A world leading Satcom Amplifier provider, uses the Boonton 55 series USB Sensor to improve their automated test solutions.
Customer Success Story:
A leading RF amplifier provider utilizes Boonton's 55 Series USB Peak power sensors with Real-Time Power ProcessingTM technology to improve automated test accuracy, decrease measurement time and minimize test equipment costs when testing their different Satcom power amplifiers for commercial and broadband applications.
High power amplifiers for satellite communication with advanced modulation schemes require very fast RF power measurements which is the key part of any automated test system in a production environment. Customer had been using an automated production test system where operators enter parameters at the start of each test into the ATE interface, then PC sends and receives commands and queries to various test equipment to gather data to display the test result. Customer had been using several conventional average power meters and sensors with much slower measurement speed for their test solution. The majority of the signal generators used by the customer have a step sweep mode and a square wave trigger output specifically intended for triggering power measurement. With their previous test system, they had a total of 4 racks to test 7 amplifiers per day on each rack which means they were able to test 28 satcom amplifiers daily.
Problem or Challenge and its Impact:
Using current average power meter technology the customer had to wait for readings to settle as the previous test method had limited measurement capabilities due to very slow capture rate. Their production line also needed to switch between CW and Peak amplifiers for the readings which was not convenient for their investment. Customer currently uses traditional ATE programming for production testing of microwave devices, which uses one main PC coordinating all equipment activity. During a small signal gain response, and power measurement the main PC would command signal generator to perform a frequency step, then query input and output power meters for the current power level. This command and query process is repeated several times to gather the desired frequency response data, with each step having an associated wait time, or time to complete. Their legacy automated test system required manual entry of several parameters by operators which is a time-consuming process and eventually increased their total test time.
Solution Implemented/Action Taken:
Significant reductions in customer’s ATE test time is now achieved by taking advantage of the new features available in the Boonton 55 Series USB Power Sensors with Real Time Power ProcessingTM techniques and adjusting their C# test application using Boonton's IVI-COM driver files. Using the latest automated test process, the new ATE delivers a command to a signal generator to perform a step frequency or power sweep, then it allows the 55 series USB power sensor to be triggered at each step. This improved process helped the customer cut almost 70% of their ATE test time. The Boonton 55 series USB peak power sensors with the fastest measurement time and very high video bandwidth (195 MHz) and with the flexibility to deliver average and peak capability allowed the customer to collect their data simultaneously, and also offered them a repeatable, scalable RF power measurement.
Significant production test time reductions were achieved by taking advantage of the fastest measurement speed capabilities of the 55 Series sensor, triggering, and adjusting the automated C# test programming approach. This new solution helped them to eliminate all data handling and processing errors and saved them a lot of time. It also improved their test methodology and power measurement for their RF products. With their legacy average power meter solution the customer used to pay $40 per amplifier test which includes labor costs of $35/hour and the total processing time required for swapping those amplifiers on test bench. Using the current new solution customer is now paying only $10 per amplifier test which helps them to save almost 75% of the total cost and also allows them to handle the increased number of production without more capital investment. The overall power measurement test time is also significantly reduced by the number of racks needed. The Real-Time Power ProcessingTM technology offered by Boonton 55 series USB sensor helped the customer to achieve their goal by decreasing overall costs and efforts in implementing their system as a future proof test solution. With this new automated test solution customer is now able to develop a very simple, secure and easy to use automated test system which allows them to perform more device testing without any processing delay and handling error. Finally, customer has a modern ATE system which complies with the latest RF power measurement test requirements, minimizes testing costs, and reduces Time-to-Market.