Author Topic: Faxitron MX-20 x-ray system teardown  (Read 46152 times)

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Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Faxitron MX-20 x-ray system teardown
« on: January 12, 2015, 01:41:10 am »
Nice system with microfocus tube and high-res detector :

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Offline krivx

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Re: Faxitron MX-20 x-ray system teardown
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2015, 02:15:49 am »
Great video. Do you think penetration depth is enough to see if BGA packages have reflowed correctly?
 

Offline pickle9000

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Re: Faxitron MX-20 x-ray system teardown
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2015, 02:54:51 am »
That looks really fun....and expensive.
 

Offline c4757p

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Re: Faxitron MX-20 x-ray system teardown
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2015, 02:58:39 am »
I love the combination of BGA FPGAs and TO-18/TO-3 transistors...
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Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Faxitron MX-20 x-ray system teardown
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2015, 09:39:21 am »
Great video. Do you think penetration depth is enough to see if BGA packages have reflowed correctly?
Probably not - there will be too much metal in the way - it could probably see a pad with incomplete paste.
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Offline dexters_lab

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Re: Faxitron MX-20 x-ray system teardown
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2015, 03:42:11 pm »
looks a nice bit of kit

guessing it's not just a random purchase like the baggage x-ray?
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Offline daqq

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Re: Faxitron MX-20 x-ray system teardown
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2015, 05:26:18 pm »
Thanks for the video Mike, I love seeing what goes into these special devices.
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Offline jaxbird

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Re: Faxitron MX-20 x-ray system teardown
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2015, 05:42:36 pm »
Such a beautiful machine, I'm very envious, just being able to peek through a multilayer board with ground and power planes with usable resolution should be worth a lot :)

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Offline krivx

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Re: Faxitron MX-20 x-ray system teardown
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2015, 06:00:22 pm »
Great video. Do you think penetration depth is enough to see if BGA packages have reflowed correctly?
Probably not - there will be too much metal in the way - it could probably see a pad with incomplete paste.

That's a shame, that would be a very useful application. I wanted to see a X-ray reflow movie...
 

Offline firewalker

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Re: Faxitron MX-20 x-ray system teardown
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2015, 08:24:44 pm »
Is that camera a standard USB pc camera?  :P :P :P

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Online Fraser

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Re: Faxitron MX-20 x-ray system teardown
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2015, 08:50:31 pm »
It all started here  :)

https://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/x-ray-machines-technology-and-use-in-hobby-electronics/msg560053/#msg560053

I was fortunate enough to find a complete Faxitron MX-20 system including the all important PC.

These units are used throughout the world in hospitals, medical research labs and even grain quality assessment centres. The MX-20 is designed to operate at relatively low keV and to provide high resolution imagery. My unit has a 100mm x 100mm highly sensitive 'camera' array with 2048x2048 pixels (4MP). Doing the simple maths that is 20 pixels per mm or 0.05mm per pixel :-+ Perfect for PCB detail.

The Faxitron uses up to 35kVp to produce its images and the sensitivity of the imaging array compensates for the relatively low acceleration voltage. Sadly such a low voltage does mean that the photon beam is not able to penetrate dense metals to any great depth. However this limitation is offset by the superb clarity and resolution of the images. The 35kVp also means that the X-Rays are more easily contained and the unit is very safe to use. Soft X-Rays are still harmful if you or an animal is overexposed to such..... so no X-Raying of the pet hamster or cat !

At this point it is worth noting that testing has indicated that soft X-Rays have a greater detrimental effect on charge based memory systems than hard X-Ray. Worth noting if you intend to carry out a lot of X-Ray exposures on one particular DUT . I have never killed or corrupted a memory device over the many years that I have used X-Ray machines but I tended to use higher kVp so that may be why.

Back to the Faxitron purchase....

I found a Faxitron MX-20 in lovely condition and with all parts, tested and ready to use. It was for sale at GBP1000 from a medical recycling company. Now GBP1000 is not a small sum but these units cost almost $60000 when new. Half that cost is the digital camera unit and PC ! It was an easy decision for me and I made a purchase  ;D  I have also purchased an MX-20 that is designed for digital or film cassettes and so is without an integral digital camera. That unit came from a different recycling company and cost GBP250. I wanted it as a source of spare parts as I hope to have the Faxitron for many years to come.

