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Now in its 50th year, The Pickering Group is undergoing an expansion at its UK and Czech Republic sites.

The group of companies which includes Pickering Electronics and Pickering Interfaces has already completed a refurbishment of its UK interfaces’ site, and work at the relay company is due for completion in Q1 2019.

In addition to redeveloping its global headquarters and manufacturing centre in the UK, Pickering is also investing in an additional 3000m2 facility in the Czech Republic. This Czech facility is already producing many of Pickering Interfaces’ vast array of switching and simulation products in the industry for PXI, LXI, and PCI applications, including value add assembly such as cable and connector solutions. In total, the investment in the UK and Czech is expected to reach £5 million.

Keith Moore, CEO, commented: “Despite predictions as far back as the 1970s that our relay business would have a limited lifetime, we have seen exactly the reverse. We are challenged by our customers – including our sister company Pickering Interfaces – to deliver ever-higher performance in miniature packages, and that means that demand for our reed relays has never been higher.

“Similarly,” he adds, “demand for our simulation, test and verification products is also increasing, thanks to the complexity of today’s automotive and semiconductor manufacturing systems and the need for automated test processes. Therefore, we needed to streamline our manufacturing operations and add more capacity. We expect this to be an ongoing process, especially in Czech Republic as we look to add new products and support activities.”

Pickering is now a global company with support locations in the USA, Germany and China with representation across Asia, the rest of Europe and the Americas.

Bethan Grylls

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To celebrate our 50th Anniversary this year, Pickering Electronics have published a book about the first 50 years of manufacturing quality Reed Relays. The book features various milestones in Pickering Electronics’ history, along with stories, quotes and personal photographs from our founder, directors and employees.

Please click here to view the PDF version >>

Pickering to demonstrate PXI and LXI test products, signal routing software, six-slot modular LXI/USB chassis and smallest reed relay at ITC

CHELMSFORD, MA—Pickering Switching Solutions, including Pickering Interfaces, a supplier of modular signal switching and simulation solutions for use in electronic test and verification, and Pickering Electronics, a pioneer in reed relay miniaturization and performance, will exhibit at the International Test Conference, the world’s premier event dedicated to testing of electronic devices, boards and systems from verification, test, diagnosis, failure analysis and process and design improvement, in Phoenix, AZ. On booth 208, the company will showcase its latest high-density PXI and Ethernet LXI Switching & Simulation Solutions along with Signal Routing Software, its 6U Modular Chassis and the world’s smallest reed relays. Products highlighted include:

Model 65-221 High-Density Modular LXI Ethernet Reed Relay Matrix
Originally designed to test Semiconductors at wafer and package levels, this Reed Relay Matrix solution combines our latest LXI Chassis with our new plug-in matrices. The range comprises four models covering matrices of up to 1,536×4 in increments of 128, 768×8 in increments of 64, 384×16 in increments of 32, and 192×32 in increments of 32. Users can specify as many or as few plug-ins (up to six) required and can field upgrade the chassis to extend the matrix when necessary. Another important feature is that over 1,500 relays can be closed simultaneously for specific conditions for parametric testing. These plug-ins also offer built-in scan list sequence stores with triggering capability, providing users with the ability to set a series of up to 200,000 pre-determined sequences on an LXI instrument, the sequences can be triggered by software or one of the sixteen DIO software configurable open collector triggers. They also feature multi-bus capability for parallel testing.

Model 40-559 BRIC Ultra-High-Density Large PXI Matrix Modules
This range of large PXI matrices are robust 1A/20W switching modules, with up to 4,096 crosspoints. Constructed with the Pickering Electronics’ Series 120 4mm x 4mm reed relays, this new generation of 1Amp PXI matrices delivers twice the density of any competing large matrix module. Available in 2, 4, or 8-slot PXI sizes, these PXI matrices enable a complete functional ATE system to be housed in a single 3U PXI chassis and allow the use of much lower cost 8 or 14 slot PXI chassis.

The range comes with Pickering’s Built-in Relay Self-Test (BIRST) and is also supported by their eBIRST Switching System Test Tools. These tools provide a quick and simple way of finding relay failures within the modules.

Model 40-297 PXI Precision Programmable Resistor Module
Designed as a simple solution for applications requiring accurate simulation of resistive sensors, this series includes 50 model configurations per platform, and is also available in PCI form/factor. Each version offers users the choice of channel count, range and setting resolution. Units feature resolution from 0.125Ω to 2Ω, channel counts from 3 to 18 and basic accuracy is 0.2% ± resolution.

