Aeroflex Creates SMART^E True Synthetic Test Environment

Aeroflex announced the commercial availability in Europe of its new Synthetic Multifunction Adaptable Reconfigurable Test Environment (SMART^E). Delivering on the flexibility and modularity that synthetic test systems have promised, but never quite achieved, SMART^E introduces a new, truly synthetic test environment that includes hardware, software, test practices and support required by customers for a complete test solution.

SMART^E - Synthetic Multifunction Adaptable Reconfigurable Test EnvironmentSMART^E is based on Aeroflex’s fifth generation synthetic technology. Aeroflex has a successful track record, more than a decade long, of providing synthetic test systems to meet the high-throughput, high-performance test requirements for radar applications, satellite payloads and T/R (transmit/receive) modules and subsystems for phased array radar antennas. In this fifth generation, the proprietary synthetic chassis has evolved to commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) LXI modules and now supports multiple vendors and multiple industry standard platforms (LXI, PXI, cPCI, GPIB).

“Aeroflex’s SMART^E synthetic test system provides a highly integrated, complete-solution environment. Other solutions are merely a collection of synthetic or conventional bench instruments with integration and system-level support left to outside system integrators, or even the customer himself,” said Dr. Francesco Lupinetti, vice president and general manager, Aeroflex Synthetic Systems Division. “SMART^E is unique to the market because it includes configurable modules encompassing the best hardware available from any vendor to solve test challenges. It offers a complete system-level software environment with highly reliable, optimally integrated test procedures and practices, and fast response global support. The result is a unique, state-of-the-art, synthetic, mixed-signal RF and microwave test environment.”

The SMART^E 5000 synthetic test environment can readily and efficiently adapt to test applications in electronic warfare (EW); radar; communication, navigation and identification (CNI); military automated test equipment (ATE) and general purpose microwave test applications. Modular integration of COTS system components, including emulation of discrete conventional instruments via synthetic hardware and software, enable SMART^E to seamlessly adapt to application challenges. SMART^E provides the best match to the problem at hand, including supporting legacy instrumentation.

SMART^E adapts to new technology and testing challenges
SMART^E’s configurability enables systems to be properly scaled in terms of size, function and cost for manufacturing, flight line, and depot test for military prime equipment test solutions. SMART^E also features system declassification of embedded facilities now mandated for most military systems. SMART^E provides the industry’s fastest test speeds—with demonstrated throughput of 10 times or more than comparable rack-and-stack systems.

Modularity and multi-vendor component and subsystem support, along with the ability of synthetic subsystems to adapt to new requirements via software, give SMART^E users obsolescence protection. It is a future-proof investment that can seamlessly adapt to new technology and testing challenges. Aeroflex also provides fast-turn subsystem hardware customisation for unique measurement problems. When inevitable incremental or completely new test requirements come along, SMART^E can be reconfigured in both hardware and software. Risk exposure is significantly reduced by Aeroflex’s demonstrated success with its customers’ multi-system installations at leading satellite, phased-array radar, and radar-instrumentation systems worldwide.

SMART^E is based on industry standards
A key to the flexibility of SMART^E is its foundation of industry standard software, including Windows, C/C++/C# and National Instruments’ TestStand. The combination of both industry standard software and hardware make SMART^E an open architecture implementation enabling multifunctional extensions that can be implemented by the customer, system integrators, or Aeroflex.

SMART^E features an extensive test library, with built-in test personality customisation via extensive user-settable/exposed parameters results in rapid start-up for new applications, even if the customer chooses to customize or extend the functionality of a given test. SMART^E embodies all of the calibration, verification, diagnostics and test practices needed to achieve its specifications, which are given at the system level, rather than simply as a collection of instrument specifications which must be analysed and then extrapolated to the system level.

This focus at system-level includes a multi-tiered calibration practice based on calibrating procedures required for very few, basic transfer standards, without the need to remove and calibrate each individual synthetic module or each separate subsystem. Calibration encompasses full NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) traceability. All systems are designed to enable system verification test, even with a unit under test already connected to the environment and ready for test execution. Each system also provides simulation software that enables test programs to be run off-line from the system hardware, while still being able to step through all the test sequence elements as if hardware were connected. This focus on system-level parameters and attributes translates to superior measurement certainty for any application.

Specifications of the SMART^E synthetic test environment
Reflecting its RF/microwave-centric test perspective, the Aeroflex SMART^E synthetic test environment features the following performance and measurement specifications:

  • Synthetic stimulus and measurement channels to 40GHz in configurable modular bands
  • Two synthetic channels standard, one for stimulus and one for measurement, extendable to multiple parallel stimulus and multiple parallel response synthetic or non-synthetic channels
  • Highly configurable baseband, encompassing cooperative narrow and broad bandwidth capabilities
  • Very fast-tuning or lower speed/reduced cost local oscillator (LO) options
  • AM, FM, PM and arbitrary modulations
  • Standard power settings and measurement range of -90dBm to +10dBm to better than 0.1dB resolution, extendable via standard and custom power amplifier options
  • Standard and customer-specified switch matrix sub-systems and interface panels
  • Continuous wave (CW) and pulsed measurements — s-parameters, envelope, peak and average power, spectral, noise figure and modulation-demodulation—with network analyser comparable uncertainties at high-throughput measurement rates
  • Application-specific SMART^E environment configurations for satellite payload, phased array T/R modules and subsystems/assemblies, and multi-device under test (DUT) military ATE platforms, as well as specific military-tester/ATE implementations for EW and radar-range applications
  • Specialised tactical air navigation (TACAN), identification friend or foe (IFF), CNI, ATE subsystems, phase noise test subsystems, etc., available as system options
  • Mixed-signal testing (including DC response), as provided by industry leading modular and bench COTS supplies, digital input/output (I/O) up to 400MHz at double-data rate (DDR) and low-voltage differential signalling (LVDS) with programmable levels up to 100MHz, low-frequency analog stimulus and measurement from a broad selection of modular or conventional instruments including arbitrary waveform generators (AWGs) at GHz sample rates, digitizers up to multi-GHz sample rates, and defence wavelength division multiplexing (DMMs) with variable sample rates up to 1.8GS/s, etc

The Aeroflex SMART^E 5000 Series synthetic test environment is currently available for delivery 12 to 20 weeks upon receipt of order. Because of SMART^E’s high degree of scalability, prices vary considerably depending on the configuration.

About Aeroflex
Aeroflex Incorporated is a global provider of high technology solutions to the aerospace, defence, cellular and broadband communications markets. The Company’s diverse technologies allow it to design, develop, manufacture and market a broad range of test, measurement and microelectronic products. Founded in 1937, Aeroflex is a privately held company with more than 2,600 employees worldwide.

About Aeroflex Test Solutions, Instruments Division
Staffed with experts in RF and microwave signal generation and processing subsystems, Aeroflex Test Solutions Group provides test and measurement systems, instruments, modules, services and integration support for the communications test, military, government and semiconductor industries. Aeroflex’ solutions reflect a commitment to industry-accepted standards and the concept of modular product development. They encompass Communications test (public mobile radio, wireless cellular and telecom, military radio and avionics radio test), Signal sources (synthesizers, signal generators, signal analyzers and phase noise systems), General-purpose test (spectrum analyzers, microwave analyzers, bit error rate testers) and Systems (satellite, ATE, PXI and radar).