A new service to ensure that PXI cards perform correctly

The PXI (PCI eXtensions for Instrumentation) card is an electronic module used in association with a PC to improve the performance of measurement and automation systems. At CERN, many systems use PXI cards. With the long shutdown providing ideal timing, a new interdepartmental initiative has created a PXI card calibration service. Don’t miss out!


Christine Leroy-Jonckx and Benjamin Ninet (next to the new calibration machine), display their National Instruments diplomas.

PXI cards are used in both laboratories and accelerators, for test beds, data acquisition systems, installation testing, etc. “A survey of CERN PXI equipment users carried out in 2011 showed that there were more than 1500 cards and about 50 different models in use,” says Hubert Reymond, responsible for PXI support and promotion at CERN. “As for all electronic systems, the performance of these cards can vary over time. So for some of them, calibration is necessary every two years, in order to ensure that, for example, an old card gives the same result as a new card straight from the factory.”

CERN already has a calibration service equiped with high-performance, and therefore very expensive, equipment - particularly for calibrating equipment such as oscilloscopes and signal generators. However, CERN could not ensure the calibration of PXI cards, which requires specialist training and certification provided by National Instruments (the company that developed the PXI specifications in 1997). “A collaboration between BE-CO-HT, which has a calibration service, and EN-ICE-MTA, which offers technical support for PXI products, has recently allowed the establishment of a calibration service for PXI cards on the CERN site,” said Hubert Reymond. “Christine Leroy-Jonckx and Benjamin Ninet, members of the new service, now have the necessary certifications and are able to use the same procedures and techniques as the manufacturer. Henceforth, they will be responsible for the calibration of PXI cards at CERN.”

Furthermore, in order to meet the manufacturer's compliance requirements, especially in terms of the thermal stability of the premises, part of the calibration laboratory has been renovated. Located in Building 8, the new service is now ready to carry out calibrations of the components of various instruments, particularly over the long shutdown when many installations will be undergoing maintenance.

Do you need your PXI cards calibrated? If so, send an e-mail to CERN-PXI-Calibration@cern.ch.

by CERN Bulletin