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Section 10

Testing of PCB Assemblies

Reasons for Testing PCB Assemblies

Component faults
Caused by components failing to meet specifications

Manufacturing faults
Caused due to errors encountered during the assembly process

Performance faults
Caused by weak design or dynamic device failure

Types of Testing
Manual Testing Populated Substrate shorts testing In-Circuit Analysis In-Circuit Testing Functional Testing In-Product Testing

Manual Testing
Consists of a technician using an array of instrumentation and following a test procedure. Labor intensive Involves low capital equipment Can be easily reconfigured for varying test requirements.

Populated Board Shorts Testing

Used when shorts are the predominant process faults.

In-Circuit Analysis
A rapid test for shorts, resistance, capacitance and semi-conductor junctions on an unpowered PCB assembly. Used for screening the assembly prior to in-circuit or functional test.

In-Circuit Testing (ICT)

Measures the performance of individual components by electrically isolating them from surrounding circuitry. Passive components are tested on an unpowered PCB assembly, then power is applied and active components are tested. Test Hierarchy - shorts, passive components test, IC orientation test, and digital logic test. Uses a bed-of-nails fixture or individual probes (fixtureless)

Analog ICT
Measures individual components on an unpowered populated PCB. The components are electrically isolated from the surrounding circuitry, followed by a comparison of the measured value with the component specification Pass or fail decision

Digital ICT
Testing of digital circuitry by isolating each IC, one at a time, from the surrounding circuitry Driving the inputs with a series of logic test patterns and sensing the outputs for the proper logic response.

ICT Fixturing
Bed-of-Nails Fixture
A bed-of-nails fixture contains a vacuum hold down and spring loaded probes to allow access to the test lands on the board Either a one sided probe fixture or a double sided probe fixture. (clam-shell fixture)

Fixtureless ICT
A system using moving contact probes, eliminating the use of a bed-of-nails test fixture

Bed-of-Nails Fixture

Functional Testing
Functional testing simulates the operating environment and measures the responses of a PCB assembly in a final product environment. Accomplished through one or more connectors on the PCB. Two Levels - Static and Dynamic

In static testing the PCB assembly being tested is observed in a fixed non-changing state. Dynamic testing stimulates the PCB assembly, and activities are observed for proper operation at or near the clock rate, under which the circuitry normally operates. Dynamic Testing involves three basic elements:
Application of the stimulus Collection of responses Evaluation of responses against a known good board or responses computed for the board

In-Circuit Test (ICT) Pros

Functional Test

Fast fault isolation and diagnostics Test Program requires lower technical level and less time Shorter time required to integrate test system into production Ability to prune marginal components that will pass a functional test Ability to diagnose several failures in one pass Lower initial cost and cost of ownership Will not test board performance Will test at ambient temperatures only Will not detect board timing faults Will not test circuitry interaction Slow go/no-go test time

Tests unproven board designs Tests component interaction Detect inter-component timing faults Test boards with sensitive input/output signals Test boards performance Fast go/no-go test time


Greater time and technical level required for generating test programs Cost of purchasing and ownership Slow fault isolation and diagnostics