In the realm of complex electronic systems, the importance of well-crafted and robust Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) cannot be overstated. PCBs are intricate assemblies, composed of multiple layers of conductive pathways and a variety of electronic components—ranging from CPUs to resistors, capacitors, diodes, and Field-Effect Transistors (FETs).
However, the complexity comes at a cost: these boards are susceptible to an array of faults, from design flaws to manufacturing mishaps. What makes this even more challenging is that many of these issues are not easily detectable through visual inspection alone. Therefore, precise measurements are critical for identifying and rectifying both design and manufacturing errors.
Traditionally, such measurements are carried out manually using multimeters, spectrum analyzers, and/or oscilloscopes. While effective, this approach is time-consuming and vulnerable to human error. Alternatively, for in-line inspections, customized jigs can be employed to simultaneously measure multiple probing points. However, these jigs are usually tailor-made to identify specific issues on specific boards, lacking versatility.
So, if you're aiming for mastery in engineering, the challenge lies in developing more efficient, versatile, and accurate methods for PCB inspection. Are you up for it?
High level description & purpose
Most of Knightec's clients operate in high-tech
industries, making them heavily reliant on advanced electronics development.
Given the cross-disciplinary nature of our work, validation of electronic
design and production is important for multiple business areas within our
organization. At the core of this is the need for dependable electronic
The goal of this master's thesis is to engineer
a flexible, precise, and dynamic testing apparatus aimed at automating the
inspection process for PCBs. Unlike traditional methods plagued by human error
or limited by custom-built jigs, this apparatus is designed to be universally
applicable. It will serve multiple functions: internal validation within
Knightec, on-site testing at client locations, and as foundational research for
future academic endeavors in this field.
As part of this project, you'll be equipped with a foundational 3-axis gantry system, which can be extended to include up to two additional axes if necessary. You can modify this gantry system to fit your needs and identified requirements. You'll also have access to state-of-the-art control electronics, a USB-interface controlled oscilloscope and spectrum analyser. Further, you will have access to an electronics lab and a FDM 3D printer will be at your disposal. Additional hardware, if you need it, can be purchased.
To keep you fueled, breakfast at the office will be served three times a week.
Your initial responsibility will be to define a realistic project scope. What essential and extended functionalities should your automated PCB testing apparatus include? At a minimum, the system should function as a Cartesian robot capable of probing pre-defined coordinates on a PCB's surface and conducting measurements between these points and the ground plane. However, the sky's the limit for additional features.
Here are some identified suggestions:
- 2-point independent probing
- N-point expansion probing
- Computer vision to find and determine probing points
- Advanced measurements with instrument integration
- AI analysis of results
- User interface
- Hardware design upgrades
In this project, you'll have a lot of freedom to change things up. As you learn more, you might need to adjust your goals or try a different approach. This is a from-scratch project, so adapting based on what you find out is part of the challenge.
Ready to dive in and learn as you go? Here, being flexible and open to change is key.
Who are we looking for?
This project offers an exceptional opportunity
for one or two engineering master's students with expertise in low-level
software development. Specifically, we're looking for proficiency in areas like
firmware, machine code, G-code, script generation, and parsing. In addition, a
strong foundation in mechatronics and control theory, along with familiarity
with Electronic Computer-Aided Design (ECAD), is highly desirable. MCAD skills
for rig modification and extension would be a plus.
Furthermore, two potential avenues for expanding
the project's scope involves incorporating computer vision technologies and
advanced analysis. As such, any knowledge or keen interest in machine learning
and artificial intelligence could provide a significant advantage.
Do you possess these skills or have the ambition
to quickly acquire them? If so, this project offers the chance to apply
interdisciplinary knowledge to a real-world problem.
Important information to you who will apply for a thesis project
- The thesis is to be done during the spring term of 2024. The office location is in City Gate, Gothenburg
- If you would like to co-write your thesis, both of you need to apply separately and conduct the tests. Just make sure to inform us in your application that you would like to write in pairs and who your thesis partner is.