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Design Cycle Guide: Proof of Concept & Testing

Summary

During this phase, we ensure that the sensor used in the application will be successful. An NRE project and feasibility studies begin during this stage when applicable. Once the proof of concept is proven to work, testing increases in scale and a larger quantity of sensors are used to ensure any previously unidentified issues are discovered. The test sample size is typically 1% to 10% of the total quantity being installed. This phase is complete when you issue a written approval that the application is successful as designed.

Key Takeaways

  • Mitigate risk in new applications through proof of concept, prototype, and pilot lot testing.
  • The three iterative steps of our testing process allow for corrective adjustments and verification in the application.
  • Completion of Phase 4 initiates the finalization of the production planning.
  • This is the fifth article in a series of articles. The first article can be viewed here.

Phase 3: Proof of Concept & Testing is where the rubber meets the road. This phase encompasses three tests to provide a systematic quantification of the sensor in the application.

  1. Proof of Concept. A simple mock-up to prove the idea works
  2. Prototype Testing. Testing the proposed final design
  3. Pilot Lot Testing. Testing the final design in a large batch

This recommended testing sequence is an iterative process where to identify and correct any future issues that may appear in the field ensuring a successful application that can pass the test of time.

Key Takeaways

After choosing a sensor in Phase 3, building of your initial proof of concept may begin. Ultimately, a proof of concept provides clarity to any lingering questions, and gives you real feedback regarding your application. The proof of concept allows you to put everything together to see how it works. During this process, some changes may be needed to achieve the desired level of performance in nearly all applications.

The proof of concept is often completed with various forms of equipment which may include breadboards, socket microcontrollers, clip leads, and a host of other electronics. The idea is to put together a system in which you can prove that the application and the sensor work as intended.

DESIGN TIP It is best to test the sensor in the end application. The closer you can match the proof of concept to the final application, the less risk of finding unforeseen technical challenges later. For example, if you plan to use three sensors next to each other, test three sensors next to each other. Successful ultrasonic sensor integration is about accommodating all the small details that affect performance.

Refer to our easy-to-use “Quick Start Guide,” to get your sensors up and running. Check out other great tutorials at Tutorials & Application Notes.

DESIGN TIP Electrical noise can be one of the most frequent causes of sensors performing different than expected. The best option is to consider installing our MB7961 Power Supply Filter.

Sources of electrical noise can be electric motors and wireless transmitters on the same ground plane as the sensor. Separating the sensor ground plane from such types of devices will greatly reduce electrical noise issues.

Acoustic noise can be another source that causes interference. See “MaxSonar Sensor Acoustic Noise Tolerance Test” article.

DESIGN TIP If you are familiar with using an oscilloscope and have access to one, selecting one of our MB13## or MB707# or MB7092 series sensors which have the Analog Envelope output on Pin 2 can be invaluable during the integration process. This is the processed signal that shows the waveform giving you visibility into how the sensor actually sees targets in your environment.

The successful completion of the proof of concept testing means that you can continue moving forward in your design and testing process. If you have any questions during this process, please contact our support team for assistance.

Prototype Testing

Prototype testing takes the proof of concept to the next level as you test the final hardware design for your application. Additionally, this is the place to test the exact environment where you will use the sensor. You should be testing hardware and firmware that is fully integrated. This prototype testing is critical to make any needed changes prior to pilot lot testing.

All of the design tips listed in proof of concept section may be helpful in this step of testing as well.

Pilot Lot Testing

There is an old carpentry phrase “measure twice, cut once” which definitely applies to integrating ultrasonic sensors into your application. Anything less may get unexpected results. That is exactly what pilot testing is about.

You made it through all the major design specifications, technical challenges, and environmental variables which were identified and accounted for in your development process. You have a working solution. Now, you are expanding your testing sample size and verifying the final deployment of your design prior to release. The goal of pilot testing is to test and verify that the application will be successful during the final rollout. This is the time to discover and correct any details that may have been missed in the prototype and proof of concept testing due to the small size of test samples.

DESIGN TIP If you are experiencing any issues in getting the sensor to work in your application, see the “MaxSonar Troubleshooting Guide” for more information. It will help with the initial phase of verifying the sensor operation in your application.

Contact Sales Support if you are unable to troubleshoot the issue. Our technical team will help troubleshoot the issue to get you running quickly. Before you call, be sure to have detailed application information. If you can provide data capture files with the unprocessed data from the sensor, it may give us insight into the issue you are experiencing.

DESIGN TIP If testing is not initially successful, it does not mean game over. It simply means we are one step closer to your final design. Our team will continue to work with you to evaluate a solution to the new challenge. At this point, we are often able to collaborate to find a successful solution.

Closing Thoughts

The long-term success of every application is defined during this stage of testing. The next phase is Production Planning where you complete the planning and ordering for full deployment.

Look for our next article: Production Planning. Complete the planning and ordering for full deployment.