Connecting to the MFIA Instrument

The Zurich Instruments MFIA is designed to work out of the box with minimal effort on the part of the user. The Zurich Instruments LabOne software runs on an embedded PC in the MFIA instrument and is pre-installed before delivery. One of the programs running on the embedded PC is the LabOne Web Server, which can be connected to via a web browser once suitable physical and logical connections to the instrument have been established.

The following web browsers are supported (latest versions)

supported browsers

There are two ways to physically connect to the instrument:

  • Ethernet (no software installation required). Integrate the instrument into an existing local area network (LAN) by connecting the instrument to a switch in the LAN using an Ethernet cable. The instrument can then be accessed from a web browser running on any device in the same LAN. The Ethernet connection can also be point-to-point. This requires some adjustment of the network card settings of the host computer. Depending on the network configuration and the installed network card, one or the other connection scheme is better suited.

  • Universal Serial Bus (USB). The USB connection is a point-to-point connection between the instrument and the host computer to which the USB cable is connected. This requires the installation of an RNDIS driver on the host computer. For PC users, this driver is available on the instrument flash memory which appears as a new drive in the File Explorer once the instrument is connected /by USB to your PC. The driver is available online for Mac users.

connectivity
Figure 1. Connectivity

Figure 1 shows some examples of possible configurations of computer to instrument connectivity.

Ethernet TCP/IP Connection

The simplest connection method is to integrate the instrument into an existing LAN supporting the Domain Name System (DNS) and dynamic DNS update. In such a network the MFIA instrument can be addressed using its serial number instead of its IP address. Attach an Ethernet cable from the instrument to a LAN network switch. The LabOne User Interface can be started by typing the following text in the address bar of a web browser running on a computer in the LAN:

where <instrument-serial> is the serial number of the instrument and <domain> is the network domain in which the instrument is running.

This approach uses DNS lookup to resolve the IP address of the instrument which is configured with this network name by default. It is possible that this approach fails due to special network policies or for other reasons. In that case, there are other options to configure the TCP/IP connection to the instrument. These are described in Advanced TCP/IP Configuration Advanced TCP/IP Configuration.

With connection via LAN, multiple web browser and API client sessions have simultaneous access and control over the instrument. Therefore changes made to the settings of the instrument by say a Python program via the API will be seen by a web browser session connected to that instrument. The instrument data can be streamed to multiple client sessions simultaneously.

labone on mfli
Figure 2. Simplest connection to MFIA instrument

Universal Serial Bus (USB) Connection

To control the instrument via USB, connect the instrument with the supplied USB cable to the PC you are using. Depending on the operating system you are using, it may be necessary to install a USB RNDIS device driver on the PC. The RNDIS provides a virtual Ethernet link to the instrument enabling it to be addressed using the normal IP address and host name mechanisms. The RNDIS driver installation procedure for various operating systems is described in the following.

USB RNDIS Device Driver Windows

Zurich Instruments provides a Microsoft MSI installer to simplify the Windows RNDIS driver installation. The MFIA Instrument is designed so that when the USB cable is plugged in, a flash disk partition appears with the label MF-DRIVER, containing the required Windows MSI installer for the USB RNDIS device driver, plus the instrument user manual in PDF form and a copy of this Getting Started chapter.

Proceed with the device driver installation as follows:

  1. Log on to the PC as an administrator. Installing the USB RNDIS device driver requires administrator rights.

  2. Ensure that the USB cable is connected from the PC to the MFIA Instrument.

  3. Power cycle the MFIA Instrument and wait for approximately 20 seconds for the instrument initialization to complete. During this time an AutoPlay window will pop up showing the newly detected MFIA drive.

  4. In the AutoPlay window, select Open folder to view files.

  5. Two installers will be visible in Windows Explorer: Double click on the .msi installer appropriate for your operating system. This will be either

    MF-Device-Finder64.msi for 64 bit operating systems, or

    MF-Device-Finder32.msi for 32 bit operating systems.

    fig explorer mfli installer
    Figure 3. Read-only drive of the MFIA shown in the File Explorer
  6. In the welcome screen click the Next button.

    mf usb msi welcome
    Figure 4. Installation welcome screen
  7. After reading through the Zurich Instruments license agreement, check the "I accept the terms in the License Agreement" check box and click the Next button.

    mf usb msi license
    Figure 5. Installation license agreement
  8. In the Custom Setup screen click the Next button.

    mf usb msi configure
    Figure 6. Custom setup screen
  9. Click the Install button to start the installation.

    mf usb msi ready
    Figure 7. Installation confirmation
    mf usb msi progress
    Figure 8. Installation progress

    If the User Account Control pop-up window appears, click Yes to allow the installation program to make changes to the computer.

