System Test (ST) is a formal evaluation of a System-Under-Test that is conducted to evaluate system functions, stability, and life cycle support by means of a test bed and in a simulated operational environment.
A ST is conducted in a simulated operational environment whenever possible. Some systems do not, however, allow simulation; completion of the ST in this case may require limited deployment of the System-Under-Test to select prototype sites. A successful ST is a prerequisite for the Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E), which is conducted at NWS field sites. The ST is performed after a successful Systems Integration Test by the developer and when the NWS program management determines life cycle support mechanisms (e.g., logistics, training, system documentation, and maintenance) are in place. A successful ST and OT&E are conditions leading to national deployment of the System-Under-Test. OPS24 is responsible for the planning, conduct, and reporting of STs. The NWS maintains Test Bed facilities that may be used to simulate the conditions encountered at operational field sites.
Most programs tested by OPS24 have their own unique test bed(s). Test beds located at the National Weather Service Headquarters (WSH) in Silver Spring, MD are designated as SP# (where “#” represents the test bed number) or a Greek letter. Those test beds simulating an operational environment at the Sterling Research and Development Center (SR&DC - located in Sterling, VA) are designated as ST#. The specific test beds are described below:
- New ASOS test software is installed on the ASOS Test System SP1 at the WSH and ST0 at the SR&DC.
The SP1 ASOS has a single Data Collection Platform (DCP) configuration and the ST0 ASOS has a three-DCP configuration. In lieu of real-time sensors interfaced to SP1, sometimes a simulator software operating on a PC ( ASENSE) is used to generate sensor data for specific test procedures. A limited production sensor is typically connected to ST0 at SR&DC.
Once the NWS portion of the ST is successfully completed, the test software is installed at an operational ASOS in Atlantic City, NJ (site acronym - ACY) for testing by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) personnel since the ASOS plays a major role all airport operations. Test personnel at the FAA Technical Center, Atlantic City, NJ, validate FAA system interfaces to ASOS using the test software in ACY.
- New test software for the NOAA Weather Radio All-Hazard (NWR) Console Replacement system (CRS) and Voice Improvement Processor (VIP) are installed on a CRS Test system at the WSH CRS/VIP Test Facility. There are two CRS Test systems, Alpha and Beta. The only difference between the two test systems is each CRS test system is interfaced to a different AWIPS test system (NMTW or NHDA) located in Silver Spring, MD. The CRS Alpha test system is interfaced to AWIPS NMTW test system; and, the CRS Beta test system is interfaced to AWIPS NHDA test system.
Although both CRS test systems are fully configured for 13-transmitters interfaced to VIP workstations, they are not connected to real transmitters. Instead, an amplified speaker is connected to the CRS Audio Control Panel (ACP) audio output jack from each CRS console to monitor various products. During ST, both CRS test systems are interfaced to the following equipment:
- An Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS) simulator to send test messages to the CRS.
- A Remote Off-Air Monitoring System (ROAMS) Monitoring Unit (MU) simulator to test the CRS/ROAMS MU interface.
- NOAA Weather Radio Specific Area Message Encoder ((NWRSAME) encoders and decoders are used to test specific-area message encoding.
- AWIPS test systems (NMTW, NHDA) at the NWS National Headquarters Modernization Test (NMT) Facility for transmitting test messages to CRS; time synchronization; and Café formatter checkout.
- The AWIPS NOAA servers at the NWS Telecommunication Gateway (TG) for downloading the VIP software.
- All RRS test software is installed on the RRS Test Systems SP2 at the WSH; and, ST1 at the SR&DC.
The SP2 RRS consists of a RRS Workstation Subsystem (RWS) utilizing an External Data Pump (XDP) upper air simulator replaying real upper air soundings. The ST1 RRS is fully configured for use in launching live upper air soundings and sending upper air products to the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) located in Camp Springs, MD; and, archived flight data to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) located in Asheville, NC.