Welcome to the KE5FX GPIB Toolkit!

The KE5FX GPIB Toolkit is a collection of free Windows utilities that will help you make and record research-quality measurements with GPIB-based electronic test equipment.

This is version 1.971 of the Toolkit, released October 28, 2016.

Download the GPIB Toolkit (4 MB)

For troubleshooting help and additional application notes, check the FAQ.

The GPIB Toolkit is provided with full C++ source code for public- and private-sector, educational and Amateur Radio / hobbyist use. Comments and feedback are always welcome.

John Miles, KE5FX

Note: As of July 2016, some false positives have been reported from certain virus scanners including Microsoft Security Essentials/Windows Defender. As long as the confirmation dialog includes a valid signature for Miles Design LLC, the file's code signature is intact, and you can safely disregard these warnings. This issue appears to have been resolved in the 1.225.1983.0 antivirus definition update.


7470.EXE is a Win32-based emulator for the HP 7470A plotter. See its User Guide for more information.


PN.EXE is an automated phase-noise measurement utility for HP, Tektronix, and Advantest spectrum analyzers. See its User Guide for more information.


SSM.EXE is a spectrum surveillance monitor application for HP, Tektronix, and Advantest spectrum analyzers, as well as Signal Hound USB spectrum analyzers. See its User Guide for more information.


PROLOGIX.EXE allows you to select and configure a Prologix GPIB-USB or GPIB-ETHERNET adapter for use with the GPIB Toolkit applications. It can also be used to select a National Instruments adapter, or to configure the GPIB Toolkit to work with an otherwise-unsupported TCP/IP or serial adapter.

Most of the GPIB Toolkit applications support both Prologix and National Instruments GPIB adapters. By default, the Toolkit expects to find a National Instruments device at GPIB0. When using a Prologix adapter, it's necessary to edit the CONNECT.INI file to tell the GPIB Toolkit where to find the Prologix adapter's virtual serial port or network address.

This task is easy to accomplish with PROLOGIX.EXE. Simply run the program, select the Prologix or National Instruments adapter in the device list, and press the Update CONNECT.INI button. (Be sure to exit from PROLOGIX.EXE before attempting to run any other GPIB Toolkit application.)

You can use the Edit CONNECT.INI button in PROLOGIX.EXE as a convenient way to modify your existing GPIB configuration manually, regardless of whether or not you're using a Prologix adapter. Editing the file also gives you access to additional options for troubleshooting and optimization. See the comments in CONNECT.INI for more information.

Beginning with the V1.50 release of the GPIB Toolkit, it is no longer necessary to select Device or Controller mode in PROLOGIX.EXE unless you wish to use the optional Terminal or Advanced Settings controls. Each Toolkit application will configure the Prologix adapter's mode and address settings as needed.

           Usage examples:
           prologix                 Run with no command-line options for normal enumeration of all 
                                    Prologix GPIB-USB, GPIB-ETHERNET, and National Instruments adapters

           prologix -noni           Don't attempt to enumerate National Instruments adapters (useful if
                                    error messages are reported after a partial NI488.2 driver uninstallation)

           prologix -nonet          Don't issue UDP broadcasts to detect Prologix GPIB-ETHERNET adapters


VNA.EXE allows you to save and load control/calibration states for HP 8753, HP 8510, and HP 8720-series vector network analyzers. Touchstone .S2P files can also be acquired from these models, as well as from the FieldFox portables. VNA.EXE can eliminate the need for a disk drive in many cases.

Release 1.00 of 5-Feb-13

Release 1.10 of 23-May-13

Release 1.20 of 15-Jun-13

Release 1.30 of 28-Aug-13

Release 1.40 of 28-Sep-14

Release 1.50 of 30-Sep-14

Release 1.51 of 5-Oct-14

Release 1.52 of 23-Dec-14

Release 1.53 of 15-Jan-15

Release 1.54 of 13-Jul-15

Release 1.55 of 14-Jul-15

Release 1.56 of 25-Apr-16

Release 1.57 of 29-Oct-16


SATRACE.EXE can be thought of as a console-oriented version of SSM. It requests one or more traces from any spectrum analyzer supported by SSM, and writes them to stdout as lists of comma-separated frequency/amplitude pairs.

