How to not ZAP stuff

Thread Starter

MrSoftware

Joined Oct 29, 2013
1,814
Basically I"m clumsy and I'm looking for tips on how to not be clumsy, or to mitigate the damage from being clumsy. ;) Twice in the past few weeks I've been trouble shooting a PCB with my multi meter, in areas where higher and lower voltages are present (such as near a voltage regulator) and accidentally bridged 2 pins with my big fat multi meter probe instantly zapping the low voltage components. :eek: What are your tips and techniques for preventing mistakes when probing around areas like this? Does anyone have a favorite set of probes with much less exposed metal at the end?
 

kubeek

Joined Sep 20, 2005
5,724
You have a lot of options. You can measure veeeery carefully with one probe only and stick the other to some point with a crocodile clip, you can even solder wires to get better anchor points for that.
Put a plastic sleeve or piece of wire insulation over the end of the probe so that only a tiny point sticks out.
If you are still too clumsy then power off, attach both probes solidly to points that you want to measure, power on, rinse and repeat.
 

crutschow

Joined Mar 14, 2008
25,116
You can grind down the probe tips to make them a smaller radius so it's less likely they will bridge between two closely spaced pins or traces.
Other than that you can try to probe in a location and direction such as to minimize the chance of shorting if you slip off the pin.
 

cmartinez

Joined Jan 17, 2007
6,997
Another option would be to sharpen the probe's tip with a grinder, as I sometimes do. That not only makes it thinner but makes sure that the probe will pierce through any insulation covering the PCB
 

cmartinez

Joined Jan 17, 2007
6,997
You can grind down the probe tips to make them a smaller radius so it's less likely they will bridge between two closely spaced pins or traces.
Other than that you can try to probe in a location and direction such as to minimize the chance of shorting if you slip off the pin.
:mad: Darn! you beat me to it by a few seconds... :)
 

#12

Joined Nov 30, 2010
18,210
1) Buy some of those tiny hook shaped probe ends.
2) Get a, "standard" looking probe shank with a 'chuck' style end on it. Grind an Allen wrench to a point. Size 1/16th of an inch or 0.05 inches. That tool steel tip will penetrate any kind or amount of corrosion, paint, conformal coating, etc.
3) Disconnect all power and solder a bit of wire to where you want to measure...then clip your hook on to that piece of wire.
4) Apparently I'm too slow today and most of my information has already been posted.:(
 

GopherT

Joined Nov 23, 2012
8,012
Basically I"m clumsy and I'm looking for tips on how to not be clumsy, or to mitigate the damage from being clumsy. ;) Twice in the past few weeks I've been trouble shooting a PCB with my multi meter, in areas where higher and lower voltages are present (such as near a voltage regulator) and accidentally bridged 2 pins with my big fat multi meter probe instantly zapping the low voltage components. :eek: What are your tips and techniques for preventing mistakes when probing around areas like this? Does anyone have a favorite set of probes with much less exposed metal at the end?
I try to most always keep the black probe of the multimeter on the ground - so I can use an alligator clip for that. I also have a narrow probe that fits cleanly into a breadboard hole.

For the test point on the red probe, I use the thin probe tip and stick it into the breadboard, or I add an additional jumper wire to create a test point that is a bit remote from the rest of the breadboarded circuit.
 

ErnieM

Joined Apr 24, 2011
8,045
I have several probe sets from fine points to big alligator clips. Whenever possible clamp one down so you only have one probe in one hand. ALWAYS keep in mind what is around what you poke and be aware of what you can damage.

Don't accept you are clumsy. Train yourself to be skilled.

Training is a process demanding practice.
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
10,940
Happens to everyone every once in awhile; you get in a hurry, you get distracted, tight quarters, ...

I use micro grabbers, sometimes with a wire. The ones in the picture below are from some Tektronix gear, the lead is homemade using female 0.025" header connectors:
upload_2015-12-3_10-39-9.png
 
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