Software for EMC Part 2

An industry expert discusses the characteristics and capabilities of several EMC test software packages on the market today.

Part 1 in the October issue of EE focused on the history of EMC equipment and control software, listing what tests the software must perform and pointing out the capabilities and features of each type. The list included the need to control a wide variety of equipment and be flexible as a laboratory changes and grows.

Now we will look at the offerings from five software providers. The packages, each with its own strengths, are divided into two groups:

  • Menu driven�where the operator fills in pull-down menus and pop-up windows when starting a test.

  • Icon driven�where various icons, each with a defined task, are placed in series or parallel such as used in a flow chart.

An individual icon can be modified by clicking on it, which opens a window with the parameters and call lists. Modifications can be local, such as for an individual test or parameter, or global, affecting other tests or parameters as well. Icons control simple tasks, such as saving the data, or complex operations, like performing a conducted emissions scan from 150 kHz to 30 MHz and controlling all functions of the measurement system. They are dragged and dropped onto a work area and connected together in the order they are to be used.

Each of the software packages is designed to control a variety of test equipment. These programs were developed not for one particular equipment manufacturer, but for a test-laboratory environment where equipment from many manufacturers is used and equipment changes and updates are common. Each program is designed for the Microsoft Windows environment.

EMC Compliance 3
EMC Compliance 3 from Schaffner EMC is an icon-driven program using many menu functions. It tests to all past and present standards, and the list of supported test equipment is very long and inclusive.

My demonstration of the software was given by Derek Walton, the RF technical specialist at Schaffner. Although hardware issues forced him to operate the system on an older and well-used laptop computer, the software setups and modifications were performed easily, and as a whole, the program was very stable.

As a fully integrated package, modifications and changes made at one place in the program carried through to others, eliminating the need for duplication of entries. Testing can be via turnkey setups using preinstalled tests, or new tests can be easily created from scratch or by modifying existing tests.

The program incorporates a number of languages such as German, French, Japanese, and Mandarin. Notification of test completion or equipment-under-test failure points can be sent by e-mail or telephone. Customer support is provided 24/7 by a team of Schaffner employees located around the world.

EMITest� was created by CKC Laboratories as its own test-laboratory software (Figure 1). As clients passed through the laboratories, they commented on the ease with which the operators performed their tests. After many requests for the software, CKC Laboratories now makes it available to the public.

Upon inspection, you can see the components that betray functions used by CKC for internal use. For example, WO# and customer name are foreign to most users but can be ignored without affecting operation of the test.

The menu-driven software comes with several modules: radiated emissions, conducted emissions, immunity, calibration, and a limit-line editor. As the software matures, many of these modules are being incorporated into a single program. Transducers are copied from a list and added or subtracted from the measurements.

One or more limit lines also are added to a list that serves as the basis for the test. Limit lines include information for sweep speeds, bandwidths, frequency spans, and attenuation. Results can be exported to word processors or spreadsheet programs. Full automated report writing with a database backend is being developed.

Immunity and calibration are spreadsheet-style programs. In the spreadsheets, a frequency list is calculated or added in the first column. Subsequent columns are defined as the user desires, such as inputs and outputs to instruments, field probe measurements, calculations, and notes. The result is a tabular data sheet that can be exported to Excel or another similar program.

The Totally Integrated Lab Environment (TILE) from Quantum Change is an icon-based program that performs emissions, immunity, and calibration testing to commercial, medical, aerospace, and military standards (Figure 2). The software controls and monitors a variety of EMC test and support equipment.

TILE performs frequency harmonics testing and generates reports. The final data can be exported in several formats including all standard Microsoft-based software. It can be set up as a turnkey system, or modifications can be made by the user. During his discussion with me about TILE, Michael Hart, president of Quantum Change, pointed out that on-site training also is a standard feature and considered an integral part of the software.

Updated equipment drivers and software patches are provided to individual clients as needed and then placed on the TILE website for others to obtain. This allows users to have access to the latest equipment drivers and software revisions. Customer support is provided for two years after purchase.

With RadiMation, a menu-driven, modular software package developed by DARE!!, all major information exists on the desktop (Figure 3). This gives the operator rapid feedback and the ability to double-check settings before and during operation. Changing test parameters does not require searching for the proper page or pop-up window.

For example, changing from an unmodulated to a modulated test requires one step. The modules include RadiMation core, radiated immunity, conducted immunity, pulsed immunity (ESD, EFT, surge), radiated emissions, conducted emissions, ambient reduction (OATS), report generator, video monitoring, and datalogging with Excel export.

RadiMation controls equipment over a GPIB or RS-232 bus. This allows for a variety of instruments to be used in EMC testing. In addition, 1,500 instrument drivers already are in the database; new drivers as developed are available free of charge.

Equipment under test can be monitored by logging up to eight A/D channels. This includes battery-operated fiber-optic converters and video monitors. All of this data can be stored with the acquired immunity test data.

TDK TestLab Suite
TDK TestLab Suite, formerly known as EMC Automation, is a hybrid of a menu-driven and an icon-based software program (Figure 4). It is designed as modules, and each performs a unique function. Emissions modules are separated into programs for basic emissions and GTEM measurements. Immunity is divided into conducted and radiated modules. A fifth module, called the EUT Monitoring Lab, acquires information from a variety of test equipment to determine pass/fail criteria during testing.

From my first exposure to the EMC Automation software in 1990, I understood that it was designed to control any type of test equipment and test to any standard. This has been carried through the years to the point where the list of test equipment, both old and new, is very long indeed.

Orlando Perez, systems engineer at TDK, and I spent a great deal of time covering the various capabilities of the software. TDK TestLab Suite performs every type of automotive, telecommunications, commercial, aerospace, and military test.

The capabilities of these programs go well beyond what can be described in a single article. Each program is capable of testing to commercial, military and aerospace, medical, automotive, telecommunications, and other industrial specifications.

Although any of these packages may work for a given company, software that might fit the needs of one laboratory or test engineer may not be optimal for another. It would be best to investigate each of these packages in great detail.

One gentleman investigated these programs for his company and compared it to building his own software in-house: �I felt my system wouldn�t go obsolete quite as quickly as it did with our in-house software. Purchasing a software package does not limit what I can achieve. Instead, I can spend time developing tests to suit our fast-changing needs, and the diagnostic odd-ball tests that we�d always wanted could be written easily with few limitations. Fully automated testing, such as for immunity profiling overnight, also is possible using the hooks provided to link to other software.

�At the end of the day, software is like buying a car: Each individual has a favorite for very different reasons.�

About the Author
Patrick G. Andr�, president of Andr� Consulting, has worked in the EMC field for 21 years and is NARTE certified as both an EMC and an ESD engineer. He received a degree in physics from Seattle University in 1982 and works in military, aerospace, and commercial electronics. Mr. Andr� has been a member of the IEEE EMC Society for 20 years, serving as chairman, vice chairman, and arrangements chairman of the Puget Sound Section, and is a sound design engineer for the Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan Society and Pro A/V. Andr� Consulting, 12812 NE 185th Ct., Bothell, WA  98011-3121, 206-406-8371, e-mail: [email protected]


on EMC Compliance

on EMITest


on RadiMation

on TDK TestLab Suite

November 2004

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