SATRACE's command-line parameters are very similar to those supported by SSM.

           Usage: satrace <address> [<options>...]
           Examples using GPIB address 18:

           satrace 18               Auto-identify analyzer at GPIB address 18 and acquire
                                    a single trace from it
           satrace -sa44            Special option required for use with USB-SA44/B or    
                                    USB-SA124A Signal Hound (No GPIB address is needed)
           satrace 18 -856xa        Special option required for use with HP8566A-HP8568A
           satrace 18 -8569b        Special option required for use with HP8569B/8570A
           satrace 18 -358xa        Special option required for use with HP3588A/3589A
           satrace 18 -3585         Special option required for use with HP3585A/B
           satrace 18 -advantest    Special option required for use with supported 
                                    Advantest R3200/R3400-series analyzers
           satrace 18 -r3261        Special option required for use with R3261/R3361
           satrace 18 -scpi         Special option required for use with Agilent E4400-
                                    series and other SCPI-compatible analyzers
           satrace 18 -f            Favor speed over resolution, CRT updates, or other
                                    factors (if supported)
           satrace 18 -t            Disable GPIB timeout checking during long sweeps
           satrace 18 -ao:-7        Add -7 dBm to all reported amplitude values
           satrace 18 -fo:150000000 Add 150 MHz to all reported frequency values
           satrace 18 -reps:15      Acquire 15 successive traces (0 = run until keypress)
           satrace 18 -header       Display time/datestamp and available analyzer control
           satrace 18 -lf           Separate frequency/amplitude pairs with linefeeds
                                    rather than commas
           satrace 18 -spline:800   Resample trace using cubic spline reconstruction to
                                    generate (e.g.) 800 points, regardless of the
                                    analyzer's trace array width
           satrace 18 -point:128    Resample trace using point-sampled values
           satrace 18 -min:128      Resample trace using minimum bucket values when more
                                    source points than requested are available
                                    (otherwise use spline)
           satrace 18 -max:128      Resample trace using maximum bucket values when more
                                    source points than requested are available
                                    (otherwise use spline)
           satrace 18 -avg:128      Resample trace using averaged bucket values when more
                                    source points than requested are available
                                    (otherwise use spline)
           satrace 18 -connect:"xxx" 
                                    Specify GPIB command string to be issued when 
                                    initially connecting to instrument
           satrace 18 -disconnect:"xxx" 
                                    Specify GPIB command string to be issued when
                                    disconnecting prior to program termination
           satrace 18 -856xa -f     Example using multiple options
Like SSM, SATRACE does not normally attempt to control or configure the spectrum analyzer. Traces are acquired based on the current front-panel settings such as center frequency, reference level, resolution bandwidth, and so forth. However, SATRACE does provide limited control options for certain analyzer models. These options are shown below.
           Additional control options supported by Signal Hound only:
                -RL:-40             Specify reference level in dBm (default = -30)
                -CF:90.3E6          Specify center frequency in Hz (default = 900 MHz)
                -span:10E6          Specify span in Hz (default = 1 MHz)
                -start:88E6         Specify sweep start frequency (default = 899 MHz)
                -stop:108E6         Specify sweep stop frequency (default = 901 MHz)
                -bins:64            Specify FFT kernel size (power of 2 from 16 to 256,
                                    default = 128)
                -sens:2             Specify sensitivity factor (default = 2, range 0-2)
                -RFATT:10           Specify RF attenuation in dB (0-15 dB in 5-dB steps,
                                    default = 0)
In most cases, SATRACE's output will be "piped" to another file or application. For example, the command
           c:\program files\ke5fx\gpib>satrace 18 -reps:100 -point:500 >temp.txt
will read 100 successive traces from the analyzer at GPIB address 18, point-sample them to generate 500 (Hz,dBm) value pairs for each trace, and write the resulting comma-separated value lists to the file temp.txt.

