Author Topic: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter  (Read 12347 times)

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Offline vk6zgo

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #25 on: August 12, 2017, 01:05:55 pm »
How much difference in contact resistance if you actually use the probes, e.g. to measure resistance on a PCB? I can not remember ever touching the probes together like that except to check if the leads are connected.

I very seldom use the beep to test for continuity, for several reasons.

(1)My Fluke 77 only has the "beep" on the diode test function, & it seems to still happen with low-ish resistances (in the tens of Ohms).

(1)I was "brought up "on analog meters which don't "beep".












 

Online Bud

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #26 on: August 12, 2017, 01:38:30 pm »
I do not see hows that difference is "practical", it is 100% unpractical, we do not test continuity that way.
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Offline alm

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #27 on: August 12, 2017, 01:39:33 pm »
(1)I was "brought up "on analog meters which don't "beep".
Do they not have audio feedback from the needle hitting the end stops?
 

Offline P.Mouse

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #28 on: August 12, 2017, 01:46:20 pm »
Next to audiophiles believing in fairy tails, we now also have electrophiles.
I never ever find these weird fast wiping of probes tests making any sense.
Yes, they sometimes miss a beeb or two, so f**kin' what?
As if that is how you measure in real life?  :-//  :palm:

In my 30 years of experience never had any issues with standard probes, for just measuring current, voltage or continuity (on a PCB/circuit).

So I TOTALLY get the responses on youtube.
 
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Offline vk6zgo

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #29 on: August 12, 2017, 02:06:18 pm »
Quote from: alm lnk=topic=93380.msg1279115#msg1279115 date=1502545173
il
(1)I was "brought up "on analog meters which don't "beep".
Do they not have audio feedback from the needle hitting the end stops?

From what I remember (I don't currently have an analog meter), the damping prevents that happening on the Ohms range.
They will hit the stops if measuring current or voltage on the incorrect range.
 
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #30 on: August 12, 2017, 02:13:40 pm »
Sorry, but gold probes are only "superior" when testing gold targets!

Err, no.
A non-oxidised gold contact and an oxidised DUT combination stands a better chance than two oxidised contacts.
 

Offline kalel

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #31 on: August 12, 2017, 02:14:35 pm »
Quote from: alm lnk=topic=93380.msg1279115#msg1279115 date=1502545173
il
(1)I was "brought up "on analog meters which don't "beep".
Do they not have audio feedback from the needle hitting the end stops?

From what I remember (I don't currently have an analog meter), the damping prevents that happening on the Ohms range.
They will hit the stops if measuring current or voltage on the incorrect range.

The cheap ~2.5 USD analog multimeter can't possibly compare with the old quality gear so it might function differently here too, but I noticed it does make a sound when shorting the probes on resistance. Perhaps it depends on the range.

I tested it now to confirm and there are two clicks. One after shorting the probes, and the other after releasing. But they are not loud, so you can only hear them in quiet environments. There's lag before you hear the click of course. It's better not to think about the quality of those probes either. :)
« Last Edit: August 12, 2017, 02:17:47 pm by kalel »
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #32 on: August 12, 2017, 02:17:33 pm »
I do not see hows that difference is "practical", it is 100% unpractical, we do not test continuity that way.

The whole point of the video is to show that gold plated probes don't really oxidise and hence stand a better chance of producing a better contact. Why do you think gold contacts are standard practice in connectors, PCB edge contacts, signal relay contacts, test pads etc etc. It's basic industry knowledge, yet now people want to kick and scream that it can't apply to multimeter probes as well?  :palm:
 
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Offline kalel

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #33 on: August 12, 2017, 03:51:48 pm »
For further reading, this thread might be somewhat related:
https://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/gold-plated-test-probes-any-good/msg1011722/#msg1011722

I found it accidentally while searching for this thread actually. Even though the thread is about a particular model, there's also discussion about more expensive higher quality gold plated probes in the replies.
 

Online BravoV

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #34 on: August 12, 2017, 03:53:54 pm »
Next to audiophiles believing in fairy tails, we now also have electrophiles.
I never ever find these weird fast wiping of probes tests making any sense.
Yes, they sometimes miss a beeb or two, so f**kin' what?
As if that is how you measure in real life?  :-//  :palm:

In my 30 years of experience never had any issues with standard probes, for just measuring current, voltage or continuity (on a PCB/circuit).

So I TOTALLY get the responses on youtube.

