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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 2.6 and 2.7, 3.2+)

  • 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)


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

0.3 (unreleased)

  • Nothing changed yet.

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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