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Python VISA bindings for GPIB, RS232, and USB instruments

Project description


A PyVISA backend that implements a large part of the “Virtual Instrument Software Architecture” (VISA) in pure Python (with the help of some nice cross platform libraries python packages!).


PyVISA started as wrapper for the NI-VISA library and therefore you need to install National Instruments VISA library in your system. This works most of the time, for most people. But NI-VISA is a proprietary library that only works on certain systems. That is when PyVISA-py jumps in.

Starting from version 1.6, PyVISA allows to use different backends. These backends can be dynamically loaded. PyVISA-py is one of such backends. It implements most of the methods for Message Based communication (Serial/USB/GPIB/Ethernet) using Python and some well developed, easy to deploy and cross platform libraries

VISA and Python

Python has a couple of features that make it very interesting for measurement controlling:

  • Python is an easy-to-learn scripting language with short development cycles.
  • It represents a high abstraction level, which perfectly blends with the abstraction level of measurement programs.
  • It has a very rich set of native libraries, including numerical and plotting modules for data analysis and visualisation.
  • A large set of books (in many languages) and on-line publications is available.


  • Python (tested with 2.7, 3.4+)
  • PyVISA 1.6+

Optionally - PySerial (to interface with Serial instruments) - PyUSB (to interface with USB instruments) - linux-gpib (to interface with gpib instruments, only on linux) - gpib-ctypes (to interface with GPIB instruments on Windows and Linux, warning: experimental)

Python 2 support

With Python 2 EOL behind us, and given the limited time maintainers have, the 0.4.0 release of PyVISA-py will be the last version of PyVISA-py supporting Python 2.


Using pip:

$ pip install pyvisa-py


The documentation can be read online at

pyvisa-py is written and maintained by Hernan E. Grecco <>.

Other contributors, listed alphabetically, are:

(If you think that your name belongs here, please let the maintainer know)

PyVISA-py Changelog

0.4.1 (2020-05-27)

  • fix typo in PR #233 (back-ported)

0.4.0 (2020-05-06)

  • support device lan name in TCPIP INSTR resources PR #226
  • fix handling of VXI11 flags in device_write PR #226
  • do not enforce 4 bytes padding RFC 1014 since some instrument do not respect it (Issue # 225) PR #226
  • fix not setting stop bits with serial devices PR #205
  • fix improper wait time before a timeout in the TCPIP backend PR # 173
  • add GPIB support for proprietary device drivers on Windows and Linux (experimental): try importing gpib-ctypes if linux-gpib is not present. fix #105 #137
  • fix return types of PyVisaLibrary and Session methods to match pyvisa.highlevel.VisaLibraryBase fix #169 PR #170
  • avoid double closing of gpib resources PR #171
  • fix initialization of timeout for the USB resources (the default was set before creating the underlying connection to which the timeout must be passed and was not). PR #167
  • implement USBTMC abort sequence after read timeout to avoid losing communication with the instrument after a timeout occurs. PR #179
  • fix custom timeout for USB instruments. PR #179
  • fix triggering for all protocols. PR #180
  • add support for “quirky” devices made by Rigol. PR #186 PR #207
  • add support for Visa flush operation. PR #208
  • fix reading large amounts of data from some instruments when using VXI-11. PR #209

0.3.1 (2018-09-12)

  • Fix initialization of timeout (issue identified in TCPIP resources) PR #160

0.3 (2018-09-05)

  • Fix handling of seesion registration under Python 3.7 PR #155
  • Add read_stb, assert_trigger, lock, unlock to highlevel PR #139
  • Fix timeout handling in usb PR #144
  • Add gpib_command and assert_trigger to GPIB PR # 136
  • Handle ValueError in usb list fix #131 PR #132
  • Fix reading on GPIB and implement clear and gpib_send_ifc PR #132
  • Do not error when listing USB devices PR #126
  • Fix an error in the handling of the termchar for TCPIP INSTR PR #126
  • Make list_resources return an empty tuple instead of erroring PR #121
  • Proper support for timeout in TCPIP INSTR sessions PR #120 #127 #130 #144
  • Proper encoding of data before transfer for all backends PR #119
  • Unify use of StatusCode PR #118
  • Improve handling of sessions attrs PR #116
  • TCPIP SOCKET timeout handling improvement PR #115
  • Fix compatibility with pyserial 3.0 PR #112
  • TCPIP SOCKET handler read should not block PR #107
  • TCPIP error handling fixes PR #100
  • Use repr() instead of str() to log RPC record PR #97
  • Speed up large transfer over GPIB 2beb52a5bcea2dae32d4a9908dc19f7874bfc0b7
  • Catch GPIB errors while enumerating devices 9fea9d5c40cc6c33ce1244c209e5e576a33abfc2
  • Add a serial poll function to GPIB backend PR #67
  • Handle timeout in USB TMC backend PR #64
  • Make USB TMC backend faster by transferring multiple bytes PR #63
  • Fix issue with encoding before data transfer PR #59 #
  • Get Linux GPIB version PR #55
  • Fix broken import in TCPIP sessions PR #51

0.2 (2015-08-25)

  • Added support for TCPIP Socket. (Issue #38, thanks Thorsten Liebig)
  • Added support for GPIB INSTR using linux-gpib. (Issue #24, thanks bessman)
  • Added support for USB RAW. (Issue #18, kopp)
  • Better error reporting when pyusb or pyserial is missing.
  • Fixed logging of unicode strings. (Issue #54)
  • Fixed timeout in SerialSession. (Issue #44)
  • Moved resource name parsing to PyVISA.
  • VXI11 protocol performance enhancement. (thanks alexforencich)
  • Improved pyusb importing.
  • Fixed large binary reads in TCPIP.
  • Added backend information to logger.
  • Use pyvisa compat/ for python < 2.7.8 (thanks Martin Ritter)

0.1 (2015-02-08)

  • Initial release. Preliminary support for: - USB INSTR - TCPIP INSTR - ASRL INSTR

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