Automated Antenna Testing Using NI LabVIEW Software and PXI Hardware
"With NI software and hardware, we created an automated solution to successfully test antenna operations in just five minutes, which is considerably less time compared to the 30 minutes we needed to manually perform a test. This equates to more than 500 hours saved annually with automated testing."
- Peter Aschof,
Tel Instrument Electronics Corp.
Replacing existing manual antenna test systems with an automated solution that results in better equipment throughput and more test flexibility.
Using an NI PXI-1044 14-slot chassis, an NI PXI-5660 RF vector signal analyzer, an NI PXI-5670 RF vector signal generator, and NI LabVIEW software to eliminate the need for additional instrumentation and to increase antenna testing throughput.
Peter Aschof - Tel Instrument Electronics Corp.
At Tel Instrument Electronics, we manufacture avionics ramp test sets used in the commercial and defense electronics industry. We ship a bidirectional antenna with every ramp test set, and we have produced more than 5,000 test sets that require this type of antenna.
Testing to verify antenna operation is cumbersome and we needed a test solution to meet our production demand. One option was to manually test the operation using a signal generator, spectrum analyzer, and power meter. However, the National Instruments solution featuring a PXI-1044 chassis, PXI-5660 RF vector signal analyzer, and PXI-5670 RF vector signal generator gave us the ability to generate an automated test to meet our challenge. With customized software and a custom-built antenna chamber, we successfully automated our antenna testing.
Developing a Test System User Interface with LabVIEW
The LabVIEW test involves a graphical user interface (GUI), two-frequency generation, antenna motor rotation, measurements displayed as a Bode plot, and test results.
Using the GUI, the operator enters the product identification, operator name, and serial number. In addition, Bode plots are displayed on the screen and measurements are made using LabVIEW. We use complex interconnection diagrams to control program flow and instrumentation and to measure signals. The measurements indicate pass/fail conditions.
To present the results to the operator, this solution prints the test results in a human-readable format indicating pass/fail conditions as well as Bode plots. We use this as a testing record and file it for future reference.
New Test System Saves 500 Hours Annually
With NI software and hardware, our engineers and scientists at Tel Instrument Electronics created an automated solution to successfully test antenna operations in just five minutes, which is considerably less time compared to the 30 minutes we needed to manually perform a test. This equates to more than 500 hours saved annually with automated testing.
Explore the NI Developer Community
Discover and collaborate on the latest example code and tutorials with a worldwide community of engineers and scientists.
Who is National Instruments?
National Instruments provides a graphical system design platform for test, control, and embedded design applications that is transforming the way engineers and scientists design, prototype, and deploy systems.