Coping with Test System Obsolescence

Defense procurement is a long-term process, particularly when looking at aircraft and avionics. Systems designed to fit the original airframe will be expected to be in service for many years, perhaps decades before they are upgraded. The same applies to the test systems that support this equipment.

As an example, look at the Harrier AV8B which first came into service in January 1985. The initial design and development for this update to the original Harrier aircraft began in the 1970s and the aircraft is still in service today, almost 35 years after its in-service date. This presents a planning issue both for equipment spares and test systems as items are either no longer supported, or an upgrade is required.



Apex Waves can help with your test equipment requirements by repairing your obsolete or mature items or providing replacement models. We can also assist customers in building a complete test system.

For example, the PCI-6010 Multifunction I/O Device, which is part of the NI B Series, has been set to End of Life Status by NI. However, Apex Waves can still supply or repair this device. The PCI-6010 provides 6 digital inputs, 4 digital outputs, along with 2 analog outputs. This device is designed as a counter/timer I/O device. Using a 37-pin D-SUB connector, connection to many D-SUB components is possible. The module provides a maximum sampling rate of 200 kS/s on a single channel with a timing resolution of 50 ns and has a built-in frequency generator. The NI PCI-6010 has a recommended warm-up time of 15 minutes and requires calibration annually, which Apex Waves can assist with for an additional cost.

National Instruments has listed 2 replacement models for the PCI-6010. First, the National Instruments PCI-6220 Multifunction DAQ device from the NI M Series offers all the functions of the PCI-6010, but with added features. Sampling rate has been increased to 250 kS/s and the module provides 16 analog inputs and 24 digital I/O channels. The PCI-6220 has reached mature status with National Instruments but is still supported by Apex Waves. For added functionality, the National Instruments PCIe-6320, from the NI X Series may be more suitable. Designed for the PCI Express bus, it also offers a FIFO buffer with a memory of 4,095 samples and four 32-bit counters, each with FIFO buffers for up to 127 samples.


Calibration of the modules is important and an annual calibration service is recommended. All three modules require the driver NI-DAQmx, which also allows test engineers to design customized control systems. The PCIe-6320 is supplied with the built-in DAQExpress software, which includes the driver and allows basic measurements and analysis. National Instruments also supplies the LabVIEW application for more detailed testing and analysis.


Apex Waves has been involved with test equipment and data acquisition equipment for several years and specializes in obsolete and discontinued equipment, particularly from National Instruments. Instead of expensive upgrades to newer equipment, Apex Waves will search for the exact model you need, even if it has been discontinued. Apex Waves can also supply manuals, accessories, and cables, plus calibration and repair services.



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