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Instrument Control (iC) -- an open-source software to automate test equipment



Kurt Pernstich


It has become common practice to automate data acquisition from programmable instrumentation and a range of different software solutions fulfill this task. Many routine measurements require sequential processing of certain tasks, for instance to adjust the temperature of a sample stage, take a measurement, and repeat that cycle for other temperatures. We introduce an open-source Java program that processes a series of text-based commands that define the measurement sequence. These commands are in an intuitive format which provides great flexibility and allows quick and easy adaptation to various measurement needs. For each of these commands, the iC-framework calls a corresponding Java method that addresses the specified instrument to perform the desired task. The way iC was designed enables one to quickly extend the functionality of Instrument Control with minimal programming effort or by defining new commands in a text file without any programming.
Journal of Research (NIST JRES) - 117.010
Report Number


Automation, data acquisition, GPIB, Java, open-source, test equipment


Pernstich, K. (2012), Instrument Control (iC) -- an open-source software to automate test equipment, Journal of Research (NIST JRES), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online],, (Accessed June 15, 2024)


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Created May 1, 2012, Updated January 27, 2023