All of Pickering’s PXI switching and simulation modules can be used in any PXI chassis and can be fitted to PXI hybrid slots in a PXIe chassis. They also can also be used in Pickering LXI Modular chassis for users preferring control via an Ethernet port, including Pickering’s USB/LXI Chassis:

6-slot USB/LXI Modular Chassis (60-106)
Pickering’s new six-slot modular LXI/USB chassis occupies only a small, lightweight 1U form factor, making it suitable for portable, bench-top, and space-restricted applications. The 60-106 chassis accepts from one to six Pickering PXI 3U modules; the user can choose from over 1000 modules including programmable resistors, matrices, multiplexers, general purpose relays, RF switches and fault insertion units. The systems are USB 3.0-compatible, and feature a fully compliant LXI interface with the option of a Wi-Fi dongle (sold separately). Therefore, remote control via USB or LXI Ethernet is possible

Switch Path Manager Signal Routing Software
This signal routing software simplifies signal routing through switching systems and speeds up the development of switching system software. Switch Path Manager supports Pickering’s PXI, LXI, PCI and GPIB switching modules and the interconnection between these products.

Pickering will also highlight its eBIRST Switching System Test Tools. Designed specifically for Pickering’s PXI, PCI or LXI products, these tools simplify switching system fault-finding by quickly testing the system and graphically identifying the faulty relay.

Comments Bob Stasonis, Director of Sales & Marketing at Pickering Interfaces: “We keep adding to our already-huge range of switching and sensor simulation products—over 1000+ in PXI alone. This means that test engineers do not need to compromise; we have a product that will precisely meet their requirements. And if we don’t, we will custom design a solution.” Pickering Interfaces stands behind all of its manufactured products with a standard three-year warranty and guaranteed long-term product support.

For more information, visit

Smallest Reed Relay
Notably, Pickering Interfaces is the only switching test equipment manufacturer that also manufactures the key element in such products – reed relays via group company, Pickering Electronics. At ITC, the company will also showcase the world’s smallest through-hole reed relay, the Series 124 ultra-high density 4mm2 device, which has a 4 x 4mm footprint, and measures just 9.5mm high. Series 124 reed relays feature a sputtered ruthenium switch rated at 5 watts, 0.5 amps. These are the same reed switches as used in the long-established Pickering Series 111, 111P and 117 but are orientated vertically within the package, facilitating such high density. The relays boast very fast operate times, typically 80µs, making them ideal for high speed test systems, and due to the incredibly small size they are also suitable for very high-density applications such as A.T.E. and Semiconductor switching matrices or multiplexers.

Graham Dale, Technical Director at Pickering Electronics comments: “Over the years, Pickering Electronics has pioneered several reed relay developments which has resulted in our leadership position, including the use of mu metal screens that enable relays to be stacked closely together with interference problems, and the formerless coils which save space. The new Series 124 reed relays once again set the bar for miniaturization.”

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Pickering Ultra High Density 4MM Reed Relay

Tiny footprint relays feature very fast operate and release times making them ideal for high speed test systems. See them on 17-18 October, Stand F43, Ricoh Arena, Coventry, UK

Pickering Electronics, the reed relay company which has pioneered miniaturisation and high performance for over 50 years, will show industry’s smallest reed relay at the upcoming Engineering Design Show, Ricoh Arena, Coventry, 17-18 October. The Series 124 is part of Pickering’s new ultra-high density 4mm2reed relay range product line, which takes up the minimum board area of only 4mm x 4mm, allowing the highest packing density possible. Series 124 relays are also the lowest profile on the 4 x 4mm footprint, measuring just 9.5mm high. Devices are currently available in 1 Form A (energise to make) with options of 3 or 5 volt coils.

Series 124 reed relays feature a sputtered ruthenium switch rated at 5 watts, 0.5 amps. These are the same reed switches as used in the long-established Pickering Series 111, 111P and 117 but are orientated vertically within the package, facilitating such high density.

The relays boast very fast operate times, typically 80µs, making them ideal for high speed test systems, and due to the incredibly small size they are also suitable for very high-density applications such as A.T.E. and Semiconductor switching matrices or multiplexers.

These single pole relays are the second series to be launched within Pickering’s new ultra-high-density product line – Series 120 devices were released at Semicon West last year, rated up to a 1.0 Amp at 20 Watts, but with a higher profile height of 15.5mm.

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Beyond Smart Innovations at SEMICON West 2018: Pickering’s Series 124 Reed Relay

It was a banner 2017 for the semiconductor industry, growing to a $412 billion global business. However, in today’s disruptive technology landscape, industry leaders cannot rest on the laurels of last year’s financial success. To continue thriving in a world that’s rapidly moving beyond smart, SEMICON West, hosted in San Francisco, Calif., July 10-12, brought together the major players in all things semiconductors.

