Introduction: How to Quickly Find and Trace PCB Tracks

About: I am a University of Edinburgh electronics engineering student.
This instructable will show you how to create a tool that will allow you to easily and quickly find and trace a PCB track. Whether you are creating a PCB or you are modifying or repairing it - this tool will save you lots of time and energy!

Stuck with finding a track on a multi-layered PCB? No problem! Here is the solution - quick, easy and highy affordable to make.

Why bother? If you use your standart multimeter probes and have to touch every soldered spot on the board to see if it is connected to the element you are looking for ... quite tedious and time consuming job. Using a piece of aluminium foil you will be able to search for PCB connections over a larger area which will minimise the time and efforts spent on that job.

Tools needed:
  • Multimeter
  • Wire (+wire with crocodile clips)
  • Chocolate or a piece of aluminium foil
  • WIre cutter and stripper

Strip both ends of your cable. You need 2cm of exposed wire at one end and 4-5cm at the other end.

2. Take a piece of the aluminium foil and wrap it around the wire somehow. You need a piece foil that is at least 5 x 5cm large.
Now wrap the aluminium foil around your forefinger.

Connect the cable that comes from the foil to one of the multimeter's wires as shown using the crocodile clips.

Perform a test

Touch the second multimeter's wire to the foil on your finger. It should show around 0 ohms resistance. Redo the foiling operation if you see more than 15-20 ohms resistance on the screen. If everything is fine, you are ready to use the tool you just made.
Use the free multimeter's probe to touch a single spot on the board. Then using your finger with the foil move it over the components touching the soldered parts.

Thus you will cover more area quicker and when you hear the multimeter beeping - you have found your track on the PCB.


Now it takes a matter of seconds to find the tracks that connect the components on the PCB.

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