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Agilent Medalist Bead Probe Technology

Beab Probe

Agilent is the first to answer the call for more test point accessibility on today’s densely populated Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs). Agilent Medalist Bead Probe Technology specifies how test targets, or bead probes, can be placed directly onto copper signal traces, providing test access points virtually anywhere on a board layout, resulting in superior test coverage.

This proven and thoroughly tested methodology will provide electronics manufacturers with excellent in-circuit test access on today’s increasingly dense PCBs as well as designs with high-speed circuits. Bead Probe Technology can be implemented with no changes to existing Surface Mount Technology (SMT) processes and with no additional costs!

Benefits of Bead Probe Technology:

  • Provides excellent test access on dense or high-speed boards where In-Circuit Test (ICT) may not have been previously feasible.
  • Beads can be placed directly on high-speed traces while maintaining excellent signal integrity.
  • Eliminates the need for costly and time consuming re-routing of signal paths during layout to accommodate traditional test pads. Products get to market faster when time consuming negotiation between design and test departments is reduced.
  • Allows for more probing options which simplifies and reduces the cost of ICT test fixtures.
  • Bead probes can be implemented using current SMT solder mask and solder paste stencil processes with no additional costs or process steps.

What Manufacturers Are Saying About Bead Probe Technology

“Over 1.5 million data points lead us to believe that solder-bead probing is not only feasible in a high volume production environment, but can be successfully implemented without any increase in cost or restrictions to design flexibility” – A major electronics OEM after an in-depth evaluation of Agilent Medalist Bead Probe Technology

The Agilent Advantage

Bead probes can be placed on any PCB, however only the Agilent Medalist 3070 and i5000 in-circuit testers give you the most benefit from these additional probing locations. For example, Agilent’s fixturing software will automatically optimize which beads to probe to minimize the use of more costly 39 and 50 mil probes, which means lower fixturing cost.  In fact that’s not all, Agilent in-circuit testers optimize probing locations to minimize board flex that could potentially damage the board assembly during ICT. Only Agilent provides an integrated fixturing solution that is bead probe-ready!

Getting Started

Manufacturers who own Agilent Medalist In-circuit Test systems can obtain right-to-use licenses directly from Agilent Technologies.  A copy of the “Bead Probe Handbook: Successfully Implementing Bead Probes in Practice” is included with each license. This comprehensive how-to guide developed by Agilent details the procedures for the successful implementation of bead probes on today’s PCBs. It includes valuable information for the entire value-added chain from board design to layout process and test. 

To facilitate industry adoption of bead probes, Equipment Licenses will be available to other non-Agilent ICT vendors. Once these non-Agilent vendors purchase Equipment Licenses, their systems then become “Agilent Licensed” and their customers can apply for Customer Licenses. They may then legally implement bead probes on their PCBs and test them on non-Agilent ICT systems.

For more information on licensing, please click here.

View our free webcast recording, "Medalist Bead Probe Technology - A Simple and Proven Test Solution for Limited Access PCBs". The broadcast was presented live on Jan. 24, 2007. It is now viewable as on-demand. View Now! 

Documents & Downloads

Implementation of Solder-bead Probing in High Volume Manufacturing 
Copyright © 2006 IEEE. This material is posted here with permission of the IEEE. Reprinted from ITC International Test Conference, Paper 5.4.

Application Note 2006-10-25

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Bead Probes In Practice 
Copyright © 2005 IEEE. This material is posted here with permission of the IEEE. Reprinted from ITC International Test Conference, Paper 26.2.

Application Note 2006-10-24

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Applying a New In-Circuit Probing Technique for High-Speed/High Density Printed Circuit Boards 
Bead probes were used to obtain additional test access on a high-density production printed circuit board. This case study includes practical information and key bead-specific learnings discovered during the process of outsourcing.

Application Note 2006-10-24

Bead Probe Technology Flash Demonstration 
View how bead probe technology works.

Demo 2006-10-23

Agilent Medalist Bead Probe Technology Webcast (recorded) 

Training Materials 2007-01-24

Article reprint: A Bead Probe CAD Strategy for In-Circuit Test 
This paper discusses the potential of using Bead Probes in Computer Aided Design (CAD) systems when getting a board ready for production.

Article Reprint 2008-03-06

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Article reprint: Implementing Bead Probe Technology for In-Circuit Test: 
A major OEM implements bead probe technology on a new design to gain test access and coverage of high-speed circuits. The experiences of a first implementation of bead probe technology are discussed here.

Article Reprint 2008-03-06

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Gathers Thought Leaders in International Bead Probe Technology User Group 
by Ted T. Turner, Co-Gen Marketing

Feature Story 2008-11-11

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Medalist Bead Probe Technology Product Overview 
Proven technology for placing test targets directly on printed circuit board signal traces.

Technical Overview 2006-10-01