Backward compatibility is a feature we all look for when adopting or upgrading to a new platform. Even in our personal lives, when we introduce new software or hardware into our existing tech-ecosystem we want to ensure there is minimal impact on the utility of our existing components. The same careful consideration is also made before purchasing new test equipment. Chances are, you’ve already invested substantial time and money into building a library of DUT boards compatible with your current test configuration. Will the introduction of a new RTI curve tracer render those existing DUT boards obsolete? The short answer: “Not necessarily, when addressed properly. “

Ultimately, it depends on the interconnection standards of the DUT boards and the interface of the new tester. RTI has multiple ways to make your existing DUT boards backward compatible with a new tester interface. Here are some different situations where a compatibility layer may be needed.

If you are already using RTI DUT boards on the bench…

If you are using RTI’s manual switch box or any test fixture that uses Yamaichi connectors, then you have native compatibility with the MT Century curve tracer. RTI has several standard adapters for the MT Century and manual switch box for PGA, DIP, RTI’s Mini Card, and various PGA footprint DUT boards.

RTI's iconic curve tracer. Directly compatible with Yamaichi cables and connectors.

MT Century

RTI’s manual curve tracer and test equipment. Directly compatible with Yamaichi cables and connectors.

Manual Switch Box

If your new test equipment has a different interface…

Most often a new tester has a different interface than your DUT board. Even upgrading from RTI’s standard MultiTrace PGA-625 fixture to the 1152 OctoPogo fixture requires a different interface. In these cases, a compatibility adapter is the way to go. In general, these adapters have a footprint that matches the new tester on the bottom and one that matches the DUT board on top. For example, DUT boards made for ribbon cables can be converted to work with the MultiTrace PGA fixture or with Yamaichi connectors on the MT Century. Compatibility adapters are a great way to reuse your current DUT boards with little cost, allowing you to upgrade to new tools and new testers.

MultiTrace PGA-625 Fixture

MultiTrace 1152 OctoPogo

If your current DUT boards use a PGA interface…

For PGA footprint fixtures, RTI offers fixtures that rearrange active pins. For example, DUT boards with specific PGA footprints like 21×21 may not match up to 108, 216 or 324 footprints of a standard MultiTrace PGA fixture, even though the DUT board may fit the ZIF socket. Some pins of the DUT board will land in inactive areas. A standard MultiTrace PGA fixture uses the built-in jumper matrix for compatibility. In other cases, a dedicated pin scramble fixture will restore compatibility.

ZIF PGA Adapter

If you are using RTI’s test sockets on your DUT boards…

Sometimes it makes sense to purchase a new PCB and reuse the socket. RTI’s sockets are not soldered and are easy to move between PCBs. This capability saves time and money as test sockets can be one of the more costly investments of your lab. PCB design can happen in-house or contracted out to manufacturers like RTI.

Side-by-side Adapter

DIP Adapter

Rarely will you have to replace everything

In extreme cases, you will need to replace the entire DUT board when your new tester arrives. This may be problematic for various reasons such as time, cost, delaying projects and schedules, etc. But it may benefit your lab, in the long run, to replace your DUT boards with new and directly compatible DUT boards.

If this is the only option, finding PCB designers and test socket manufacturers can be difficult. Especially if the PCB designers and socket manufacturers are separate companies. This can bring in more compatibility issues between the PCB and socket. Sometimes, it rests on your shoulders as the point of contact to ensure these issues do not occur. This is where RTI steps in.

Everything we do is under one roof which gives you complete control. All our designs are started and finished within one team with which you have direct contact. All designs are run through you for approval before the DUT board is sent to manufacturing. RTI also provides lifetime aftercare for your DUT board. RTI is your #1 partner in test. We strive to build you the most reliable and robust test solutions. Feel free to contact us if you have questions or receive a free quote.