Mini In-Circuit Tester
Keysight Technologies
Mini In-Circuit Tester
Application Note
Abstract
Keysight Mini In-Circuit Tester (ICT) is the first modular in-circuit tester with standard
communication protocol for instruments (SCPI) command support. It can be integrated
into different applications to provide in-circuit test coverage with device or pin-level defect
information. In this article, we are going to discuss the SCPI commands and the potential use
models.
Overview
Normally multiple test strategies are used in a manufacturing line, such as automatic optical
inspection (AOI), in-circuit test (ICT), and functional test. Different test strategies offer
different defect information. For example, AOI systems normally provide device-level defect
information in graphical view, ICT reports device-level defects with failed information about
the functionality of the device while functional test provides functional failures, such as
“display failure.”
Functional test results provide a go/no-go for the product, but repairing boards based on
functional test results is difficult due to lack of details of the reported failures. A combination
of functional test and ICT will provide a viable way to improve the level of details which
functional test alone fails to provide. The Keysight Mini ICT is designed for providing detailed
failure information when needed.
03 | Keysight | Mini In-Circuit Tester – Application Note
Common Use Model of Keysight Mini ICT
We can categorize the use model of the Keysight Mini ICT into three major groups:
1. Standalone model
When the Mini ICT is used as a standalone tester, it is a miniaturized ICT system for a low
node-count environment, enabling flexible PCB testing or boards with low node count.
It can also be used as a repair station, or complement existing analog-only ICT testers,
sometimes called “MDAs.” Keysight Mini ICT provides additional test coverage where test
access is available.
In this model, users benefit from powered test features, such as Vectorless Test
Extended Performance (VTEP) or voltage/frequency measurements, boundary scan and
programming.
2. Integrated model
When the Mini ICT is combined with functional test, it is considered as an Integrated
Model. For example, products can be verified by Mini ICT for any opens/shorts defects,
followed by powered up and voltage measurements. The board under test can then be
handed over to other test instruments, such as a counter, to make accurate frequency
measurements, and the results are then sent back to the Mini ICT for data calibration
programming for software clock compensation.
Integrated model usage normally requires an external test sequencer, such as Keysight
TestExec SL, or NI TestStand, to run tests through SCPI and pass parameters between
instruments.
Figure 1. Mini ICT in Integrated model with instruments
3. Parallel/integrated parallel model
Parallel and integrated parallel models are powerful when panelized boards are being
produced in the manufacturing line. Boards can be tested all together in the same fixture
with the single test sequencer from the centralized controller. Test time will be optimized
according to the manufacturing beat rate.
Sometimes boards are built in sets. For example, a logic board, I/O board, and connection
boards are required to complete a product. Building all these boards in one panel makes
inventory management simpler and cheaper. Using the Mini ICT, you will be able to test
all the boards simultaneously with the benefits of product throughput, best line balance
and process flow.
04 | Keysight | Mini In-Circuit Tester – Application Note
Keysight Mini ICT Test Generation
No matter which model is selected, the first step to using the Mini ICT is getting the test
program generated. The test program describes the in-circuit tests needed in the overall
tests. There are two approaches to get test programs done on the Mini ICT:
1. Simple test generation
When the test access is low or only certain tests are required for the product, users can
just type the device name and test value with test thresholds in the graphical interface in
the Mini ICT.
2. Automated test generation
When there are hundreds of tests to be performed on the Mini ICT, it is not realistic to
generate the tests one-by-one manually. The Test Program Generator (TPG) tool helps
with automated test generation.
TPG requires CAD data to be converted into component information (pins) and probe
information (nails). With bill of materials (BOM), TPG will be able to mass-convert the
components on the board into tests. It will also apply part libraries, for example, diode
packages or digital tests, when those parts are identified.
Figure 2. Automated program generation with Test Program Generator
05 | Keysight | Mini In-Circuit Tester – Application Note
Control Using SCPI
With test programs completed, now the Mini ICT is ready for test. While it is able to
run with its own software, as in standalone model, the SCPI interface is critical when
working with other instruments.
The supported SCPI commands on the Mini ICT are:
–– Load test program, select boards in panel
–– Test all, query results, and retrieve failure information
–– Component type test, query results, and retrieve failure information
–– Single test step test, query results, and retrieve failure information
–– Turn on SCPI features in software
Once the feature is turned on, Mini ICT will be able to respond to *IDN? by VISA (virtual
instrument software architecture) tools such as Keysight I/O library or NI Measurement
and Automation Explorer.
Figure 3. Keysight I/O library and connection expert.
06 | Keysight | Mini In-Circuit Tester – Application Note
Once the communication link is established, users will be able to send commands such
as “i1000:Testall” to control the tests through the external test sequencer.
Keysight Mini ICT enables a different approach for ICT. It not only provides high quality
test coverage at a lower cost, but the modular design complements existing tests to
provide a complete board test strategy. With its built-in software, the Mini ICT runs as
a modular, compact yet full functional ICT system. When it runs with the SCPI and Test
sequencing software, it can be operated in an integrated mode with other instruments,
or even run as several Mini ICT systems in parallel.
Figure 4. Runing SCPI commands from VISA Assistant
Conclusion
Keysight Mini ICT enables a different approach for ICT. It not only provides high quality
test coverage at a lower cost, but the modular design complements existing tests to
provide a complete board test strategy. With its built-in software, the Mini ICT runs as
a modular, compact yet full functional ICT system. When it runs with the SCPI and Test
sequencing software, it can be operated in an integrated mode with other instruments,
or even run as several Mini ICT systems in parallel.
07 | Keysight | Mini In-Circuit Tester – Application Note
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© Keysight Technologies, 2016
Published in USA, March 2, 2016
5992-1368EN
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