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I have a PCBA that includes a MSP430 microcontroller and another module. The connection is shown in the photo below where the former (MSP430) is at the bottom and the top is for the other module.

Firmware for the MSP430 is programmed using the MSP-FET. The other module is programmed with a TTL to USB cable.

I would like to design an approach similar to an in-circuit tester which allows me to program these boards easily by simply placing them on top of a circuit or test equipment which can connect to a PC. My plan is to write some code which programs firmware, allows a reset to be performed and reads back information from the board. It may make sense to use National Instruments Labview or some other software. I'm less concerned about the PC software.

I'm simply interested in some directions on building a suitable test-jig. I'm not sure what the approach is here since it needs to be custom enough to handle the location of the connectors? Is there something off the shelf that can be used which can do one or other module?

enter image description here

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd want to consider (and possibly eliminate) the idea of using simple USB methods that already exist, like the EZ430-F2013 for example. It has a removable PCB that has connector pins you might be able to use. It's cheap, too. (Mine cost me $5 and I've a box full of them.) Any chance something like that may work for your needs? (The cool thing is that it includes all the USB virtual COM port IC and software, plus built-in drivers in Windows that makes it work well.) \$\endgroup\$
    – jonk
    Mar 24, 2021 at 8:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @jonk - Sorry can you elaborate? Are you recommending I should consider the EZ430-F2013? \$\endgroup\$
    – sdbol
    Mar 24, 2021 at 8:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm just tossing out ideas. Only you can decide their value for your needs. I really cannot tell if it is appropriate for your needs, or not. There isn't enough info in your question to know. But I wanted to toss it out and see if you feel there is a possibility there. If not, you can say why and that will improve your question. \$\endgroup\$
    – jonk
    Mar 24, 2021 at 8:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Those look like inline standard 0.1 header spacing. Some pogo pins and bobs your programmer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Passerby
    Mar 24, 2021 at 10:43

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PCB testjigs are very common, you will find plenty of suppliers that can provide a custom interface based on a laser-cut standard chassis for this exact purpose. They are not very expensive.

These are typically a "pogo-pin" bed with a piston or frame that guides the PCB down on the "pogo-pins". (or the other way around - PCB sits still while the pogo-pins are lowered.)

Found a quite nice article here that has several illustrations: https://www.bunniestudios.com/blog/?p=5450

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  • \$\begingroup\$ My main question is if it's possible to do a Do It Yourself (DIY) approach for a simple circuit board test jig? i.e. can I just buy some essential parts. This is mainly because it only requires a couple of connectors. \$\endgroup\$
    – sdbol
    Mar 24, 2021 at 20:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sure, pogopins are easally available, so that would be the essential part. I've made several simple prototyping jigs where i've soldered pogopins in holes intended for cables or pin headers on identical but unpopulated PCB's, that I then screw on to the DUT. It's a bit flimsy though; they don't last very long, but it is very simple and fast to make. Using a chassis to properly guide the PCB is much better, and that can also be DIY'ed if you wish. There is some nice fixtures if you google "3d printed pcb test fixture" if you have access to a 3d printer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Arcatus
    Mar 24, 2021 at 20:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Googling what you suggested is what I'm after. Thanks. \$\endgroup\$
    – sdbol
    Mar 24, 2021 at 21:06

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