Introduction: Electronics Tip - Meter Probe Protectors

Here's a simple tip for avoiding costly mistakes when measuring values on a powered-on board: cover up your meter probes!

Meter probes are oh so shiny and conductive but they also like to slip as well as touch other parts you don't want touched. This sort of unwanted touching often leads to nasty sparks and subsequent release of the "magic smoke" form your components.

It may seem "duh" but wait until it happens to you! Things like vintage power output transistors and old chips are expensive to replace. Shorting an output transistor induces big current flows through other parts resulting in collateral damage. One slip can result in multiple burnt parts.

Step 1: Horror! Short Circuit About to Happen!

Here we are trying to get to a pin nearest the voltage regulator heatsink. We're dangerously close to shorting the pin to the heatsink.

Step 2: Materials

This instructable uses heatshrink tubing. I'm pretty sure mine came from a RadioShack assortment. Choose a piece that will go over the biggest part of your probe.

Step 3: Measure

Slip on the heatshink tube and pinch it to find the end of your probe. Then slip the tube down just a bit and cut it off right where the probe tip ends.

Step 4: Shrink

Shrink your heatshrink with a careful application of heat. I used a butane lighter flame waved around the heatshrink.

Step 5: Done!

Do the other probe(s) and you're done.

What a difference! There is now so much less chance of destroying things if the probe slips. Worst you can do is short the adjacent pin. This should happen only briefly due to the small area of the tip and the fact that you slipped so it's moving.

I hope this simple tip saves you both money and grief in your circuit testing future.

Comments

author
vicvelcro made it! (author)2013-01-14

I did this a few months ago, and have not had an "OOPS" since.

Thanks.

author
uhclem made it! (author)uhclem2013-01-14

I am glad it was helpful. Thanks!

author
DIVYA GARG made it! (author)2012-10-02

nice thought ..........

author
caarntedd made it! (author)2012-07-11

Nice. I've blown up a few probes.

author
jeffeb3 made it! (author)2012-07-11

Good idea. One suggestion though, you may want to have the finished product as the first image, because that's what get's put with the title on all the links.

author
uhclem made it! (author)uhclem2012-07-11

Good idea. Thank you.

author
Ugifer made it! (author)2012-07-11

Wrap that tip before probing - it's a rule to live by!

Great idea.

author
LAS made it! (author)2012-07-11

Simple and efficient, love it.
Sometimes I am too analytical to remember KISS but definetely doing this when I get home.

author
pfred2 made it! (author)2012-07-10

This is why you need, wait for it, IC test clips! I mean with shrink wrap all over your probe leads how are you supposed to test an outlet to see if it is live?

author
PeckLauros made it! (author)2012-07-10

Nice!

author
mattthegamer463 made it! (author)2012-07-10

I'm doing this tomorrow.

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Bio: I don't use instructables any more, so please consider all my projects here as archival.
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