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Are You Designing for Testability?

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Nancy Golden
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Must Become A Part of the Culture
Nancy Golden   8/14/2013 11:05:44 AM
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Great article - it just takes getting management to buy in so that it becomes corporate culture in a world where speed to market is often an overriding factor. If you can prove this:

"Catching errors early will save 10 to 1,000 times the money to solve. Due diligence ahead of time is key."

I worked for a company were we did company-wide QIT training. It focused on doing things right the first time and this certainly falls within that paradigm. While initially we had more expenditure and time costs, it did prove that in the long run it saved money and increased the profit margin as a result.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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To the Main Point - - -
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   8/14/2013 12:37:44 PM
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Cabe, regarding your main point, getting the pre-design requirements and specification right BEFORE Design & Build efforts are launched, I only say 'Amen'.  This seems like an obvious thing, but most times is still missed because of complexities stretching the hard-line schedule.  How many times have we heard the Program Manger direct that "we're slipping – we can address that later",,,,

Cadman-LT
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Platinum
Re: To the Main Point - - -
Cadman-LT   8/14/2013 3:21:43 PM
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JimT, nice. Yeah, we'll address that later....or maybe not at all!!! Time crunch. I hope there comes a day when we can focus on perfection rather than production. I do dream.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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,,,And to the Lesser Point - - -
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   8/14/2013 12:38:39 PM
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On the lesser point of testing due-diligence, of you have precisely defined the point of diminishing returns in micro-miniaturization.  When discrete components continue to reduce in size, beyond the ability to probe with the point of a needle, design layouts naturally make the micro-leap to SoC's as you pointed out.  But testing proper functionality of SoC's  (to achieve the desired result  is either a theoretical analysis, or an empirical effort requiring actual  'build & sample' efforts.

Cadman-LT
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Platinum
Indeed
Cadman-LT   8/14/2013 3:14:24 PM
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Cabe, great article as always. I focused on the beginning of your article. It mentioned soldering. I know i't wasn't the point of the piece, but it reminded me of something. Now this was told to me by a friend so don't quote me...lol... but...a lot of the xbox360's failed due to a red ring of death..which I was told was due to "bad" solder that wouldn't withstand the heat of the unit. I do not recall MS ever admitting to this, but they did come out with a new unit which did not suffer this fault. Finding problems is the first step, admitting them the second, actually fixing them the third and most important. I know the engineers know this, but I don't think the companies care so much. It's all about money to them.  Just a thought.

Cadman-LT
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Re: Indeed
Cadman-LT   8/14/2013 3:34:20 PM
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Cabe, I had one more thought one this. Now I could understand if I bought a cheap thing from wherever and it failed. Ok, I bought a cheap piece of junk. I get that. It is when the best still fail that gets me. I mean you think you are buying (paying) for the best, and it still fails? They need to have better quality control. Isn't that expected from the best?  Just my opinion.

William K.
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Platinum
Re: Indeed
William K.   8/18/2013 7:21:45 PM
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Poor quality solder can certainly bring about the failure of an electronic system, there is no question about that at all. And not just the Xbox. I repaired a Kenwood stereo amplifier that died completely because of poor solder in the power supply area. It is not just the fact of a bad alloy mix, sometimes the wave solder machine is just a bit off, or the solder had excessive scum, or the pre-fluxing was inadequate, or possibly the bare circuit boards had excesive oxidation on the surface. Or maybe the temperature was a bit too high. Lots of different things can lead to poor board soldering, and inadequate inspections won't see the failures, and if they pass initial testing they won't be fixed, they will fail in a few months, and be out of warranty, so why should they care?

Now about line conditioners? Is that power line conditioners or audio line conditioners. If you have a noisy power line a good inlin filter may be a lot of help, if it is installed in a manner that allows it to prevent the noise from passing through. And a good filter is much cheaper than one of those good line conditioners like the ones that5 SOLA makes. 

Cadman-LT
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Platinum
Cabe
Cadman-LT   8/14/2013 3:44:42 PM
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Hey Cabe....nothing to do with the article, but wanted your opinion if you have time. Do line conditioners for audio work? Never tried one, but I think I need one. I have hiss that I want rid of...just wondering if a line conditioner will remove it. Thanks.

Cadman-LT
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Platinum
Re: Cabe
Cadman-LT   8/14/2013 3:53:30 PM
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This is not an isolated incident. It plagues my house. Every room. It does not effect my laptop though. That could be because of the power source though. Just trying to figure this out, anyone with an idea.....let me know and thank you!

Cadman-LT
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Platinum
Re: Cabe
Cadman-LT   8/15/2013 8:35:09 AM
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Still looking for a reply, but my audio guy says a line conditioner won't solve my problem. So I guess my question is , is there a way to fix it?

Cadman-LT
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Platinum
Re: Cabe
Cadman-LT   8/15/2013 8:37:30 AM
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I'll go to an A/V channel haha sorry guys.

bobjengr
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Platinum
DFT
bobjengr   8/15/2013 6:13:13 PM
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Excellent article.  The first thing I thought of when reading your post was the care needed when programming.  I learned to program using PASCAL--a teaching language.  My instructor was absolutely paranoid regarding students applying proper and copious notes to code so transparency could be obtained.   In his way of thinking, documentation was critical to understanding and remembering the "why" of lines and lines of code.  Your design for testability certainly falls along the very same lines.   I am completing a project right now in which sensor ports are located strictly for design confirmation and pre-pilot testing. I have no idea if we will use all of the ports but they are there.  For production, we will lessen the number but still provide ability for trouble- shooting and field service.  Again--excellent post and a good reminder that considerable time can be saved if proper planning, including DFT, is considered.   

William K.
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Platinum
Design for testing, or design to be repairable?
William K.   8/18/2013 7:31:39 PM
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All of the systems that I have designed have been designed not only to be testable, but also to be repairable. That goes way beyond just putting an adequate number of accessable test points on the PCBs, it also includes designing a package so that it can be opened for servicing after the product is built. Those wonderful snap assemblies are not so very wonderful a few months later when the plastic parts have become less ductile and much more brittle. That is what is never mentioned in those "design for assembly" classes. I often add the claim that "our products are worth repairing, while other products are certaainly worth recycling." That imessage, that  our products will have a much longer lifetime because they are repairable does make some sales, especially when it is along side a long warranty period.

The article was good, and the points well made, but don't forget that there is more to many products than just a circuit board. And the rest of the product should be testable as well.

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