  10. On Windows Server 2008 and Windows 7 it is required to confirm the installation of up to 2 drivers from the trusted publisher Zurich Instruments. Click on Install. You can also click the Always trust software from "Zurich Instruments AG" check box to prevent the message from appearing in the future.

    mf usb msi driver
    Figure 9. Installation driver acceptance
  11. Click the Finish button to complete the installation.

    mf usb msi completed
    Figure 10. Installation complete

The installation of the driver will create a Windows Start Menu entry[1] in Start Menu → Zurich Instruments → MF Device Finder. This link will open the ZI MF Device Finder shown in Figure 12. In the list of devices, identify your instrument by its serial number found on the back panel. Double-click on the entry for your instrument to open the default browser with the LabOne Device Connection dialog shown in Figure 13 Click on Open on the bottom right of the screen to open a LabOne browser session with the default settings.

fig start menu usb
Figure 11. Windows Start Menu entry to start the Zurich Instruments MF Device Finder

The procedure described in this section works both for 1GbE and USB connections. In case you use 1GbE, you can also connect to the Instrument without software installation using just a web browser. To that end, follow the instructions in Ethernet TCP/IP Connection.

mf device finder ui
Figure 12. MF Device Finder
discovery basic
Figure 13. Device Connection dialog after starting the LabOne User Interface

USB RNDIS Device Driver Linux

With an up-to-date version of a UBUNTU Linux distribution there is no special installation necessary, the USB connection works out of the box.

Other Linux distributions should also work but may require further installation steps. Detailed instructions cannot not given here due to the large number of Linux distributions available.

USB RNDIS Device Driver OS X

To install the required USB RNDIS device driver on a Macintosh computer, proceed as follows:

  1. Open a web browser and go to http://joshuawise.com/horndis page and click the link to download the latest binary package. At the time of writing, this link leads to the file HoRNDIS-rel7.pkg, which should be downloaded.

    download hondis 1
  2. Locate the downloaded file using the Finder. The file can typically be found in the Downloads folder. Double click the file to run the installer.

  3. The installer will guide you through the installation process. Select the standard option in each dialog and click Continue to proceed with the installation.

    horndis installer 1
    horndis installer 2
    horndis installer 3
  4. Before the installer can finalize the installation, it will request administrator permissions. Supply the necessary credentials to finish the installation.

    horndis installer user authentication
  5. A summary of the installation will be shown once it completes.

    horndis installer summary
  6. At this point it is advisable to restart the computer.

  7. Connect the MFIA Instrument to the computer using the USB cable and power it up. Wait until the blue LED on the front-panel of the MFIA Instrument illuminates.

  8. To verify that the MFIA is correctly detected by the computer open the System Preferences and select the Network category.

    verif horndis install 1
    verif horndis install 2

    The MFIA device should now be shown in the interface list with a green icon and marked as Connected. When the interface is selected, the information in the right hand side pane should update to show that the interface uses DHCP and the IP address should take the form 192.168.x.x.

  9. It is now possible to connect to the device using a web browser either by entering the following in the address bar:

    <instrument-serial>.local/

    where <instrument-serial> is the serial number of the instrument of the form mf-dev3000.

    Alternatively, the IP address of the instrument can be used. The IP address of the instrument is the IP address shown in the previous step, with 1 added to the right-most octet. So for instance, if the IP address shown is 192.168.47.57, the instrument IP address to enter in the address bar would be 192.168.47.58.

Wireless Connection

The MFIA can be controlled over a wireless network using the WiFi USB adapter supplied with the instrument. It’s necessary to first connect to the instrument via 1GbE or USB in order to enable the wireless network, but once this is done, the instrument can be controlled via the wireless network alone. This can be useful when the instrument is frequently moved inside the laboratory, or used at places where connecting a cable is cumbersome. Also, controlling the instrument from mobile device can make a tutorial, lecture, or demonstration measurement more interactive and effective.

There are two ways of connecting to the instrument: Client mode and Access Point. In Access Point mode, the MFIA creates its own wireless network to which a mobile device can connect. In Client mode, both the MFIA and the host computer connect to an existing wireless network. For Access Point mode to work, the wireless network needs to be either open (without encryption) or WPA2-Personal encrypted (also known as WPA2-PSK), and it needs to support DNS name resolution.

Instruments shipped prior to the 17.06 LabOne release were not supplied with a WiFi USB adapter. If you wish to use the wireless network functionality but your Instrument was shipped without the WiFi USB adapter, please contact Zurich Instruments at [email protected] for assistance.

Access point mode

  1. Connect the WiFi USB adapter to one of the USB ports on the back panel of the instrument.

  2. Connect to the instrument using 1GbE or USB using the Web Server running on the instrument as explained in Ethernet TCP/IP Connection and Universal Serial Bus (USB) Connection , respectively.

  3. Open the LabOne user interface by clicking the "Open" button in the Device Connection dialog.

  4. In the Device tab, find the Wireless Network section. This section is collapsed by default. Expand it using the [+] button.

  5. Set Mode to Access Point and select the Enable WiFi checkbox to enable the wireless network.

  6. Optionally, click on the Program button to save the WiFi settings persistently on the device.

  7. On your mobile device, connect to the wireless network of the MFIA instrument. The network’s name (SSID) and password are displayed in the Device tab.

  8. On your mobile device, open a browser window and enter the IP address 192.168.20.1 (without prefix http:// and trailing /) to open the Device Connection dialog.

