Improved Test Program Sets for Bad-Actor Circuit Card Assemblies in VDATS

Period of Performance: 10/27/2014 - 06/16/2016

$750K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Ridgetop Group, Inc.
3580 West Ina Road Array
Tucson, AZ 85741
Principal Investigator

Research Topics

Abstract

ABSTRACT: Ridgetop Group, Inc. will develop an innovative solution to isolate troublesome no-fault-found (NFF) occurrences in the maintenance depot. We will develop advanced technology to integrate into improved Test Program Sets (TPSs) used to test complex circuit card assemblies (CCAs) of line-replaceable units (LRUs) in electronic warfare (EW) systems. The work will result in a 60% reduction in NFF rates, and a 55% reduction in mean time to repair (MTTR). The technology centers on detecting and locating difficult-to-troubleshoot electronic problems caused by analog degradation of digital data from aged CCAs identified as bad-actor CCAs. Each TPS used to test such CCAs is expanded to apply expert troubleshooting techniques that include exploiting test-and-measurement capabilities of VDATS (Versatile Depot Automatic Test Station) equipment at the Maintenance Depot located at Robins AFB. The Expert Troubleshooting and Repair System (ETRS) technology added to a TPS consists of the following: (1) expert troubleshooting support (ETS) for a prioritized list of selected bad-actor subcircuits in a bad-actor CCA; (2) each ETS consists of a sequence of tests to identify analog degradation of electronic signals and to pinpoint the source of any such degradation: chip, component (resistor, capacitor, inductor, and so on), or cable harness or cable connector; a test sequence includes test-dependent action(s), including recommended repair actions; and (3) a TPS is a sequence of multiple tests applicable to a specific CCA and written in National Instruments/CVI programming language. BENEFIT: There will be a set of improved TPSs developed for bad-actor circuit card assemblies that will identify, locate, and provide repair actions for difficult-to-diagnose problems caused by analog degradation of digital signals within those bad-actor CCAs. The integration and application of the improved TPSs will reduce the cost of service and maintenance, improve reliability of serviced CCAs when they are returned to the supply chain, and increase flight reliability and availability as summarized by the following: (1) a 60% reduction in no-fault-found (NFF) service codes; (2) a 75% reduction in time to isolate faults; (3) a 55% reduction in the mean time to repair (MTTR); and (4) a 50% reduction in unnecessary repair actions. The work products will be deployed to approximately 75 VDATS test stands in the Air Force to improve current test methodologies. Other related module test applications exist in the commercial sector where inadequate testing causes higher maintenance expenses.