NightHawk: Expert Troubleshooting and Repair System (ETRS)

VDATS photo

USAF Versatile Depot Automatic Test Station (VDATS)

One of the greatest inefficiencies in modern electronics is when problems reported in the field are not reproducible at repair depots. These “bad actor” circuit card assemblies (CCAs) waste millions of dollars a year for organizations such as the U.S. Air Force. Ridgetop has developed the NightHawk: Expert Troubleshooting & Repair System (ETRS™) to address this and related issues. NightHawk: ETRS extracts test information from CCAs in order to improve the detection and identification of faulty circuitry.

ETRS delivers improved speed and accuracy of fault isolation via advanced anomaly
detection methods and fault tree analysis (FTA), leveraging Lean Depot Management System (LDMS) data as well as other historical repair information.

Besides the substantial savings realized by reducing NFF (“no fault found”), CND (“could not duplicate”), RTOK (“Retest OK”), and similar codes, ETRS software extends the life and power of existing ATE systems without costly hardware upgrades. ETRS employs advanced algorithms that address “off-nominal” performance of modules due to
aging and wear-out mechanisms.

What NightHawk: ETRS Does

ETRS improves the fault and test coverage of existing Test Program Sets (TPS). Based on historical maintenance data pertaining to individual CCAs, the design of the CCA, and advanced anomaly detection algorithms, ETRS generates a prioritized troubleshooting procedure. This enhanced soft fault detection procedure is used to improve the existing TPS, and the new TPS is then placed into the repository for future application.


The improved TPS is loaded into the VDATS or other ATE system to provide enhanced troubleshooting and repair guidance for each CCA type. This guidance includes visualization aids to help the operator probe the CCA and interpret the test results.


  • “Bad actor” CCA list
  • Parts usage/maintenance history
  • Existing Test Program Sets (TPS)
  • Circuit schematic
  • Design-for-test data (if available)
  • Wiring/board layout/diagram
  • Parts list

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  • Troubleshooting sequence
  • Improved TPS
  • Code ready for inclusion in TPS library

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