Project Showcase

Cognitive Automated Test and Measurement System Software Development Tools

Dr. David R. Carey has been designing, developing and supporting Automated Test Solutions since 1983. FHS has established a design architecture that maximizes the use of commercially available equipment and allows for test system expansion as requirements dictate.

FHS was founded by experienced engineers and support personnel. Our staff includes a strong balance of experienced test and measurement engineers, software specialists and top technical support personnel. Our main focus lies in the integration of complete test solutions that have been developed for the most cost-effective and optimal performance. Experience has shown us that our customers benefit when our expert engineering resources become an extension of their own staff, enabling a rapid transition of test plans, system designs, and programming technologies. The expertise of our staff ranges from RF/Wireless; Digital and Analog test techniques and development. FHS has put in place a training program to educate all of our staff in the basic principles of each technology; however, specific experts in each are established and help guide the overall design. The strength of our engineering team has been the key to our overall success and ability to be a leader in the Industrial, Aerospace, Automotive, Defense and Telecommunications marketplaces.

These market segments, especially the Department of Defense (DoD), have thousands of obsolete legacy automated test systems (ATS). There are many systems, with different hardware and software architectures, that cannot be upgraded. The inability to reliably test products, diagnose faults, and collect historical data is having an effect on mission readiness. FHS is proposing a system and set of development tools that will produce a test and diagnostic system architecture to automatically reconfigure test when assets are out for repair or calibration. The proposed system and tools will reduce rework costs and decrease maintenance and repair costs through earlier and more accurate fault isolation. This work recoups the efforts of the original developer and captures test and diagnostic knowledge for the future. Additional benefits from this work: development of a reliability database for system, subsystem, component by test type and ATS; tracking system reliability and mission performance data for use in developing requirements for new or upgrade system procurement specifications; and for pushing diagnostic knowledge and support from the sustainment level to the field and vice versa. The work will change the process of developing, maintaining and migrating diagnostic test now and into the future.

In 2011, Dr. Carey recognized that much of this test and diagnostic information exists in hard coded legacy test software. The intent is to extract the test and diagnostic inference from legacy test program software for each test. This will lead to a test and diagnostic modelling tools that maps measurement assets, test results, and failures. Additionally a diagnostic algorithm will be developed to uncouple the test logic from the diagnostic inference. The addition of probability of failure and historical trend data shall be included to optimize test execution and reduce fault ambiguity group callout and improve the accuracy. This will increase test system throughput thus reducing manufacturing costs for electronic systems.

Four Hound Solutions, LLC. (FHS) has developed a new type cognitive automated test program development system using a modified set covering algorithm. The system provides a self-healing capability to any automated test system allowing manufacturing and diagnostic testing to continue even with the loss of critical test system assets.

Automated test programs and systems are typically written as a series of functional end-to-end tests with measurements made at the output pins or operator observations in order to assure that the product under test is operating correctly and ready for issue. They can be written in a variety of languages not limited to: C/C++, Basic, Pascal, FORTRAN, and ATLAS. The test system sequencing is handled in one of two ways. The first method is for the program to execute all functional end-to-end tests and then call a diagnostic routine if a failure is detected. The second method is for the program to execute the functional end-to-end tests until a failure is detected then call a diagnostic routine associated to the failing test. Essentially each test is followed by diagnostic tests to isolate the fault to the level required by the specification.

Normally, when automating a test process, the engineer would create a test step for every adjustment required to each instrument used in the test process just like someone manually setting up the instrumentation. This can become a redundant process if a unit under test requires multiple tests using a similar test procedure. The engineer is also required to monitor what instrumentation exists on the system and not in use at run time of the specific test being created. After a test process is created and deployed for use, it relies on the specific instruments that are called in the test process to be present on the system to run. Because of this, if a required instrument is out for calibration, being repaired, or removed from the system for any other reason, the system is inoperable for any test that requires the missing instrument.

This system uses a Dynamically Loadable Scalable Automated Test System (ATS). Through the use of this system the engineer can insert common tests into an automated test process instead of individual steps. The obvious advantage of this method is engineering efficiency or reduction in development time. There are other derivative advantages: common test style among multiple engineers; since the test method already exits it allows for a developer with limited experience with a particular test to begin developing with minimal training, test system downtime is reduced and in some instances eliminated.

Parallel to the implementation of the ability to insert a test, this system is capable of dynamically loading which instrumentation will be used depending on what is available on the test station. This will allow for an instrument to be removed from the test station and an already deployed process that uses this instrument to still run as long as another method to accomplish each test within the system exists.

The experts at Four Hound Solutions have contributed to the following projects:

Synthetic Instrumentation Eases ATE Obsolescence Woes
ATE obsolescence can be a costly long-term problem. By moving to modular, software defined synthetic instrumentation, system developers can enjoy a new path toward efficient test operations.

