At Pickering, we understand you folks in the automotive and aerospace industries have the toughest electronic testing requirements. For over 25 years, we have designed and manufactured commercial and custom switching and simulation systems, as well as instrumentation for a wide range of diverse functional test and hardware-in-the-loop simulation applications to help in the test and validation of automotive and aerospace electronics.

Our Switching Solutions for Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) Simulation Applications Include:

  • Pickering's Modular Breakout System for Hardware-in-the-Loop ApplicationsModular Breakout System - Designed in partnership with  OPAL-RT Technologies, this Modular Breakout System combines a BoB feature set with the added flexibility of an FIU. By mating the FIU chassis directly to the BoB using our plug-in modules, cabling is minimized, creating a more compact reliable design and improving signal integrity.


  • PXI Fault Insertion Unit (FIU) Switching for Fault Insertion Testing - these FIU switch products can be used to introduce electrical faults into a system—this test process typically duplicates various conditions which could occur because of corrosion, short/open circuits and other electrical failure inherited through age, damage or even faulty installation.
Pickering's Fault Insertion Unit Switching and Programmable Resistors

  • PXI Programmable Resistors for Sensor Simulation   - A Hardware-in-the-Loop system employed to test an ECU needs to simulate the behavior of these sensors as accurately as possible to ensure the ECU behaves on the test bench exactly as it would in the real-world. Take a look at our PXI programmable resistor modules developed to help test system designers achieve these goals.

Whose fault is it when ECU's go wrong?

Electronic Control Units (ECUs) are ever-present in today's automotive and aerospace industries. They are increasingly being used in safety-critical applications that demand the highest reliability in environments where undesirable behavior cannot be tolerated - the failure of an ECU to act in an appropriate manner under emergency conditions could pose a threat to life and/or property. Ensuring these demands are unconditionally met requires significant investment in test procedures and documentation.

An ECU relies on information from a set of sensors and controls to decide what to do with the device it is managing. These sensors are themselves often working in extremely hostile environments (e.g. car or jet engines) and predictably failures can occur in the sensors or their interconnections. The ECU has to respond appropriately to these component failures as well as to genuine system faults. A jet engine needs to shut down if it catches on fi re, but should not shut down if it is clear there is a sensor fault.

Another example of an ECU operating in a hostile environment is the automotive Powertrain Control Modules (PCMs). The PCM is one of the most complex controllers in the modern vehicle and therefore requires rigorous testing of its functionality. The consequences of PCM failure have greater significance in X-by-Wire applications (a collective term for the addition of electronic systems into a vehicle to enhance and replace tasks that were previously accomplished via mechanical and hydraulic systems such as braking or steering), placing increased importance upon these test methods.

In addition to these fault insertion switch and sensor simulation products, we also offer a comprehensive range of supporting products:

  • Switch Simulation - An important test of automotive ECUs is to see if the inputs respond to switches that are dirty and do not present a normal open/closed resistance. Our modules are designed to simulate the operation of automotive switches where dirty contacts or leaking current can be expected from switch contamination. This allows automotive input/output (I/O) devices to be tested for correct operation under adverse conditions.
  • Load Management The testing and verification of electrical and electronic systems often requires the connection of high current loads to the Unit Under Test (UUT). We provide a wide range of switch modules that can support up to 40 Amp load switching within a PXI chassis. For higher current requirements, our relay driver modules allow the test system to control external relays.
  • Digital I/O -  Our digital I/O modules allow you to interface directly with high current loads such as solenoid coils. These modules have fully protected outputs that can withstand high current and voltage surges without damage and include thermal protection, ensuring that even long term connection to a faulty load will not cause instrumentation damage. Our digital inputs feature adjustable dual thresholds that allow you to easily establish if a digital input is in a low high or unpredictable state. Their high input voltage capacity makes them an excellent choice for monitoring systems working from high voltage power supplies commonly found in aerospace applications.
  • Communication Protocols - ECUs communicate with other system components for functionality, diagnostics and human interface via one or more serial bus channels. We have partnered with industry expert Ballard Technology to offer a family of products which take avionics databus interfaces to the highest level of flexibility and power. These modules support high channel counts of single or multiple protocols. In addition, our automotive communications module can support up to 10 CAN channels as well as other automotive protocols and physical layer interfaces.
  • Signal Conditioning -  Most PXI signal/arbitrary waveform generators lack the amplitude necessary to drive signals that simulate peripherals. Typically, additional circuitry needs to be added to the test fixture to amplify the output of the instrument. Our  multi-channel, gain selectable amplifiers work with many instruments including our  function generator . The attenuator module features selectable input ranges that accept up to 600 volt waveforms.
  • RF and Microwave - we offer an extensive range of RF switching products, with PXI solutions ranging from 300MHz high density modules through to high performance 3GHz multiplexers, solid state and microwave switches to 65GHz. We also offer a programmable attenuator from DC to 3GHz with an attenuation depth of 63dB in 1 dB steps.
  • Environmental Testing - Testing of complex systems in a environmental chamber requires sharing the external instrumentation/ resources to stimulate and collect data from the UUTs over the cycles of the test. Our BRIC™ high density switch matrix  module can provide over 4,400 cross-points in eight PXI slots with configurations up to 552 x 8 and 1104 x 4.
  • Cable & Connector Solutions - Pickering Interfaces understands that just providing switching and instrumentation modules is not enough - users need to be provided with fast and effective ways of connecting their investment to the device under test. The modules in our PXI and LXI families are fully supported by our comprehensive range of connector and cable accessories.


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