The Newsletter

An A.T.E. Solutions, Inc. Internet Publication
Volume 11 Number 14 July 16, 2007

Find any text on test. Search the topic below by typing a key phrase:

Search Now:

Reach the thousands of test professionals we mail to. Sponsor The BestTest Newsletter and we will place your logo here.

Visit BestTest - A Test Community Web Site
Test Vendor Directory
Products/Services Directory
Test Dictionary
Test Events
Test Publications

Test related books
Test/Testability Software

How We Can Help
Test Requirements Analysis
Test Related Courses
ATE and Test Market Help
Design for Testability
Built-In Self Test

Links Worth a Click
Test sites of interest:

Cable Test Systems, Inc.
Chroma USA
Evaluation Engineering
International Test Conference
IPC - APEX Conference Organizers
Powell-Mucha Consulting, Inc.
Test & Measurement World

Want to trade links? We'll list yours here and you list ours at your site.
Test Vendors
We now have 2341 test vendors listed in the Test Vendor Directory. Check for accuracy.
The following companies have recently placed advertising with us:
A.H. Systems, Inc.
A.T.E. Solutions, Inc.
Capital Equipment Corp.
CEIBIS Cody Electronics
ESPEC North America
FTS Systems, Inc.
Ground Zero ElectroStatics
Intellitech Corporation
Invisar, Inc.
JTAG Technologies, Inc.
Madell Technology Corporation
Measurement Computing
Pickering Interfaces, Ltd.
ProbeStar, Inc.
QStar BE
Saelig Company Inc.
Tabor Electronics
Tecpel Co., Ltd.
Teradyne Assembly Test Division
Tiepie Engineering
VI Technology, Inc.
Wavecrest Corp.
WesTest Engineering Corp.
Yokogawa Corp. of America
Z World
A.T.E. Solutions, Inc.
   Consulting Services
   Consulting, Training and Books
   The Testability Director
   The Testability Director 3.2
Auriga Measurement Systems, LLC
   Microwave/Millimeter Wave Test Systems
Capital Equipment Corporation
Flynn Systems Corp.
   onTAP® Boundary Scan Software
Geotest Inc.
ICS Electronics
Intellitech Corp.
   PT100 Parallel Tester
   PT100 Rack
   Scan-Ring-Linker & multi-PCB linker
JTAG Technologies, Inc.
   JT 3710/PXI
   JT 37x7 DataBlaster boundary-scan controllers
Meret Optical Communications
   ADS 53x DDS Synthesizer
Norvada, LLC
Professional Testing DBA Pro Test
   Environmental Testing
Quad Tech
   Guardian 1030S Multi-Purpose AC/DC/IR/SC Hipot Tes
Quantum Change, Inc.
   The TILE EMC Software
Reinhardt System und Messelectronic
   ATS-KMFT 670
Ricreations, Inc
   CleverScope CS328
   USB Explorer 200
Static Solutions
   CT-8900 Combination Data Logger Tester
Symtx, Inc.
SyntheSys Research, Inc.
   BERTScope™ 12500A
Tabor Electronics
   Model 5200 Arbitrary Waveform Generator
   Test Equipment
TestEdge, Inc.
Testpro AS
   TP2101 Testsystem
The Test Connection Inc.
   In-Ciruit Test & Flying Probe Test
UltraTest International
Universal Synaptics
   Vanguard Express
WesTest Engineering
WesTest Engineering Corp.
   WesTest 2000
YESTech Inc.
   YTV series of AOI
Yokogawa Corp. of America
This Issue's Feature Articles

Multiple Test Strategies for Testing Today’s Complex Boards


S.R. Sabapathi, Technical Director and CEO of Qmax
Product/Service Focus

This issue's focus is Functional Board Test
You can view and add to our existing list of Test Products/Services, Test Literature, Test Definitions, Test Vendors, containing "functional test."

***NEW*** User Instructions ***NEW***

You will be linked directly to the listings you select below. After checking two references you will be asked to log in before you can continue.  If you forgot your password, it will be emailed to you.  If you have not yet registered, you will be able to at NO COST.  You can forward this Newsletter to a Friend using the button on the top right margin.  We do not disclose your data to anyone!

