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Reduced development time with PathWave Test Executive for Manufacturing

2022-10-31  |  6 min read 

Have you heard about the new PathWave Test Executive for Manufacturing(PTEM)?

It’s an open-source solution packed with user-friendly interfaces and built-in test steps. If you are familiar with our Test Executive SL, then PTEM is no stranger as it supports the same TS5000 instrumentation libraries as Test Executive SL. On top of that, built on Open Tap open-sourced platform, you can develop your own plug-ins of test steps and libraries. And if that is not enough, just assign any .NET-based Dynamic Link libraries(DLL) to your testplan and you are good to go.

Let me share my experiences as a first-time user of PTEM in developing a testplan for the FlexiCore Inline parallel ICT system.

Over 200 instrumentation libraries are built into PTEM along with their test steps functions. You simply choose the instruments you need and pick the test step to use in the testplan. That’s all it is. No need for code development at all.

Fig1 : All instrument libraries come with built-in test steps that is ready to use.

PTEM also supports common protocols like LAN and Serial ports which can be used with generic instruments or systems. In my earlier posts about test automation control, I discussed the SCPI commands to control the FlexiCore Inline parallel ICT handler over LAN interface. The same set commands can be applied in a PTEM testplan as well.  

Assigning SCPI instrument

Testplan development starts with the selection a generic SCPI instrument and assigning the address for the Handler Control Panel (HCP) application that manages the handler operation. PTEM automatically lists all addresses from Keysight IO Library Suite, so all you need to do is to select the one you need.

Fig2 : SCPI instrument supports any instruments that can be controlled via LAN.

The Virtual Instrument Software Architecture (VISA) address for HCP to configure in the IO Library is IP address 127.0.0.1 with socket 5045 when PTEM resides in the same PC controller as HCP. PTEM can also run remotely from another PC controller within the same network. In that case, the IP address for HCP application will need to be the actual IP address of the network adaptor instead of using 127.0.0.1. The VISA address will then look something like this “TCPIP::192.168.0.20::5045::SOCKET”, where 192.168.0.20 is the IP address of the network adaptor.

Commands for test operation

A basic test operation cycle on the FlexiCore consists of four stages: Initialization , Input, Test and Output stage. It only takes four commands to get the test operations running. My post on “Controlling Test Automation - The Easy Way” provides the details of the control sequence. 

Fig3: Basic commands for automated test operation on FlexiCore Inline handlers.

The commands are not specifically built into PTEM. However, it is not difficult to use the SCPI Ext test step to execute them. SCPI Ext is a generic test step that allows me to control any instruments that supports TCPIP socket protocol. 

Fig4: SCPI Ext test steps allows any commands to be sent over LAN

Testing the setup

While you can dive right into the commands and control of the handler after the test steps are setup, I prefer to test each of the instruments first before proceeding further. This gives me the confidence that the instruments and test steps parameters are set up correctly. 

The HCP supports the command *IDN? which returns an identification string showing the version of the application. This is very useful when it comes to checking whether the TCPIP link to the application is still active or not. 

Fig5: Testplan runs the SCPI Ext step to query the identification string from Handler Control Panel application(HCP).

The testplan above sends the *IDN? command to HCP and then places the received response into a variable named VAR.ID1. Using variables to store measurements and return strings from instruments or logical/arithmetic results are essential in the testplan development. The Watch Variables Panel under the View menu displays the status of selected variables in real time throughout the execution of the testplan. This allows me to monitor the results from any test steps easily during the testplan development.

Now that I got the basic instrument and command setup in my testplan, I can start to build the flow of the test steps to run the handler operations. I will share more on PTEM as I continue to explore the features and functions.

Until the next post, stay healthy and safe!
Ping me with your questions or comments ! 
kwan-wee_lee@keysight.com