Advanced Cable Tester User Manual

1 Revision History

1.1 First Release

Version 0.90 - This is the first release of the advanced cable tester.

2 General Overview

2.1 General Description

The Advanced Cable Tester is a set of applications for the Promira™ Serial Platform that provides the ability to test USB cables. The Total Phase Advanced Cable Tester - Level 1 Application provides continuity testing, DC resistance measurement, and E-Marker verification. The Total Phase Advanced Cable Tester - Level 2 Application provides additional capabilities to evaluate cable signal integrity at up to 12Gbps. Both application levels use the Advanced Cable Tester Hardware, pictured below.

This document describes the Advanced Cable Tester web software applications, the Advanced Cable Tester Hardware and how to use both.

Primarily targeted at USB cables, the main hardware natively supports testing Type-C-to-Type-C cables. Adapter cards are available to enable testing cables that terminate in USB 3.1 Standard-A, USB 3.1 Micro-B, and Lightning USB2.

Continuity testing checks all pins for continuity, preventing dangerous situations like shorts of VBUS to data signals, VBUS/GND reversal, etc., which could damage devices.

DC Resistance ("DCR") and IR Drop testing confirms that each power pin (VBUS and GND) is capable of carrying the required current to meet the applicable specification. For Type-C cables, each power pin is individually measured, then the cable as a whole is tested.

E-Marker testing reads the data from all E-Markers present on the cable, then validates the advertised data and power capabilities against the actual measured parameters of the cable. Additionally, the values of fields such as Vendor ID, Product ID, Test ID, firmware and hardware versions can be specified by the operator, for easy pass/fail determination of cables through a QA process.

The Advanced Cable Tester provides an easy-to-use web interface that allows for remote operation and logging. Using the Promira platform®s connectivity, the Advanced Cable Tester can be operated over USB or over Ethernet. The Advanced Cable Tester can also be configured to operate in a stand-alone mode that does not require a host PC. The LEDs on the device provide straight-forward pass/fail information for the qualification of cables without the need for the graphical interface.


3 Hardware Specifications

3.1 Connectors and LED Indicators

Table (1) : Connector Description
Connector Purpose
Promira platform Connects to Promira platform via included 40mm 34pin ribbon cable
U Type-C connector for connecting to one plug of the cable under test.

Typically configured as the functional Source when testing Type-C cables.
D Similar function to the U connector, but typically configured as the functional Sink when testing Type-C cables.


Table (2) : LED Function and Description
  LED Purpose and Meaning
Advanced Cable Tester LEDs Data Indicates data signal integrity is within expected values. Only valid for the Advanced Cable Tester - Level 2 Application.
Off: Test not performed (Level 1 application)
Green: Indicates that signal integrity passed.
Red: Indicates a signal integrity or other data line failure.
Amps Indicates power-related test result of the cable.
Green: Cable shows no power-related failures, and can carry its specified current.
Red: Power-related failure, such as shorts/opens, out-of-spec IR Drop/DCR, etc.
Status Overall status indication
Off: Not ready or Test in Progress
Green: Test completed and passed
Red: Test completed and failed
Blue flashing: Idle or waiting for cable attachment
Note: while idle or waiting for cable, the Data or Amps LEDs will illuminate blue to indicate that a plug has been detected, corresponding to the "D"and "U" plugs.
Promira LEDs Left Blank: Normal state
Middle Blue flashing: Test in progress
Off: Idle
Right Green: Advanced Cable Tester application running
Blue: No application running (Promira idle)

3.2 Software Specifications

Test Profiles: Held in non-volatile storage on the Promira platform

Test Results: Up to 1000 sets of results are kept in a circular buffer in RAM. Test results are cleared upon power cycle.

3.3 Physical Specifications

DC Characteristics: Power Consumption: 900mA @ 5 V with Promira platform

Dimensions: W x D x L: 77.5 x 29.2 x 115.6 mm (3.05 x 1.15 x 4.55 in)

Weight: 125 g (4.41 oz)

Operating Temperature: 10°–35° C (50°–95° F) non-condensing


4 Promira Serial Platform Overview

The Promira Serial Platform is a multi-purpose test platform. Total Phase separately licenses many other applications for other types of test and development. This includes Host Adapter and Analysis applications for I2C, SPI, eSPI, etc. The Advanced Cable Tester applications are just a few possibilities for the platform. Details about the Promira Serial Platform are included in the separate Promira Serial Platform System User Manual. A brief overview of essential usage details is included here.

