NASA Continues Radiation Effects Testing with Teensy 4.1


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Thanks to Paul, Robin, and numerous posters here for their designs, coding, and support over the last 6 years. I have used Teensy 3.1, 3.2, 3.6, 4.0, and now 4.1 to successfully execute single-event effects testing of numerous digital devices in direct support of NASA flight programs and research tasks. Tests using the Teensy are generally to evaluate the susceptibility of a component to error phenomena like single-event upsets (a flipped bit in a memory), single-event functional interrupts (essentially a system crash), single-event latchup (poof!) or to provide digital stimulus or hardware control for other related testing. We perform these tests using cyclotrons and synchrotrons around the country to simulate a space-like environment to characterize parts, qualify them for missions, or evaluate new technologies using everything from ~1 MeV protons to ~3GeV gold ions.

While an FPGA-based setup is a more elegant solution for many of these tests, and is essentially a requirement for high-speed, high-IO, or timing-constrained testing, the Teensy is a great way to rapidly implement a test with an inexpensive hardware platform (considering the test controllers themselves will be exposed to some radiation, they do require replacement). The Arduino toolchain is familiar to everyone on staff, the learning curve is near-zero, and Teensy provides the raw power (and Ethernet or USB 2.0 datapaths) to make some of these tests possible.

I thought you all might appreciate a few photos of the Teensy in action!

In the early days, testing a relatively simple, socketed, planar NAND flash with Teensy 3.1 at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab:

Moving to a T3.6 for one of the first 3D NAND memories, testing it at Texas A&M for an upcoming space telescope mission:

Testing a COTS geomagnetic sensor for a heliophysics mission with Teensy 4.0, using a copper-clad PCB cut in house:

Helping to resolve an in-flight anomaly by again combining rapid prototyping technologies (Teensy 4.0, copper-clad PCB, and 3D printed test fixture to hold an optical shutter repurposed as beam chopper)

And most recently, an 8 Tb, 96-layer 3D NAND flash for a research program, using a new Teensy 4.1-based test board: