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Hiller Measurements
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Inspired Measurement Design
Inspired Measurement Design

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The Challenges in Moving RF & Analog Designs to PXI

Have you tried moving your latest RF or analog design into a PXI module? If you have, you have probably experienced four primary challenges:

1. Noise (digital and power supply artifacts, as well as module to module coupling)
2. Limited space (PXI modules are 0.8 inches wide, with about 3.5” by 5” of usable space)
3. Power and Cooling limitations
4. Module control

NOISE. It is unlikely you will be able to use the PXI power supplies without extensive filtering. We typically use low noise DC-DC converters to generate the required voltages, followed by ultra-low noise linear regulators and passive filtering that reduce PS noise below 100uV. And do not forget the digital noise from clocks and triggers that are easily coupled onto your module unless it is well shielded with EMI filtering on the I/O ports.

SPACE. The limited space of PXI makes it difficult to use packaged parts with connectors, even if you allocate several PXI slots for the design.  A recent microwave design with one transfer switch and a programmable high power step attenuator required 4 slots with some creative mechanical engineering. A more typical module will need to make use of parts mounted on a custom circuit card to meet space limitations. Of course this increases the requirement for shielding, along with making the RF design a bit more challenging.

POWER. A PXI slot is rated to dissipate an average of 30W per slot under ideal conditions. This assumes adequate air flow through the module, which can further complicate the mechanical design. If more power is required for the design, additional slats can be allocated to the task as long as air flow is handled properly. For example, we designed an 11-slot PXI module(https://plus.google.com/b/107542552006916488747/107542552006916488747/posts/JfWYXfnRGTd?pid=6104230011623105362&oid=107542552006916488747) that dissipated 1200W peak and 300W average power for a radar application.

CONTROL. For those who are new to PXI module design, control of the module may be the biggest hurdle. Breadboard cards are available for simple needs like static relay control, but these are less than optimal for more complex control. Our company uses a MiPXIe control module (https://plus.google.com/b/107542552006916488747/107542552006916488747/posts/JfWYXfnRGTd?pid=6104231626735966754&oid=107542552006916488747) which provides all the control needed (PXIe interface, FPGA, DIO, I2C, switch drivers and power supplies) along with a 3” by 4” area for custom design. If additional space is required, daughter boards are stacked as needed using the same controller (three daughter boards typically fit in a 2-slot PXI module).

If you are struggling with one or all of these concerns, give us a call. We would be happy to share our thoughts and see if we can help. 

Got a Tough Electronic Problem? Call us! 512.394.8356

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For those who are new to PXI module design, control of the module may be the biggest hurdle. Breadboard cards are available for simple needs like static relay control, but these are less than optimal for more complex control. Our company uses a MiPXIe control module (see picture below) which provides all the control needed (PXIe interface, FPGA, DIO, I2C, switch drivers and power supplies) along with a 3” by 4” area for custom design. If additional space is required, daughter boards are stacked as needed using the same controller (three daughter boards typically fit in a 2-slot PXI module).
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MiPXIe marries your idea to standard PXIe control, COTS Drivers, Warranty, and Support. It's measurement made easy.
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Paul’s Perspective– High Voltage Testing

One of the biggest challenges with high voltage testing is measuring very low voltages in the presence of high common mode voltages. Have you faced this type of problem?

A typical solution is to float the measurement circuitry at the common mode voltage, and then use an isolation amplifier to transition back to ground based circuitry for final measurement. When doing so, be careful to account for stray leakage paths and potential arcing. For accurate measurements, you will also probably need to include built-in calibration to overcome limitations of the isolation amplifier. 

We recently design and delivered a test system for high voltage (2000V) and high power (8KW) which posed numerous challenges (click here to view this system). Our customer had difficulty finding a firm that could handle their stringent requirements before eventually approaching us. Are you having difficulty finding a system to meet your high voltage test needs?

• Make accurate (0.1%), repeatable voltage and current measurements at high voltages
• Maintain adequate shielding and isolation for safety and measurement accuracy
• Reliably switch these high voltage, high current (25A) signals
• Provide programmable, dynamic loading of these high voltage / power signals
• Dissipate the resulting kilowatts of power
• Utilize high voltage, high current I/O connectors that also meet your requirements for high density, low cost and quick delivery?

These types of systems present unique challenges, which we have learned to overcome through painful experience. If you are struggling with one or all of these concerns, give us a call. We would be happy to share our thoughts and see if we can help. 

Got a Tough Electronic Problem? Call us!

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We’re pretty excited about a system we recently shipped that tackled the issue of low level measurement in a high voltage system for a satellite application. Check out our high voltage testing system here! http://www.hillermeas.com/systems.html#highvoltage
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The MiPXIe Development System allows you to implement your unique requirements in a COTs PXIe platform with minimal non-recurring expense and short-term development cycle. Find out more on http://www.hillermeas.com/mipxi.html 
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New Year, new look:)
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2014-03-13
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