Testing Software-Defined and Cognitive Radios Using Synthetic Instrumentation Techniques

Modular, Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS), Software Defined Synthetic Instrumentation (SDSI) has unique, intrinsic features that make it particularly well suited to address the difficult and often exceedingly expensive problem of testing oftware Defined (SDR) and Cognitive Radios (CR).  With modular, COTS SDSI that comply with open standards, test organizations and end users can develop and deploy automated tests for today’s SDR and CR.  With modular, COTS SDSI, ATE systems may be upgraded through software to support new functions and capabilities that were not foreseen when the systems were originally deployed.  This article will introduce the problem of using traditional test equipment to test SDR and CR equipment  and show how Modular, COTS SDSI can address it.

Seizure Detection Though Adaptive Filtering of Electroencephalogram Signals

The purpose of this project is to design an adaptive digital signal processing – DSP –  filter to remove the noise component in an electroencephalogram – EEG – signal. The signal will be analyzed to help detect the onset of a seizure. This detection will be used to command the VNS to fire and stimulate the vagal nerve and stop the seizure. This will limit the current pulses by injecting them only when needed.  Note: This system is not intended to predict future seizures. It will endeavor to identify the onset of a seizure.

Canard Measurement System

This paper will describe the automated test system design for the Canard Deflection Angle Measurement System for the Pneumatic Control Assembly. A brief background and description of the current test system will be presented. The paper will examine the design requirements for the new system. The most critical requirement being that the system performs a non-contact measurement of the canard pneumatic assembly. The new test system will be implemented using a vision system. The paper will describe several digital image processing techniques used to insure the new measurement technique is reliable and repeatable. All code will be developed in LabVIEW. The measurement results will be presented and concludes with a discussion of the accuracy of the new measurement system.

Enhancing the Diagnostic Process for Legacy Test Program Sets using Fault Modeling and Dynamic Reasoning

The electronics industry and the Department of Defense (DoD), has thousands of obsolete legacy automated test systems (ATS).  There are many systems, with different hardware and software architectures, that cannot be upgraded. The inability to reliably test products, diagnose faults, and collect historical data is having an effect on mission readiness. This thesis produced a test and diagnostic system architecture that provides a means to use historical test and repair data from all levels of operation. The process reduces rework costs and decreases maintenance and repair costs through earlier and more accurate fault isolation. This work recoups the efforts of the original developer and captures test and diagnostic knowledge for the future. It has been adopted by the DoD maintenance community as a means to guarantee continued support in meeting mission requirements. Consequently, the concept has been proposed, reviewed, and approved for implementation within the Army ATS/TPS centers for use at the Army maintenance depots. Additional benefits from this work: development of a reliability database for system, subsystem, component by test type and ATS; tracking system reliability and mission performance data for use in developing requirements for new or upgrade system procurement specifications; and for pushing diagnostic knowledge and support from the sustainment level to the field and vice versa.  The work presented will change the process of developing, maintaining and migrating diagnostic test now and into the future.

Testability-Who Cares The Military Perspective  , Presented at IEEE Autotestcon 2012, September 2012, Anaheim, CA

Legacy Test Program Sets Migration using Fault Modeling and Dynamic Reasoning , IEEE Proceedings Autotestcon 2012, September 2012, Anaheim, CA

A Methodology for Enhancing Legacy TPS/ATS Sustainability via Employing Synthetic Instrumentation Technology , IEEE Proceedings Autotestcon 2011, September 2011, Baltimore, MD.

This paper presents a methodology for mitigating Test Program Set (TPS) & Automatic Test System (ATS) obsolescence and enhancing TPS/ATS sustainability via employing Synthetic Instrumentation (SI) technology. The methodology and the associated sub- processes described within this paper represent a major paradigm shift in current support equipment hardware & software sustainability approaches and will have a profound impact on the process of supporting and maintaining legacy automated test systems (ATS) and TPSs now and into the future.

Army Repair Depot Automated Test System Modernization , Instrumentation & Measurement Magazine, IEEE Volume: 14 , Issue: 4 Digital Object Identifier: 10.1109/MIM.2011.5961367 Publication Year: 2011 , Page(s): 28-32

Tobyhanna Army Depot Automated Test System Modernization , Aerospace and Electronic Systems Magazine, IEEE Volume: 26 , Issue: 9 Digital Object Identifier: 10.1109/MAES.2011.6069901 Publication Year: 2011 , Page(s): 22-26

Modernizing Legacy Automated Test Systems for DoD Depots, IEEE Proceedings Autotestcon 2010, September 2010, Orlando, FL

Tobyhanna Army Depot Automated Test System Modernization, IEEE Proceedings Autotestcon 2010, September 2010, Orlando, FL.

Improving Functiona/Diagnostic Testing using Model-Based Reasoning, IEEE, Proceedings Autotestcon 1998, September 1998, Salt Lake City, UT.

Prognostic Framework, IEEE, Proceedings Autotestcon 1998, September 1998, Salt Lake City, UT.

Developing Diagnostic Test Programs using model-based Reasoning, Wilkes University, May 1998, Wilkes-Barre, PA

A New Breed of Smart Depot Testers using COTS Technology, IEEE, Proceedings Autotestcon 1995, August 1995, Atlanta, Ga.