4.1 Basic Connectivity

The basic interface to the Promira Serial Platform is via USB or Ethernet. In either case, the USB micro-B interface is used for power (see below). Communication between the end user platform and the Promira is via TCP/IP as Ethernet-over-USB or via TCP/IP over Ethernet. The Ethernet over USB connection is established using the RNDIS or ECM protocol. In this case, the Promira will act as a DHCP server, and provide an IP address to your PC/Mac in the range.

When using the physical Ethernet connection, the Promira platform can use a static IP address or act as a DHCP client, depending on network requirements. It is most convenient to use the Promira Utility software to discover the address that was assigned. The utility software can connect to the Promira via USB or Ethernet connection. The Promira Utility software can also be used to configure a static IP address for the Promira platform (and therefore the Advanced Cable Tester).

4.2 Powering the Promira and ACT

In the case where an Ethernet connection is used, it is necessary to power the Promira platform (and the Advanced Cable Tester) via a USB power adapter with a Micro-B cable. It is essential that this is a high-quality power supply, capable of supplying a minimum of 5V at 1A of current, and with all relevant safety certifications. If a power adapter does not provide enough power, the Promira platform and the Advanced Cable Tester Hardware may not have enough power to operate properly and thus cannot ensure valid testing.

After the Promira platform is configured, the Advanced Cable Tester Application is simply accessed via HTTP from an HTML5-compatible web browser. This could be a mobile phone, tablet, or most often a PC. Please consult the Quick Start Guide at the end of this manual or on our website at Quick Start Guide.

5 User Interface Overview

The Advanced Cable Tester application is accessed via an HTML5 web browser, connecting to the server application hosted on the Promira platform.


Multi-user: Multiple users can simultaneously access, view, and control the Advanced Cable Tester.

Role-level access: Different roles are available to limit access to the various features.

Responsive design: Single web interface is compatible with mobile browsers, tablets, and PCs.

Preset test profiles: Standard test profiles are provided for common cable types.

Custom test profiles: Test profiles can be customized for specific test parameter configurations.

Batch test mode: Capable of high volume testing that auto-starts on cable insertion .

Continuous test mode: Includes single cable burn-in testing.

Auto-start: Advanced Cable Tester is ready for testing after power-up without needing to start a test manually through the web interface.

Headless mode: Advanced Cable Tester can operate without a connection to a host device.

Test profiles are stored on the device. Test profiles can be imported and exported to share between devices.

Test results are stored in volatile memory and are cleared if the power is cycled. Up to 1000 sets of results can be kept. The test results are stored in a circular buffer. If the results storage is full, then the oldest result set is automatically cleared to make room for the new test result set.

5.1 User Interface Elements

Main User Interface Screen (with summary results)


The main user interface displays two general sections: The Control section to configure the Advanced Cable Tester, control the active test profile, and initiate testing. The Results section which displays an overview of any available test reports, in addition to allowing you to manage the individual reports.

The Control section elements are:

"Stack" (Menu): This drop-down menu provides quick access to the various management features of the Advanced Cable Tester Application: Profile management, User Management, Device Information, Test Log, and Logout. Which features are available will depend on the user's role.

Profile: The Profile menu provides a list of all cable profiles available on the Advanced Cable Tester. When the page is first loaded, the default profile is automatically selected.

Batch: Batch mode is a special testing mode, which only requires the user to click Start once to test a number of cables. Once started, the Advanced Cable Tester will remain active and test cables as they are inserted. The pass/fail status of the cable will be indicated by the LEDs on the Advanced Cable Tester Hardware until the cable is unplugged. The test results will be stored on the device and can be retrieved through the web interface.

Continuous: Continuous mode is a special testing mode which will continuously run tests on a single cable until stopped, with a 500 ms delay between test runs. This test mode is particularly useful for burn-in or environmental testing of cables.

Start: Click to start a test, using the currently selected profile.

The Results section provides a list of the test results available on the Advanced Cable Tester, and a high-level summary of the test outcomes. Clicking on any result will take the user to the detailed test results view. If there are more than 10 reports available, then use the and buttons navigate to the previous or next page, and the and buttons to go to the first or last pages. Additionally, it is possible to download and delete test results by selecting them in the list and clicking on the (download) or (delete) buttons. The summary test results shown in the current on-screen list can be printed by clicking on the (print) button. Finally, all stored test results can be downloaded by clicking the (download) button, or deleted by clicking the (delete) button.

5.2 Test Profiles & Profile Configuration

The Advanced Cable Tester includes an Auto-Detect profile, several preset Type-C profiles, and the ability to create custom profiles. The preset profiles (marked with an * (asterisk)) cannot be modified or deleted; they can be copied and exported.

