Electronic devices have become an essential part of our everyday lives.
But even with modern advancements and proper care, failure of electronic systems can still happen.
This is where an electronics test system comes in handy to find and resolve errors or issues.
Here are some considerations to keep in mind when building or buying an electronics test system.
What Is an Electronics Test System?
An electronic test system or equipment is used to test the conditions of electronic systems.
Through a test system, you can identify or trace any fault in the electronic device.
Why is Electronics Testing Important?
Circuit testing is a valuable skill for electronics and electrical engineers.
For example, there may be possible issues with the PCB, assembly, components, or wiring.
Debugging can help easily identify these issues.
Various test systems check circuit boards, measure loads or voltage, generate electric signals, and identify faults.
Several factors are needed to consider when testing the hardware, such as:
- Current and voltage
- Verification of component value
- PCB continuation
- Oscillator noise
- Sensor and amplifier signal
- Logic circuits
- Polarity check
- Bus and audio signals
Types of Electronics Test Equipment
Before purchasing electronic test equipment, you need to identify which one suits your needs.
Each system has its own function and application.
Here are some of the most common types of electronic test equipment:
- Digital multimeter
- Digital oscilloscope
- High potential test set
- Function generator
- Logic analyzer
- Spectrum analyzer
- Frequency counter
- Network analyzer
- RF power meter
- High current test set
- Vibration tester
- Ultrasonic tester
15 Considerations When Building or Buying an Electronics Test System
When looking for the best material tester for any electronics test system, keep these things in mind:
Understand Your Cost Drivers
First, analyze your cost drivers. These can include the following:
- Setup cost
- Overhead cost
- Customization cost
- Calibration cost
The more you understand your cost drivers for particular test equipment, the more accurate your costing will be.
This allows you to eliminate any non-value-added costs.
After analyzing your cost drivers, it’s time to assess your budget.
It’s necessary to determine how much you’re willing to spend on an electronics test system based on its offerings and the level of usage you expect.
The more advanced its features are, the more costly it will be.
Check for the specifications and choose equipment that meets your requirements without breaking the bank.
Another important consideration is the quality of the tester.
You need to check if the equipment has stable performance and can produce reliable results.
While the tester does the actual testing, the software manages the results.
Thus, there should be seamless transfer and integration of data between the equipment and the software.
Durability is another important factor to consider.
You need to purchase equipment that will last and can withstand bumps and shocks.
Once the product is durable, you won’t risk exposing the circuit once the outer casing breaks (making it unsafe to use).
The importance of a product’s durability can’t be stressed enough.
It’s best to find the balance between durability and price.
Typically, equipment with better quality is more durable but can also be more costly.
This is certainly preferred for professional use.
While the inexpensive ones aren’t as durable, they are usually selected for personal or home use only.
Whether it’s for personal or industrial use, it’s worth getting quality equipment.
You might want to wait for a price reduction to ensure you get the desired quality.
Safety is another essential consideration in buying an electronics test system.
It’s critical to look for equipment that meets safety protocols.
Application requirements are constantly changing.
It’s most practical to get an electronic tester that comes with software capable of conducting a wide range of testing.
This allows you to save time and money on additional software modules by purchasing them only when the need arises.
Buying flexible software that adapts to your needs can provide great advantages over time.
Many electronics testers nowadays include a software package upon purchase.
Ease of Use
When getting an electronic test system, it’s critical to test the product first before purchasing.
Check to see whether the design is suitable for your needs and/or that the software has an intuitive interface.
Ensure that it satisfies your application requirements as well .
Some modern electronics testers provide a library of standards that configures the item to test based on a specific standard in just a few clicks.
If you need a unique setup, some systems feature a built-in program to guide you through the setup, so you can configure it easily for any required test strategy.
While the above considerations are necessary, ensure that you don’t forget to include any product-specific requirements.
Consider your work area when selecting a material tester.
This means there should be enough space and constraints won’t cause concern when working.
Data Acquisition and Reporting
When testing devices, it’s critical to get reliable data with high accuracy for every testing.
Thus, it’s essential to ensure that the tester has excellent data acquisition and reporting functionalities.
It’s also worthwhile to consider a tester that can produce data in many useful formats.
Availability of Software Modules
A test system that offers a wide range of software modules for electronic test and instrumentation is an excellent choice because it can cater to potential application requirements in the future.
The more modules it offers, the lesser chance you will need to purchase additional software to meet your needs.
An electronics test system optimized for testing automation will help you save time and money by streamlining the workflow of the application.
This ensures an improved data transfer between the equipment and any accessories you might need later.
If you need to conduct testing in the future that requires the use of any add-on accessory, it’s recommended that you initially invest in equipment with easy-mounting slots to allow you to quickly mount your accessories.
While it may be more expensive upfront, it can save you time and money in the long run.
It also helps ensure that the accessory due to be used will be adequately mounted, eliminating the risk that it will fall off while testing.
Other Important Factors
Before buying an electronics test system, don’t forget to include the following factors:
Future Testing Needs
Consider your future testing requirements when selecting an electronics test system.
Are you planning to expand your product range?
If yes, then your tester should be able to suit your future needs.
Create a plan that will guide you also for future testing requirements.
Ensure that your equipment will support your platform and technology should you need to upgrade.
Plan for Current and Future Applications
As much as possible, it’s helpful to get equipment that will resist any change in your applications.
An electronic test system should account for your applications as well as any applications you plan to use in the future.
Planning this accordingly can save costs on additional software modules, and account for any analysis of your current and future applications.
Remember, there is an electronics test system for every need.
If the testing you need to conduct is required to meet one or a set of standards, the test system should feature accurate and reliable documentation and traceability.
However, if your testing allows a wide margin, buying the most expensive equipment on the market would be impractical.
If you’re unsure about your future requirements, try to ask a specialist for advice regarding the best tester for your needs.
Like any product, thinking long-term is the way to go when selecting the right electronics test system.
Remember, this will be your stable partner for your requirements. You need to consider three factors: service, training, and support.
Buy the equipment from a reputable company that’s been in the industry for quite a long time.
They will be more likely to have hired skilled experts who will understand your specific needs and challenges (as well as how to resolve them).
Say you’re torn between two different models.
In this situation, it’s important to think about whether it’s worth spending the extra money to get the upgraded model that may serve more of your needs over time.
While you may be tempted to purchase the cheaper one with lesser available functionalities to save money in the short term, you may save more money and stress over time by buying the more expensive model.
This is primarily the case when the need for more advanced features may arise later, requiring you to buy an additional machine to cater to that need.
Making an Intelligent Purchase
Purchasing an electronics test system for the first time doesn’t have to be complicated.
Careful planning and knowing the fundamentals of how a certain system works, its applications, and the required safety precautions can help you avoid any future problems.
When purchasing an electronics test system, you need to define your requirements first.
Doing research and reading reviews can help you narrow your choices down.
Don’t forget to ask for technical assistance if you’re still unsure what to buy.
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