For more details on trace resampling, see the FAQ ("How do the trace-resampling options in SATRACE and SSM work?").

Release 1.01 of 25-Jul-08

Release 1.02 of 08-Sep-08 Release 1.03 of 20-Oct-08 Release 1.04 of 08-Apr-09 Release 1.05 of 30-May-11 Release 1.06 of 31-Jul-12 Release 1.07 of 28-Aug-13 Release 1.08 of 28-Jul-15 Release 1.09 of 4-Aug-16


SGENTEST.EXE tests HP signal generators (8656A/B, 8757A-D, 8642B/M, 8662A/8663A, 8672A and others) by programming randomly-chosen frequency and amplitude settings. Output signals are then verified by an HP 8566A/B, 8568A/B, or 8560A/E-series spectrum analyzer.

Usage: sgentest <analyzer address> <generator address> [<options> ...]

Available options (with default or example values):

         -fmax:1.2E9   .... Maximum test frequency = 1200 MHz
         -fmin:10E3    .... Minimum test frequency = 10 kHz
         -amin:-90     .... Minimum test power = -90 dBm
         -amax:10      .... Maximum test power = 10 dBm
         -loss:1.0     .... Interconnect loss in dB at fmax
         -ftol:200     .... Frequency tolerance = +/- 200 Hz
         -atol:2       .... Amplitude tolerance = +/- 2 dBm
         -wait:0.25    .... Wait 250 milliseconds after programming generator
         -8662         .... Check for HP 8662A/8663A hardware errors
         -8672         .... Compatibility mode for HP 8672A signal generators
         -8560         .... Compatibility mode for certain HP 8560A/B/E portable analyzers
         -log:filename .... Log output to filename
         -trials:1000  .... Stop after 1000 trials
         -verbose      .... Display/log all trials, not just failures
         -srand:500    .... Seed random # generator with integer
         -stime        .... Seed random # generator with time() function


- Minimum test power must be sufficient to yield good amplitude measurements
- Numeric arguments are reals, and may use scientific notation
- 8662A/8663A hardware error checks are disabled by default
- Some 8560A/B/E-series portables may require -8560 switch for compatibility
  (which inhibits use of KSX and KSb commands for amplitude correction and
  positive-peak detection)
- Test will run indefinitely if -trials is 0 (or not specified)
- Default -loss value is based on 15 feet of LMR-400 and two N connectors at fmax=1.2E9
- When using the -8672 option, set the front panel RANGE control to minimum power (-110 dBm) to avoid false readings

Example to test HP 8663A at address 19 with analyzer at address 18, using 15 feet of LMR-400 cable (1.0 dB loss) with N connectors (0.15 dB each):

   sgentest 18 19 -fmax:2559E6 -amax:19 -8662 -loss:1.3
Example to test HP 8672A at address 19:

   sgentest 18 19 -8672 -fmax:18E9 -fmin:2E9 -amax:8 -amin:-50 -atol:4 -loss:4

Miscellaneous Win32 Console Applications

By default, the following utilities are installed with the rest of the GPIB Toolkit executables in the installation directory, normally C:\Program Files\KE5FX\GPIB or C:\Program Files (x86)\KE5FX\GPIB. In most cases you can obtain usage notes by running each program with no command-line arguments.

PARSE.EXE is a simple command-line utility that allows you to inspect HP-GL files by dumping their instructions to stdout.

QUERY.EXE is a standalone GPIB query utility intended for diagnostic purposes and batch/shortcut files.

TALK.EXE is a standalone GPIB command-transmission utility intended for diagnostic purposes and batch/shortcut files.

LISTEN.EXE is a standalone GPIB data-reception utility for ASCII traffic, intended for diagnostic purposes and batch/shortcut files.

