National Instruments has introduced the NI SwitchBlock for PXI, a high-density switching solution featuring an innovative architecture that simplifies connectivity through internal column expansion. Designed specifically for demanding automated test systems with large numbers of channels, the NI SwitchBlock integrates with NI Switch Executive switch management software to provide a streamlined, intuitive option for switch configuration, routing, programming and maintenance.
The NI SwitchBlock comprises an expandable carrier that occupies four PXI slots and accommodates up to six relay cards. Engineers can use the carrier’s integrated high-voltage analogue bus to internally expand the relay cards into large matrices, with more than 2,000 crosspoints in a single carrier. They can further expand these matrices with an NI SwitchBlock expansion bridge, which extends a carrier’s analogue bus to additional carriers. Engineers can combine up to four NI SwitchBlock carriers to create internally routed matrices with as many as 8,832 crosspoints in a single PXI chassis. Because of this innovative hardware architecture, the NI SwitchBlock can integrate with other PXI instruments and I/O for use as the core of large-scale automated test systems.
With NI Switch Executive software, engineers can graphically configure their switch systems one relay at a time for total control, or automatically route signals across multiple relay cards simply by specifying endpoints. This high level of abstraction helps engineers to quickly and efficiently begin developing their application. By combining NI Switch Executive with NI LabVIEW graphical system development software, engineers can abstract numerous route groups to easily configure, program and maintain large matrix configurations. The NI SwitchBlock also includes the new NI Switch Health Center software, which increases long-term system reliability by automatically running onboard diagnostics that verify relay continuity and display relay count information.
Additionally, engineers can combine the NI SwitchBlock with mass interconnect solutions from MAC Panel and Virginia Panel, which provide a single rugged connection point between multiple NI SwitchBlock connectors and a test fixture. This further simplifies wiring for large matrix configurations and helps engineers streamline hardware integration and reduce test setup time.
The NI SwitchBlock offers multiple relay card options, including a growing selection of topologies and relay types to address a variety of large-matrix test needs. Engineers can custom configure the NI SwitchBlock with different relay cards in a single carrier to create a configuration that best meets their requirements. To help engineers find the most efficient NI SwitchBlock configuration for their specific application, NI has created an online advisor tool that guides them through the relay card selection process and adds the correct number of carriers and expansion bridges to meet their application requirements.