+1  :-+

Offline FlyingHacker

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #35 on: August 12, 2017, 04:03:31 pm »
(1)I was "brought up "on analog meters which don't "beep".
Do they not have audio feedback from the needle hitting the end stops?
That sound still makes me cringe in fear. My dad used to yell at me when I did that to his poor Simpson.
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Offline kalel

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #36 on: August 12, 2017, 04:14:56 pm »
(1)I was "brought up "on analog meters which don't "beep".
Do they not have audio feedback from the needle hitting the end stops?
That sound still makes me cringe in fear. My dad used to yell at me when I did that to his poor Simpson.

Then maybe only the cheapos do it on resistance.

Here's what happens when I shorten the leads on resistance mode. It's the same for all 3 ranges. There's no sound in the video, but yes it makes one. Not focused well, sorry about that.

https://streamable.com/xxu7n

If there's a way to avoid that, let me know. Not that this is an expensive piece of equipment worth special care but good to know in general.

Not only that, but it will often end in a different position because of that hit presumably, here's a close up on the landing position:

https://streamable.com/y3yd4

I think it's most likely just the meter quality (but still not discounting possible user error). The only thing I'm doing is shorting the probes.


« Last Edit: August 12, 2017, 04:39:45 pm by kalel »
 

Offline Brumby

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #37 on: August 12, 2017, 04:50:04 pm »
I do not see hows that difference is "practical", it is 100% unpractical, we do not test continuity that way.

The whole point of the video is to show that gold plated probes don't really oxidise and hence stand a better chance of producing a better contact. Why do you think gold contacts are standard practice in connectors, PCB edge contacts, signal relay contacts, test pads etc etc. It's basic industry knowledge, yet now people want to kick and scream that it can't apply to multimeter probes as well?  :palm:

No kicking and screaming here - but just an observation that some gold plated connectors, etc. will have a very small number of mechanical cycles - so wear is not a major consideration - but meter leads are going to be put under thousands of such cycles over their life.

Also - I make sure whenever I put connectors together, that they are as clean as possible.  No grease, dirt, dust or other contaminants.  Meter probes are often handled and used in less than clean room conditions - so the contaminant level is going to be significantly higher.  (My hat off to the member who does the acetone clean routine.)

Yes, there is a lower contact resistance with gold - but I always thought their main claim to fame was their resistance to oxidation, giving a more reliable contact for unattended connections.  With meter probes - we are looking at them all the time and by the nature of their use, may not suffer with hidden oxidation.


What I have taken away from this is to think more carefully about the state of my meter probes...
« Last Edit: August 12, 2017, 04:51:49 pm by Brumby »
 

Online nctnico

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #38 on: August 12, 2017, 04:57:45 pm »
I'd reckon gold will wear from tips quickly so there is little use of putting in on a probe tip. It is nice a gold plated probe has good continuity when the pins are put together but that is not the part being used to make contact with actual circuits.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Online 2N3055

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #39 on: August 12, 2017, 05:34:38 pm »
Nickel and chrome ARE corrosion resistant in normal use... And stainless steel with enough nickel and chrome in the alloy is too.. Hence stainless (it doesn't stain from corrosion).
Hard chrome plating is also very hard, so it's hard wearing...
That being said, gold is even MORE corrosion resistant so if you are around chemicals (that includes seawater) it can be more resilient ...

I have all three versions, stainless (Fluke), chrome plated brass (Fluke and other brands), and gold plated brass (Pomona and Brymen).
They all do fine in the lab, I didn't notice difference.  In external conditions, and close to the sea, I prefer stainless ones, because of the oxide layer on the equipment contacts.
Sharp and tough tips penetrate trough surface oxide layer easy.. With others you might need to press more or maybe scratch a surface little to get reliable connection...
They are also useful on conformal coatings..

I do occasionally clean them all... 
 

Offline amirm

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #40 on: August 12, 2017, 05:51:54 pm »
I always short the probes before doing any continuity test to make sure the meter is setup correctly to beep, etc.  I can't stand it when I have the meter on the right setting but I don't get a beep.  Or have to struggle to get one.

So I for one, believe in having good probes like probe master which work with ease.  :)
 

Offline f4eru

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #41 on: August 12, 2017, 07:06:56 pm »
Gold is effectively only good versus another gold surface:

http://www.connector.com/gold-or-tin-versus-gold-and-tin/

The gold layer will quickly be removed from the sharp tip anyway, which is the most used surface, especially when searching a reliable contact on an "old" surface.
 
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Offline b_force

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #42 on: August 12, 2017, 07:11:08 pm »
Next to audiophiles believing in fairy tails, we now also have electrophiles.
I never ever find these weird fast wiping of probes tests making any sense.
Yes, they sometimes miss a beeb or two, so f**kin' what?
As if that is how you measure in real life?  :-//  :palm:

In my 30 years of experience never had any issues with standard probes, for just measuring current, voltage or continuity (on a PCB/circuit).

