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From Bob Helsel, Editor of the PXI Newsletter:

Welcome to the January 2017 edition of the PXI Newsletter.  Our intent is to educate and inform you about how the PXI standard is being used in modular test systems for a wide variety of industries.

In the New PXI Products section, we are showcasing PXI products recently released by members of the PXI Systems Alliance.

The PXI Systems Alliance is the sponsor of this month's issue.

Visit for more information.


High-Density Multiplexer Selected for Aircraft Lightning Protection Testing

Submitted by Pickering Interfaces

A major UK manufacturer of aircraft engine control units is using a PXI high-density Multiplexer as the switching solution for use in its new automated production test systems. These systems will be used to test FADEC (Full Authority Digital Engine Controller) lightning-strike protection components on Airbus’ A330 and A350 as well as Boeing’s Dreamliner aircraft.

The customer needed to test the transient-voltage-suppression diodes, or transorbs, used to protect the FADEC’s sensitive electronics from very fast voltage spikes induced on connected wires following a lightning strike on the aircraft. Due to the quantity of transorbs that needed to be tested (one on every I/O connection of the FADEC), a large number of high-power multiplexers were required to connect the UUT to the test instrumentation.


Fast Measurements
in Power Amplifier Test

Submitted by Keysight Technologies

A vital portion of RF power amplifier (PA) test is the need to quickly generate a stable voltage and measure a resulting current. Current measurements are used by design and test engineers to determine PA efficiency. The ability to set a stable voltage and measure current in a very short time is key to minimizing PA test times, which can be critical in certain applications. For example, in a cellular production application, PAs process through an automated test environment (ATE) in a few ms.  Longer test times can be very costly because the volumes are 100 million or more. Fast R&D PA test times are not as critical, although, faster test times are valued.

In an RF PA test application, the supply is typically only varied over a small range. However, current will vary quite a bit depending on the driver level, modulation, frequency and so on. This means that for nearly every test point an accurate V/I reading is needed. 



3 Hidden Oscilloscope Specs That Really Matter

Submitted by National Instruments

All oscilloscopes are listed with specifications like sampling rate, bandwidth, and voltage range, but are those the best specifications to use when you choose a new instrument? Although these are important pieces of information to have about a new piece of equipment, understanding the quality of an oscilloscope requires reading a little further into the user manual. See why the effective number of bits (ENOB), passband flatness, and -3 dB filter roll-off may be the most important specs you aren’t looking at.

1. Effective Number of Bits
ENOB of an oscilloscope is the actual measurement resolution after you have accounted for the distortion, noise effects, and spurs of the instrument. ENOB gives a much more accurate representation of the measurement performance of an oscilloscope than the resolution printed on the front panel or in the data sheet and is calculated directly from the signal-to-noise-and-distortion (SINAD) specification. Noise and device spurs are embedded into the measurements your oscilloscope takes and add voltage offsets and frequency components that are not part of the signal of interest.


Why Do Users Buy Test Gear? - Part 1

By Larry Desjardin, Modular Methods

I’ve been pretty bullish on the future of modular instruments, such as PXI and AXIe. I’ve predicted that they will continue to take share in the test industry due to numerous dynamics. But predicting where, how, and why requires insight into why users buy test equipment at all.

This is actually a common question I’m asked in my day job as an industry consultant. And if I’m not asked, I often bring it up. What are the business drivers of the end user that compels them to spend billions of dollars of their hard earned money each year on test equipment? And from that, what are the key differentiators that determine when they might buy from vendor A or vendor B, or instrument format X versus instrument format Y?

We’re all engineers, so we know the devil is in the details. But, with the right segmentation models, we can see some patterns emerge. A mentor once told me, “All segmentation models are flawed. Some are useful.” With that as a caveat, let me show you a model I use to segment the test and measurement industry.



