RF Module Functional Tester Automation
The combination of TVI and LabVIEW allowed us to easily develop a set of RF modules testers, re-using our LabVIEW code and generating custom report for each module.
Automating the test and calibration of a set of 3 RF modules used for satellite communication. Prior to the automation each module required test and calibration time of about 3-5 hours per unit. Due to growing demand for the modules automating the test was the cost effective solution.
- Vector network analyzer – Agilent PNA N5230A
- Spectrum analyzer – Agilent N9010A EXA
- Signal generator – Agilent N5173B EXG
- Power supply – Agilent E3631A (2 units)
- RS-485 communication with the UUT
List of Tests:
- Gain – measure the gain value and linearity over the full input amplitude range and if 3 frequency values
- P1dB – find the P1dB point for 3 frequency values validate the P1dB is in spec limits
- Spurious – Measure Spurious level and validate does not exceed the acceptable level
- Phase Noise – Measure the Phase Noise using the spectrum analyzer
- Noise Figure – Measure the Phase Noise using the spectrum analyzer
- Detector Calibration – apply RF input power array and read internal detector values – generate and burn calibration table
- Communication – Run built-in-tests for the UUT using communication with a microcontroller.
Using TVI and LabVIEW test and calibration time shortened to 15-20 minutes per unit. Using TVI allowed us to focus our development efforts on automating the tests and interfacing the hardware using LabVIEW. We used TVI framework for the reporting, graphical user interface and managing software and hardware parameters. Automation of test and calibration of all three modules had a total cost of 25% of the cost of a duplicate tester. We used LabVIEW drivers from NI IDNet and integrated them into the standard state machine test template of TVI.
1. The fact that tests are loaded dynamically in TVI and are not an integral part of the platform code allowed us to easily debug the tests without impacting our framework (TVI).
2. Users love the sequence tree that allows them to select and run any set of tests, enabling them to fix the module and retest only specific tests, saving them test time.
3. Using TVI framework allowed us to focus on coding our tests, while TVI is taking care of all the rest – user interface, reporting, and hardware and software parameters.
The combination of our experience in LabVIEW and the power and simplicity of TVI allowed us to develop their testers in a relatively short time with a beautiful and intuitive user interface. We expect to continue using the TVI and LabVIEW combination in our future tester’s development.
Author Information:Ofir Gur-Arie
Test Systems Manager
Kratos General Microwave
Kratos’ Microwave Electronics Division is one of the largest international independent microwave solutions developers with over 30 years of proven experience in the market. Kratos products are used in a variety of demanding environments, including airborne, ground and naval systems. Kratos’ GMI-Eyal is a subsidiery of Kratos’ General Microwave.