PCBite: measure hands-free on your PCB

February 7, 2019 | 12:00
The electronics that we love is often a solitary occupation, practised in a workshop. Like any tradesman, the electronicist loves and looks after his tools. He is often faithful to them, even when they are no longer entirely satisfactory. It is true that it takes time to seach for new ones, and to repair those that need a good repair job!

If (like most electronics buffs) you only have two hands with ten fingers on each, but lots of measurements to make on your boards, here is an interesting gadget that’s worthy of your consideration: It’s the link between crocodile clip and test point.

Hands-free measurements on contact points without mechanical attachment

One year after launching their magnetic support for prototype boards, at once easy to use, flexible and stable, the inventors of the PCB Holder, flushed with their success, are offering an amazing version 2. Their innovation consists of a skilful combination of the mechanical requirements – that is to say the techniques of immobilising boards on your workbench, and those of measurement – making the reliable contacts so crucial to testing.
There are several well-known models of “third hand” more or less stable, but here is the “fourth” hand. This one lets you apply test probes without mechanical attachment…and leave them there! It seems this clever trick was born from suggestions from users of the first version of the PCB Holder. They expressed a need to make continuous measurements, hands-free, with the contact point held in place by a flexible gooseneck arm, carrying an interchangeable probe.

Spring loaded contacts: no screws, wire grips or crocodile clips

To immobilise the measuring probe, all you have to do is slightly compress the spring of the contact point against the pin to be tested, then release it. The rigidity of the flexible metallic arm on which the probe is mounted is sufficient to hold it in place and make a reliable contact. Thanks to the strength of the magnets mounted in the base of the arm and it’s supporting force, nothing moves. Neither the board nor the probes. You can even (prudently) move the support.
The mechanical coupling between the probe and the end of the arm is assured by a screw (M3) which renders it immobile. Changing the probe head is very quick.
 


Here is another overview of the placing and fixing of the probe onto the pin of the circuit to be tested. A few pictures are better than a thousand words.
 
 
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