Autotestcon technical program charts path to future

Oct. 2, 2015

Autotestcon gets underway the week of November 2 in National Harbor, MD, with technical sessions running Tuesday through Thursday. Tuesday sessions cover topics such as ATE development, TPS development, design for test, managing obsolescence, managing support infrastructure, and ATE acquisition and sustainment.

Of note is a session titled “ATE Lessons Learned,” chaired by Joe Cuccaro of the U.S. Army. David Holmes of Raytheon will note that in many organizations, development of Special Test Equipment (STE) is an afterthought, with inexperienced engineers assigned to the task and shortcuts taken. But, such an approach, he will note, can actually increase the life-cycle cost of the STE.

Christopher Phillips, Jesse Sandoval, Todd Burton, and Derrick Jensen of Northrop Grumman Technical Services will note that the factory, depot, and field are all different environments, creating a scenario where the unit under test (UUT) is tested under variable conditions. Often, a line-replaceable unit (LRU) swapped out in the field doesn’t exhibit a failure when returned to the depot. The LRU may then cycle through the system several times until the depot detects an “environment agnostic” hard failure. What’s needed, they will say, is factory- or depot-quality testing in the field.

The final paper of the session is titled “Test Program and ATE Station Dependencies: Have we learned anything from the past, or are we doomed to repeat it?” In that paper, Michael Seavey and Dale Reitze of Northrop Grumman will discuss the migration from manual to automated test systems and resulting issues related to “correlation of test”—including timing issues related to the upgrade of legacy systems.

They will provide recommendations on how to support the development of future ATE systems without repeating past problems.

Wednesday sessions will cover software, prognostics and health monitoring, specialty ATE, software test, novel test and diagnostic techniques, and technology insertion in today’s instrumentation. A session titled “Improving the Accuracy and Reliability of Test Results” will address topics ranging from time-inverted ADCs (by Charna Parkey and Wasfy Mikhael of the University of Central Florida) to detection of soft errors in redundant systems (by Luis Bustamante and Hussain Al-Asaad of the University of California, Davis).

Yet another session will cover FPGAs in modern instrumentation. Papers in this session include “Embedded Synthetic Instruments for O-Level Test: Modular IO and FPGA Technology Provide Increased Flexibility and Decreased Cost of Test,” by Robert Bauer of National Instruments, and “Reducing the Cost of Test for High-Speed Serial Buses with COTS FPGA Technology,” by Christopher Nunn, also of NI.

In addition, Richard Craig of Boeing will present “Incorporation of Field Programmable Gate Array Based Instrumentation into Automated Test Equipment,” in which he will provide examples to demonstrate the versatility and cost advantage of FPGA-based instrument designs that provide user-access to the FPGAs. He will cite as an example the modernization of legacy testers, in which an FPGA can emulate the legacy control hardware.

Thursday will conclude the technical program with yet more papers on design for test, test and diagnostics, and prognostics and health monitoring. Other final-day sessions include “Supportability Enhancement Topics” and “New Directions in Instrumentation Architectures.” Papers in this latter session include “Shelf Management for AXIe Applications,” by Gary Hanson of Elma Electronic; “Introducing PXI Instrumentation Into An Existing VXI Based Tester,” by Kevin Paton of Teradyne; “Multi-channel Phase Coherent Measurements using COTS Modular Instruments,” by Alexander Dickson of Keysight Technologies; and “PXI-Based, High Performance, High Density Switching Architecture,” by Michael Dewey and David Manor of Marvin Test Solutions.

Visit our Autotestcon page for updates.

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