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From Bob Helsel, Editor of the PXI Newsletter:

Welcome to the May 2019 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 the Pickering, the sponsor of this month's issue.

Visit for more information.


Automating Fault Insertion Tests to Improve Software Quality 

Submitted by Pickering

Pickering Interfaces supports ECU Testing in automating the fault insertion process, helping Automotive Manufacturers run more test cases in a shorter period of time.

Testing Engine Control Units (ECUs), especially safety related models, is as much about software testing as well as hardware these days—this is due to the increased intelligence required within ECUs to control braking, prevent rollovers, and ensure that power is applied to the correct wheels in a compromised driving mode. Automotive manufacturers such as Magna Powertrain, Delphi, and Continental have the same concerns for testing the safe operation of their products. 

For this article, we will focus on automotive transfer cases. A transfer case is a mechanical/electronic device that monitors wheel slippage and ensures that power is applied to wheels that are not slipping. 

As part of the design process, manufacturers run a series of tests to ensure that the software that controls their transfer cases reacts to system failures, such as open, shorted, and cross/inline resistance connections, in a predictable and safe manner. Ultimately, this improves customer satisfaction and reduces warranty costs. 

In one instance, a manufacturer developed a test fixture that allowed them to manually inject faults. While this fixture was effective, having to manually switch in faults was quite time-consuming—this limited the number of tests cases that they could run on a particular unit. Also, a manual fixture often requires more frequent maintenance, further slowing test times. Finally, it was also prone to operator error, which can compromise test results. 

That's what lead them to call on Pickering. These products include Fault Insertion Unit (FIU) switching solutions for Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) simulation applications and Programmable Resistors. The FIU switching modules can be used to introduce electrical faults into a system, which typically duplicates various conditions that can occur because of corrosion, short/open circuits, and other electrical failures, inherited through age, damage or even faulty installation. 

Using Pickering fault insertion modules to automate the fault injection process, they can run more test cases in a shorter period of time, with the result being that their testing is more repeatable, comprehensive and they can find and fix problems earlier in the development cycle. 

Finding faults 

A transfer case is used to distribute power from a vehicle's transmission to the front and rear axles. One example is the Double Speed Active Transfer Case or ATC. The ATC features include a multi-plate wet clutch, electromechanical shift actuation, and chain driven front output. The system guarantees dynamic torque distribution between the front and rear wheels and can be tuned to provide desired vehicle performance characteristics in varied terrain and inclement weather. 

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New PXIe Multiport Network Analyzer Speeds Multiport Active Antenna Development

Submitted by Keysight

A leading global provider of advanced defense technologies was asked to develop a complex multiport antenna for its government customer. But the antenna, comprised of multiple Transmit Receive (TR) modules, required characterization capabilities beyond its existing test equipment setup which was based on traditional Vector Network Analyzers (VNA). The defense contractor spent two years looking for ways to add ports to its test systems without using a slow and costly switch matrix. Keysight experts partnered with the contractor’s team to show it how a new PXI Vector Network Analyzer characterizes a multiport active antenna without relying on switches.

The Challenge: Speed Development of a Complex Multiport Antenna

Traditional measurement solutions for individual TR modules are costly, slow, and complex. They also consume large amounts of rack space and power. The defense contractor sought to develop a costly multiport antenna that required several 48-port test systems and the addition of switch matrices. The complex project threatened to slow the calibration process and add up to six months of software development time. In addition, the project required a unique software framework which would add onto the software development team’s already steep learning curve.

Read more>>


Thanks to all our readers.
Bob Helsel, Editor

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):

Keysight M9800A PXIe Vector Network Analyzer, 9 kHz to 4.5 GHz

  • Cascade multiple modules for up to 50 ports on a single chassis  of multiport or multi-site measurement
  • Make accurate multiport measurements with N-port correction capability
  • Perform fast and easy multiport calibration with electronic calibration (ECal) modules
  • Choose from a wide range of measurement application to gain deeper insight into your RF test
  • Features the same intuitive GUI as Keysight’s high-performance network analyzers

Pickering’s New 256 Crosspoint 2-Pole PXI Switching Matrices
This new range of high-density, two-pole PXI switching matrices offer higher performance than competing products. Series 40-580 (32x8) and 40-583 (64x4) matrices are supported by both of Pickering’s relay test tools (BIRST and eBIRST), delivering sophisticated and thorough diagnostics for any relays that are approaching end-of-life or have been damaged by over-specification hot-switching events.

Marvin Test Solutions Expands User-Programmable PXIe FPGA Product Line
The GX3800e is a user configurable, FPGA-based, 3U PXI Express card which supports the 400 pin, VITA 57.1 FMC interface standard. The card employs the Altera Cyclone V GX FPGA, which supports xcvr data rates up to 3.125 Gb/s and features over 300,000 logic elements and 12.2 Kb of memory.  Users can design their own custom interface module or select from a wide range of commercial off-the-shelf FMC modules which can then be integrated with the GX3800e - creating customized instrumentation for analog or digital test applications.  

Coherent Solutions O2EPXIe – Modular Optical-to-Electrical Converter
The O2EPXIe is a high bandwidth, broadband OE converter designed for the PXI Platform. Available in a range of configurations; choose from 1 or 2 channels, AC or DC coupling and various conversion gain and operating wavelength ranges.

Sundance DSP PXIe800Z
The PXIe800Z is based on Xilinx Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC FPGA family. Depending on the choice of Zynq UltraScale+ FPGA it can be used for High-Performance Computing (HPC), digital communication or image processing, including AR/VR applications. 



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