Pogo pins – spring-loaded pin contacts are pretty fun to play with and even cooler when they get used in electronic devices like Adafruit and SparkFun’s test jigs. Check after the break for how these two companies have created their own production hacks.
At Adafruit, they build up from an Arduino with a proto shield. An unpopulated board is loaded with pogo test pins and then connected to the proto shield. The board rests on and is aligned with standoffs. The latest Adafruit test jig needs to have an extended test, so instead of mashing a finger against the test board for an extended period of time, they use “ears” to hold the board in place during testing.
At SparkFun, they used to do something similar to what Adafruit is doing now. Now with BatchPCB as the prototyping arm of the company, they make one-off boards for their test beds. For each test bed, three boards are made, all made based on the Eagle files of the board the bed will be testing. The bottom board keeps all of the test pads from the original board and enlarges the holes for the pogo pins, and then adds circuitry needed for the board test. The middle board has enlarged holes for the tips of the pogo pins to just barely stick through and is what the board under test rests on. The top board is just for alignment.
We could see these devices getting extended to having buttons that are pressed when a board is in place so the tests would begin automatically. Add a robotic arm, and the whole thing would be automated. Scale-up the jig for whole panels of boards. We would like to see more of the hacks people make just to make in production.