Test Leads, &c.

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
5,513
1642779108272.pngSo I feel the time has come to invest some money in additional and possibly better test leads. By this I mean standard banana-to-clip type leads with various sorts of clips. For years I have used Pomona products which are excellent but exceedingly expensive. I still have some Pomona banana to minigrabber leads, but over the years things have been lost, "borrowed", and broken so I am down to only a few. These are about $20USD a set, which isn't outrageous, but can I do better?
1642779345503.pngI also want to get some heavier gauge leads with different clips for power supplies. I also have used Pomona products for these, but again, the cost seems high at $7USD each.
1642779597627.png
One more thing I need are good alligator to alligator leads. I don't tend to melt them as I have seen some do so I don't treat them as disposable. Still, once again, I would prefer not to pay the Pomona tax if it's not necessary.

So my question to the AAC collective wisdom is: do you have any specific suggestions for high value test leads where price, performance, and longevity beat the Pomonas?
 
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Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
5,513
In the past I have purchased a spool of black & red test lead wire and made my own up, specific lengths and ends etc.
I have too, but that really just pushes the question off to the choice of wire, banana plugs, and clips. I am not averse to making my own, it's just not seemed to be a winning proposition on value after the cost of materials. If you have some ideas for manufacturers/suppliers that make it better, I am all... eyes.
 

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
9,466
I have too, but that really just pushes the question off to the choice of wire, banana plugs, and clips. I am not averse to making my own, it's just not seemed to be a winning proposition on value after the cost of materials. If you have some ideas for manufacturers/suppliers that make it better, I am all... eyes.
There are things worth saving a buck on. Cheap test leads are IMO not one of them.
 

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
5,513
There are things worth saving a buck on. Cheap test leads are IMO not one of them.
I agree, hence my question. But I don't think fabricating them myself would necessarily lead to an inferior product. I've been known to make some really excellent cables (of all sorts), and I do enjoy it, but in this case I don't feel the enjoyment is enough to go through the trouble if I can find something manufactured for a similar price.

If someone pointed out some really good materials for a good price, I would consider it.
 

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
5,513
I recently bought these, on the left for $20USD. They work well. They have gold flashed (if not quite plated) contacts and are made of decent plastic. If I was buying for a scientific lab, or a high traffic commercial one, I might buy the Pomonas (on the right but at $174USD I couldn't justify them for my own bench.
1642782705591.png1642782948942.png
 

ApacheKid

Joined Jan 12, 2015
617
View attachment 258364So I feel the time has come to invest some money in additional and possibly better test leads. By this I mean standard banana-to-clip type leads with various sorts of clips. For years I have used Pomona products which are excellent but exceedingly expensive. I still have some Pomona banana to minigrabber leads, but over the years things have been lost, "borrowed", and broken so I am down to only a few. These are about $20USD a set, which isn't outrageous, but can I do better?
View attachment 258365I also want to get some heavier gauge leads with different clips for power supplies. I also have used Pomona products for these, but again, the cost seems high at $7USD each.
One more thing I need are good alligator to alligator leads. I don't tend to melt them as I have seen some do so I don't treat them as disposable. Still, once again, I would prefer not to pay the Pomona tax if it's not necessary.

So my question to the AAC collective wisdom is: do you have any specific suggestions for high value test leads where price, performance, and longevity beat the Pomonas?
I've been ordering all kinds of stuff like this recently, because I've just started setting up a serious electronics workshop for the first time in years.

I've been following a "demand driven" policy, by which I mean I attempt some project or experiment and as I embark upon it if I find myself saying "ahh, I wish I had..." then I stop to see if something like it exists and order it!

Pretty much all of this has been from Amazon, often spending a bit of time comparing products from different suppliers and reading reviews, plus in many cases these are low cost so if I waste 20 bucks I waste 20 bucks, sometimes that's the only way to really find out, just order it.

I did however have to make something recently that I just could not find, here's the simple cable I made:

1642783594024.png

Yes, this is almost embarrassingly simple but I could not find one anywhere.

I needed this because I had an opamp circuit on breadboard and wanted to supply an input signal and see the output on my scope.

I was using and ordinary probe with little bits of dupont wire clipped on and so on and it was a fiddly mess.

Now I can connect my scope and or signal generator to breadboard holes with ease, for most work these cables are fine for a scope.

The yellow is just heat shrinkable sleeving and the original cables are these ones, there are other variants but they are not ideal as the red/black wires were thicker and made it hard to use a single size of heat shrinkable sleeve.

When I removed the built in clips it was easy to see there was a metal tag, so I attached one of end of a dupont wire to it, crimpled it with pliers and shrank the sleeve.

There is a ton of stuff on Amazon and I suggest you order a big mixed bunch of stuff, here are some of the stuff I have that I may not use often but boy, I'm glad I have it around when I do something unusual.

Multi colored power cables - why have thirty boring black cables all jumbled together when you can have colors?

