Fast Switch Matrix Test System

A major defense electronics company was under contract from a low earth-orbiting satellite manufacturer to supply a 90 multi-port “Quick-Switch Matrix”. In order to support the challenging production rate, automated testing was required to meet the aggressive throughput targets — while accurately measuring and documenting each unit’s performance.

The measurement requirements and the physical lay-out of the QSM presented quite a challenge. The QSM (36×54 cross strapped matrix) was configured through a digital data stream which allowed for more than 1280 pathways. In addition to verifying over 1,000,000 data points (and the specified 90 millisecond switching time), the ATE system had to test insertion and return loss versus frequency; port- to-port isolation; gain flatness and slope; in-and-out-of-band spurious emissions; phase shift; amplitude linearity; and switching transients — within a 25 microsecond measurement time.

In-Phase Technologies was contacted by this repeat customer to provide a quotation to produce a fully automated test set that was capable of rapidly calibrating, connecting, and measuring production QSMs in a nominal ambient bench set-up as well as a thermal vacuum environment. The proposed ATE system included its own input and output switch matrix to route any of the 36×54 paths to the measurement equipment with minimal insertion loss and full 12 term error-corrected calibration. In addition, the test system was also required to have a test fixture which provided a method of rapid connection/disconnection to the 90 blind mate microwave connections on the QSM.

The measurement system eventually delivered to the customer met all of the specified requirements with single-port test times of less than 6 seconds.