Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Repair!

An interesting repair…


Over the Easter period this year, we were busy giving new life to some of our old ADC systems, namely SMT145, SMT338 and SMT384. This repair was for a customer in Mexico, to who we originally sold the systems back in 2007. These boards have endured a tough life, being used in a harsh environment and were in quite a rusty condition.

Once cleaned and repaired, testing these boards required the original design files, the old test software, and a test PC rig. The software allows the FPGA on the board to be booted without the need for a DSP to be attached. Records of what was required and how this worked were all available in our support forum, which has often proved to be a valuable resource.

This was an interesting repair job for us, and given the condition the boards were in when we received them, we were happy to be able to have a positive outcome for the customer. Armando, our customer, has given their testimonial on the experience of the service they received below.

One of the rusty SMT384s. This one was unfortunately beyond repair, so has had some chips salvaged to be used to fix the other boards.
I am extremely satisfied with the service I received from Sundance.

I was in desperate need of repairing these cards as there were no replacement parts available in the market.

Sundance went above and beyond to ensure that my needs were met and that my electronic cards were fully functional again. I’m sure I will recommend your services and, of course, your products to anyone who needs this kind of service, especially those who are struggling to find replacement parts in this market.

Thank you for your excellent service.

Armando Escorcia

Details of the repair

The repair of these systems was a little tricker than the normal (and infrequent!) repairs that we perform, as this required hardware and software that we haven’t used for over a decade.

Without digging up some really old PCs and hoping that they were still going to be alive, we were still able to do a test of the whole system using tools which had been archived on the Sundance Support forum.

Before any of that started though, each returned system was fully dismantled, and each individual card was inspected.  A few of the boards showed quite severe corrosion as well as some physical damage, an unusual sight for our products, as they generally live a happy life in air-conditioned offices.

Once the cards were cleaned up as much as possible, we performed some basic tests – checking for shorts, and ensuring that the power supplies were correct – before reassembling them as complete systems to see what we could find out.
Luckily the firmware in the cards included sequences of blinking LEDs that were easy to observe.  Using these, we found that some of the PCIE FPGA carrier cards were faulty.

With more confidence that they should now work, we were able to run these through the system tests, which among other things, performed data acquisitions from each of the four channels. Multiple ADC cards showed faults with the ADC chips, along with input amplifiers and the negative voltage regulators.  Where possible, these faulty parts were replaced with new stock, but where items had been obsolete for a number of years, the worst of the returns were used as donors to get the rest working.

All in all, it was a good experience and a chance to show that we are able to test, debug and repair items that are almost as old as some of our current employees.

Systems were separated, cleaned and had faulty components replaced
They could then be built back into a working stack
The Sundance support site provided all the information required to fix the boards
Testing physical connections and voltages on the system
Testing and reprogramming using special in-house software
The repaired boards ready to be shipped back to the customer