Thanks to all our readers.
Bob Helsel, Editor

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New PXI Products

The PXI platform continues its explosive growth with many new product introductions. New products introduced in the last three months include (listed in the order received):

Pickering Interfaces New High-Density PXI Matrix Range – 40-52
The 40-520 family of high-density PXI matrices is available in 22 different configurations with up to 256 crosspoints. The choice of six bus widths (x16, x12, x8, x6, x4 and x2) enables competitively priced solutions using Pickering Electronics instrumentation quality reed relays.

NI PXIe-8821
2.6 GHz Intel Core i3 Dual Core PXI Express Controller
The PXIe-8821 is a high-value embedded controller that features an Intel Core i3-4110E dual-core processor for use in PXI Express and CompactPCI Express systems. With its 2.6 GHz processor, 1600 MHz DDR3L memory, and four Gen2 x1 PCI Express links, this controller offers an ideal balance of performance and value.

Circuit Check 1050 Medical Device Test Station
Selectable product interface options:
-Topside, bi-level and multistage pin probe
-Through-connector test

Avionics Network Simulator
AIT has released a fully integrated avionics network test & simulation system supporting simulation of avionics Ethernet and Fibre Channel networks. The Avionics Network Simulator can be configured for support of multiple combinations of Ethernet and Fibre Channel network interfaces and for both Copper and Optical network media. 

Ametek's VTI Instrument’s SentinelEX PXI Express Switching Series
Introducing AMETEK’s VTI Instrument’s SentinelEX PXI Express (PXIe) Switching Series, the latest addition to its SentinelEX PXIe Test and Measurement Suite. These new PXIe switch modules provide more than 30X better isolation than comparable modules, greatly improving overall performance and allowing test system engineers to maximize the performance of a system’s measurement instrumentation.

NI and Astronics Introduce New Set of PXI Instruments for the Aerospace and Defense Industries
Led by Astronics’ PXIe-6943 Digital Test Instrument, the new suite offers TPS-compatible solutions that deliver familiar, fast development paths for both legacy and new military/ aerospace programs.
NI and Astronics Test Systems, Inc. announced the Astronics PXIe-6943 Digital Test Instrument, Astronics PXIe-3352 Rubidium Clock Source and Astronics PXIe-1209 Pulse Pattern Generator. 

AIT PXIe-1553
The PXIe-1553 module is the PXI Express member of AIT’s family of MIL-STD-1553 test and simulation instruments. This module is a 3U PXI Hybrid Slot and PXI Express slot compatible instrument designed to support testing, simulations, monitoring, and analysis of MIL-STD-1553 A/B databuses.

Keysight Gen 3 PXIe Chassis and System Components
Doubling the system bandwidth, compared with Gen 2, the new Gen 3 PXIe chassis and system components improve triggering and power sequencing for multi-chassis and multi-site applications such as MIMO and PA/FEM. 

Marvin Test Solutions TS-960e PXIe Semiconductor Test System
Marvin Test Solutions builds on the integrated open-architecture of the TS-900 Semiconductor Test platform with the new TS-960e, offering PXI Express (PXIe) performance and expanded test capabilities for RF devices and SoC applications.

VTI Instuments SentinelEX PXIe Test and Measurement Suite
SentinelEX continues to lead the way in modular test solutions by delivering uncompromised measurement integrity to the heart of every test system: signal switching. The new VTI Instruments PXIe Switching Series by AMETEK is built on 20 years of proven deployment in the most demanding aerospace, defense and automotive applications.

VX Instruments PXIexpress Arbitrary Waveform Generator Family PXIe722x
VX Instruments expands their Flexible Configurable PXI Platform (FlexCPP) based device family with the PXIexpress interface (FlexCPeP). Starting with the PXAe722x Isolated Arbitrary Waveform Generator Family the new devices feature up to two simultaneously working channels with 100 MS/s, 16 Bit resolution and an output voltage up to +30 V or ±15 V. They are available as isolated or non-isolated versions.


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