Printed Circuit Board Tester Features and Methods of Use
Mon, Nov 18, 2019
Printed Circuit Board Testers
As with just about everything else, there is a potential for the printed circuit board (PCB) to eventually break down, for that’s just the nature of electronics and their components. Even if you were to use the latest in manufacturing techniques and took great care, the fact is that there will be issues down the line, sooner or later.
And when that happens, it is necessary that one knows how to figure out the source of the problem.
When it comes to printed circuit board testers, there are quite a few around in the marketplace.
Depending on the design and purpose of these testers, the exact ways to use them will vary.
Nature of the Printed Circuit Board Testers
To begin with, it is important to note the various issues that may be addressed with the use of these devices.
These include, among others, the following:
1.) Structural Flaws
This is by far one of the most common issues with printed circuit boards.
It is not so much an issue with the circuit or the many components that are used on the board, but rather the board itself.
Issues such as cracks, deformities, loose components and so on, can end up making the structure non-functional.
2.) Component Issues
Another major issue is that of the components used in printed circuit boards. These components include resistors, diodes, capacitors, etc.
There are a wide range of components that are used in the overall design architecture of these circuits. These may end up getting damaged over time, whether it is due to physical impacts such as dropping or being steadily worn out due to the constant flow of power or exposure to the elements.
Either way, the damages to the many such components can lead to functionality issues in the structure of the printed circuit board.
There are two main issues that come under this category, namely physical damage and that of voltage issues.
3.) Miscellaneous Issues
This is the third category and includes everything that doesn’t come under the above two categories.
It is to be noted that the above two categories usually include almost all of the potential issues that may exist in a fault printed circuit board.
It is rather rare for anything to come under this category, if at all.
The Usage and Functionality of Printed Board Testers
Coming to the way the testers work, there are a variety of ways in which they function.
Typically, they follow a step-by-step process, which takes care to rule one flaw after another, until the true cause of an issue is determined.
Often, they come in two types, namely that of manual and automatic. As the name would suggest, manual testers are those who provide the features for testing the circuit boards, but don’t do any of the actual testings. The automatic testers, on the other hand, will require very little physical effort on part of the technician, with the majority of the work being done by the device itself.
1.) The Initial Steps
The first step of the process, in addition to setting up the tester, would also include the feeding of the circuitry component into the equipment.
From here on, the steps to be taken will depend on whether the entire assembly is manual or automatic.
2.) The Work Flow
The way that the process of testing a printed circuit board goes about, is usually a step-by-step manner.
Very rarely do the testers and related equipment do everything at the same time.
Typically, the process begins with testing for structural issues. The most basic of testers will have nothing more than simple light and inspection tools such as magnification equipment. But the more complex ones can come with scanning utilities to check for any potential damages. The latter tends to check for both issues with the board as well as the components.
Some of the testers have scanners that check for damages in the circuitry itself, which is especially helpful, in the case of badly damaged PCBs. Given that they have the ability to ‘map’ out how a board works to a large extent, it is possible to locate the damage rather efficiently.
Many of the testers come with heat sensors, which detect whether there are flaws in the components. While all electronic components will give away heat when used, there is a certain ‘threshold’ after which it is to be considered as an indication that there are issues with that particular part of the PCB.
The next step is that of checking for issues with the voltage, typically with the help of a voltmeter and other such sensors. Again, the exact way that this goes about, will vary from an activity that is manually done to that which is completely automated.
Once the tests are completed, the tester will allow for one to deduct as to the true cause of the problem. In the case of automated designs, it is possible to also get the appropriate course of action as well, which will aid in either the repair or replacement of the board, and fix whatever gadget or device it was being used in.
In all, the points mentioned above give a good idea as to the way in which printed circuit board testers work, as well as general guidelines on how to use them.
Do note that these are not fixed in any way, as they can be affected by a variety of factors, ranging from technological changes to design techniques.
If anything, they are to be considered as standard industry practices, and basic guidelines on how to go about the entire process of checking the board’s quality and overall functionality.