Test Connections

Even in the midst of the economic downturn, the demand for avionics test systems has remained steady. According to a report by Avionics Intelligence last September, many avionics testing companies have continued to receive orders from the commercial sector (albeit at a slower pace), with demand from the military sector picking up the slack.

A more recent report details an estimate that this demand is on track to increase throughout 2010. Of particular interest are test systems with PCI Express technology.

Although this news is encouraging, avionics test-system engineers face an array of challenges. And as in most markets, avionics manufacturers are striving to increase efficiency and performance while reducing the footprint of test systems. That’s where Geotest can help.
Avioincs Intelligence
Rigorous demands
Test systems must be able to address a range of electronic products and technologies, both legacy and cutting-edge. The mission-critical nature of the industry requires rigorous testing that meets a bevy of federal and legal specifications. There is no room for error.

Hardware and software test systems must meet a long list of demands, including (but by no means limited to) the following:
The ability to test a variety of products. Avionics manufacturers (and repair facilities) must address a wide range of applications — everything from data-recording systems to navigational equipment.
The ability to provide rigorous functional testing that meets stringent guidelines. Avionics equipment and subassemblies are not only extremely expensive; their proper functioning can mean the difference between life and death.
The ability to offer efficient, reusable, and integrated solutions. Avionics test systems should provide a modular architecture that can be modified as needed to support changing product requirements. The software test environment should provide an open architecture that supports a range of control interfaces, as well as a structured architecture that supports quick development and easy reuse of test code.

Integration is key
Rarely can a commercial off-the shelf (COTS) test platform meet all the requirements of avionics testing. Geotest offers integrated platforms that can handle testing in both commercial and military environments.

Based on the PXI platform, the Geotest Basic Avionics Test System (GBATS) and Geotest Digital & Analog Test System (GDATS) offer a range of options for managing analog, digital, and mixed-signal test applications. These preconfigured, modular platforms provide a core infrastructure, around which test engineers can build a complete test system. GDATS provides functionality and performance similar to VXI-based test systems (e.g., ESTS, VDATS, and RT-CASS platforms) — but at a much lower cost.

Various options are available for these platforms and include:
Multichannel ARINC429 and MIL-STD-1553 interfaces
Arbitrary waveform generator
Dual-channel digitizer
Multichannel voltage source
Digital cards supporting a range of test vector rates
High-density, static digital I/O

The GBATS and GDATS platforms also are available with ATEasy software, which integrates test-executive and test-development environments and allows the development of a standardized test software system so that engineers can easily reuse measurement routines and procedures to develop new tests.

A few of the most popular GBATS and GDATS platforms for the avionics industry include the following:
GBATS TS-700 Series, including TS-770 and TS-775. Based on the Geotest GX7102A PXI platform, these preconfigured, compact, 3U/6U systems are designed to support a range of commercial or military avionics applications, respectively. Each GABTS system includes a system self-test and a high pin-count tester interface. The system is application ready out of the box and can be customized by incorporating more than 10 different analog, digital, and communication test resources.
GDATS TS-250. The PXI-based TS-250 is a mixed-signal test platform for depot and maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) applications. The platform, which can be configured for specific test and repair applications, features an integrated MACPanel Scout receiver that supports as many as 8,000 I/O connections and offers a compact, single chassis solution for functional test applications. And like the GBATS platform, a variety of instrument and switch options are available for this open-architecture platform.

PXI meets the challenge
These Geotest systems are built on the card-modular PXI platform, which gives test engineers unparalleled flexibility and the ability to easily assemble and reconfigure compact, efficient test systems. And with the ongoing development of new PXI instruments, users can be assured that their test system can be updated to address new product technologies.

Additionally, with the inclusion of an integrated, high-performance, embedded controller, the resulting test systems can provide comprehensive instrument control and data processing — without a desktop PC. Such test equipment can be self-contained on one 14U cart, allowing rack mounting of all components.

Learn more online
For a detailed exploration of the importance of test-system commonality, see the white paper Consolidating Test Resources for Avionics Production Test — Requirements and Applications. You can access the complete Geotest white paper library here. Visit us online to explore all of our PXI offerings.
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