Python package for interacting with laboratory equipment over various buses.
Python Other
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Travis-CI build status Coveralls code coverage Documentation PyPI version

Python versions

InstrumentKit is an open source Python library designed to help the end-user get straight into communicating with their equipment via a PC. InstrumentKit aims to accomplish this by providing a connection- and vendor-agnostic API. Users can freely swap between a variety of connection types (ethernet, gpib, serial, usb) without impacting their code. Since the API is consistent across similar instruments, a user can, for example, upgrade from their 1980's multimeter using GPIB to a modern Keysight 34461a using ethernet with only a single line change.

Supported means of communication are:

  • Galvant Industries GPIBUSB adapter (open_gpibusb)
  • Serial (open_serial)
  • Sockets (open_tcpip)
  • VISA (open_visa)
  • Read/write from unix files (open_file)
  • USBTMC (open_usbtmc)
  • VXI11 over Ethernet (open_vxi11)

There is planned support for HiSLIP someday, but a good Python HiSLIP library will be needed first.

If you have any problems or have code you wish to contribute back to the project please feel free to open an issue or a pull request!


The instruments package can be installed from this repository by the following means:

From Git:

$ git clone
$ cd InstrumentKit
$ python install

From Github using pip:

$ pip install -e git+

From pypi using pip:

$ pip install instrumentkit

Usage Example

To open a connection to a generic SCPI-compatible multimeter using a Galvant Industries' GPIBUSB adapter:

>>> import instruments as ik
>>> inst = ik.generic_scpi.SCPIMultimeter.open_gpibusb("/dev/ttyUSB0", 1)

From there, various built-in properties and functions can be called. For example, the instrument's identification information can be retrieved by calling the name property:

>>> print(

Or, since in the demo we connected to an SCPIMultimeter, we can preform multimeter-specific tasks, such as switching functions, and taking a measurement reading:

>>> reading = inst.measure(inst.Mode.voltage_dc)
>>> print("Value: {}, units: {}".format(reading.magnitude, reading.units))

Due to the sheer number of commands most instruments support, not every single one is included in InstrumentKit. If there is a specific command you wish to send, one can use the following functions to do so:

>>> inst.sendcmd("DATA") # Send command with no response
>>> resp = inst.query("*IDN?") # Send command and retrieve response

Python Version Compatibility

At this time, Python 2.7, 3.3, 3.4, and 3.5 are supported. Should you encounter any problems with this library that occur in one version or another, please do not hesitate to let us know.


You can find the project documentation at our ReadTheDocs pages located at


The InstrumentKit team always welcome additional contributions to the project. However, we ask that you please review our contributing developer guidelines which can be found in the documentation. We also suggest that you look at existing classes which are similar to your work to learn more about the structure of this project.

To run the tests against all supported version of Python, you will need to have the binary for each installed, as well as any requirements needed to install numpy under each Python version. On Debian/Ubuntu systems this means you will need to install the python-dev package for each version of Python supported (python2.7-dev, python3.3-dev, etc).

With the required system packages installed, all tests can be run with tox:

$ pip install tox
$ tox


All code in this repository is released under the AGPL-v3 license. Please see the license folder for more information.