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From Bob Helsel, Editor of the PXI Newsletter:

Welcome to the January 2018 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.

Our thanks go to PXI Systems Alliance, the sponsor of this month's issue.

Visit for more information.

Fundamentals of Building a Test System:
Hardware and Measurement Abstraction Layers

Submitted by National Instruments

Hardware abstraction layers (HALs) and measurement abstraction layers (MALs) are some of the most effective design patterns to make test software as adaptable as the hardware. Rather than employing device-specific code modules in a test sequence, abstraction layers give you the ability to decouple measurement types and instrument-specific drivers from the test sequence. Learn how to drastically reduce development time by giving hardware and software engineers the ability to work in parallel.

The design and development of automated test equipment (ATE) presents a host of challenges, from initial planning through hardware and software development to final integration. At each stage of the process, changes become more difficult and costly to implement. Furthermore, because software typically follows hardware in the development cycle, many open-ended items are left for the software engineer to handle. Good planning goes a long way toward mitigating familiar risk, but it can’t prevent every problem, especially in a fast-paced test development cycle where many issues arise at final integration. The idea that the software is more malleable than hardware, results in the phrase “just fix it in software!” However, hardware and software are tightly coupled and most issues typically require updates to both. This doesn’t stop with the initial deployment, but continues for the system’s life cycle.



RF Instrument Synchronization
Challenges and Solutions

Submitted by Keysight Technologies

Wireless communication systems and aerospace & defense technologies use multi-antenna techniques including MIMO (Multiple Input, Multiple Output), beamforming and phased array radar. These techniques help to achieve higher data rates with improved spectral efficiency, signal quality and cell coverage by using multiple channels. A great deal of engineering and design work is required to ensure the final solution provides synchronization between the channels.

This article describes the challenges and solutions of RF multi-instrument synchronization.

The number of antennas used in wireless communications continues to grow to address the ever-increasing demands for higher data rates. Multi-antenna systems increase in complexity as antennas are added and new test strategies are required to fully test the evolving designs. The IEEE WLAN 802.11ax wireless technology is a good example, now requiring up to 8x8 MIMO configurations.

A high-priority, during development of these new systems, is to ensure the synchronization between channels as signals are generated and analyzed. Instrumentation features such as the sampling clock and event triggers play a key role in achieving instrument synchronization. A sample clock, is used to provide a common reference frequency for signal generating or analyzing instruments, such as arbitrary waveform generators or waveform analyzers, and ensure the sample clock of each instrument is aligned, resulting in aligned generation/analysis of signals.

For more information, click here.


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):

Advanced Testing Technologies PXI/PXIe Inserts
The Advanced Testing Technologies PXI Insert allows the user to easily incorporate PXI/PXIe instruments into an existing VXI chassis.

NI PXIe-1095 Chassis with 58 W Power and Cooling per Slot

The PXIe-1095 chassis offers 58 W of power and cooling in every slot, 50 percent higher than all previous NI PXI Express chassis.

Keysight M9379A RF Amp Module

Improve noise floor measurements with the M9379A RF Amp module’s two amplifiers, RF switches and a programmable step attenuator, when using with the M9485A PXIe multiport vector network analyzer (VNA).

Pickering PXI Microwave Multiplexers
Pickering expands their range of PXI Microwave Multiplexers with new 50GHz modules (model 40-785B). These are single or dual 6-channel multiplexers with relays mounted on the front panel and are designed to switch 50Ω signals up to 50GHz.

Marvin Test Solutions GX7100e Series, GX7205 and GX7215 PXI Chassis
The GX7100e Series are 14-slot PXIe 3U/6U combination Smart chassis with a 4x4 Gen2 backplane, and support both external and embedded controller configurations. The combination of 3U and 6U slots  provides versatility and flexibility in a compact footprint. 

Alfamation PVA-01/PVA-04 PXIe-based Real-Time Video Stream Analyzer
Alfamation introduces PVA-01 and PVA-04 PXIe cards supporting respectively LVDS, OpenLDI & V-by-ONE HS™ video standards. Both instruments can manage up to 8 independent channels which can be split or joined, to interface with a single or up to 8 independent devices, each at 1080p equivalent resolution.

SignalCore Broadband and High Performance 6 GHz RF Upconverter
SignalCore’s high performance triple stage heterodyne 100 kHz to 6 GHz upconverter is cost effective, compact and designed for seamless RF integration. Its output IF frequency can be tuned to center between 100 MHz and 500 MHz, and also selectable for 1250 MHz.


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