The success of any kind of engineering comes down to effective testing and validation. With today's tight budgets, the aerospace and defense industries increasingly look to modular platforms and automated test solutions to extend platform life, lower cost of ownership, speed repair, and enable easy upgrades. Buoyed by support initiatives and working groups like Virtual Instrumentation Software Architecture (VISA), Interchangeable Virtual Instruments (IVI), PCI Extensions for Instrumentation (PXI), Synthetic Instrumentation (SI), IEEE 1588 and the Modular Open Standards Approach (MOSA, see figure) the mil/aero industry has developed modular, automated test platforms to support product development.
Figure 1: Modular Open Standards Approach (MOSA) as developed by the Open Systems Joint Task Force. (Courtesy of Open Systems Joint Task Force)
A PXI-Express-based synthetic instrument unit, for example, allows RF signals to be streamed directly to FPGA processing modules. The system leverages a software-defined solution in combination with modular instrumentation technology to achieve a tenfold increase in speed.
The combination software-defined test and PXI represent important trends in the automated-test area. Find out about the latest test initiatives using PXI, including an automated benchtop test system, in "Modular platforms open doors to next-gen test,"
by Richard McDonell of National Instruments, part of the "After the shuttle, the stars" special aerospace supplement to EE Times
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