Hardware in the Loop Test on your desktop

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[Partner Content] miniHIL adapts to your workbench and allows embedded software developers to test their application after each code change.

There is a continuous and growing demand for embedded systems based on 16 and 32 bit microcontrollers. From medical devices for laser surgery to pumps and actuators in automotive and industrial plants, these powerful and tiny devices have become a mainstay of embedded systems. We trust them not only to perform an incredible number of tasks, but also to do so reliably. Therefore, it is not surprising that a lot of engineering effort goes into developing reliable and secure software for the application in question. Of course, all of this must be accompanied by a well-thought-out testing program that starts early in the development process. Otherwise, there is a risk that errors will go undetected until it is too late.

Typically, traditional cabinet-sized hardware in the loop (HIL) testers are only used late in the development cycle, during system testing, after everything is assembled. They are also an elaborate and expensive resource with which system or acceptance testing takes place in cycles lasting between two and 12 weeks.

miniHIL

However, there is an alternative. Using a small, inexpensive HIL system deployed on every development engineer’s workbench, bugs are caught quickly and much earlier in the development process. This approach contributes to significantly higher overall software quality, and that’s where Protos’ miniHIL system comes in.

The hardware part of the system is a board slightly larger than an A4 sheet of paper. The microcontroller selected for your application, usually attached to a vendor’s evaluation board, is installed on one side of the miniHIL. The other side has a powerful microcontroller on which the functionality of your application is simulated. In the center of the map is a patch panel. This makes it possible to link the I/O environment and the communication of the microcontroller (system under test) to the simulation (software model of the application).

 

The miniHIL hardware in the loop system is about the size of a sheet of paper

Test without risk of damage

The beauty of this approach is that every developer can test and test application code without risking damage to expensive power devices and motor inverters. Developers can even use miniHIL to test software for sensor and actuator hardware that doesn’t yet exist.

An extensive and proven software tool chain supports the entire development process. While creating simulations and generating test cases, developers receive textual and graphical reports. miniHIL is also ideal for use in test automation solutions, such as continuous integration.

As part of the typical V-Model software development process, miniHIL focuses on integration testing, enabling full test cycles every 5 to 60 minutes. Additionally, because team members can run tests in parallel, overall testing is dramatically accelerated.

miniHIL also provides valuable support for system and acceptance testing. This is especially appreciated in projects with functional safety requirements, where customers report significantly simplified testing.


Currently supported microcontrollers include:

  • STMicroelectronics: STM32, STM8
  • Infineon: TLE, AURIX, XMC
  • NXP: S12
  • Chip: dsPIC33
  • ARM Cortex-M

Support for additional devices can be implemented on demand.

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