BINQUERY.EXE is a standalone GPIB query utility intended for diagnostic purposes and batch/shortcut files. It illustrates how to retrieve arbitrarily-large binary data blocks from GPIB instrumentation.

GPS.EXE is an example program for the GNSS.DLL library. It displays incoming latitude, longitude, and altitude fixes. GNSS.DLL provides a C API for NMEA-compatible GPS receivers such as the u-blox LEA-6 series.

5071A.EXE sets the clock on an HP 5071A / Symmetricom 5071A primary frequency standard from a specified NTP server.

5345A.EXE and 5370.EXE are two example programs that show how to communicate via GPIB with the HP 5345A and HP 5370A/B frequency counters, respectively. They are meant to be modified and recompiled as needed.

8672A.EXE programs the output frequency and (optionally) power level for the HP 8672A microwave signal generator.

DTS2070.EXE demonstrates capture of timing data from a Wavecrest DTS2070 timing analyzer. Like the HP counter utilities it is meant to be modified as needed.

DSO6000.EXE retrieves voltage data from a trace captured on an Agilent DSO/MSO6000A-series oscilloscope. If an output filename is supplied on the command line, the data will be written as a series of double-precision binary values; otherwise, the voltage values will be printed to stdout. DSO6000.EXE assumes that a SINGLE sweep has run to completion, and that the oscilloscope is in STOP mode (STOP/RUN button illuminated red.) It was tested on an MSO6054A, and may or may not be compatible with other Agilent models such as the DSO/MSO5000A series.

CAL_TEK490.EXE contains various calibration aids from the Tektronix 492P service manual. Run the program for a menu of available calibration routines.

DATAQ.EXE acquires data from a DataQ DI-154RS or DI-194 serial DAQ adapter.

SSMDUMP.EXE shows how to access the row data from an .SSM file.

ECHOCLIENT.EXE and ECHOSERVER.EXE are intended for troubleshooting and benchmarking TCP/IP connections. These utilities communicate over port 4242. (Note that benchmark results obtained from these programs are normally limited by the GPIB Toolkit's network layer, rather than by the connection itself.)

PRINTHPG.EXE sends a plotter data file (.PLT, .HPG, etc.) to the default DOS printer (PRN device). This printer should be an HP LaserJet or compatible model that supports legacy HP-GL commands. Other printers can be used by 7470.EXE, but the bitmaps printed by 7470.EXE will lack the resolution and fidelity obtainable by sending the plotter file directly to a genuine HP-GL-compatible printer.

If you have a LaserJet and want the best-quality black-and-white output possible, PRINTHPG.EXE is the way to go. Note that even LaserJets don't support some HP-GL features, like UC (User Character) opcodes! If your instrument relies on these, you'll need to use 7470.EXE to render its plots and print them as fixed-resolution bitmaps.

TCPLIST.EXE transmits a string to a specified TCP/IP address and listens for a reply. Command-line options specify the timeout interval, EOS character, and the number of ASCII text lines expected in response. TCPLIST.EXE is handy for accessing instruments that support Telnet connections or other simple ASCII-based protocols.

NTPQUERY.EXE requests the current time from a specified NTP server (e.g., ntpquery pool.ntp.org).

Example Batch Files for Instrument Control

By default, the following batch files are installed with the rest of the GPIB Toolkit executables in the installation directory. They may be inspected and modified with any word processor or text editor capable of working with plaintext ASCII files.

WIFI_HP8566.BAT uses TALK.EXE to program an HP 8566B spectrum analyzer at GPIB address 18 for 2350-2550 MHz sweeps at 5 dB/division, selecting a -35 dBm reference level and 0 dB of RF attenuation. It then launches SSM.EXE with max-accumulation and WiFi band boundaries enabled.

WIFI_TEK490.BAT uses TALK.EXE to program a Tektronix 492P/494P/494AP/497P analyzer at GPIB address 3 in a similar fashion. The analyzer's CRT readout is turned off to prevent burn-in.

