Test automation slashes board debug time

November 27, 2020 // By Nick Flaherty
Test automation slashes board debug time
Digitaltest in Germany has developed a procedure that can automatically debug test programs for boards.

The Automatic DebugRobot allows up to 80 percent of the device under test to be covered automatically so that only a few critical measurements have to be checked manually afterwards.

The debug software was originally developed at the request of an EMS contract manufacturing service provider, Surface Art Engineering, which operates as a central point of contact for simplifying the process of launching products to the market.

The challenge for Digitaltest was to speed up the long debug times for boards with more than 500 nets by developing an automated test program to enable Surface Art En­gineering and its customers to get to market faster.

For a board with 1,000 nets, an engineer previously needed two weeks, but with the DebugRobot six boards can now be debugged in two weeks. This not only saves valuable time, but also helps to automatically stabilise measurements, for example to achieve the lowest possible standard deviation of the values when repeating measurements.

Usually, for transistor tests the pin order needs to be determined manually and errors can easily occur here.  With the DebugRobot the pin order is automatically detected and can even be corrected because it has a built-in intelligence to correct the mixed pin sequence itself without having to intervene manually. It can also automatically learn all the measurements of the diodes tests without any user intervention. 

Surface Art, based in San José, California, provides Printed Circuit Board Assembly (PCA) and mechanical assembly for prototype, pilot production and volume production to a broad range of companies and industries. Its customers include start-up companies that develop and introduce new products, as well as established companies that require the collaboration, quality, and service of a contract manufacturer.

Since 2013, the company has been using the Condor Flying Prober to test customer boards along with the Automatic Program Generator (APG) from CITE to automatically generate programs and C-LINK to generate fixture data. One of the lengthiest processes of order fulfilment was often the debugging times, especially for

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