Reducing total cost of ownership by trimming cabling cost for a PXI-based printed circuit board functional tester.
Combining the benefits of PXI modular instruments and interconnect from MAC Panel reduced the number of days required to build duplicate PXI test systems from 35 person-days to 11 person-days. This combination saved time and increases profitability.
PXI has become a dominant industry standard for measurement and automation applications. As a designer and manufacturer of system interconnect solutions, MAC Panel works with many customers in the automotive and medical industries to help define PXI-based automated test solutions. During the early evolution of PXI, building a device under test (DUT) system interface was often a simple matter of selecting an interconnect receiver and PXI instruments, and then cabling them together. Today, customers use PXI products for their unparalleled performance and density. One specific medical customer, that builds medical grade test systems in-house, selected PXI hardware for its smaller footprint, but the cabling methods did not meet the requirements of the high-performance automated test system. MAC Panel interconnect technologies assisted in eliminating many cables between the PXI system and the device under test (DUT), while still allowing for user customization.
Our customer defined a test bed for its wireless device test that needed to operate within the industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) radio band to ensure the RF signal integrity met FDA reported requirements. The focus of the tester needed to be on all protocols within the 2.4 GHz ISM band, including Bluetooth, ZigBee, and IEEE Standard 802.11. The tester also focused upon functional level tests of the power supply, user interface, and human engineering features.
They complemented the PXI modular instrument hardware with off-the-shelf software libraries (i.e. NI WLAN Measurement Suite, NI ZigBee Toolkit, and NI Bluetooth Measurement Suite) to simplify application generation. Next, they defined an interchangeable DUT interface so as to define a common tester, but with lower costs and reduced cabling. Cabling was a specific concern because of the engineering costs associated with duplicating the test platform. Human errors made by connecting the numerous cables, and the time required to validate, was not easily repeatable.
PXI ATE setup featuring SCOUT shown with DIrect Access Kit (DAK) Assembly removed(Note: All DAKs are shown with face plate removed to expose connectivity solutions)
The medical device customer selected the MAC Panel SCOUT as a substitute for direct cables between the PXI instruments and the receiver connector, along with a complement of modular PXI instruments and switches. A connection assembly, called a Direct Access Kit (DAK) attaches to the PXI instrument face connector to form a single assembly and to each PXI instrument, which includes metal shielding to eliminate noise. The SCOUT family of DAK adapters provided an off-the-shelf solution to connectivity with all the modular instruments. However, they also needed a customer-defined adapter.
The customer used off-the-shelf schematic software to lay-out a custom DAK module design (i.e. NI Ultiboard software and NI Multisim) to lay out a custom DAK module design. The DAK adapter incorporated custom circuitry for LVDS, isolation to medical grade signals, and signal de-amplification. The SCOUT receiver offered nontraditional instrument connectivity and signal path routing.
In the past, in order to build a modular automated test system with interchangeability, it often required fabricating custom cabling. Today's high-fidelity signals and complex coupling requires a unique solutions approach. The end customer leveraged MAC Panel SCOUT technology, along with modular PXI hardware instruments and software, to create a custom system that addressed signal integrity from the PXI instruments down through all interconnects directly to the DUT interface.
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