Mike was understandably interested in the MX-20's capabilities as he had previously looked at such units, but the lower kVp was a concern with regard to what such a unit could achieve with a PCB. When another complete Faxitron became available to me I was tempted to have it as a spare but in the end sense prevailed and I let Mike know of its availability. I am very pleased that Mike now has a Faxitron as I feel sure he will make very good use of it. As you can see from his video, he has already dived inside it to reveal where all the magic happens  ;D  Some nice example picture at the end as well.

Some comments on buying such a machine:

1. It is an X-Ray generator and has the potential to cause harm. Look for damage to the case and treat it with respect.
2. Such machines are safe to use provided the interlocks are not disabled and it is used in accordance with the instructions.
3. The Faxitrons are common on the used / recycling market in the UK but less so in some countries due to safety regulations.
4. The cabinet weighs 70kg so be careful trying to lift it. This is light for an X-Ray machine but still a challenge to lift on your own. I lifted my unit onto its trolley so speak from experience !
5. The MX-20 uses a sophisticated camera array that comes with either a proprietary interface or USB 2.0. The proprietary interface version needs a dedicated interface card in the PC....it is almost a full size PCI card ! No source of these cards is known except in used systems.
6. The Faxitron software drives the cabinet via an RS232 link and communicates with the camera via the appropriate card or USB 2.0
7. The USB 2.0 camera enables use of a laptop instead of a bulky PC, provided the Faxitron software is transplanted. The units do not normally come with software installation disks.
8. As these systems are common in hospitals it is not unusual for the PC to become separated during the disposal process (it is consider IT rather than medical equipment so a different disposal process applies). If this is not the case, the hard disk (and so Faxitron software) has often been removed to meet DPA rules. Patient data is confidential. If you buy such a unit and it contains patient data, please respect privacy and delete it all as it is not vital to the software. The DB is Microsoft Access and the images stored in an easily identified Data file.
9. If you find a Faxitron without the PC, I must warn that the chances of driving the camera will be dictated by the interface used  and whether you can drive the system with some self written software. Faxitron will not supply the software or legacy parts. They are known to be VERY unhelpful. Thankfully the older Faxitrons up to circa 2011 are very reliable. 2011 onwards saw a reduction in reliability due to the parts used. Faxitron will challenge private owners on possession of one of their units. You have been warned.
10. If you are lucky like Mike and me, you will find a complete (with PC) Faxitron at a medical disposal auction. If complete, it is very likely to work but you need to check if the HDD is present.

For information here is the time line on the digital cameras and their available sizes:

2004 to 2007 Faxitron use Bioptics (Rad-icon Radeye) camera - Sizes: 2"x 2", 2"x 4", 4" x 4"

2008 to 2011 Faxitron use Hamamatsu camera- Sizes: 2" x 2" approx & 4" x 4" approx

2011 to Present Faxitron use Bioptics Rad-icon camera - Sizes: 4"x 4" , 4"x 6"


I will close here but am happy to answer questions on these superb bits of kit  :)

Aurora
« Last Edit: January 13, 2015, 10:37:51 pm by Aurora »
 

Offline firewalker

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Re: Faxitron MX-20 x-ray system teardown
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2015, 09:11:07 pm »
Is it possible/worthwhile to change the voltage to the tubes, limit?

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Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Faxitron MX-20 x-ray system teardown
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2015, 09:12:35 pm »
It all started here  :)
...so no X-Raying of the pet hamster or cat !
little chance of getting a cat to stay still inside for long enough anyway!

I am now looking out for dead bugs etc. every time I go through the garden...

 
Quote
At this point it is worth noting that testing has indicated that soft X-Rays have a greater detrimental effect on charge based memory systems than hard X-Ray. Worth noting if you intend to carry out a lot of X-Ray exposures on one particular DUT .
except the package will filter out a lot
Quote
5. The MX-20 uses a sophisticated camera array that comes with either a proparitary interface or USB 2.0. The propriatary interface version needs a dedicated interface card in the PC....it almost a full size PCI card ! No source of these cards is known except in used systems.
Any chance of a picture of your card?
I came across an older Hamamatsu sensor which had a simple, well-documented LVDS parallel interface that interfaces with a National Instruments card
Quote
6. The Faxitron software drives the cabinet via an RS232 link and communicates with the camera via the appropriate card or USB 2.0
Bear in mind that well-integrated software talking to the generator and detector isn't essential- the Faxitron generator can be driven from the front panel, and most detectors will have a simple trigger input option. I've not looked yet but I have little doubt that the RS232 serial interface on the generator will be any more than some obvious ASCII commands.
There is some driver software available for various Hamamatsu detectors, but I've not yet looked to see if it includes any software for standalone operation.
Quote
7. The USB 2.0 camera enables use of a laptop instead of a bulky PC, provided the Faxitron software is transplanted. The units do not normally come with software installation disks.
The Faxitron SW is node-locked to the MAC address of the PC, but this can be worked around  8)
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Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Faxitron MX-20 x-ray system teardown
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2015, 09:16:11 pm »
Is it possible/worthwhile to change the voltage to the tubes, limit?

