Instructables

Custom Breadboard Test Leads

This is a trick i picked up about 15 years ago in my High School Electronics class. All the test leads where to large to fit into the breadboards making it difficult to test the circuits we where setting up and working with.

Every Volt/Ohm meter or DMM comes with your basic set of test leads like this. They are great for most applications of probing various points on a circuit board as long as your not dealing with SMD components. Rather then buying another set of leads you can adapt your current set like we had to do in my high school electronics class. Its very simple to do and involves items any electronics hobbiest should already have on hand.

Materials Needed:
  • Set of test leads
  • Couple of small metal paper clips
  • Wire cutters
  • Pliers
  • Soldering Iron
  • Solder
  • Flux
Take your 2 paperclips and straiten them out. You don't need to straighten the entire piece. We'll only be using about 3/4 of the paperclip per test lead. If you want you can use only 1 paperclip and split it between your 2 test leads. You'r just left with fewer turns around the lead to hold the probe tip in place.

Measure out about 1/2" down and place a 90 degree bend in the wire. Place the 90 degree bend of the wire on the end of the test lead and start wrapping the longer end around the lead as tight as you can. Use your pliers to help keep each loop tight to the test lead. After 4 or 5 turns you can trim the leftover piece of wire from the lead. If your only using half the paperclip per lead then wrap it till you run out of wire.

Move the coil to the end of the test lead and bend the top part out, inline with the test lead. Use a good amount of flux all over the coiled part of your new tip. Then using a 40W iron solder the tip to your test lead.

There you have it, a nice new tip for your test lead. Allowing you to better probe smaller components or evaluate test points on a breadboard. 
aaahotdog1 year ago
Back in the day we used to put paper clips into breadboard holes and touch with meter probes. Since I am working in the industry right now, I commonly use t-pins (hat pins) which I pinch with gator clip leads attached to my meter probes. Other techs I work with just use a needle tip probe. I used those for a while, but tended to poke myself with them if the plastic tips came off in my tool kit. The t-pins fit nicely into an old 35mm film container no more poking reaching for tools and I don't need to carry a second set of probes.
pfred21 year ago
What I do is I use a bit of stripped wire attached to micro clip leads. I hardly ever use probe leads.
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