Electronic circuit testers target military and aerospace markets

Paul Boughton

With investments typically in the order of $16M for 400 functional diagnostic test programs for electronic circuits, it is becoming even more essential to protect against obsolescence and the cost implications of having to re-generate any test and diagnostic capability.
An electronic test platform must be able to provide the option of combining different test methods into one integrated test program and ideally all within a single powerful environment to seamlessly test an electronic circuit.
The US Air Force projects it will turn a small US$485000 investment for four PinPoint II Testers, from DiagnoSYS, into US$22million plus saving in cost avoidance to re-host more than 100 previously developed software programs for repair of its AWACS fleet.
The cost avoidance will come in lower re-hosting costs, according to the AWACS Support Equipment Program Manager, USAF, Hanscom Air Force Base, MA.
“Re-hosting test programs to conventional functional automatic test systems (ATS) has become quite cost prohibitive at a time when large budgets no longer exist,” the manager said. “With the PinPoint, a smaller, more economic workstation, we've found it nicely satisfies the requirements for testing our digital workload, taking only a few days to write a test program versus the months we had originally anticipated. The savings are going to be enormous, and we’re going to get a technical capability that is on par with any other system on the market.”
The US Navy’s NAVAIR is projecting a cost avoidance of US$800000 per month for several fiscal years with the purchase of 10 PinPoint II Functional Testers from DiagnoSYS. The testers are making it cost-effective to diagnose and repair circuit card assemblies (CCAs) from weapons replaceable assemblies (WRAs), where failures typically occur in components for which test programs or schematics are generally not available.
“We are able to build schematics and more easily write test programs, and that capability increases the accuracy of our troubleshooting while avoiding the costly time developing a standard TPS for a card,” the project manager said. “Developing a standard TPS manually is not intuitive, and it was done by technicians who had both the time and ability to figure it out. With PinPoint II, test and repair is process-driven, so there is now a way to test certain legacy CCA’s where a CASS (Consolidated Automated Support System) TPS, a procedure mandated by Congress, was financially impractical. By using PinPoint II, we may be able to increase our cost avoidance by another 50percent just through a better allocation of our resources.”
“PinPoint II has built technicians’ confidence in their accuracy for diagnosing faults,” the project manager said. “But right now, we are just scratching the surface. We are exchanging information with other branches of the Armed Services to see if PinPoint II can take up some of the load for our 2MR (micro miniature repair) needs, which are low- to medium-cost cards. If the cost avoidance and ROI (return on investment) numbers pan out, we would be into a whole new realm of PinPoint II over and above our current five-year plan.”
Meanwhile, the Indian Air Force has recently completed the purchase of a 790 Series2 system from DiagnoSYS.
One of the major considerations within this strategy was the protection of their historic investment in 400 plus functional diagnostic programs that resided on the older Factron S700 systems. Migrating these programs to a test platform that was not directly compatible to their original host and proving the correct functionality and diagnostic capability could have taken at best an average of four weeks per program at an estimated cost of US$6million.

In addition to protecting the legacy investment in the programs was the essential need for a modern, flexible test platform to meet the test requirements of today and tomorrow. Not only does this test platform have to deliver test capability but its long term support is also of paramount importance to protect today's investment.
The 790 Series2 again met these demanding requirements by providing a guaranteed 15 years on-site localised support in India.
Backed by a global service, logistic and support organisation DiagnoSYS is clearly positioned to provide such solutions.

Roland Andrews is Business Services Director with Diagnosys Ltd, Petersfield, Hampshire, UK. www.diagnosys.com