Alexander.
I'm not sure why they would limit it to 35kv - could be that you need lead shielding above that, and it may also be a limitation of the working range of the detector.
An issue with microfocus tubes is that due to the small spot size, current needs to be reduced at higher voltages to limit power dissipation, so it could be that over 35kv, the possible beam current is too low to get above the detector's noise floor.
 
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Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Faxitron MX-20 x-ray system teardown
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2015, 09:17:22 pm »
I love the combination of BGA FPGAs and TO-18/TO-3 transistors...
I suspect the MX-20 generator design is somewhat older than the detector - early versions were probably used with film.
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Online Fraser

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Re: Faxitron MX-20 x-ray system teardown
« Reply #15 on: January 12, 2015, 09:43:23 pm »
@Mike,

I have some pictures of the interface card but they are too big to post at the moment. I will shrink them and upload later. Its a beast of a PCI card running the following chips:

1x Xilinx XC95144                                   CPLD
1x PLX Technology PCI9054-AC50PI      PCI Bus mastering interface
4x Cypress CY7C4235V-15ASC              FIFO
2x Lattice iM4A5-32                                CPLD

Camera produces 14 bit data and contains its own dedicated microprocessor.

Aurora
« Last Edit: January 12, 2015, 09:59:47 pm by Aurora »
 

Offline ovnr

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Re: Faxitron MX-20 x-ray system teardown
« Reply #16 on: January 13, 2015, 10:50:32 pm »
We talking about beastly imager controllers?

Here's mine, from a 5MP Philips medical imager - some interesting FPGAs, including a $2200 Virtex 2 - with the option of fitting a 2nd one.


(Click for full res - 3.6 MB)
 

Online Fraser

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Re: Faxitron MX-20 x-ray system teardown
« Reply #17 on: January 13, 2015, 11:23:22 pm »
Mine cannot come close to that  ;D

Mine is a beast because of its physical size when considering what it has on it. It almost appears to be a backplane board that can have different daughter boards fitted depending upon the application.

Picture soon.

Aurora
 

Offline DJ

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Re: Faxitron MX-20 x-ray system teardown
« Reply #18 on: January 14, 2015, 04:22:26 am »
You guys are great, but hard on the wallet. Now I feel somehow incomplete without my personal box of bremsstrahlung  :D

One wonders what other instrumentation is next to be repurposed for the compleat home lab?

The Faxitron was on this list, with some useful brethren:
http://www.mdanderson.org/education-and-research/resources-for-professionals/scientific-resources/core-facilities-and-services/small-animal-imaging-facility/fees/fees.html
 

Online Fraser

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Re: Faxitron MX-20 x-ray system teardown
« Reply #19 on: January 14, 2015, 04:37:37 pm »
@DJ,

To put things in perspective an X-Ray machine is a VERY unusual piece of equipment to find in the home electronics lab. My use of X-Ray in electronics thread raised the topic of whether there is a place for X-Ray capability in the hobby environment so I will not repeat myself here.

Over the years I have set up a very capable home electronics lab that will serve me well in my retirement. I am very fortunate to have worked for a VERY interesting employer who professionally  trained me in several specialisms that involved all manner of equipment and technologies. I decided that when I retired I would try to replicate as much of the lab equipment as I could afford so that I could maintain my present diagnostic capabilities. I have now succeeded in this goal as only the high resolution X-Ray capability was unrepresented in the lab. Yes it is a luxury and unusual equipment to find in a domestic environment, but I am used to having access to an Industrial Microfocus X-Ray any time I need it. I would miss that capability. I will be retiring early on 28 February this year at the grand old age of 47 so I have achieved two objetctives... 1. Retire, or at least Semi-retire. whilst I can still enjoy life with my wife, and 2. having a very capable electronics and engineering lab at my disposal.