Profile Management Screen

5.3 Default Profiles

There are several preset profiles. All profiles are provided in both a “with SI” form, valid only for the Advanced Cable Tester - Level 2 Application, which performs signal integrity testing; as well as a simple version, valid for both application levels, which does not perform signal integrity testing.

Auto-Detect: Auto-detect cable type, based on any inserted adapter cards, E-Marker presence and advertisements, SuperSpeed pair presence, and test accordingly. Cable is tested only for spec compliance, within parameters that are tested by the Advanced Cable Tester.

SS Gen 2 - 5A: Test a Type-C-to-Type-C cable, capable of USB 3.1 Gen 2, and 5A current.

SS Gen 2 - 3A: Test a Type-C-to-Type-C cable, capable of USB 3.1 Gen 2, and 3A current. Note: If E-Marker indicates 5A, this test will fail.

SS Gen 1 - 5A: Test a Type-C-to-Type-C cable, capable of USB 3.1 Gen 1, and 5A current. Note: If E-Marker indicates USB 3.1 Gen 2, this test will fail.

SS Gen 1 - 3A: Test a Type-C-to-Type-C cable, capable of USB 3.1 Gen 1, and 3A current. Note: If E-Marker indicates USB 3.1 Gen 2 or 5A, this test will fail.

USB 2.0 - 5A: Test a Type-C-to-Type-C cable, capable of USB 2.0 only, and 5A current. Note: If E-Marker indicates USB 3.1 is supported, or if any SuperSpeed wire pairs are present, this test will fail.

USB 2.0 - 3A: Test a Type-C-to-Type-C cable, capable of USB 2.0 only, and 3A current. Note: Any E-Marker is optional for this profile. If E-Marker is present and indicates USB 3.1 is supported, or E-Marker indicates 5A is supported, or if any SuperSpeed wire pairs are present, this test will fail.

5.4 Profile Management Actions

When a profile is selected in the list, its settings are automatically loaded. Changes must be saved by clicking the Save button at the bottom. Selecting another profile before clicking the save button will result in changes being lost.

The method for selecting multiple profiles for Download or Delete is browser-dependent, but typically on Windows/Linux a range is selected by holding down Shift before clicking on the second extent of the range, or by holding Control and clicking each individual item; or on Mac OS X using Shift to select a range, and Command to select individual items.

New: Create a new profile with blank fields.

Copy: Create a copy of the currently selected profile. Use this to clone one of the preset profiles, to create your own derivative.

Export: Export the selected profile as a JSON file. Multiple profiles can be exported at once.

Delete: Delete the selected profile, after displaying a confirmation dialog. Multiple profiles can be deleted at once.

Default: Set the selected profile as the default, automatically selected when the application starts.

Import: Import a previously Exported profile(s) from a JSON file.

5.5 Profile Options

Name: This is the profile name, shown in the list of profiles. This will be displayed in the test results.

Description: Verbose text describing the profile purpose. This will be displayed in the test results and is a useful place to put descriptive information for users of the Advanced Cable Tester and consumers of the test reports.

Current: Current value in milliAmps to use for DCR/IR drop calculations. When computing the IR drop for VBUS/GND, it is necessary to factor in the current. Depending on the cable type, a default will be used: 3000mA for unmarked Type-C, 3000mA or 5000mA for E-Marked Type-C, 900mA for USB 3.1 cables terminating in an A or B connector, and 500mA for USB 2.0 cables terminating in an A or B connector.

DCR: This configures the parameters for the DC resistance (DCR) measurement for the cable, on the GND and VBUS lines. Both follow a similar pattern: If the checkbox is selected, then the parameter is validated against measured values; if not selected, then the results are reported but will not cause a failure.

GND / Wire: Maximum resistance or IR drop for the GND wire through the cable. If units are set to mV then this is taken as Maximum IR drop; if units are set to "mo", then this is taken as Maximum DC resistance in milliohms

GND / Pin: Maximum DC resistance for any GND pin, measured between the Advanced Cable Tester and the paddle card, in milliohms.

VBUS / Wire: Maximum resistance or IR drop for the VBUS wire through the cable. If units are set to mV then this is taken as Maximum IR drop; If units are set to "mo", then this is taken as Maximum DC resistance in milliohms

VBUS / Pin: Maximum DC resistance for any VBUS pin, measured between the ACT and the paddlecard, in milliohms.

Presence: All items in this section follow a common pattern: If Required is checked, then the items presence must match the Present checkbox. For example, if E-Marker: Required is checked, but Present unchecked, then the E-Marker must be absent to pass the test. The value of the Present checkbox is meaningless unless Required is checked.

