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Discussion on the Problems and Inefficiencies seen with Hardware Bring-up

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  • Discussion on the Problems and Inefficiencies seen with Hardware Bring-up

    Hello all,

    I am an electrical engineering undergraduate currently in the process of starting my senior design project (capstone) with an idea based around solving test and debug inefficiencies in the hardware bring-up realm.

    I’d like to start a conversation about what really grinds your gears at your workplace, or on your downtime at home, while testing, debugging and validating new board designs. Any feedback is greatly appreciated!

    To get things started here are some of the questions I'd really like to be discussed:
    • What type of information (and medium) do you have about a board while you are testing it?
    • Through your experience, what points in your testing workflow do you see as inefficient?
    • What is the biggest problem you’ve faced while performing bring-up on a new PCB?
    • What parts of your PCB design software did you find most helpful with bringing up a new board?

    Thank you in advance to anyone that can provide feedback on this subject as it will really help my capstone team narrow what to build and help validate some of our potential ideas.


  • #2
    Tests may be very different between different boards or systems (for example we usually have tests based on software running on the board what we are testing + breakout boards, we also had some tests using bed of nails, etc. ). Then, there are number of different tests e.g. hardware validation tests (e.g. tests what check if interfaces are meeting requirements and specifications for example Ethernet, USB, ...), burn in and stress tests (tests running the boards on the edge of maximum power), long run tests (test running for months or years), certification tests (EMC/EMI, ESD, ..), productions tests, ... Even if you only would like to speak about validating new board, there are number of different tests. It is quite large topic to answer, so, maybe it would help if you are more specific e.g. what kind of board you are looking to use in your test and in your project, what kind of detail you are looking for etc


    • derail
      derail commented
      Editing a comment
      Hi Robert, thanks for the feedback! Sorry for being a bit ambiguous with my question although your response was still very helpful to us!

      We intended to reach out to people without disclosing our idea to prevent bias, however, we’re aware of your extensive accomplishments in the field and really value your opinion; we’d like to tell you about our idea and get some direct feedback. We’re essentially trying to bring the EDA interface to a mobile device. Using a fairly simple Augmented Reality algorithm we overlay EDA information onto a user’s picture of their board under test and allow them to interact with it. The app would display such things as highlighted nets, traces traveling through each layer, display pin names, give quick component information (such as SMD passive values), bring up chip datasheets, click on a component and show where it is in the schematic, create markups of problems found and keep track of them in a version control software, etc. To obtain all this information the user would upload their PCB design files to the software.

      If you have any input as to whether or not this would be useful, or if you think it actually solves the problem we’re attempting to fix it would be extremely helpful to us !

  • #3
    Production test:
    I can imagine, that there would be steps - like: Connect this, connect this, switch on power, press this switch, do this. This would be helpful for new projects or new employees. Once you do it every day, then it may not be needed. However, it could be useful again if you manufacture different boards in batches, so next batch people need to remember all the steps for specific board again - in this case, you just put AR on and it would guide you through all the steps.

    To solve or fix possible issues with AR help during production - usually there are two kind of problems: repeating problem which people know how to fix or unusual problems, these may need to be fixed by more experienced stuff.

    Hardware validation test:
    I am not sure if here AR would be necessary - I am not sure if I would need AR to try to identify components or find specific tracks. CAD system is just fine. It would probably look very impressive and who knows, maybe some CAD companies would be interested to have something like this for PR purposes, but I am not sure if it is something what would speed up development or what would do something extra what can not be done now.

    Maybe it could be useful with combination of other information e.g. when you use AR and you see in real time what is happening on the board. You would see what switches are on, what are the voltages on different power rails, you could see for example waveforms etc. So, maybe if you have bed of nails (which could measure voltages and waveforms) combined with AR, maybe that could be interesting for diagnostic.


    • derail
      derail commented
      Editing a comment
      It's very clear to me that you understand critical feedback is the most important, and also the hardest to get - so thank you so much for your honesty! This information has definitely helped us a lot with our research and we like the idea of providing real-time information through the bed of nails. We will be investigating more into that solution. Thanks again!

  • #4
    You may need to ask more people. I am not the best representative sample