Robert C Putala
Graduated with a BSEE from Michigan Technological University and an MBA from the University of Notre Dame. I have worked in test engineering and OEM product development, with much of my career focused on computer hardware - mainframe, desktop, server and notebook. I also have experience with instrumentation used for semiconductor processing, gas analysis and flow controllers. I currently design and support hardware and software for test and production control for a variety of industries including transportation, energy and semiconductor processing.
- On the dark side
- This does remind me of a similar "floating line" issue - though not related to UV EPROMs. I was managing a small development group and learned of an odd issue that the younger engineers simply couldn't put their arms around. This dealt with a terminal concentrator that operated without error, until one waved a hand over the top of the PCB. My background included work on TTL mainframe computers with wirewrapped backplanes, so this didn't seem so odd to me. The wirewrap backplane would sometimes have broken wires that caused "floating" TTL inputs. After proclaimin "It looks like a floater" and the subsequent jokes about what is floating, a review of the schematic showed many unterminated inputs to ASIC devices. These were subsequently tied to ground and the mystery failures by hand waving ceased. Although the engineers stated the inputs were unused, grounding them solved the problem.
- Headless ATE system increases production reliability and efficiency
- An SBC will be more rugged, but tends to be single purposed. A PC has the ability to run advanced programs, but can also be used for other non-test related activity. I think the decision to use an SBC vs a PC will depend on the test being implemented. The quantity of unique items to be tested and the frequency of test setups will certainly impact the decision. A stand-alone SBC controlled tester would be useful for dedicated test systems that do not require frequent reconfiguration. Small, dedicated testers that relay information to a PC for data manipulation and reconfiguration is a good fit for many production environments.