Semiconductor Equipment

Pickering launches switching range for test system

23 April 2024

If there’s one thing that stands out from a look at the new family of high-density PXI and PXIe multiplexer (MUX) modules for high-voltage applications recently launched by Pickering Interfaces, it’s this: The company clearly intended its switching solutions to be tailored closely to test system requirements.

The 4x-321 high-voltage multiplexer range doubles the switch payload compared to existing PXI/PXIe products. Source: Pickering InterfacesThe 4x-321 high-voltage multiplexer range doubles the switch payload compared to existing PXI/PXIe products. Source: Pickering InterfacesTo that end, the 40-321-1xx (PXI) and 42-321-1xx (PXIe) offer 20 different module configurations, with different channel counts between four and 48, bank quantities from one to six, and 1- or 2-pole switching options. The MUX variants utilize single or dual slot-width PXI modules as required, with high-voltage signals connected via one or two front panel-mounted D-type connectors, respectively.

Pickering leveraged high-quality ruthenium relays from its relay division, Pickering Electronics, to ensure long life, excellent low signal level performance and high density while increasing hot switching capability from 750V in the existing range to 1kV. Cold switching follows suit, also with a range up to 1kV.

“Our new 4x-321 high-voltage multiplexer range offers double the switch payload compared to existing Pickering or competing PXI/PXIe products,” explained Steve Edwards, switching product manager at Pickering. “Safety is also assured via a hardware interlock.”

The hardware interlock Edwards is referring to is included across the full range, where it can be used to prevent switch operation until the interlock signal is present — or, conversely, as a “functional stop” to return all functional switches to their default unpowered state. This protects both the test system and its operator. The interlock signal can also be daisy-chained between modules, allowing independent or ganged operation.

All of the new modules include radio frequency interference (RFI) suppression circuitry to extend relay contact life in hot switching applications and control surges caused by high voltage transients when cold switching. The suppressors also serve to ensure safe operation when connected to a high-voltage source via cable assemblies that might otherwise generate transients or RFI problems.

The new modules, finally, are supported by Pickering’s eBIRST test tools. Designed for fast fault finding to minimize system downtime, eBIRST can be used for preventative maintenance tests to determine if relays are approaching end-of-life. A spare relay is fitted to each module to enable easy on-site servicing by the user.

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