What's New in Test
  7/10/2007 Aeroflex, Beijing StarPoint to develop TD-SCDMA protocol tester
  7/10/2007 Boundary-scan in the Limelight - European User Meeting
  7/9/2007 LXI Consortium’s Beijing Meeting Draws Record Attendance
  7/6/2007 Everett Charles Technologies appoints Bud Fabian President of CPG
  7/5/2007 Willtek now member of TETRA Association
  7/2/2007 Dage expands Bond Test sales organization
  7/2/2007 Private Enterprises to Significantly Aid the Growth of the LAN/WAN Test Equipment Market
Interviews and Forums
  7/10/2007 Intel’s Seth urges proactive test investment

Come to a Three-Day Course

Design for Testability and for Built-In Self Test

by Louis Y. Ungar in Boston, MA on July 23-25, 2007 

Magazine Articles
  7/16/2007 Choose the right signal generator for your apps
  7/16/2007 Save on field-support costs with PBL methods - built-in diagnosis
  7/12/2007 It’s time to abandon the gold standard in PCB test
  7/8/2007 China cracking down on product defects
  7/6/2007 Acquisition Without Discrimination - Mixed-signal oscilloscopes (MSOs)
  7/3/2007 Analysts crack open the iPhone, reveal chip suppliers
  7/2/2007 A PXI timeline
  7/2/2007 Measuring nanoamperes
  7/2/2007 Solve complexity issues in 4-port RF designs
  7/1/2007 Advances in Test Program Automation
  7/1/2007 Is PXI Express Overkill for Boundary Scan?
  7/1/2007 Key DAQ Specifications - A Tutorial
  7/1/2007 Reducing Logic Device Test Costs
  7/1/2007 Verifying Automotive Serial Data Designs

Come to a One-Day Course

Cost Effective Tests Using ATE, DFT and BIST 

by Louis Y. Ungar in Beaverton, Oregon on August 6, 2007 

Product Releases
  7/16/2007 CAN Communication Module with highest Functionality now available on USB basis
  7/13/2007 Orbotech advances solder paste inspection capabilities with Eenhanced AOI solution
  7/12/2007 Adlink introduces 96-channel PCI Express card
  7/12/2007 Making a distance-to-fault measurement using the Agilent CSA
  7/11/2007 Adlink PXI tools feature smart chassis management
  7/11/2007 Pickering adds hardware-in-the-loop fault-simulation modules
  7/10/2007 Agilent intros 'first' LXI-compliant power meter
  7/10/2007 Strategic debuts PCI Express AWG boards
  7/9/2007 Comprehensive test tool for new automotive bus hides inside small-footprint large-screen scope
  7/9/2007 Dage introduces 2nd generation cold bump pull for High-Speed Bondtester
  7/9/2007 SYSTEM CASCON™ unlocks online Test Strategies for Remote Diagnostics
  7/9/2007 USB-based sensors operate even without power meter
  7/9/2007 Verification tool for ARM-based wireless systems debuts
  7/6/2007 Bus Doctor: Finisar's prescription for Asia's CE makers
  7/6/2007 KLA, Applied face off in defect review market
  7/5/2007 WiMAX tester quantifies actual user experience
  7/3/2007 RF generator accommodates larger waveforms
  7/2/2007 Boost switching systems with PXI/LXI devices
  7/2/2007 Corelis adds boundary-scan scripting to test software
  7/2/2007 Measurement Computing expands USB DAQ family
  7/11/2007 Gartner: Upcoming Lull In Demand For Chip Equipment

Come to a Three-Day Course

Random Vibration and Shock Testing, HALT, ESS, HASS

in Santa Barbara, California on August 20-22, 2007 

Web postings
  7/5/2007 1 Million iPhones Activated in Less than a Week
  7/2/2007 Break the innovation barrier with test
  7/1/2007 USB as Innovative Interface for Automotive Testing
Multiple Test Strategies for Testing Today's Complex Boards
S.R. Sabapathi, Technical Director and CEO of Qmax

What follows is a case study involving the test of a highly complex circuit board, the HF Receiver MCU Board displayed in Figure 1.  The article describes the variations of test methodologies and equipment needed to test such a board.

High Density Device Packages and reduced test access

Today's PCBs are quite complex in nature, populated with components such as PQFP / BGA package CPU, DSP, ASIC, FPGA, Flash RAM, Dual port RAM and discrete devices as compared to standard Dual in Line or low pin density components of previous technologies.