I am not for one minute suggesting that hobbyists should place an X-Ray capability on their 'must have' list for a home lab. As I have said, its a luxury, but a very nice luxury to have  :)

I work a lot with CCD cameras, image intensifiers and thermal imagers so, to me, this is just another form of imaging technology that is both interesting to 'play' with and very useful when reverse engineering equipment enclosures and PCB's. Hidden enclosure fixings are the bane of my life ! Not any more !

I have detailed my X-Ray machine as a point of interest and discussion and I hope others find the topic an interesting read. I count myself most fortunate to have a patient wife and the availability of such exotic and once massively expensive test equipment, at an affordable price. Thank goodness for technology recycling companies..... you never know maybe I can buy a CAT scanner or MRI scanner next  ;D

Aurora
 

Offline DJ

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Re: Faxitron MX-20 x-ray system teardown
« Reply #20 on: January 14, 2015, 06:06:23 pm »
Was not implying that xray was commonplace at all! As in your case, am semi-retired and very much enjoy the esoteric stuff that a few decades ago would have seemed impossible. The gains in technology (and affordability) of gear since I started are staggering. To think that we would have such tools in a personal lab would have been unthinkable in the 70's or earlier.

Fascinating stuff, and you and Mike are doing a splendid job of explaining and adapting these tools for the home shop. :)
 

Online Fraser

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Re: Faxitron MX-20 x-ray system teardown
« Reply #21 on: January 14, 2015, 07:01:42 pm »
@DJ,

I have no problem with anything you have said  :) I just wanted to put the ownership of an X-Ray machine into perspective for readers as it is an unusual capability to have at home.

In days gone by X-Ray machines were not recycled in the way that we see today. Many ended up in scrap yards for harvesting of valuable materials. HSE in the UK have not, afaik,made efforts to avoid such equipment ending up in private individuals hands. The down side of X-Ray machines is normally safety and weight. Open source X-Rays such as used in Hospitals and Dental surgeries need very careful use. Cabinet X-Ray systems tended to be used for industrial quality control, medical biopsy analysis and security mail scanning. Many such units were/are horrendously heavy due to lead shielding. The Faxitron is unusual in that its lower kVp permits lighter shielding and so a much more manageable weight. My MX-20 weighs 70kg and I managed to lift it on my own. The Todd Research TR15 cabinet mail scanner that is arriving this week weighs over 200kg, and that's a relatively light unit !  Why do I need another cabinet X-Ray.....simple..... greater penetration of metals  ;D ... and it was offered to me for free  :-+

I hope that I can continue to contribute interesting topics that are fun to read. I have a lot of hobbies and even more projects awaiting my semi-retirement.

Aurora

« Last Edit: January 14, 2015, 07:22:39 pm by Aurora »
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Faxitron MX-20 x-ray system teardown
« Reply #22 on: January 14, 2015, 08:16:54 pm »
Another thing about x-ray machines in particular is that the vast majority of  professional/industrial/medical outfits wouldn't touch an ex-ebay unit for potential liability reasons.
I've seen plenty of mailroom, dental and cargo scanning units relisted time & time again at small fractions of their original cost but still failing to sell until they get down to hobbyist price levels.
 

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Online Fraser

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Re: Faxitron MX-20 x-ray system teardown
« Reply #23 on: January 14, 2015, 09:23:57 pm »
@Mike,

I concur.

One of my friends in the medical equipment recycling industry said that they do not sell the equipment to UK medical organisations or labs. Such organisations are not interested in such. His equipment is sold to enthusiasts and those with alternative uses for the technology such as me. Some of the equipment is in 'as new' or new condition and is just considered obsolete. I bought two brand new top of the line high resolution digital medical video glasses (like the Olympus EyeTrek but better) for GBP150 each. They originally cost over $10000 each !. There are some superb quality research grade microscopes to be had as well. My friend also said that a lot of the good stuff gets bought at auctions and from him for export overseas. There is some serious profit to be had selling some of the equipment internationally.

I am just pleased that my recycling  friends are willing to sell some of this equipment at prices that are just about within hobbyist budgets.

Aurora
« Last Edit: January 14, 2015, 09:33:34 pm by Aurora »
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Faxitron MX-20 x-ray system teardown
« Reply #24 on: January 14, 2015, 09:58:26 pm »
 A few years I went to a specialist medical auction a few times, a large number of the buyers were vets!
 
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