ATE for you and me
Once I wrote a story on an automated test equipment (ATE) system for the F-16 fighter. Designers managed to shrink it down into several two-person portable modules that would all fit on a pair of military transport aircraft pallets. Now, thanks to National Instruments' (NI) new Switch Executive software, electronic equipment designers can have ATE functionality on their desktops without the six-figure expense, and size, of proprietary vendor-defined systems. Thus ATE functionality, vital to military electronics and semiconductor production-manufacturing testing, can be brought into design- validation and research testing.
Switch Executive is an open switch-management software architecture that facilitates routing and organizing switching systems in automated test applications. Automated testing frees design engineers from manual testing, cutting testing time, and increasing accuracy.
The package integrates NI's LabVIEW™ development tool with its TestStand™ package for sequencing tests and controlling instruments, and for PC management of test systems. Like LabVIEW, Switch Executive uses software-assisted routing, rather than low-level programming, to connect instruments and testing devices to testing points. To easily identify connections, engineers can name channels, switch modules, and external connections using descriptive terms such as terminal, instrument, or test-point names.
In the demonstration I witnessed in setting up a switch configuration, the intuitive interface and similarity to the easy wiring function in LabVIEW was apparent. You just choose your endpoints and the software finds an available route. Alternatively, you can input signal characteristics to find routes with the correct switch properties, with the graphical interactive interface displaying the path the signal takes. Also neat is the fact that software will validate any routes you select, flagging any incompatibilities for correction. Finally, instead of disconnecting all switches between test sequences, Switch Executive maintains common connections in switch configurations between tests. National Instruments, www.ni.com. Enter 603
The OMEGADYNE® PX02 Series of industrial pressure transducers is noted for its amplified voltage output and, according to the company, its FM/CSA Intrinsically Safe standard accuracy. Transducers maintain a temperature compensated range of 16 to 71C, and are available in NPT and 7U16-20 O-ring seal fittings for industrial or hydraulic uses. OMEGA Engineering, www.omega.com. Enter 604
A line of Serializer/Deserializer (SerDes) solutions for wireless base stations permits a wide data rate, long transmission distance, and offers a simple design. Produced as drop-in replacements for existing market solutions, the new 10:1/1:10 SerDes devices transmit data over high-speed backplanes using little power. The units utilize less than 400 mW of power at 660 Mbps to convert 10-bit words into single-bit data streams, transmit the data over backplane media, then receive and reconvert the data into 10-bit words again. Texas Instruments Inc., www.ti.com. Enter 605
The HMI900 series touchscreens are designed for demanding industrial applications, featuring durable, hard-cased enclosures that comply with NEMA 4/12 (1P65F) waterproof and dustproof standards. These HMIs are powered by 120-240V ac, have been tested to meet European CE EMC directives for electrical noise immunity and emissions, and are rated for UL/cUL listing. Each model is designed for space efficiency, with less than two inches required for depth. Three models are currently available. Maple Systems, www.maple-systems.com. Enter 606