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November 2005 edition

Developing an effective test suite for RF cables

By Alastair Kane, TBG Solutions Ltd and John Duncalf, BAE Systems

The Solution: Using the PXI/CompactPCI platform and National Instruments LabVIEW software to design a simplified test system that increases productivity by facilitating more flexible testing.

The company needed a new test suite for more efficient RF cable characterisation within major units of the Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft. These units, produced at BAE Systems Samlesbury, have high-performance coaxial cables that require testing prior to delivery to ensure that no damage has occurred during installation. Every cable has different operating frequency, cable length and routing characteristics, and each of these characteristics impacts performance.

The original method required specialist engineers to conduct testing, but this was expensive and it limited testing to a small window of time. However, a system in which shop operators conducted the tests would mean more flexibility for production and the ability to conduct 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week testing.

BAE Systems consulted with us at TBG Solutions to define the parameters needed for a more effective test system. The operators, who may have little RF engineering knowledge, would need to conduct all testing requirements for the three product areas. The system would have to automate the test equipment setup routines and test each product fully, including individually testing each cable as required. We needed to develop a system that also would implement phase match....

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 Contact details from our directory:
National Instruments Corp. Test Equipment, Data Acquisition Systems, Computer-aided Testing
TBG Solutions Ltd Automated Test Equipment
BAE Systems plc Airframer

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