SOP' & SOP'': Checks for presence of a corresponding E-Marker in the cable. Any present E-Marker must be valid, match cable parameters, etc.

CC: Presence of the CC wire through the USB cable. For Type-C cables, this is a fundamental requirement; this test is recommended as Present / Required for Type-C-to-Type-C cables.

SBU: Presence of SBU1/SBU2 wires through the cable. These two wires are required for Full-Featured Type-C cables.

VCONN: Presence of the VCONN pulldown in the cable plug.

VCONN Thru: Presence of the VCONN wire through the cable. A cable that has this is not Type-C compliant. This test is recommended as Absent / Required.

DP/DM1: Presence of the USB2 wire pair, also known as D+/D-. These wires are required for all Type-C cables. This test is recommended as Present / Required

DP/DM2: Presence of a second USB2 wire pair, also known as D+/D-. These wires are prohibited for Type-C cables. This test is recommended as Absent / Required

SS TX1 / SS TX2 / SS RX1 / SS RX2: Presence of each of the four SuperSpeed wire pairs: SSTX1, SSTX2, SSRX1, SSRX2. These wire pairs are required for Full-Featured Type-C cables.

E-Marker: This section defines E-Marker parameter validation. If an E-Marker is present in the cable, then the identity VDOs are read, and compared to the parameters specified here. If the checkbox for a given item is checked, then the associated parameter must match.

Product: Product type as specified in the ID Header VDO. Can be either Passive Cable or Active Cable.

Speed: USB SuperSpeed Signaling Support as specified in the Cable VDO. Can be USB 2.0 only, USB 3.1 Gen 1, or USB 3.1 Gen 1 and Gen 2.

Current: VBUS Current Handling Capability as specified in the Cable VDO. Can be either 3A or 5A.

Vendor ID: USB Vendor ID as specified in the ID Header VDO.

Product ID: USB Product ID as specified in the Product VDO.

Test ID: USB Test ID (XID) as specified in the Cert Stat VDO.

HW Ver: Hardware Version as specified in the Cable VDO.

FW Ver: Firmware Version as specified in the Cable VDO.

VBUS Thru: VBUS Through Cable, either Yes or No, as specified in the Cable VDO.

Latency: Cable Latency, as specified in the Cable VDO.

Term: Cable Termination, as specified in the Cable VDO.

SOP DP: True if an SOP'' controller is present, as specified in the Cable VDO.

Signal Integrity: Parameters for signal integrity testing. These can be configured when using the Advanced Cable Tester - Level 1 Application, but tests can only be run when using the Advanced Cable Tester - Level 2 Application.

Lab Mode: When Lab mode is not enabled, the Advanced Cable Tester will test for data reception only where reception expected, which results in faster test times. When lab mode is enabled, the Advanced Cable Tester will test signal integrity on all possible combinations of wires. If cable is mis-wired, additional debug information may be available by checking this box.

Eye Diagrams: Enables capture and storage of the eye diagram data.

For each test option, Frequency controls at what rate to test. Test frequencies can be selected between 518Mbps and 12Gbps. Not all test frequencies are available, if an unavailable frequency is selected, the next highest available rate (or the maximum) will automatically be chosen. The actual frequency used in signal integrity testing will be returned in the results.

HEO and VEO set the minimum horizontal (HEO) and vertical (VEO) eye openings. Both are specified only in internal units. It is recommended to start with one of the standard profiles, and then fine-tune this by loosening (lowering) or tightening (raising) the value as necessary.

High-Speed Data Lines: If checked, enables signal integrity analysis of the USB2 DP/DM wire pair at the specified rate, with HEO and VEO validation as specified.

SuperSpeed Data Lines: If checked, enables signal integrity analysis of all four SuperSpeed USB wire pairs at the specified rate, with HEO and VEO validation as specified.

6 Test Specification

6.1 Test Coverage

The Advanced Cable Tester contains several types of analysis circuitry for testing the different types of pins. With the exception of the lower speed USB2 pins, a given pin type is not tested by multiple analysis circuits. The tests have been carefully selected to provide test coverage, while not increasing system cost or impacting accuracy.

Pin Groups

VBUS, GND: Tested using power pin tester.

CC, VCONN: Tested using a Type-C port controller.

SSTX1, SSTX2, SSRX1, SSRX2: Tested using signal integrity circuit.

SBU1, SBU2, SHIELD: Tested using simple digital testing.

USB2 D+/D- pair: Tested using both digital tester and signal integrity circuit.

