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US5036479: Modular automated avionics test system

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Filing Information

Inventor(s) Leonard J. Prednis · Michael L. Proctor · Alan D. Sugarman ·
Assignee(s) TRW Inc. ·
Attorney/Agent(s) Ronald M. Goldman ·
Primary Examiner Joseph L. Dixon ·
Application Number US7341020
Filing date 04/20/1989
Issue date 07/30/1991
Predicted expiration date 04/20/2009
U.S. Classifications 364/580  · 371/224  ·
International Classifications G01D 1800  ·
Kind CodeA
International Classifications 364550;551.01;424.01;424.03;431.01;580;200;900;571.01;571.02;571.05;571.06 ·
29 Claims, No Drawings


Abstract

A modular automated test station permits a plurality of tests to be performed under program control on complex electronic assemblies such as avionics equipment and provides for calibration. Interactive prompts are displayed enabling test personnel with minimal training to operate the test station and perform the tests. Particular kinds of test instrumentation together with the associated software program may be removed or replaced by other instrumentation and software to adapt the test station to test of another kind of equipment. A group of test stations forms a part of an assembly line in which information may be shared among test stations and with remote databases. The test stations are arranged in groups with one test station in the group containing a processor that is shared with other stations in the group and with each test station containing an assigned processor with the assigned processors being permitted to communicate with the shared processor. The shared processor may also communicate with remote databases.

Independent Claims | See all claims (29)