So I TOTALLY get the responses on youtube.
Totally agree with this as well!!

"If you can't explain it simply (or at all), you don't understand it well enough." A. Einstein

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Offline G0HZU

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #43 on: August 12, 2017, 07:13:43 pm »
Next to audiophiles believing in fairy tails, we now also have electrophiles.
I never ever find these weird fast wiping of probes tests making any sense.
Yes, they sometimes miss a beeb or two, so f**kin' what?
As if that is how you measure in real life?  :-//  :palm:

In my 30 years of experience never had any issues with standard probes, for just measuring current, voltage or continuity (on a PCB/circuit).

So I TOTALLY get the responses on youtube.
Yes I agree too. I've worked in electronics labs all my career and as long as you keep the (standard/typical) probe tips clean and free from a fine film of flux/oil/muck they will perform just fine. Usually it's contaminants on the PCB that cause problems and this can get onto the probe tip as well.

But an easy test is to get some clean and shiny metal (eg a plated screen used on a PCB) and test the leads on the lowest resistance range. Even my 30 year old basic DMM leads from my Maplin Gold meter work fine when touched against the metal. Also the cheap and nasty probes I got with a £1 factory reject TMK meter 20 odd years ago will show a consistent 0.2 ohm on the Maplin meter even with just the weight of the probe standing on its tip. If the metal and/or the probe tip had a film of dirt on it then things would be different.
We've all been there trying to get a stable voltage or resistance reading on a test point using a DMM but in my experience, either the test point is contaminated with something like flux residue or the test lead tips have residue on them. The lazy temptation is to simply press harder until a reading is achieved. No way is this due to the probes not being gold plated. I don't think I've ever seen anyone using gold plated DMM leads in any lab I've worked in and that is over about 30 years working in labs with hundreds of engineers with access to various Fluke and Agilent meters.


 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #44 on: August 12, 2017, 07:39:14 pm »
I like these Hirschmann Prüf 2610 probes for low contact resistance with their sharp spring-loaded tip.
Definitely look nice for high density SMD, and capable of getting into stuff my 8151 Spring Loaded Micro-Tip Test Lead Kit might have more difficulty with, and perhaps not fit at all.   :-+

Out of curiosity, I just took a look at Probemaster's site and they've recently introduced a version of these as well; 9189 SMD Micro Spring Tip Probe, as well as a new 8174 SMD Gripper that look useful (these can work with either the 8000 or 9000 series with the right .025" square/wire wrap pin lead; female banana or female threaded connector).

I also clean mine on occasion, though usually with an alcohol wipe for convenience rather than acetone (usually finger prints).

Regarding gold plating...

FWIW there's nickel plating beneath the gold. The reasons are as follows:
    1.Diffusion of Copper through Gold
    2.Increase Wear
    3.Diffusion of Zinc (certain brass alloys)
    4.Copper/Tin Intermetallic Formation
    5.Sensitivity to Base Metal Pore Corrosion
    6.Process Related Problems
Source.

So even if the gold wears off, they're not necessarily useless as a good sharp probe will still pierce the oxidation. If the points are dull however, they're no better or worse performance wise than nickel plated brass with dull points.

FWIW Probemasters use 23Karat gold, which is ~96.5% pure. Makes it harder than typical 99.7% pure hard gold that Dave Jones previously linked (24K is 99.9% pure). Make of this what you will.
 

Offline max_torque

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #45 on: August 12, 2017, 07:43:30 pm »
Sorry, but gold probes are only "superior" when testing gold targets!

Err, no.
A non-oxidised gold contact and an oxidised DUT combination stands a better chance than two oxidised contacts.

Sorry Dave, i don't believe you!  lol!

We are talking about a series circuit here, so a single high impedance contract is enough to scupper you.  It's irrelevant if the reset of the circuit has a low (or even no) resistance, the single high resistance part sets the current that flows......
 

Offline b_force

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #46 on: August 12, 2017, 07:49:59 pm »
Next to audiophiles believing in fairy tails, we now also have electrophiles.
I never ever find these weird fast wiping of probes tests making any sense.
Yes, they sometimes miss a beeb or two, so f**kin' what?
As if that is how you measure in real life?  :-//  :palm:

In my 30 years of experience never had any issues with standard probes, for just measuring current, voltage or continuity (on a PCB/circuit).

