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Module 7 - MAINTENANCE PRACTICES

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Sub Module 7.4 Avionic General Test Equipment

MODULE 7
Sub Module 7.4

AVIONIC GENERAL TEST EQUIPMENT

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Contents
OPERATION, FUNCTION AND USE OF AVIONICS GENERAL
TEST EQUIPMENT ------------------------------------------------------- 1

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Sub Module 7.4 Avionic General Test Equipment

OPERATION, FUNCTION AND USE OF AVIONICS GENERAL


TEST EQUIPMENT
Cathode ray oscilloscope
Cathode ray oscilloscope (CRO) is test equipment that
facilitates display of waveforms and measurement of its
parameters. It is a very versatile tool widely used in electronic
measurement and testing.

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Cathode ray tube (crt)


Cathode ray tubes used in oscilloscopes consist of an electron
gun, a deflection system, and a fluorescent screen. All these
elements are enclosed in an evacuated glass tube.
The electron gun generates electrons and focuses them into a
narrow beam. The deflection system moves the beam
horizontally and vertically across the screen. The screen is
coated with a phosphorous material that glows when struck by
the electrons.

The voltage on the focusing anode can be varied to place the


focal point of the electrons beam on the screen. The deflection
system moves the electron beam horizontally and vertically. If it
is not deflected at all, a small bright dot will appear at the centre
of the screen. The deflection system uses electrostatic fields to
change the path of the beam. As the beam moves on the
screen, the phosphorescence of the screen helps in tracing a
continuous line. As the periodic signal repeats, the screen will
be refreshed.

The electron gun consists of a heater, a cathode, a control grid,


and two anodes. The cathode is usually indirectly heated and
emits a cloud of electrons. The control grid is a hollow metal
tube placed over the cathode. It is maintained at a negative
potential relative to the cathode to keep the electrons bunched
together. The brightness, or intensity, can be adjusted by
varying the voltage on the control grid. The first anode, known
as focusing anode, focuses the electrons into a narrow beam. A
fixed positive voltage of several thousand volts is connected to
the second anode, known as accelerating anode, for
accelerating the electrons in the direction of the screen.

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Tracing a signal on a cro


Usually the horizontal (X) deflection plates are applied with a
saw-tooth shaped time base signal. The signal to be displayed
is applied to the vertical (Y) deflection plates. If no signal is
connected to the Y-plates, the time base signal will trace a
horizontal line at the centre of the screen. If necessary this can
be adjusted up or down using the Y shift control. If, by any
chance, the time base signal is missing and any signal is
applied to the Y-plates, it will trace a vertical line at the centre.
When a signal (for example a sine wave) is applied to the Yplates with the time base signal applied to the X-plates, the
signal waveform will appear on the screen. More cycles can be
displayed by decreasing the frequency of the saw tooth signal.
X-amplifier and Y-amplifier can be used to adjust the scales on
the X- and Y-axes.
The signal can be DC or AC coupled. If AC coupled, the DC
component of a signal where the AC variation is superimposed
on an average DC value will be removed and the pure AC
signal will be displayed.

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Dual channel oscilloscopes


Often it is necessary to display two or more waveforms on the
CRT screen for comparison purposes. Dual channel (or multichannel) oscilloscopes offer this feature.
Dual trace oscilloscopes use one electron gun and one
deflecting arrangement to display two traces on the screen by
sharing time. When one signal is driving the electron beam, the
other will be interrupted. Due to the phosphorescence of the
screen, the two traces will appear to be simultaneous.
The two techniques used in time-sharing are alternate (ALT)
mode, and chop mode.
Alt mode
In the alternate mode, each input signal is traced in alternate
horizontal sweeps. Both signals appear simultaneously on the
screen owing to its phosphorescence. Because the
phosphorescence of the screen has got limited persistence, the
first trace will decay during the second trace if the sweep
duration is too high.
Chop mode
In the chop mode, the horizontal sweep is divided into a number
of time slots and at the end of one time slot the vertical trace
jumps from one signal to the other. This mode is preferred over
the ALT mode for low frequency signals and low sweep rates.