  1. 1. A method of automatic testing of electronic apparatus by means of programmable electronic test instrumentation means in a test work station of the kind containing programmed computer means for issuing commands to said electronic test instrumentation means and receiving results of tests performed by said test instrumentation means, said test instrumentation means being operatively coupled to and controlled by said programmed computer means, with said programmed computer means including memory means for storing information, and in which said test instrumentation means is coupled to said electronic apparatus under test via a path, said path including configurable input-output switch means controlled by said programmed computer means and adaptor means, having an input and output, for interconnecting circuits extending through said configurable input-output switch means to a connector means on said electronic apparatus under test, said adaptor means having electrical characteristics relevant to the measurement of said electronic apparatus under test, which includes the steps of:establishing a closed path between said test instrumentation means and said adaptor means output with said electronic apparatus being disconnected from said adaptor means;initiating operation of said test instrumentation means to perform predetermined tests, wherein the electrical characteristics of said test instrumentation means, said configurable input-output switch means and said adaptor means may be isolated and determined apart from electrical characteristics of the electronic apparatus under test, and for providing test results obtained thereby to said programmed computer means to provide normalization information;storing said normalization information in said programmed computer means at least temporarily; connecting said electronic apparatus under test to said adaptor means;initiating operation of said test instrumentation means to perform predetermined tests, wherein the electrical characteristics of said test instrumentation means, said configurable input-output switch means, said adaptor means and said electronic apparatus under test are collectively determined and for providing such collective test results obtained thereby to said programmed computer means with said computer means temporarily storing such collective test results;subtracting the corresponding normalization test results from said collective test results to provide test results for said electronic apparatus under test, whereby the performance characteristics of said electronic apparatus under test are isolated from the corresponding effects of said test instrumentation means, said configurable input-output switch means and said adaptor means; andstoring the test results of said electronic apparatus under test thereby derived.
  2. 6. A test workstation for testing electronic apparatus under test including electronic subassemblies, assemblies and units, which test workstation includes:programmable electronic test instrumentation means;test controller processor means for issuing commands to said electronic test instrumentation and receiving results of tests performed by said test instrumentation;said test instrumentation being operatively coupled to and controlled by said test controller processor means, with said test controller processor means including memory means for storing program and data information;display means controlled by said test controller processor means for displaying information to a test operator;operator input means for permitting a test operator to enter information into said test controller processor means;configurable input-output switch means controlled by said test controller processor means coupled to said test instrumentation means;electrical adaptor means, having an input end for connecting circuits extending through said configurable input-output switch means and an output end for coupling therethrough circuits from said input end; said adaptor means being detachably connected to said configurable input-output switch means;said test instrumentation means being adapted to be coupled to an electronic apparatus under test via an electrical path, said electrical path including said configurable input-output switch means and said adaptor means and said adaptor means and said test instrumentation means having electrical characteristics interposed in said path relevant to the measurement of said electronic apparatus under test;said electronic apparatus under test containing a connector means adapted to mate with said output end of said adaptor means;first test load means for establishing a closed electrical path between said test instrumentation means and said adaptor means output with said electronic apparatus under test being disconnected from said adaptor means;means for initiating operation of said test instrumentation means to perform predetermined normalization tests with said test load means being coupled to said adaptor means in lieu of an electronic apparatus under test to produce normalization test results, wherein the electrical characteristics of said test instrumentation means, said configurable input-output switch means and said adaptor means is isolated and determined apart from electrical characteristics of the electronic apparatus under test;means for sending said normalization test results obtained thereby to said test controller processor means to provide normalization information;said test controller processor means being responsive to receipt of said normalization information for storing said normalization information at least temporarily in a normalization database;means responsive to said unit under test being coupled to said adaptor means and said adaptor means being coupled to said configurable input-output switch means for initiating operation of said test instrumentation means to perform predetermined tests, wherein the electrical characteristics of said test instrumentation means, said configurable input-output switch means, said adaptor means and said electronic apparatus under test are collectively determined;means for providing such collective test results obtained thereby to said test controller means with said test controller means temporarily storing such collective test results;means for subtracting the corresponding normalization test results form said collective test results to provide test results for said electronic apparatus under test, wherein the performance characteristics of said electronic apparatus under test are isolated from the corresponding effects of said test instrumentation means, said configurable input-output switch means and said adaptor means;means for storing the test results of said electronic apparatus under test thereby derived in an electronic apparatus test history database; andmeans for sending said test results to said display means for display to an operator.
  3. 16. In a manufacturing system for assembling and testing electronic units containing any combination of digital, analog and RF circuits, in various stages of assembly, the improvement wherein said manufacturing system includes:a plurality of testing stations;said plurality of testing stations being arranged in at least three groups, including:a first group for testing printed wiring board assemblies,a second group for testing electronic modules formed with said printed wiring board assemblies, anda third group for testing electronic units formed with said electronic modules with said groups being arranged in a serial order of first, second and third in position in said assembly line;each said testing station including:test controller processor means;processor controlled test instrumentation module means for providing test stimulus signals to a unit under test and receiving responses, said test instrumentation module means being under control of and responsive to commands issued by said test controller processor means;test adaptor means for providing signal connections between said test instrumentation module means and a unit to be tested with said adaptor means being detachably connected to each of said module means and said unit under test;said test controller processor means enabling said test instrumentation module means to provide test stimulus signals to units under test in a predetermined sequence and for storing responses provided to said test instrumentation module means by said units;said manufacturing system further including:a plurality of test station controller processor means, one of said plurality of test station controller means being associated with a corresponding one of said groups of test stations;each of said test station controller processor means including:memory means for storing information, including programs and data; and input and output means for inputting and outputting information from said memory means;first network means for providing processor to processor communications to define a first path for sending and receiving information;means coupling said plurality of test station controller processor means to said first network means for networking said processor means for permitting communication thereover;a plurality of second network means for permitting processor to processor communications to define a path for sending and receiving program and data information, said plurality of second network means corresponding in number to the number of groups of said test stations with one of such second network means being associated with a corresponding one of said groups;means coupling said test controller processor means within each group to the respective second network means associated with said group;means coupling each of said test station controller processor means of each said group to a corresponding one of said plurality of second network means to enable the test station controller processor means associated with said respective group to communicate with all of said test controller processor means associated with said group, wherein information may be sent between said test controller processor means in said test stations of a particular group and said corresponding one of said plurality of test station controller processor means associated with said group.
  4. 27. A test station for testing of electronic units of the type characterized by a connector means with which to connect with other electronic units and with which to permit access to electronic circuits contained therein, said test station comprising:computer means containing a plurality of test programs for executing a test program responsive to operator initiation thereof to provide a series of instructions at a test control output;computer controlled test instrument means responsive to said test control output of said computer means for outputting test vectors at an output and inputting test signatures resulting from output of said test vectors;operator control means for initiating execution of a selected test program by said computer;configurable interface means being controlled by said computer means for interfacing said test instrument means with an adaptor means, wherein test vectors and test signatures may be respectively passed from and to said test instrument means;adaptor means for interconnecting said interface means with the connector means of an electronic unit to couple test vectors and test signatures therebetween, wherein test signatures are obtained representative of the collective effect of said test instrument means, said interface means, said adaptor means and said electronic unit under test;test result database means stored in said computer means for maintaining a record of test results of units under test;means for receiving and temporarily storing test signatures attributed collectively to said test instrument means, said interface means and said adaptor means, exclusive of influence of said electronic unit under test, to provide a source of normalization information;test signature receiving means for receiving test signatures representative of the collective effect of said test instrument means, said interface means, said adaptor means and said unit under test; andmeans for subtracting the normalization information from the test signatures received by said test signature receiving means and storing said difference in said test result database means.
  5. 29.29. A test work station for operator assisted testing of complex electronic system assemblies, the unit under test, comprising:test controller processor means, including memory means;display means;said display means being controlled by said test controller processor means and responsive to said test controller processor means for displaying selected output from said test controller processor means to said test operator, whereby information is supplied to a test operator;scanner means;said scanner means being coupled to said test controller processor means for inputting information marked on said unit under test and communicating said information to said test controller processor means;finger operable key means;said key means for permitting a test operator to enter selection information into said test controller processor means responsive to alternative selection choices presented on said display means, wherein a test operator may input information interactively in response to information display on said display means;electronic assembly testing means;said assembly testing means being capable of applying a plurality of tests to a unit under test under control of said test controller processor means to provide test output data describing test results;said assembly testing means including:programmable test means for providing stimulus signals and for receiving response signals;input means for receiving input test instructions and transmitting same to said programmable test means to permit said programmable test means to perform tests responsive to said input test instructions;output means for outputting test results obtained thereby to said controller processor means;connecting means for coupling said input means and said output means to said test controller processor means for communicating test results to said processor means and for receiving test instructions from said processor means;configurable input-output interface connector means; said configurable input-output interface means having an input coupled to said programmable test means and being controlled by said computer means to configure multiple inputs with multiple outputs to create selective electrical paths therethrough;adaptor means for providing an electrical connection between said configurable input-output interface connector means of said electronic assembly testing means and a unit to be tested with said adaptor means being detachably connected to each of said assembly test means and said unit under test;calibration load means for temporary connection to said configurable input-output interface means in lieu of said adaptor means to selectively connect together circuits extending through said input-output interface means to allow calibration test of said test assembly means; andnormalization load means for temporary connection to said adaptor means in lieu of said test unit under test to selectively connect together circuits extending through said adaptor means to allow normalization test of said test assembly means and said adaptor means.

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