Complex VLSI and ASIC Devices

ASIC devices typically do not come with sufficient internal structural or functional details, BGA devices and high-density QFP packages are difficult to access for test. CPU based boards require a unique test methodology.

Test challenge in PCB Functional Test and Diagnosis

To test boards containing a variety of these components with reasonable fault coverage is a challenge for most Board Test ATEs available in the market today.  No single test methodology can meet all these test requirements. Hence a new generation ATE system is needed, which can support multiple test methodologies.

The PCB in Figure 1 used in a military RADAR system, populated with various components mentioned above. The objective is to functionally test it Off-Line and if it fails, diagnose faults to the faulty node or component. The Desired Fault coverage is 95% or greater of certain fault types.

Figure 1- HF Receiver MCU Board

Multiple Test Strategy

A detailed study of the HF Receiver MCU Board schematics revealed that different tests should be created for different blocks of the PCB, each with the most suitable test methodology.  As a result, various access methods need to be used for test fixtures, including: bed of nail contacts, edge connector access, a JTAG port and even Test Clips and Probes.  The blocks we created for test purposes are as follows:

  • CPU Block- 80286 CPU (PQFP Package) with its core logic

  • DSP Block with its Flash RAMs, Dual port RAMs and associated logic

  • FPGA Blocks

  • CODECs / ADCs / Timing Devices

  •  Logic and mixed signal devices

Testing a CPU based board in a Board Functional Tester is always a challenge and to do so at real clock speed is even more challenging. With Design for Testability (DFT), some circuits can eliminate the CPU during test by keeping it in Hi-Z mode while the rest of the board is being tested. Force Driving the CPU in this manner requires that the ATE have such capabilities and CPU pins should be accessible for physical contact. Of course the CPU device must be capable of this operation.  For example, older generation CPUs may not  have Hi-Z mode.

Use of Boundary Scan or In-Circuit Emulator ports are simple alternatives to test rest of the board by using the CPU pins as virtual test pins and drive / sense through JTAG / ICE ports. But many of the older generation CPUs do not support Boundary Scan or ICE ports. Even so Boundary Scan tests / ICE tests are like static functional test and cannot run at real CPU speeds thus leaving the possibility of not detecting timing related problems as faced in real world.

This case study used Qmax's patented Bus Cycle Signature System (BCSS).

BCSS is used to learn the digital signatures of every node in the CPU logic and compare on a faulty board to detect the failing node. This method did not require complex test program generation or expensive CPU simulation models.

View a typical test sequence here.

Test Sequences

The following test sequences were used to test the circuit board of Figure 1:

  • Open / Short Test for Test Fixture contact verification.

  • Voltage Measurement Test to verify the On-Board generated voltages.

  •  Frequency measurement tests on various Oscillators On-Board.

  •  Card Edge Functional Test for Analog MUX, Digital POT and NOR Gates.

  •  Bus Cycle Signature System Tests for Processor on board and its associated logic devices.

  • Integrated Boundary Scan Test for DSP and associated RAMS and ROMS

  • In-circuit Functional Test for devices accessible only through through test clips on board

  • VI Trace tests for LSI timing chip (ASIC - No details), XC3042A (No BS Support),
                 CODEC- AD 1843JS and FPGA (ASIC - No Details, No BS Support).

These tests are sequenced in an order that can provide the earliest possible diagnose of faults that may affect tests later on in the sequence.

A total of 34 tests were made in order to cover all circuitry and components in the MCU Board to achieve fault coverage of 96%.

A brief description of the test sequences is given below:

Power-off Test

Open / Short Test:  Scans the Test Fixture with Board Under Test Loaded to detect any opens (contact problems with bed of nails or edge connector fixtures) and to detect any shorts between nails or nodes such as VCC and GND.

Measurement of RLC: System should be capable of measuring RLC values using a 0.5V stimulus signal so that no diode or transistors are turned on during such measurements. Guarding is optional.

Measurement of Nodal impedances (VI Trace): In addition to Open / Short tests and RLC measurement, VI Trace (Voltage - Current Curve) tests can detect subtle change in the nodal impedances, diode drop values and characteristic impedance changes and thus can detect faults even before the power is applied to the board under test.

Power-on Tests

Measurement of Voltages and Clock Frequencies: All supply voltages applied to the board and those voltages generated on board are tested. Clock frequencies can be measured with a 1Hz resolution and with user programmed threshold voltage levels.