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Cro controls
The construction and controls of a typical dual trace
oscilloscope are described here.
Vertical controls
A dual trace oscilloscope has two channels, which facilitates
tracing two signals on the screen simultaneously. This is often
useful in comparing signals.
For signal input, each channel has got a BNC port. The scope
inputs are usually high-impedance with one-mega ohm
resistance in parallel with 20pf capacitance. The signal could be
either dc-coupled or ac-coupled upon selection on the
associated sliding switch. With dc coupling, both dc and ac
components of a signal could be displayed, whereas ac
coupling, through a capacitor, would block the dc components
and trace the pure ac component with a time constant of about
0.1 second. This is useful if it is necessary to isolate a small ac
signal riding on a large dc voltage. There is a ground input
position (GND), which can be used to see zero volts on the
screen. In GND position, the signal is disconnected from the
scope, and the input is grounded.

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The INPUT MODE switch provides a choice of views. At CH1 or


CH2 position, only the selected signal is displayed. There are
two ways to see both inputs simultaneously: alternate (ALT)
mode and chop (CHOP) mode. In alternate mode, alternate
inputs are displayed on successive sweeps of the trace. In chop
mode, the trace jumps back and forth rapidly between the two
signals. Alternate mode is generally better except for slow
signals. The sum of the two signals can be viewed with ADD
position of the selector. The difference of the two could be
viewed using the same selection together with INVERT
selection for channel 2.
The POSITION selectors allow shifting of the image up and
down.

Each channel has a calibrated gain switch, for selecting the


vertical scale (Volts/DIVISION). Located concentrically on it is a
variable gain knob (VAR), which could be used to set a given
signal to a certain number of divisions. For voltage
measurements, the variable gain knob must be at the calibrated
position (CAL).

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Horizontal controls
An internal ramp generator giving deflection proportional to time
generates the horizontal sweep signal. As with the vertical
amplifiers, there is a calibrated selector for time scale (time/DIV)
and a variable (VAR) concentric knob.

SINGLE SWEEP is used for non-repetitive signals. LINE causes


the sweep to trigger on the AC power line. The external trigger
(EXT) inputs are used in situations where synchronization with
some external test signal or a clock signal is necessary.

The XY position allows a special feature called generating


Lissajous figures, which is useful in phase comparison of two
signals. In this technique, one of the inputs is used for horizontal
deflection, in place of the time base.
The POSITION selector allows shifting of the image left or right,
whereas the MAGNIFIER switch facilitates a scale adjustment,
which is 10 times the scale selected with the scale selector
knob.
Triggering
The trigger circuitry allows the selection of a level and a slope
on the waveform at which the sweep should begin. A LEVEL
selector and SLOPE selector are provided for this purpose.
NORMAL mode produces a sweep only when the applied signal
crossed through the trigger point set by LEVEL, moving in the
direction set by SLOPE. In practice, the level control is adjusted
for a stable display.
AUTO position is better if a number of different signals are to be
displayed. This precludes the necessity for setting the trigger
level for each signal. In AUTO, the display will free run in the
absence of a signal.
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The coupling mode selection is useful in viewing composite


signals. HF REJ position puts a low-pass filter in front of the
trigger circuit preventing false triggering due to spikes. If spikes
need to be investigated, LF REJ position can be used.
BEAM FINDER is useful if the trace is lost from view.
TRIGGER VIEW is useful when triggering from external
sources.
Probes
High impedance probes are used to minimize the effects on the
circuit caused by the attachment of the CRO.
The probe schematic illustrates the popular 10X probe. For DC,
it acts as a 10X voltage divider. By adjusting C1 to be 1/9th of
the parallel capacitances C2 and C3, the circuit becomes a 10X
divider for all frequencies. This adjustment is done using the
calibration (CAL) setting, which displays a square wave. When
the probe capacitance is properly adjusted, a pure square wave
without overshoot will be displayed. However, for low strength
signals, a 1X probe should be used. Some probes feature a
convenient choice of 1X or 10X attenuation, switchable at the
probe tip.

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