WIFI_E4406A.BAT programs an Agilent E4406A Vector Signal Analyzer at GPIB address 18 to display the middle 10 MHz of WiFi channel 1 (2412 MHz). It then launches SSM.EXE with max-accumulation and WiFi band boundaries enabled.

GPS_SA44.BAT programs a Signal Hound USB-SA44/B or USB-SA124A spectrum analyzer to display the middle 6 MHz of the GPS L1 band at 1575.42 MHz. It then launches SSM.EXE with max-accumulation and GPS band boundaries enabled.

R3267.BAT uses BINQUERY.EXE to request .BMP images from an Advantest R3264, R3267, or R3273 spectrum analyzer at GPIB address 7.

TDSBMP.BAT uses BINQUERY.EXE to request color .BMP images from a Tektronix TDS-series oscilloscope. This should work with most TDS models (tested on TDS 694C).

IMD_8566B_8568B.BAT uses TALK.EXE to transmit the downloadable program (DLP) T_HIRDIMOD to the nonvolatile user RAM on an HP 8566B or 8568B spectrum analyzer. This program performs basic third-order intermodulation distortion measurements on signals between 10 MHz and 500 MHz, and also calculates IP3. See HP product note 8566B/8568B-1 for more information.

ESM.BAT uses TALK.EXE to control a Rohde & Schwarz ESM-500A receiver. Run the batch file without any arguments to see a brief usage guide.

TSCCMD.BAT uses TCPLIST.EXE to control a Symmetricom TSC 5115A/5120A/5125A phase noise test set. Run the batch file without any arguments to see a brief usage guide.

TCP2PNP.BAT uses TCPLIST.EXE to save the phase noise spectrum from a Symmetricom TSC 5115A/5120A/5125A as a .PNP file compatible with the PN.EXE phase noise utility.

SET5071A.BAT uses 5071A.EXE to set the clock on the HP 5071A at the specified COM port to the current NTP time obtained from pool.ntp.org.

Example HP-GL/2 (.PLT), Phase Noise Plot (.PNP), and Touchstone (.S2P) Files

The installation directory also contains three subdirectories, Composite noise baseline plots, Sample HPGL files, and Sample S2P files. These subdirectories contain a variety of .PNP, .PLT, and .S2P files that can be loaded and displayed by the PN, 7470, and TCHECK applications respectively.

User Contributions and Third-Party Software

HP 8753 S2P Downloader, contributed by Melvin Clarkson of Aspire Design Ltd, fetches Touchstone .S2P S-parameter files from an HP 8753 A/B/C network analyzer equipped with a Prologix USB adapter. VB 2010 source is included. These .S2P files may be imported into circuit simulator programs including the free RFSim99 package. Melvin's utility may be helpful if you have difficulty using the newer VNA.EXE application described above. To use the program, unzip the file and run bin\Debug\SerialPortCommunication.exe. Select the Prologix adapter's COM port, then press the "Open Port" and "S paras" buttons.

HP 8903B audio analyzer users may wish to check out the work done by Pete Millett here.

Lance Lascari at RFdude.com has some nice GPIB applications for RF/microwave measurements.

HP3458.EXE, contributed by Mark Sims, allows you to back up the data and/or calibration NVRAMs from the HP 3458A multimeter. Run with no command-line options for usage guidelines, and refer to the comment header in HP3458.CPP for more information.

Bertrand, VE2ZAZ has developed a handy Python application for the Agilent E4406A that can stitch multiple 10 MHz spans together to emulate a wideband sweep. SSM can do this as well (as of release 1.49), but Bertrand's app has the advantage of being compatible with any platform that supports Python.

Released into the public domain 16-Dec-05 by John Miles, KE5FX. Please contact john@miles.io with feedback and enhancements!

Some DSPLIB components used by the GPIB Toolkit are subject to open-source license agreements; see the current DSPLIB distribution for details.

Source code compilable with the free Microsoft Visual Studio Express package
No warranties, expressed or implied, are offered with these programs.
Use at your own risk!