Wednesday, October 22, 2014

IR Image Logging: Analyzing design or equipment failure with a thermal imager.

Ever receive a customer returned device only to realize that it got so badly burnt that you have run out of ideas as to what caused the damage in the first place? Upon receiving the failed device, failure analysis engineers will be scrambling to simulate the situation to find out whether this is pure misuse by the end user, or a design failure. Did the startup process cause a spike in the current and rise in temperature, causing it to burn? Was it a software-generated issue or a hardware issue?

Figure 1: Sample of a burnt circuit board

Some networking equipment designers and manufacturers use thermal imagers to help them identify hotspots in the circuit board. Often, the failure analysis engineer will capture images over a period of several hours, to see temperature distribution on the switch and server systems. A data logger will also be used at the same time to monitor temperature over certain pre-determined spots. In this specific case, this customer mentioned that their current solution, which is a video recording using a thermal imager is not a very good solution, because they could not perform video logging for a long duration.

One of the key features that enabled this customer to improve their failure analysis is the image logging capability. The image logging capability in the U5855A TrueIR thermal imager enabled this customer to log IR images over several hours while monitoring heat distribution over the switch and server systems. The images can be taken and saved, with minimum of 7 seconds interval (up to 3600 seconds of interval). The TrueIR thermal imager is one of the first imagers in the world to have this image logging capability!

For more information about the U5855A TrueIR thermal imager and its key features, go to:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Last Mile

These communication boxes are popping up in a neighborhood near you, just like this one in a suburban parking lot.  In the battle to shorten the “last mile” of copper wiring to your wire line phone, telephone companies are putting more of these small remote terminals close to you, in place of larger terminals or central offices further away.  They contain all the electronics necessary for linking twisted copper pairs to fiber optics.  Since they reside outdoors, they must endure the elements, including having an operating temperature specification from -40oC to +55oC.

One of Keysight’s customers is an electronic designer for these remote terminals, amongst many other product lines that he is also responsible for.  Often, he has to set up verification tests for these terminals in their operating setting.  One common requirement would be testing with the door(s) closed.  

Keysight’s Remote Link solution is ideally suited for this type of testing.  Using Bluetooth communication to his Android tablet, our engineer is able to track at his desk testing data coming from inside the closed terminal box. 

Like all Keysight handheld multimeter, the U1272A he uses has an IR port in the back, besides the usual LCD display in front.  The IR to Bluetooth adaptor, U1177A, snapped over the IR port converts the IR link into wireless RF signal.  Our engineer received the RF signal on his Android Bluetooth port.  He even has a choice of two different free apps to manage and process the measurement information.  The Mobile Meter app captures and displays up to three live meters on screen.  The more complex Mobile Logger app further logs all three meter readings over time and presents the results in either graphical or numeric format.  The entire process takes only a few clicks to set up.

See a YouTube demo video here