be shared with and reviewed by the community.


Keywords: Automation, Instrumentation, NumPy, Pandas, Python, Remote control, Software, Test bench, VISA.


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