BIRST™ (Built-In Relay Self-Test) – Diagnostic Test Tool

  • Full diagnostic self-test of complete PXI and LXI matrix modules             Built-In Relay Self-Test - BIRST
  • Detection of welded, open circuit or high resistance relays
  • No external instrumentation or special skills required
  • Minimize matrix downtime and time to repair

Verification and diagnosis of complex switching operation in a test system has always been an issue. Introduced in 2009, our BIRST (Built-In-Relay-Self-Test) diagnostic test tool provides a quick and simple way of finding relay failures and is available on some of our LXI and PXI switch matrices.

BIRST requires no purchased external tools, it simply requires the installation of the free software on a windows controller that manages the measurement system and the switch path routing while the matrix is tested. Our products that include BIRST contain all the hardware required to support testing; to conduct a test you simply disconnect the switching module from the UUT (Unit Under Test) and test instrumentation and run the supplied application program. No supporting test equipment is needed; the test runs automatically and identifies any defective or suspect relays within the module. 

If the switch matrix is connected directly to a mass interconnect receiver, then BIRST may be executed without removing the mass interconnect with the receiver disconnected from the ITA.

The BIRST diagnostic test tool is not intended to entirely displace user-developed self test applications that are built into some ATE systems. System level tools typically use an external DMM and loop back mechanisms to check for switching and cable harness faults. BIRST conducts its test when the UUT and instrumentation are disconnected from the switching system, if BIRST finds no faults and a system level tool does find faults, the problem is likely to be with the interconnection system. The user does not have to create software to diagnose switching faults, only interconnection faults, considerably simplifying the design task for system self test.

Take a look at the BIRST Background article for more information on why we developed this tool and what it can do.

Why is BIRST only available on our Matrices?

Our BIRST test tool relies on accessing the switching system by either two connections (for one pole solutions) or four connections (for two pole solutions) so the measurement engine can perform a measurement on a completed thru path. This can be a complex process as it requires the tool to explore the entire matrix from just those connections. The part and board area overhead is relatively small, and BIRST handles this complexity. Isolation relays can cause some parts to be untested without aid (a simple external fixture). On configurations other than matrices, however, there is no easy way of establishing a thru path than can be uniquely identified without also creating problems because the need for many more relays to be added to the design.

In 2015 we introduced eBIRST Switching System Test Tools, these tools provide a much higher degree of coverage that includes the majority of our switching systems in PXI, LXI and PCI form factors.

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