Pickering Electronics, the reed relay company that has pioneered miniaturization and high performance for more than 50 years, was amid the hundreds of exhibitors promoting insight, innovation, and intelligence. At SEMICON West 2018, their Series 124 made its appearance—the industry’s smallest reed relay.

Pickering’s Evolutionary Process

How did Pickering Electronics achieve such a feat? Pickering’s Technical Director Graham Dale describes the company’s evolutionary process to ECN, straight from the busy exhibitor conference hall in San Francisco.

“We’ve been manufacturing reed relays since 1968, I’ve personally been with the company for almost 44 years, and we have a sister company that’s been going for around 30 years making switching systems. There is a very strong synergy between the two companies.”

“So a big part of the cost of switching systems is, of course, the boards, connectors, and racks. If you can improve the functionality because of a smaller component, it’s worthwhile. That has been the catalyst for smaller and smaller parts. We’ve always been making smaller relays, and we’ve always been quite inventive. Unfortunately, many of our other products have been copied by competitors. We’ve set new standards over the years, and these are our latest ones, so we try to keep staying a few steps ahead.”

The Series 124: Design, Components, and Applications

The product sports sputtered ruthenium reed switches with a 5 watt, 0.5 amp rating. Although these switches were used in other Pickering devices such as the Series 111, 111P, and 117, they boast a different feature—vertical orientation within the package. This design choice, according to Dale, grants the Series 124 with the highest packing density available.

“Rather than the reed switch being horizontal within the package, the switch is actually vertical in the package. We’ve optimized the pinout such that the pins are on a 2-mm square pitch, so it is possible to use some proprietary connectors if you do want to socket them. This is not always a good idea though because you do lose some contact resistance integrity but we appreciate that some users may wish to do this for ease of replacement in the event of damage, so we’ve made it compatible with some standard sockets. It’s quite an optimum pin configuration, you know, as it allows tracks between pads on PC boards. At the moment, at the current state of play, that’s about as small as we can get.”

Measuring just 9.5 mm high, it falls under Pickering’s new line of ultra-high density 4 mm2 TM reed relays, which take up a minimum board area of 4 mm x 4 mm. Working on such a small scale, Dale discusses the idea of approaching size limitations:

“We are limited by the sizes of the reed switch, the coils, etc. One thing we did pioneer from relays is that we dispense with the more usual bobbin on which the coil is wound. The coil is wound on a mandrel, and it’s wound so the wire, as well as the insulation, have got an adhesive on it, which melts under heat. So the coil is a solid, standalone lump without having a plastic bobbin. You can get probably sometimes twice the winding window because you’re dispensing with that plastic work—that has enabled us to make smaller parts.”

“We also have internally, in our relays, a mu-metal magnetic screen, which most don’t have. They’re a magnetic device, of course, so the fields from one can affect the adjacent parts. So, by having that screen, it avoids those problems, which is something that we pioneered also. We have been quite creative in these things over the years, and unfortunately they tend to be copied.”

Figure 2: The Series 124 reed relay. (Image Source: Pickering Electronics)

High-density applications, such as automated test equipment (ATE) and semiconductor switching matrices or multiplexers, can benefit from this technology. In addition, thanks to its 80-µs operating time, high-speed test systems can also utilize the Series 124, explains Dale.

“Mostly where people want a high packing density in a high pin count semiconductor test—that’s our biggest area. Since they are small, they’re also quite fast. The mass of the reed switch is small, so they’ll operate quickly, typically 80 µs. It’s pretty quick compared to the larger ones of  a few years ago, and of course people want speed.”

SEMICON West and the Industry’s Smallest Reed Relay

Living up to the conference’s message of staying ahead of the technology curve, Pickering’s Series 124 showed considerable improvement from its Series 120 predecessor, which was released at last year’s event. Measuring 15.5 mm in height, the 2017 reed relay is rated at 20 watts, 1.0 amps, and is the only other product part of the ultra-high density 4 mm2 TM line.

According to Dale, the public’s reaction to the Series 124 was trending toward the positive on that sunny San Francisco afternoon.

“The Series 124 has been well received. They’ve said, ‘Wow, that’s small! Where are you going to go from here?’ People have been impressed by the size and density certainly. The Series 120 released last year, the predecessor of the Series 124, has also been well received and is selling well.”

Figure 3: Dimensions of the Series 124. (Image Source: Pickering Electronics)

SEMICON West, the premiere event for the semiconductor industry, promoted the beyond smart idea to push the already fast pace of tech innovation. With a sea of exhibitors blanketing the San Francisco Moscone Center, Dale leaves us with these key Series 124 takeaways:

“It has the smallest board area, it’s magnetically screened—it has all the features we’ve evolved over the years and we’ve combined them now into the smallest reed relay that there is.”

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