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Bed of Nails PCBA Test of Bluetooth Earpiece Accelerates Path to Market

Bed-of-Nails PCBA Tester
Bed of Nails PCBA Test of Bluetooth Earpiece

The Challenge

A consumer electronics provider required a system to test the control circuit board and final assembly of their high-end Bluetooth earpiece being released to market.

The Solution

We used our automated PCBA test fixture reference design integrated with PXI data acquisition hardware and programmed using LabVIEW software to provide a turnkey PCBA test solution, ensuring the quality assurance of their consumer device.


  • A Bluetooth earpiece provides hands-free calling functionality.

  • It provides these features through wireless communication with a cellphone, and by providing touch sensors to control device function.

  • Radio Frequency (RF) communication between the earpiece and cellphone.

  • Critical to device function is the battery saving or low-usage mode it enters when not actively in a call during use.

  • All functions are defined and controlled by the device’s Control Circuit Board.

  • The board’s functional testing is critical for product validation and the customer’s quality assurance.

Left: Customer device Bluetooth earpiece printed circuit boards (PCBs). Right: Probes located on the test fixture’s hood. Bottom: Single device PCBA.

PCB Automated Test Fixture

  • The turnkey PCBA test enclosure ran an in-depth diagnostics test and an RF test.

  • The bed-of-nails fixture provides a PXI data acquisition platform programmed using LabVIEW and TestStand (for test sequencing). As well, an embedded PC runs the user interface (UI) provided for the operator’s ease of use.

System Order of Operations

  1. Eight of the client circuit boards are placed into the provided nests by the operator.

  2. The enclosure cover is closed providing electrical contact between the fixture’s probes and the circuit board.

  3. The system automatically uploads firmware onto the circuit boards.

  4. LabVIEW and NI TestStand software provide test sequencing and define parameters for all the device functionality tests.

  5. A power consumption test is performed simulating the device's “asleep” vs. “awake” modes.

  6. The board's Bluetooth feature and signal capabilities are validated using an RF signal generator & analyzer, which simulates sending and receiving a phone signal between the earpiece and cellphone.

  7. All data is read and stored using the PXI data acquisition platform.

  8. The operator opens the enclosure cover, removes tested boards, and repeats.

PXI DAQ Platform
NI PXI data acquisition platform.


Businesses depend on Cyth Systems' expertise in functional test fixtures. Functional testing involves applying full operational power to a printed circuit board (PCBA) to ensure it performs its designated functions. This type of test often requires custom-built test equipment and fixtures. Cyth Systems provides support for all types of functional test strategies.

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