Card Edge Functional Tests: Board's edge connectors are used to drive test logic pattern into the board using the ATE system's physical test pins and it's output response is tested against either simulator's expected output response, against learnt responses from a known good board, or against a predefined output response. Increased use of ASICs, FPGAs, DSPs, and CPU devices on board and the great expense of device models for simulation, Learn - Compare technique is a cost effective alternative. Edge Functional Test can also include testing of analog and mixed signal portion of the board if the ATE is equipped with analog drive and sense channels synchronized with digital channels.  You can view the Mixed Signal Test - Wave Form Editor.

Bus Cycle Signature Test: This test methodology is patented by Qmax and is most useful for CPU based boards.  The method employs learn and compare of digital signatures. There is no need to write complex test programs or expensive simulation models. This technique uses the Built-in Self-Test routines of the boot-up ROM to exercise the board under test. It learns the digital bit stream generated on every node and compresses them as a 32-bit signature. A CPU specific POD is required for generation of Bus Cycle Test Windows and strobes to be placed during Data Valid time of each bus cycle. It is possible to isolate faults down to node level.

Integrated Boundary Scan Test: The Integrated Boundary Scan - Card Edge Test can check interconnection between Boundary Scan devices and edge pins and as well as carry out functional test. Use of Qmax's unique Graphical Wave Form editor, for both Edge pins (50 Ohms or Force driving physical test pin) and Boundary Scan pins (Virtual Test Pin) to easily configure functional test routines for Non-Boundary Scan devices in the cluster. The Graphical wave editor complier automatically routes test vector data for physical test pin to ATE pin drivers and for virtual test pin to JATG port with hassle free user interface. This unique test technique also provides for guided probe back tracking for detecting fault origin.  You can view an Integrated Boundary Scan Card Edge Wave Form Editor.

In-Circuit Functional Test: These are In-Circuit Tests using Force Drive pin drivers of the ATE system and using the built in library routines for standard devices. These tests are performed for those devices that are not accessible through edge pins.  They are also used when it is too difficult or cumbersome to write a test program to access these devices' input pins blocked by preceding complex logic. Such Isolated component test increases fault coverage, while reducing the time taken to generate the test programs.

QSM VI:  This is a VI trace technique fine tuned by Qmax. It is a learn and compare technique for detecting subtle changes in the nodal impedance of a device or node. Considering the high reliability of today's devices, especially high density devices, the most likely fail modes are due to an external force such as static, over load or short circuit. In such cases the damaged input or output pins change their nodal characteristics and thus can be easily captured in QSM VI Trace tests. The added advantage in QSM VI technique is its moving reference test capability (any-pin-to-any-pin) and user defined test stimulus application. The technique is most useful for those devices, where no data is available.

Diagnostics tests- Automated Guided Probe back tracking facility: Card Edge Functional tests using ATE digital pin drivers and Boundary Scan Virtual Test pins have the capability to back track the origin of fault using the Guided Probe Back Tracking utility. One has to enter or import the netlist and should have learnt (if using Learn method) or verified (if using simulator) the internal node's output response. Tagging of Schematics and Board Layout will ease the work of a test operator while probing for back tracking and works as a paperless test solution and thus providing greater security of technical data such as schematics and layouts.

Optional Tests for increased Fault coverage

At times, a board that passes a functional test in the ATE lab fails to work in the field and is returned to lab. Such occurrences can be considerably reduced if additional tests like DC and AC Parametric test are performed on the ATE.

Measurement of DC Parameters: A device whose input pins are accessible from the edge connector can be checked to ensure that its input Bias current is within specified limits. This helps reduced field returns as boards that pass functionally may not necessarily work in the field as a result of excess leakages in its input pins, as leakages on one board may overload other boards in the system. Similarly, output pins at the card edge can be tested for their fan-out capabilities.  Also, if Tri-State leakage current of a PCB¡¦s I/O pin exceeds specifications, it may disturb the working of other PCBs in the system.

Measurement of AC Parameters:  Testing frequency, pulse width, propagation delay, rise/fall times, event counters, etc. helps increase fault coverage for those boards with timing problems.

The time taken to run the above all tests in succession was about 5 minutes, which is quite acceptable in Repair / Maintenance environment for delivering test coverage of 96%.

The above tests were conducted in Qmax's ATE QT2256-320PXI.