  9. Click on "Open" to start the LabOne user interface.

Client mode

  1. Connect the WiFi USB adapter to one of the USB ports on the back panel of the instrument.

  2. Connect to the instrument using 1GbE or USB as explained in Ethernet TCP/IP Connection and Universal Serial Bus (USB) Connection , respectively.

  3. Open the LabOne user interface by clicking the "Open" button in the Device Connection dialog.

  4. In the Device tab, find the Wireless Network section. This section is collapsed by default. Expand it using the [+] button.

  5. Set Mode to Client. The available open or WPA2-Personal encrypted wireless networks should then appear as a drop-down list under SSID.

  6. Select the network to which the host PC is connected, and enter the password if necessary. Select the Enable WiFi checkbox to join the wireless network.

  7. Optionally, click on the Program button to save the WiFi settings persistently on the device.

  8. Now the 1GbE or USB cable can be disconnected. On your host PC, open a browser window and enter the serial number of the device http://<instrument-serial>/ where <instrument-serial> is the serial number of the instrument of the form MF-DEV3026 that can be found on the instrument back panel. Alternatively, the device IP address can be used directly. The IP address can be obtained by running the MF device finder utility that can be obtained from www.zhinst.com/downloads on a PC that is in the same network as the MFLI.

  9. Click on "Open" to start the LabOne user interface.

Advanced TCP/IP Configuration

Various schemes are possible for logically connecting to the MFIA instrument via TCP/IP.

  • DHCP (the simplest scheme for the user and the default)

  • Static IP (the fallback if DHCP fails)

  • Point-to-point (P2P)

DHCP is the simplest and preferred connection method. Other connection methods can become necessary when using network configurations that are in contradiction with the local policies.

DHCP

The most straightforward Ethernet connection method is to rely on a LAN configuration to recognize the MFIA Instrument. This is the MFIA Instrument’s default configuration. By connecting the instrument in a LAN, a dynamic IP address is assigned to it like to any other PC by the DHCP server. In case of restricted networks, the network administrator may be required to register the instrument on the network by means of the MAC address. The MAC address is indicated on the back panel of the instrument. If the network configuration does not allow or does not support DHCP it is necessary to use a static IP setup as described below.

Static Instrument IP

The best way to assign the instrument a static IP address is to first connect via USB. This is especially necessary if DHCP is not available in the LAN.

  1. Connect to the instrument via USB and start the Zurich Instruments - MF Device Finder as described in Universal Serial Bus (USB) Connection .

  2. Double-click on the list entry for your instrument to open the LabOne Device and Settings dialog. Click on Open in the bottom right corner to start the LabOne user interface.

  3. Open the Device tab.

  4. In the Communication section, set the desired IP4 address, mask, and gateway.

  5. Enable the Static IP checkbox.

  6. Click on the Program button to save the changed parameters.

  7. Connect an Ethernet cable from a switch in the LAN to the 1GbE port on the back panel of the MFIA Instrument.

  8. Power-cycle the MFIA instrument.

  9. (Optional) To verify the connection between the host computer and the MFIA Instrument, open a DOS command window and ping the IP address entered above.

  10. Type the following in the address bar of a web browser on a computer within the LAN:

    http://<Static IP Address>/

    where <Static IP Address> is the static IP address entered above. The LabOne Device Connection dialog should now appear.

Requirements

  • The chosen static IP address must be unique within the LAN.

  • Needs network administrator support on networks with dynamic IP configuration (the static IP address will need to be reserved).

Point-to-Point (P2P)

Setting up a point-to-point network consisting only of the host computer and the MFIA avoids problems related to special network policies. Since it is nonetheless necessary to stay connected to the internet, it is recommended to install two network cards in your computer, one of them for network connectivity, the second one for connecting to the MFIA Instrument. Notebooks can generally profit from wireless LAN for internet connection.

  1. Use one of the network cards and set it to static IP in TCP/IPv4 using the IP address 192.168.1.n, where n=[2..9] and the mask 255.255.255.0, see Figure 14 (go to Control Panel → Internet Options → Network and Internet→ Network and Sharing Center → Local Area Connection → Properties).

    fig ip static conf
    Figure 14. Static IP configuration of PC
  2. Set the MFIA IP address to the static value 192.168.1.10 as described in the previous section. To connect to the MFIA Instrument and start the LabOne User Interface, type the following in the address bar of a web browser:

Requirements

  • Two networks cards needed for additional connection to internet

  • Network adapter connected to the instrument must be in static IP4 configuration

A power cycle of the MFIA Instrument is required if it was previously connected to a network that provided an IP address to the instrument and then the user decides to run in static IP configuration.

Only IP v4 is currently supported. There is no support for IP v6.

If the instrument is detected by LabOne but the connection can not be established, the reason can be the firewall blocking the connection. It is then recommended to change the P2P connection from Public to Private.

Changing the IP settings of your network adapters manually can interfere with its later use, as it can no longer be used for network connectivity until it is set again for dynamic IP.


1. Under Windows 7 and 8, the Start Menu entry is found in Start Menu → All programs / All apps → Zurich Instruments → MF Device Finder