6.2 Test Sequence

The Advanced Cable Tester uses multiple phases to test the cables that are put under test. The phases are generally measurement of the various cable parameters followed by evaluation of the results for pass/fail criteria established by the selected profile and the specifications of the USB Type-C Specification. The first phase is a safety test stage where the cable is evaluated for shorts and mis-wires that are deemed to be safety issues, the second phase measures all the parameters of the cable, and the final phase takes all of the measured parameters and evaluates them against the requirements for the cable under test. At the completion of the third phase, the web interface is updated with the result and the information is available for further use by the end-user.

6.2.1 Test Phases

  • Test Phase 1
  1. The first phase encompasses the Safety Test part of the test sequence. The following items are checked during this phase.
  2. VBus to Ground Short
  3. CC/VConn to Ground Short
  4. VBus to CC/VConn Short\
  • Test Phase 2
  1. Shorts between all other pins
  2. Continuity of defined and present pins
  3. Mis-wires of defined and present pins
  4. DC resistance of each of the Ground pins at both the “U” and “D” side of the cable
  5. Total DC resistance of the Ground connection through the cable
  6. DC resistance of each of the VBus pins at both the “U” and “D” side of the cable
  7. >Total DC resistance of the VBus connection through the cable
  8. E-Marker detection and read out
  9. From the “U” side of the cable (SOP’ and SOP”)
  10. From the “D” side of the cable (SOP’ and SOP”)
  11. Differential Pair continuity check
  12. (Optional) Signal Integrity measurement
  • Test Phase 3
  1. Compare the results from the above testing with the requirements of the profile used and USB Type-C specifications.
  2. Set the LEDs on the ACT device per the pass/fail results
  3. Report to the web browser the results of the test

6.2.2 Detailed test information DCR Resistance Tests

The ACT utilizes a small current to measure the DC resistance of the various parts of the cable. The individual pin test relies upon the fact that each end of the cable has at least two of the four defined pins used for each of VBus or Ground. The total cable DC resistance test relies on the presence of at least one good pin connection on each end of the cable for the VBus and the Ground connection. If there are not sufficient connections for the above tests, the ACT reports back “no connection” in the test results. It will report back as much information as it can discern from the available connections.

NOTE: The ACT does not use the maximum specified current per the USB Type-C Specification for the levels of 1.5 A, 3 A, or 5 A for legacy to Type-C or Type-C to Type-C cables. Signal Integrity

Each requested test (HS USB and however many SS USB tests are specified) are performed sequentially by iterating through the specified test rates. The default cases for USB cables are 500 Mbps (HS), 5 Gbps, and 10 Gbps (SS). The user can set the test rates between 518 Mbps and 12.8 Gbps for both types of wires via the interface. If a test is requested on a particular pair that does not support or is missing the correct connection, the tester will try multiple times to look for a transmitted signal. If no lock of the transmitted signal is received this process will slow down the overall test time. There are two modes for operation of the signal integrity test. The “Lab Mode” switch enables/disables the ability to look at all possible combinations for the SS pair routing. It does not affect the HS pair test. When disabled (default) the device only looks for the signals at the USB Type-C specification locations (ie. Up end TX1 at Down end RX1 or RX2 depending on cable orientation). If it is enabled it will look at all possible locations. The results are returned as unitless measures HEO and VEO. The HEO is the Horizontal Eye Opening and is a value from 0 to 63 with each unit representing 1/64 of the UI. The VEO is the Vertical Eye Opening which is a value from 0 to 160 representing the vertical opening of the recovered eye diagram. Each of these values are measured at the respective horizontal and vertical centers of the UI. The HEO and the VEO are the values used for pass/fail criteria.

Eye diagrams are the complete UI results for each test. They are returned in the results page for visual inspection but not used for pass/fail criteria.


Legal / Contact


All of the software and documentation provided in this manual, is copyright Total Phase, Inc. ("Total Phase"). License is granted to the user to freely use and distribute the software and documentation in complete and unaltered form, provided that the purpose is to use or evaluate Total Phase products. Distribution rights do not include public posting or mirroring on Internet websites. Only a link to the Total Phase download area can be provided on such public websites.

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Information in this document is subject to change without notice and should not be construed as a commitment by Total Phase. While the information contained herein is believed to be accurate, Total Phase assumes no responsibility for any errors and/or omissions that may appear in this document.

Life Support Equipment Policy

Total Phase products are not authorized for use in life support devices or systems. Life support devices or systems include, but are not limited to, surgical implants, medical systems, and other safety-critical systems in which failure of a Total Phase product could cause personal injury or loss of life. Should a Total Phase product be used in such an unauthorized manner, Buyer agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Total Phase, its officers, employees, affiliates, and distributors from any and all claims arising from such use, even if such claim alleges that Total Phase was negligent in the design or manufacture of its product.

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