Stackable Shrouded Banana Plugs.

Colorful Swivel Magnetic Hooks.

BNC Male to Dual 2 BNC Female Connector - Many variants too, great for splitting a signal gen output to a circuit and scope.

Mini Grabber SMD IC Test Hook Clips.

Stackable Banana Plug to Breadboard.

Coded Clip on Plastic Cable Identification - Get a range of sizes, all my cables have a random pair on (but no dupes!)

All of these are likely very useful to any of us at some time or other, so why not just order a huge batch of this be prepared!
 

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
5,513
Almost, but not quite: https://www.digikey.com/en/products/detail/pomona-electronics/4945-K-18/737054

Seems to be more demand for this version. I did see a few homemade cables like yours. If I wanted to make that connection i'd have to use either my one of my male BNC to micrograbbers cables connected to a pair of short Dupont jumpers or a BNC male-to-male cable terminated in a female BNC to micrograbbers adapter on a pair of Duponts.
 

ApacheKid

Joined Jan 12, 2015
617
Almost, but not quite: https://www.digikey.com/en/products/detail/pomona-electronics/4945-K-18/737054

Seems to be more demand for this version. I did see a few homemade cables like yours. If I wanted to make that connection i'd have to use either my one of my male BNC to micrograbbers cables connected to a pair of short Dupont jumpers or a BNC male-to-male cable terminated in a female BNC to micrograbbers adapter on a pair of Duponts.
Wow, it exists! I also never heard of Pomona!

Thanks
 

ApacheKid

Joined Jan 12, 2015
617
I guess Pomona are the choice for non hobby needs, serious professional work where consistency and robustness are absolutely essential, the stuff on Amazon seems fine for me and my needs but I guess in a serious production setting one could get fired for buying cheap stuff!
 

ApacheKid

Joined Jan 12, 2015
617
I recall a lot of hype too about "low noise HDMI" cables and so on, where people were paying huge money for a HDMI cable that actually offered 0% benefit over some basic brand.
 

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
5,513
I guess Pomona are the choice for non hobby needs, serious professional work where consistency and robustness are absolutely essential, the stuff on Amazon seems fine for me and my needs but I guess in a serious production setting one could get fired for buying cheap stuff!
Yes, Pomona is basically the leads no one gets fired for buying.
 

rsjsouza

Joined Apr 21, 2014
350
There is an eBay store from a regular on the EEVBlog forum (Franky, 99centhobbies on eBay) that has several parts to DIY your cables (even Kelvin) that myself and many others have purchased with excellent quality and service. He is located in Hong Kong and has very reasonable prices with great quality products - not the ultra-cheap that you would find in Aliexpress or Banggood, but overall lower cost than pre-fabricated probes.

He is out until the end of the month, thus his store shows nothing (at least for me).

A long thread about his products and satisfied customers:
https://www.eevblog.com/forum/buysellwanted/franky_s-sales-thread/700/

A bunch of us got a Kelvin clip kit he sells:
https://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/decent-kelvin-clip-leads/

eBay store:
https://www.ebay.com/str/99centhobbies
 

Reloadron

Joined Jan 15, 2015
6,531
Pomona was always my go to first choice. I also did the roll your own as mentioned. The only other name that comes to mind is Mueller Electric which were pretty good but not the quality I had with Pomona. No clue as to quality of stuff off the boat quality.

Ron
 

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
5,513
There is an eBay store from a regular on the EEVBlog forum (Franky, 99centhobbies on eBay) that has several parts to DIY your cables (even Kelvin) that myself and many others have purchased with excellent quality and service. He is located in Hong Kong and has very reasonable prices with great quality products - not the ultra-cheap that you would find in Aliexpress or Banggood, but overall lower cost than pre-fabricated probes.

He is out until the end of the month, thus his store shows nothing (at least for me).

A long thread about his products and satisfied customers:
https://www.eevblog.com/forum/buysellwanted/franky_s-sales-thread/700/

A bunch of us got a Kelvin clip kit he sells:
https://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/decent-kelvin-clip-leads/

eBay store:
https://www.ebay.com/str/99centhobbies
Thanks.
 

Jon Chandler

Joined Jun 12, 2008
157
I recently bought a couple "new, old stock" Probemaster test lead kits at a surplus store. I don't know if current products are the same, but these sets are sweet. The leads are 6' long, super flexible with silicon insulation. When you hold up one end, the lead hangs straight hold – not a kink or curl.

I did see similar kits on their website, but I don't know if they still use the same awesome cable. A nice feature is that they are available in 1' length increaments.
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
4,127
I've rolled my own banana plug leads for power supply use. I've also bought Pomona when I couldn't find a suitable substitute. The closest thing I've found to them is Elenco usually on Amazon. Elenco doesn't seem to really be set up for individual sales. They also hide their leads under the Instrument section of their website. Anything that came with leads I've usually chosen to replace with better quality ones.
 
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