Pickering Interfaces' Blog - Insights into Switching Technology

Simplifying Test Interconnect with Pickering’s Cable Design Tool

Posted by Bob Stasonis on Apr 6, 2020 5:34:31 PM
Simplify test interconnect

Correct interconnect products need to be selected once instruments and switching products have been chosen for a test set-up. This can be a complex process while checks are made, resulting in a significant investment in time, money, and in some cases, even exceeding the initial purchase cost of the devices.

The cable design for a test system is probably the last section of a test system development. And because proper cabling is critical for repeatability and accuracy, it needs care and expertise. Depending on the application, the test engineer needs to consider test specifications, including voltage, current, temperature, insertion losses, and more. From there, the engineer needs to determine the connections between the instrument and the Device Under Test (DUT), and then select connector types, backshells, wire length, and wire types. Unless the test engineer is an expert on cabling, researching wires and connectors can be a daunting task.

As a leader in test and measurement switching and simulation for over 30 years, we fully understand the importance of high performance and reliable interconnection between the component parts of a test system and DUT. That is why we established our own in-house connectivity division that manufactures a comprehensive range of 1200+ high-quality cable and connector solutions. There are times, however, when a standard cable assembly is not suitable, and there is a need for custom connectors and wire types or specific harness wiring. Pickering's free online Cable Design Tool (CDT) is a simple and efficient way of creating these custom cabling solutions.

Pickering's Cable Design Tool and completed cableThe cable itself can be drawn in a few clicks, choosing connectors, backshells and wires from a library. Linking them together is achieved manually by clicking on pins, or an auto-link option will link user-selectable groups of pins in 1-1 order. A third option is to use the CSV import, where the pinout with signal names can be prepared in an Excel sheet.

Currently, there are around 500 connectors and 400 types of wires and cables in the library (which is growing daily). These can be selected by many attributes, including pin count, connector type, rated voltage, conductor count, insulation type, conductor size and more. Many sophisticated functions, such as screening, sleeving and labels, bundling, and much more, can also be added. 

When the design is completed, the tool creates the full datasheet with all part numbers, lengths, labeling and pinout map for each path which can be downloaded in PDF format. Also, if the customer decides to work with Pickering, it can be used as build instructions for their production department. Otherwise, the customer is free to take the design and solicit other cable vendors.

Cable Design Tool data sheet

The tool is collaborative, enabling several people to work on a design, and once finished, the design is then sent to us to review. Our cable technicians can assist by suggesting cost-saving design changes and optimize the design for ease of manufacture by using stocked parts. Lead time is typically four to five weeks after receiving the order.

The main advantage offered by our connectivity division is the ability to provide precisely what you need. Our flexibility starts with the first point of inquiry. Our technicians receive cable drawings in many formats—AutoCAD, Visio documents, Excel pinouts, text descriptions, etc. They can analyze, design and manufacture complex custom cable harnesses. Our designers are there to help, whether modifying existing designs or designing new ones, our in-house production is flexible to cope with such demands and can manufacture in single quantities or high volume.

Start Using The Tool 

Take a look at our on-demand webinar "Simplifying Test Interconnect with Cable Design Tool" here >>

To learn more about cabling for your automated test system, take a look at our SwitchMate book, there is a whole section to help you understand it.

Cabling for your automated test system - Switchmate

Have questions or need more information? Please contact us here.

Topics: automated test system, software, Cables and Connectors

Automating Test Within Manufacturing Processes - White Paper

Posted by Kelly Porter on Apr 2, 2020 2:29:37 PM

 

whitepaper-cover-automating-test-within-maufacturing-processesIt is best practice when automating test within a manufacturing process to consider interconnection as an extension of the test instrument. In production, the interface between a device under test (DUT) and the test instruments will likely include a network of cabling, a signal distribution or switching subsystem, a connector panel, and device-specific adapters. In essence, all of the cabling, interfacing and switching should now be considered as an extension of the test instrument and must be allowed for when assessing the instrument’s capabilities.

There are always potential issues in production to keep in mind between a device under test (DUT) and the test instruments, focusing on how path resistance, line capacitance and insertion loss affect test results and what can be done to minimize their impact. Signal routing for test would be considered to be perfect if the path between the test instrument and the device under test was electrically ‘invisible’. Of course, this is asking the impossible. This is why test engineers need to take care of the whole measurement channel by considering everything between the instrument and the DUT, including cables, switching subsystems, connectors and mass interconnect products.

Selecting a flexible switching platform that can cover a range of application requirements and provide for future expansion provides a solid foundation for a test system design. You also want to keep in mind that in some cases, cables are supplied with switch modules, so they will have been designed to work with that module. This is why Pickering's modular switching portfolio provides maximum flexibility for system designs. Pickering also has a dedicated facility that produces cables and accessories to ensure that the performance of the switching module is not compromised by poor interconnections. 

Read the entire white paper here to learn more about potential issues in production between a device under test (DUT) and the test instruments, focusing on how path resistance, line capacitance and insertion loss affect test results and what can be done to minimize their impact. 

If you have questions or need more information on automating test within your manufacturing process – please reach out to one of our engineers here.

Topics: PXI, automated test system, test and measurement systems, Device Under Test, DUT, Cables and Connectors