A large manufacturer of private aircraft was in the process of streamlining their test process of various Aircraft Electronics subassemblies. The plan was to replace many separate test systems with one common core tester. To achieve this, it was conceived that a large matrix would be able to configure multiple instruments and test hardware, allowing for a single test system. This would save bench space, reduce the number of wire bundles as the unit would have a universal connector, simplify test procedures, and reduce maintenance in the long run. It was determined that the matrix needed to be a configuration of 100 X 100, and carry voltages up to 250 VAC at a maximum of 2 Amps. Bandwidth was not critical as the highest frequency would be about 100 KHz for the ARINC Serial busses.
Initially the customer looked to a solution in PXI. That was dismissed for several reasons. First, the form factor limited the number of relays per module, which meant that the systems would require four PXI Chassis, creating a test system that was 18 U high. Second, the custom cabling to interconnect the modules and create the large matrix would be very complex and expensive.
In the end, the customer chose Pickering Interfaces and purchased four Model 60-552-901 LXI Matrix This model is a 50 X 50 matrix with easy to use loop through connections to allow for easy expansion. The total system was only 4 U high versus 18 U for a PXI equivalent. Four low cost loop-through cables interconnected the X axis- and Y axis- together to achieve the 100 X 100 configuration. The end result was about 40% lower in cost than the PXI solution.