Case Studies

Bed of Nails PCB Functional Test System, Automotive Gauge Cluster Controller

Posted in Automotive, Embedded Development & Programming, LabVIEW, Product Development, Test & Measurement Automation, Test Stand


Printed Circuit Board (PCB) functional testing is a critical process in electronics manufacturing. Embedded PCB devices are becoming ubiquitous in products, provide intelligence to everything from basic consumer goods to complex industrial equipment.

DMC delivered a turn-key, dual fixture (2-up) PCB Functional test system to help our client validate a new product. Backed by National Instruments TestStand, DMC applied LabVIEW test code and sequencing to automate the production testing of an automotive gauge cluster controller. With the capability of custom LabVIEW tools and the power of NI TestStand’s batch process capability, DMC provided a parallelized test platform to handle the production rates of the automotive product.

The system included a custom-designed fixture tailored to the specific device under test.  DMC delivered a flexible fixture design with the ability to adapt new nest configurations should future product demands and features change. The combination of flexible hardware and customizable software ensures the greatest longevity of the test solution investment.


DMC's PCB functional test solution integrates National Instruments test and measurement technology with a flexible fixture design to ensure the system (and investment) is forward poised to adapt as new technology requirements are identified.

The gauge cluster PCB functional test system highlights DMC’s ability to deliver fully integrated turn-key test applications. DMC takes pride in assembling strategic, highly-skilled, multi-disciplinary teams that combine DMC's vast engineering and software development capabilities.

From pre-power-up testing, to open/short verification testing, to system firmware downloading, to communication bus testing, and to power consumption testing, the test system provides complete product test and verification capability. At the heart of the test system lies an NI PXI chassis and a full complement of measurement devices including a dual channel power supply, source measurement unit, CAN communication cards, and switch matrix.

Utilizing available hardware support from National Instruments, DMC developed a LabVIEW application to allow flexible test sequencing in test stands. In addition, generic PC peripherals were integrated with the LabVIEW application software to ensure that high-level functionality of common interfaces was verified, for example, Ethernet, USB, and Serial. Pairing precision instruments with everyday IO in a custom test sequence allowed for end-to-end product testing, and was made possible by the NI TestStand development platform.

The test system is also fully integrated with a Microsoft SQL server database to ensure compliance with modern production data requirements. Database level traceability, especially in the automotive industry, allows manufacturers to confidently and securely store production data with ease of recall for internal reporting or external audit. SQL offers an extensive toolchain for custom data analysis and process performance analysis to ensure the system continues to run reliably throughout its lifecycle.

PCB function test systems are very prevalent in the modern production environment. Today, Embedded PCB devices have many sub-systems, so achieving complete test coverage with automated test solutions can be demanding. By utilizing flexible hardware design, customizable software technologies, and partners with the expertise to integrate the system components, manufacturers can ensure a highly productive and effective path to delivering high-quality products.

Learn more about DMC's Test and Measurement and Embedded expertise. 

Customer Benefits

  • Turn-Key Production Test Cell
  • Parallelized Operation, Improved Throughput
  • Customized software platform, pairing LabVIEW and NI Test Stand
  • Flexible fixture design for future DUT model scalability