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Things You Should Know About EMC Test Equipmen

Parent Category: 2015 HFE

By Lisa Clark

1506 HFE emc 01There has been an increase in electromagnetic and radio frequency interference created partly by high-end electronics and their components; and also by interconnecting cables. Many electronic instruments these days transmit and receive signals. This tends to create electromagnetic pollution that can interfere with the functionality of some devices. The interference can also create serious malfunction in electronic devices such as radio, television, computers and medical equipment.

EMC (Electromagnetic Compatibility) testing is performed to locate these sources of electromagnetic signals to decrease their potential interference with other devices nearby. EMC testing also measures the susceptibility of equipment to the electromagnetic signals emitted from its neighboring devices.

The Test Equipment

The function of EMC Test Equipment can be explained as devices used “in the analysis of interference, noise, mitigation and hence electromagnetic susceptibility of electronic equipment.EMC testing is achieved by addressing both emissions and susceptibility issues. This is best achieved by quieting the sources of interference, making the coupling path between source and victim less efficient, and/or making the potential victim systems less vulnerable.”

Do I Need to Do It?

Many types of equipment are regulated for EMC testing. Further, if you are running a business, it is always beneficial in the long run to regularly perform EMC testing not only to conform to regulations but to reduce the potential service cost by maintaining the electronic health of your devices. Successfully testing your devices gives you confidence in the product’s reliability.

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What Equipment Would You Need?

You can either set up your own EMC test lab by purchasing or renting EMC test equipment, renting a lab or hiring professionals to do the test. There is a wide range of EMC testing equipment and it is important to understand which equipment will best suit the device to be tested. For example, a phone would need a different kind of test equipment than a computer.

These tests are usually performed inside a screen room and normally the bulk of test equipment consists of sensitive measurement receivers and spectrum analyzers apart from generators if there are susceptibility tests to be performed.

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The cost of EMC testing equipment is usually high and many people prefer hiring a lab. However, for organizations, it would be cost-efficient to rent or buy the equipment during the designing and initial testing phase of their electronic products.

What Does EMC Test Equipment Do?

The core function of your equipment is to determine the Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC). The EMC value decides the extent of susceptibility towards the electromagnetic interference from other electronics, thus establishing if they are compatible or not. For instance, using certain wireless devices at a hospital might cause disturbance in the working of critical health care instruments showing their incompatibility to the wireless device.

Types of Equipment

As discussed, there is a variety of EMC Testing Equipment available for different products in different contexts. These devices differ in their voltage sources, simulators, generator capacities, resistors and plugs. Depending on what range of power is required by the device being put to text and in what environment, the most appropriate type is selected.

The Important Parts:

Absorbers:

This is the most crucial module in the EMC testing equipment. No matter what device is being tested and in what kind of environment, these are absolutely critical for the health of the experiment and its users. Absorbers convert the incoming electromagnetic energy into thermal energy and dissipate that into the air. Without this essential conversion there could be harmful electromagnetic radiation where these tests are conducted.

Antennas:

They help in coping with the levels of radiation. There are many types of antennas available alongside your EMC test equipment, and which one you choose depends on the size of the device being tested and the possible amount of radiation you expect it to generate. This is very critical to safety of the process, and care needs to be taken to make these calculations as precisely as possible to maintain low levels of radiation in the testing place.

These are the important things that you need to know before choosing the right EMC test equipment for your device or product. It is advisable to not choose equipment merely because it’s cheaper but does not deliver the right power or absorption. Users are rather advised to rent EMC test equipment from electronic test & measurement suppliers like TRS RenTelco, Tektronix, Rohde & Schwarz, JDSU and others and get the most accurate electromagnetic compatibility rating from high-quality equipment.

Best Practices:

Finally, here are a few best practices that we recommend you follow before and after the EMC Testing, for the best results:

Write a test plan. You’ll definitely want to define the process beforehand to avoid any “black swans.” You could either hire a consultant, or do this yourself. Ideally, your test plan should consist of configurations, operation and monitoring modes, and a worst-case scenario.

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You also want to list the external power and data ports involved in the test, a to-do list on monitoring and documenting failures, description of all the hardware undergoing test, and cooling fans.

Secondly, form a detailed pricing estimate and schedule for your test. Further, list the supplies you would need from the lab, and the list of supplies you’d provide in-house.

Once the supplies are arranged, preliminary testing is always helpful. Each test method can be performed in a preliminary way so that the modifications in design can be made before the final test. Usually, a radiated emissions pre-test is the commonly performed one, and it gives an overview of possible failures.

And to conclude, it is very important to have a basic troubleshooting guide that describes solutions for simple issues that arise during testing or pre-testing. This might include cable usage, immunity tests and managing leakages. Needless to say, for more complicated issues it essential to consult a professional lab.

About the Author

Lisa Clark is a product and test engineer based in Madison, Wis., and has been working as a freelance product and test engineer. She keeps up-to-date with the advancements and challenges in the test & measurement equipment industry. She also has a keen interest in writing and reading articles related to electronic test, measurement, and monitoring equipment.

 


Best Practices for EMC Testing

  • Write a test plan. Define the process beforehand to avoid “black swans.”4List the external power and data ports involved in the test.
  • Form a detailed price estimate and schedule for your test.
  • Perform each test method in a preliminary way before the final test.
  • Develop a basic troubleshooting guide for simple issues that are bound to arise.
  • In over your head or don’t need the hassle? Consult a professional test lab.

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