CompactRIO is the lean, mean cousin of PXI. It’s lower powered, but designed for applications that require a much smaller physical profile. In addition to test, cRIO is well suited for applications such as embedded industrial control or condition monitoring, among others.
This platform has many IO options, but RF is not one of them. CompactRIO is better suited for industrial applications where a PXI chassis may not be able to handle the environment or applications where space is at a premium (like inside a small enclosure).
Custom modules can be created, but can require more software development to complete. Most solutions can be accomplished with COTS modules and some form of signal conditioning when needed.
cRIO has a built-in FPGA and RT operating system for more deterministic applications than PXI. It is ideal for headless operations that need to run unattended for long periods of time, but some controllers have embedded UI capabilities that allow an HMI to be included. Because of its headless nature, cRIO generally requires more development effort. Of course this is very application dependent, but knowledge of LabVIEW RT and FPGA and usually network communications is essential.
It’s important to note that many cRIO controllers can utilize DAQmx to acquire and output data, reducing or eliminating the need for FPGA knowledge to deal with I/O on a cRIO.
cRIO can also utilize Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) to synchronize hundreds of channels across multiple cDAQ chassis using a cRIO controller as a master.
We’ve used the cRIO quite a bit (see here for more details). Some good examples of cRIO based test applications are:
A few non-test applications for cRIO include: