Multi-Protocol Boards as Essential Avionics Test Equipment

16 October, 2017

Avionics test equipment is necessarily becoming ever more and more advanced as time goes on, mainly because military avionics input and output demands are growing seemingly exponentially. While so-called legacy specifications like ARINC 429 and military standards like MIL STD 1553 remain important with the field of avionics, whether military or commercial, the vast range of different interfaces used in the modern era means that testing equipment must also step up a gear.


Why MIL STD 1553 Is Still in Use?

Before considering the importance of having multi-protocol boards as an integral component within the setup of any avionics test equipment, it’s worth remembering why MIL STD 1553 remains in use despite the rapid progress that has been made when it comes to data buses.

MIL STD 1553 is a typical choice for flight control commands in particular as it is a genuine stalwart among the various military standards that now exists. Given the amount of time that has been spent on honing this standard, it remains a reliable and determinate data bus that possess a data rate easily able to support a number of different commands. These include the processes of flying the aircraft, reacting to sensor findings and controlling onboard weapons.

 

The Development of Avionics Test Equipment

Quite some time has passed since more advanced avionics applications have come into play within the military as well as in the commercial sphere. The 1Mbit/s data rate supplied by older standards is insufficient for purposes like video and image transfer, detection of infra-red radiation and so on.

Avionics test equipment is used primarily to make sure that all the various applications now available to us actually work as they were intended. A range of simulated environmental conditions can be employed and most board series allow for the selection of various modules that include military standards and other specifications all together.

The more inputs and outputs that are combined, the higher the likelihood of error injection. However, with the right approach to testing, there’s also the opportunity for greater error detection. To catch errors that occur when so many components are in use to run lots of applications, multi-protocol boards are more essential than ever before.

 

A Flexible Way of Testing and Simulating

To be sure that a modern military aircraft is going to function as expected, a multi-purpose board in an essential piece of avionics test equipment. It provides a flexible means of simulating an entire test suite without having to fiddle around with switching boards. For example, controlling 20 ARINC 429 channels alongside a MIL STD 1553 channel and a discrete I/O from just one board is possible when you have the right equipment.

With a multi-purpose board, you can expect to be able to use a variety of different protocols to test all sorts of simulated conditions. In particular, the following module categories are some of the most commonly used when testing conditions using this kind of flexible approach.

 

  • Modules that work with the 1553 standard, operating as a bus controller, remote terminals and a triggerable monitor all at once.

 

  • Modules that operate with both 1553 A and B protocols, and that can be used a bus controller, remote terminal, bus monitor or both of the latter simultaneously.

 

  • Modules that work as a central computer complex and can be adapted to function as peripheral units at the same time.

 

ARINC 429 and MIL STD 1553 look to remain an important foundation upon which other approaches will continue to develop, but the increasing number of protocols and standards being used simultaneously means that avionics test equipment has to become more sophisticated to cope with the breadth and depth of demand.

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