Makeshift Breadboard Multimeter Probe

Have you ever been going along building a circuit on a breadboard, and suddenly, you need to check something with the multimeter, but your good probes are nowhere to be found, and your backups are too large to fit?

This instructable will go through how to make a standard 1/4W carbon film resistor into a cheap probe adapter for use with breadboards.

Step 1: Gather Parts.

This instructable is fairly simple, and only requires four items.

A generic 1/4W carbon film resistor (the most common type. If you are unsure of your resistor type, its probably this)
Some needlenose pliers.
A multimeter.
A breadboard

Step 2: Start Crushing

First, you need to remove the paint that is covering the outside of the resistor. You don't need to get all of it, just the on the two wider sections. This paint holds the leads in place against the resistor itself.

Try to get as much as you can, because the less you have left, the easier step 3 will be.

Step 3: Pull

This step is fairly simple, just pull on both leads until they separate from the central resistor portion. Some resistors are easier to pull apart than others, but if you work at it enough, it should separate.

Step 4: Use

Thats it! Now you have two probe extenders for your multimeter, for under a quarter USD (if you paid more, you seriously need to reconsider where you buy your electronic parts, not even Radio Shack is that high).

Alternative use:
If you wanted to, you could use this for testing more finished circuits as well. The leads are straight off of a resistor, so they can easily be soldered into a circuit to create a test point, for probing into tight spots that you frequently need to access.

Participated in the



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      Sew Tough Challenge

    14 Discussions


    1 year ago

    buh rill yunt


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Tried it myself with not much success (pulling on the legs just ripped them half), but then I skipped the paint stripping and just held the resistor where the leg base is with two pliers and pulled apart. Now it works! :)


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I really like your ibles ,am going to subscribe to you soon


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for posting this, this inspired me to make something very simple and very similar..

    Using Female Molex pin from an ATX connector (could use a 12v fan, or whatever) I soldered that to an individual pin from a pin header.

    The nice thing its, the leads from my meter stay in the molex pin due to the design. Wrapped it up with heatshrink and it's great. If I ever have a chance to post it, I'll be sure to thank you again!


    11 years ago on Introduction

    4.5 stars and favorited! This is such a good idea! 1/4W resistors can be bought by the hundreds for a mere pittance, and this solves an everyday problem for an avid breadboarder like myself. This is a great ible! Step two could use some clearer info as to what you're doing. Example: I didn't know that the covering on those things were made of two metal cups with leads attached (thus the shiny once rubbed off), I just thought that it was just one big plastic unit with metal leads coming out either end, and a black box inside. How did you find this out? Younger sibling chewing on your electronic parts until "Eureka, I can use this!"

    3 replies

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Yup, they are RoHS, Heh, I figured it out myself one day. I had a pair of needle nose pliers and a resistor on my desk, and I was like "how do these things work", so I started attempting to crush it open with the pliers, and the paint started flaking off. A little while later, I had the resistive material and two pins and a bunch of paint flakes laying on my desk.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah, crack that sucker open...! I've done it to a couple of electolytic capacitors. Paper bits and probably unhealthy liquids.