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Past Project in Detail

Excel Technology Group - Design an EMC Pre-Compliance Test Facility

30/06/2004

Wilbert Ellema (QUT student) with Paul Higgins (Excel Technology)  

Design an EMC Pre-Compliance Test Facility – Excel Technology Group (Electrical Engineering)

Excel Technology Group (ETG) designs, develops and manufactures a range of traffic management and public transport management technology. This technology includes pedestrian and vehicle detectors, AVI equipment, roadside displays and traffic controllers. The company has a strong commitment to research and development.

Testing of electronic products for electromagnetic emission has become an important task for most manufacturers, mainly due to the regulations imposed by different countries around the world. In Australia, the Australian Communications Authority (ACA) provides the technical limits for emissions from such products. For every product that fails the compliance test, companies need to go back and revise their design, then re-do the test. As the compliance process costs up to $2,000 per test, self-testing of EM emissions has become an important process for many companies.

This gives rise to the availability of qualified test facilities, capable of conducting EMC pre-compliance testing.

Paul Higgins of Excel Technology Group commissioned a student project, which focuses on the cost-effective design and testing of a suitable EMC pre-compliance testing facility for the company. Paul specified that the design will incorporate two important aspects:

1. the shielding effectiveness of the facility must control the external environment by ensuring that external emissions are blocked from entering the test facility

2. the design inside the facility must lessen the amount of reflection generated by the enclosure walls

Wilbert Ellema, QUT Master of Engineering Science student – Major: Computer and Communications Engineering, was selected for the project. As part of his project to design the pre-compliance test facility for ETG, Wilbert is correlating results from actual tests conducted at the ETG test facility and QUT’s EMC test facility, with results from other tests conducted at the ETG test facility and the Government test agency. This analysis of the test results will highlight any discrepancies.

At the conclusion of Wilbert’s project, he will document how the testing is done for ETG’s products. These manuals (and training of staff) will assist ETG with future testing.

By developing their own EMC pre-compliance test facility, ETG will be able to test their products at various stages of the design – thereby optimising the design for electromagnetic compatibility and maximising the chance of their products passing the EMC compliance test (the first time). Aside from saving costs by eliminating compliance re-tests, ETG will also save time associated with potential re-design/s and re-sending for compliance testing.

As at mid-April, Wilbert has used a shipping container (insulated to minimise electrical ‘noise’ and radiation) as a portable testing facility. This is a cost effective option for ETG and allows the testing facility to be moved to other locations, as desired. Inside the container, electromagnetic testing equipment and an antenna have been installed. Wilbert has also marked where each piece of equipment should be placed, so that each test is conducted in a controlled environment. Wilbert has completed the comparative tests with the QUT EMC test facility, and he is now conducting the final comparative tests at ETG. The test results will then be analysed for discrepancies, and documented. Paul is very pleased with the progress of the project, as well as Wilbert’s performance and enthusiasm for the project. Wilbert is on track to complete his project, by the end of June.

Paul intends that the research conducted by ETG will be made available to other companies at the end of this project, enabling them to build their own testing facilities.

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