Growing requirements for simulation, test, and measurement tasks are changing the requirements for enclosure and cabinet solutions. This concerns the system architecture with factors such as high computing power, fast data transfer, more accurate synchronization of individual components (clock and trigger functions), etc., as well as requirements for mechanical properties such as improved EMC shielding, superior signal integrity, and improved cooling. As test equipment manufacturer, the need for a modular platform increases. Therefore, it is helpful to build a system based on an open standard, which is established in the market and is supported by multiple vendors to select different components.
In the area of test and measurement applications, there are multiple standardized system architectures suitable for building corresponding systems. Recommended four open standards are PXI Express, COM Express, VPX and MTCA which have a variety of application usage.
Versatile Applications of PXI Express
PXI Express systems are suited for the tough requirements in simulations for autonomous driving, on test stands for function tests in the area of civil and military aviation technology, and for product tests of consumer electronics during the production process. Such complex products require test systems with a high data throughput and extremely precise clock and trigger signals for synchronizing the functions of the test object. These devices can be easily integrated into IIoT networks and offer sufficient data bandwidth to connect and synchronize the test devices to and with the rest of the production line. Additionally, detailed data is transferred for quality management as well as for documentation.
Thanks to its fast data transfer rates with PCIe, paired with the implemented high-precision clock and trigger architecture which synchronizes the cards with each other, PXI Express is very suitable for such test, measurement, and simulation tasks.
COM Modules in a Small Case
Test and measurement applications are typically not mass products, but complex, dedicated devices found in short runs or medium-sized runs. In the modular area, such special devices can be custom built for the respective application with the corresponding cards available on the market. If just a single-board computer is needed, however, it is often difficult to find a suitable mainboard with the corresponding interfaces and functions for the desired test or measurement application.
Computer-On-Module (COM) technology provides an attractive option here for creating a suitable solution with short development times and low costs.
VPX Systems for the Most Stringent Environmental Requirements
Examples of typical measuring applications for VPX systems are test flights of prototype aircraft equipped with corresponding measurement equipment. A great deal of sensor data and other flight data is synchronously recorded and processed at this time. Similar measurement equipment is also sometimes subsequently installed in the production aircraft. VPX is primarily used by the military, in the aerospace industry, and in rail technology. During the specification work, great emphasis was placed on the durability of the VPX system.
The VITA 48 REDI (Rugged Enhanced Design Implementation) specification provides additional definitions of particularly rugged mechanical solutions for the harshest environmental conditions.
MicroTCA for Complex Test and Measurement Systems
MTCA.4 is used particularly for high-end test applications that place special value on synchronization, rear I/O, high availability, redundancy, and remote maintenance, as is the case, for real-time motion control, in medical technology, and in the physics community. Compared to the other solutions described, components in an MTCA.4 system can be replaced while the device is operating. Wherever downtime is critical or expensive, it makes sense to consider relying on a highly available technology such as MicroTCA.
In addition, thanks to built-in hardware management, all operating states can be viewed and monitored. The integrated carrier and shelf management makes it possible to monitor the status of all components in the system at any time and to respond to error statuses.
To learn more about the relevant open standard in the test and measurement market and how it applies to the system architecture, as well as mechanics, download our free white paper here!