Reverse-engineering tool recreates professional schematics

04 September 2013

A hardware/software combination from ABI Electronics can create professional schematics from undocumented PCBs.

The RevEng System is a reverse-engineering hardware tool for creating professional quality circuit schematic diagrams from a sample PCB without documentation. It consists of a PC-controlled continuity-detecting hardware system, RevWin control software, and EdWin, a CAD package. RevEng ‘learns’ the connectivity of the sample circuit, producing a netlist of the components and connections for importing into EdWin software.
The learning process is achieved through clips, connectors, and probes that are attached to clusters of components. RevWin guides the operator to place and walk the clips around the device under test. It also generates the most efficient sequence of clip combinations and movements to learn all possible connections, but the operator can over-ride the automatic placement of the clips if necessary.

To minimise operator errors, the system applies an orientation check and pin check to confirm clip contact and position. RevEng learns without the need for applying power to the board and limits the applied voltage and current so that semiconductor gates are not affected, which also makes it safe to use on low power technologies.

The EdWin professional drawing capability includes importing netlist place components, autorouting signals, multi-page schematics, bus structure support, an extensive library of over 12,000 devices, ‘rubber band’ and ‘rats nest’ functions, block move and rotate features. Optional facilities include bill of materials, PCB layout, mix-mode simulation, Arizona autorouter, thermal analyser, EDSpice, EMC + signal integrity. Same-day drawings of unknown, complex boards is also offered.

RevWin software controls the system hardware and provides links with the CAD software. It includes icon-driven operation, context-sensitive help, unlimited number of clips and connectors, partial circuit learn and draw, repeat learn and verify, optimised clip movement, digital or analogue circuits, guided probe for non-standard components and suspend/restart/terminated at any stage.

The entry-level system has 256 measurement channels for low budgets or small to medium circuits. For larger, more complex circuit needs, a high pin-count system equipped with up to 2048 measurement channels is also available.

It is available from Saelig Company.

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