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From Bob Helsel, Editor of the PXI Newsletter:

Welcome to the March 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.

Our thanks go to National Instruments, the sponsor of this month's issue.

Visit for more information.


Using a Digital Test Instrument
to Emulate the SPI Bus

Submitted by Marvin Test Solutions

The use of digital test instruments for emulating common serial bus protocols can provide benefits over dedicated bus test products and often presents a trade-off between functionality, flexibility and cost. For example, a dedicated test instrument solution can offer more extensive test capabilities such as protocol support for controlling and analyzing traffic between a bus controller and a device under test. However, a dynamic digital solution using the GX5296 can offer the flexibility to adapt to nonstandard line rates and timing as well as supporting other digital test needs such as multi-site test capability, analog testing and the ability to test the connectivity of the Device Under Test (DUT) to the test system. Ultimately, the goal is to identify those instances where the clever or novel application of a digital test tool is appropriate and provides tangible benefits. This paper presents an overview of how the rich feature set of the GX5296 dynamic digital I/O instrument can be used to support SPI serial bus interfaces. By using this dynamic test solution, users can potentially realize a lower cost compact test system solution with similar capabilities of the “Big Iron” test systems of the past, along with providing a common user control interface and expandability for future requirements.



PXI, meet FMC

Combining two standards, PXI and FMC, enables more
innovation and flexibility than either standard does on its own.

Submitted by Sundance DSP

Two standards, PXI and FMC, have different roots and have historically served differing markets. So separate are the markets, that most users are familiar with either one or the other, but not both. However, creatively combining the two standards onto a single product can expand the advantages of either past their current application space. To understand the synergies, it is necessary to review each standard.


PXI is a modular pluggable card-based standard common in test and measurement applications. It was released as a standard in 1997 as an abbreviation for PCI eXtensions for Instrumentation, and is maintained by the PXI Systems Alliance. PXI adopts the rugged CompactPCI form factor and adds integrated clocks, triggers, and synchronization critical to test and measurement applications. PXI modules fit into a multi-slot chassis, and are configured and managed by a PC and software. As PCI speeds increased by the adoption of PCIe (PCI Express), PXI has followed with high-speed PCIe fabrics in the chassis and on the modules. Though occasionally referred to as PXIe, PXI remains a generic name, whether the backplane relies on PCI or PCIe.


Consideration for a PXI Test
System Development Strategy

Submitted by Keysight Technologies

Today’s demands for fast development of flexible test systems, lead engineers to change their current test systems, or develop new test systems using PXI instrumentation and take advantage of the benefits modular PXI test systems have to offer.  PXI test systems help engineers to develop test systems for less cost, using modular components that are very configurable from multiple vendors, and can be developed for a smaller test space, with improved cabling, cooling and execution efficiency. Engineers choosing to develop a PXI test system benefit from first developing a PXI system development strategy.

This article outlines the key PXI test system choices engineers will make as they begin their test system development strategy.

Test system infrastructure
The first step in PXI test system development is to select a test system infrastructure, chassis and controller configuration, that will support the system control, data rate speeds, and configuration flexibility for the application.


PXI turns 20:  How long do standards last?

By Larry Desjardin, Modular Methods

Twenty years ago this year, National Instruments announced PXI, PCI eXtensions for Instrumentation. The following year the PXISA (PXI Systems Alliance) was formed to manage the specification. Today, PXI represents a $700M market, growing at or near double-digit rates. How long do standards last? 

If we are asking about test and measurement standards, the answer is a very long time.  



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 PXI Millivolt Thermocouple Simulator Modules – 41-760
These modules are available in a choice of 32, 24, 16 or 8 channels—each channel providing a low-voltage output across two connector pins capable of providing ±20mV with 0.7µV resolution, ±50mV with 1.7µV resolution and ±100mV with 3.3µV resolution, covering most thermocouple types. 

Keysight PXI M3300A and M3302A PXIe Arbitrary Waveform Generator and Digitizer Combo
PXIe Arbitrary Waveform Generator and Digitizer Combo cards with optional real-time sequencing and FPGA programming provide graphical design environments that make it easy to add synchronization and customization required for emerging technologies.

CCI 1000 test rack with integrated MAC Panel SCOUT XT mass interconnect
Leveraging CCI Signature Series functional test fixturing, the integrated rack with PXI chassis delivers the highest performance instrument interconnect with the shortest possible signal-path wire length. ATE systems can be quickly reconfigured with new tooling for different products, while allowing for the highest possible signal integrity at the lowest investment.

Astronics Test Systems introduces new PXIe Arbitrary Waveform Generator
Recently Astronics announced a new PXIe-1802 Arbitrary Waveform Generator in a compact, robust PXI form factor for aerospace, defense, communications, and other high-reliability applications.

Fibre Channel & Gigabit Ethernet Instrument
AIT's new PXIe-FCETH instrument is a PXI Express module that is capable of being used as either a Fibre Channel or Avionics Ethernet test instrument. The module can be reconfigured, by the user, to operate each of it's two network interfaces as either Fibre Channel or Ethernet.

NI PXIe-4480
The PXIe-4480 is designed for high-bandwidth audio, acoustic, and vibration measurements. It provides six channels of dynamic signal acquisition, and you can use one of four gain settings to configure your input range.

SignalCore High Performance 6 GHz RF Downconverter
SignalCore’s high performance triple stage heterodyne 100 kHz to 6 GHz downconverter 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.


Interactive Soft Front Panel for PXI SMUs and Power Supplies

Submitted by National Instruments

The NI-DCPower driver software includes an interactive soft front panel for full out-of-the-box functionality. This interactive soft front panel includes two modes: one for constantly outputting a DC current or voltage, and another for performing one or two channel sweeps. In addition, you can enable a Debug Driver Session to monitor and debug the instrument during automated measurements. 

For more information, click here.



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