About the author

Mr. S.R. Sabapathi, Technical Director and CEO of Qmax a leading manufacturer of Automated Test Equipment for Board Functional test, has about 30 years of experience in PCB and Semi-con Test. His unique test methodology, Bus Cycle Signature Test, for testing of CPU based boards, had been patented in US, UK , Australia Singapore. Qmax’s presence in most country’s defense establishments speaks its testimony.

Next Issue's Product/Service Focus
In our next issue of Product/Service Focus we will cover Measuring Equipment/Bit Error Rate Testers. You can add or upgrade a listing before the next issue comes out.

If you would like to include an exclusive article on how to best select Measuring Equipment/Bit Error Rate Testers, please contact

  • If your friend forwarded this newsletter to you, please register as a member and receive The BestTest Newsletter -- absolutely free!
  • If you wish to update your news preferences or cancel the subscription, please unsubscribe.
  • If you have any questions, please email
See an Index of Past and Upcoming Issues of The BestTest Newsletter

Email The BestTest Newsletter to a Friend whose email is
Online Bookstore

Find any text on test. Search the topic below by typing a key phrase:

Search Now:

Get the widest selection of test related books and software at the BestTest Online Store.


The Testability Director Version 3.2

Reach the thousands of test professionals we mail to.
Place Ad here.

7/23 - 7/25
   Design for Testability and for Built-in Self Test
   Cost Effective Tests Using ATE, DFT and BIST
8/20 - 8/22
   Fundamentals of Random Vibration and Shock Testing, HALT, ESS, HASS
9/17 - 9/21
   AutoTestCon 2007
7/16 - 7/20
   Coordinate Metrology Systems Conference (CMSC)
7/16 - 7/20
   SemiCon West
7/29 - 8/2
   NCSL International 2007 Workshop & Symposium
8/7 - 8/9
   National Instruments' NI Week
8/21 - 8/23
   International Military & Aerospace / Avionics COTS Conference
8/28 - 8/31
   NEPCON South China
9/9 - 9/12
   International KGD (Known Good Die) Packaging & Test Workshop
9/11 - 9/12
   1st International Caspian Design & Test Workshop
9/12 - 9/14
   VII SEMETRO - 7th International Seminar on Electrical Metrology
9/12 - 9/14
   6th International Board Test Workshop
9/19 - 9/21
   IPC Executive Market & Technology Forum
9/19 - 9/21
   International Exhibition on Test Equipment 2007
9/21 - 9/23
   IEEE Wireless Communications, Networking and Mobile Computing (WiCOM2007)
9/24 - 9/28
   International Zurich Symposium on Electromagnetic Compatibility
9/26 - 9/28
   International Symposium on Defect and Fault Tolerance in VLSI Systems (DFT'07)
9/26 - 9/28
   International Symposium on Integrated Circuits
9/26 - 9/28
   IPC Midwest Conference & Exhibition
10/7 - 10/11
   SMTA International 2007
10/9 - 10/11
   Asian Test Symposium (ATS’07)
10/9 - 10/11
   LXI PlugFest and General Meeting
10/10 - 10/12
   IPC Executive Market & Technology Forum
10/11 - 10/13
   Workshop on RTL and High Level Testing
10/22 - 10/24
   IPC Executive Market & Technology Forum
10/22 - 10/23
   IEEE Product Safety Engineering Society Symposium
10/23 - 10/25
   International Test Conference 2007
10/24 - 10/26
   Automotive Testing Expo North America
10/29 - 10/30
   Verify 2007
10/30 - 10/31
   NEPCON East
11/4 - 11/9
   Antenna Measurement Techniques Association (AMTA) Symposium
11/6 - 11/8
11/6 - 11/8
   Bohai Electronics Week
11/6 - 11/8
   Aerospace Testing Expo 2007 - North America
11/7 - 11/9
   International High-Level Design, Validation and Test Workshop
11/11 - 11/13
   National Quality Education Conference
11/13 - 11/16
11/27 - 11/28
   TestForum 2007
12/5 - 12/6
   IP Based SoC Design Conference & Exhibition
2/12 - 2/14
   IEEE Sensors Applications Symposium 2008
4/1 - 4/3
   Printed Circuits Expo®, APEX® and the Designers Summit Conference
4/8 - 4/10
   Aerospace Testing Seminar
6/3 - 6/6
We now have 2542 test terms in our Test Definition section.

Share your definitions with the test community.