So I TOTALLY get the responses on youtube.
Yes I agree too. I've worked in electronics labs all my career and as long as you keep the (standard/typical) probe tips clean and free from a fine film of flux/oil/muck they will perform just fine. Usually it's contaminants on the PCB that cause problems and this can get onto the probe tip as well.

But an easy test is to get some clean and shiny metal (eg a plated screen used on a PCB) and test the leads on the lowest resistance range. Even my 30 year old basic DMM leads from my Maplin Gold meter work fine when touched against the metal. Also the cheap and nasty probes I got with a £1 factory reject TMK meter 20 odd years ago will show a consistent 0.2 ohm on the Maplin meter even with just the weight of the probe standing on its tip. If the metal and/or the probe tip had a film of dirt on it then things would be different.
We've all been there trying to get a stable voltage or resistance reading on a test point using a DMM but in my experience, either the test point is contaminated with something like flux residue or the test lead tips have residue on them. The lazy temptation is to simply press harder until a reading is achieved. No way is this due to the probes not being gold plated. I don't think I've ever seen anyone using gold plated DMM leads in any lab I've worked in and that is over about 30 years working in labs with hundreds of engineers with access to various Fluke and Agilent meters.
If your application is SO critical that moving probes is causing issues, you're taking the wrong road anyway with probes.
Just simply solder a decent cable to the circuit.
Which is easier (and safer) anyway because you have both hands free.
"If you can't explain it simply (or at all), you don't understand it well enough." A. Einstein

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Offline Electro Detective

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #47 on: August 12, 2017, 10:21:56 pm »
Gold may deliver better on some fronts, but how long will it last after a few digs into crusty components,
and who knows what's exposed underneath once it wears away or chips? Some cheap metal base for the gold to stick to?

How do we know the plating thickness and quality of the gold that the probe manufacturer uses on any particular set,
be it with a range of different priced meters or sold as a separate product?

Has anyone seen or got any posted manufacturers specs ?

Regardless of the pros and cons, I keep my sharp goldies tucked away for measurements that don't require excavation, clean DUT contact points if required,
or worst case I use something else to poke through any crust and corrosion first to set a 'point' base  :horse: \$\Omega\$    then follow with the gold probes

In the long run it's muchos good for the pocket too   :-+

 

Offline MisterDiodes

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #48 on: August 12, 2017, 11:03:02 pm »
That's funny - we just threw out a bunch of cheaper gold-plated probes in the trash yesterday - just about 100% crap compared to Keysight / Fluke probes for what we do.  We should have sent them to Dave for a "squiz" as he puts it.  :)

You'll probably never use a probe on its side as Dave was demonstrating.  The very tip is the business end, and might last a while as long as you're not trying to weld with it on high current range.  We make the young lab techs pay for the good probes when they try that....

Dave is not completely wrong - The gold does really help initially but if there a hard pin substrate underneath the gold and the gold about 100x softer - at the sharp tip if you look under a 'scope that gold is gone in about 3 or 4 minutes of use.  The gold just doesn't last long at the very tip - unless you are using very, very light pressure and you're touching a gold pad anyway.

For what we need (most times) a good probe tip should be hard & sharp enough for repeated probing possibly thru conformal board coatings or getting a good contact on an SMD pin.

Look at those gold plated tips under a high mag scope after just a few tests where you have to push it onto a trace with some force (maybe with coating) and you'll see that magical gold isn't doing much.  Wiping across a row of contacts can strip the gold off faster.  Usually the sharp part of the tip has mealed over a bit and the real conductor is whatever is under the gold anyway.

We've even tried some expensive heavy plated versions (something like 50 micro inch plating) and they did last a little better, but not as long-term cost effective as the good quality standard probes.

If you're doing a lot of work on gold pads and use very light pressure, the gold tip might be OK, but I wouldn't ever recommend it for general use.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #49 on: August 12, 2017, 11:14:45 pm »
Sorry, but gold probes are only "superior" when testing gold targets!

Err, no.
A non-oxidised gold contact and an oxidised DUT combination stands a better chance than two oxidised contacts.
Sorry Dave, i don't believe you!  lol!

You don't have to believe me, just analyse what's happening here.

Quote
We are talking about a series circuit here, so a single high impedance contract is enough to scupper you.  It's irrelevant if the reset of the circuit has a low (or even no) resistance, the single high resistance part sets the current that flows......

Yes, but you are missing the point entirely.
If you have two oxidised surfaces you are trying to touch then you have two oxide layers you have to pierce in order to get your good contact. If you one contact that is perfect and not oxidised then you only have one oxide layer to pierce.
Basic contact engineering.
 


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