The Problem

In late 1994 Cambridge Connectors made the decision to broaden their product range with a move into the data and telecommunications networking arena.The focus of their initial products was interconnection devices for IBM token ring networks. These devices, commonly known as baluns, allow the connection of traditional, unbalanced, coaxial cable systems to more modern, balanced, twisted pair wiring . The balun is based around a small high frequency transformer. This transformer provides electrical isolation affording the connected equipment a degree of protection and also matching for the impedances of the different types of cables employed.

The staff at Cambridge Connectors had established that many of their competitors were only batch sample testing their product. Since a balun is a critical link in any network and identifying a faulty unit is time consuming and costly it was decided that the company would offer 100% production testing for its new range of baluns. This would enable the company to differentiate itself from the bulk of the market and help promote them as a high quality alternative to the established players.

This posed a problem. How could production reconcile a high output with the need for thorough testing at an economical cost? Fortunately one of the engineers at the company had previous experience in dealing with a problem like this, and suggested Boa Systems should look at the problem.

In consultation with Cambridge Connectors we identified a series of tests that could be performed quickly by a custom built semi-automatic test station. We submitted a proposal for the design and supply of this test station that would be controlled by a standard PC. This proposal was accepted, and work on the design commenced toward the end of 1994.

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