Temperature Cycling


Mini-Rel testing consists of three parts. The first stage is called Temperature Cycling. It’s sort of a break-in period to screen out serious failures in new product designs and simulate the aging process. Four instruments are loaded into each environmental chamber and a temperature profile is programmed into the chamber’s controller. Once it’s started, the chamber will ramp up and down for days between freezing temperatures and frying hot. Boxes inside the chamber remain powered up most of the time. By rapidly heating up and then cooling down prototype instruments we can begin to look for trends in any failures. This might help engineers flush out flaws in circuitry or microelectronic components that otherwise could have gone undetected. Another interesting aspect of this testing is simulated age. In just a week or more of temperature cycling, a brand new instrument will have aged six months. If longer durations in the chamber are selected we can simulate up to a year of age. This also can help catch failures that may only come up after the first year of customer use. The desire is to catch as many problems as we can now so customer warranty issues will be relatively low.

As far as I can tell there’s only one real disadvantage to running these tests. We have a limited number of chambers to use. Since temperature cycling takes such a long time to complete it damn near cripples our daily throughput in the area.

After temperature cycling is complete the boxes move on in the process to actual electrical testing under adverse conditions inside the chambers. Stage two involves a considerable amount of performance tests to determine absolute limitations of the hardware. Engineers pay particular attention to massive amounts of test data generated. Reviewing failures they decide which ones are real and which failures are merely the maximum threshold our design can handle while performing reasonably well under extreme temperature conditions. Engineers will draw the line on performance specifications that will be published for our customers. This is a critical part of the overall process because if we can produce an instrument with just slightly better performance specs than a competitor’s box we will more than likely get the sales. The third stage of Mini-Rel testing is somewhat more brutal on the boxes. We’re going to be doing a series of vibration and drop-tests on these instruments. From the sound of things it’s going to be potentially destructive, which I am personally looking forward to.

This afternoon when I arrived at work I quickly discovered once again Tiny hadn’t lifted a finger to do anything in the area. All of the tests I started last night before I left to go home had finished and the chambers were ready to be unloaded. He didn’t do a fucking thing all day. Tiny gets here in the morning. I show up around one or two which means we’re well into dayshift by then and that bastard should have kept everything moving along in the test process. Instead, I caught him dawdling in front of his PC looking at women’s personal ads on some website. I gave him hectic amounts of shit for that. When I questioned what he had done for the day all I got from him were vague excuses. I think I’m starting to see the real reason why Mini-Rel is months behind schedule.


~ by factorypeasant on April 18, 2006.

2 Responses to “Temperature Cycling”

  1. feh, the continuing saga of “crisca” the clown. that was the stinkiest cubicle by far… even my gas was overcome by greazey stench…


  2. heh. i completely forgot about that night you called him Crisca. that was fuckin funny because he really got mad at you. so dumb. hopefully i’ll remember to write about that.

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