Author Topic: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter  (Read 12051 times)

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eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« on: August 12, 2017, 03:29:16 am »
Dave demonstrates why gold plated multimeter probes matter, and why you should be using them for all your electronics measurements.
Probe Master probes: http://amzn.to/2vNUmc7
BM235 Probes: http://amzn.to/2vNUsR1

 
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Offline vk6zgo

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2017, 04:03:22 am »
Dave, am I imagining things at my advanced age, or do those gold plated leads have non-shrouded connectors on the meter end?

 

Online BravoV

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2017, 04:10:07 am »
Sometimes, for old probe, its not chemical, but its the physical layer that deteriorate the conductivity of the surface.

Like the Fluke ones, I guess as it aged, usually finger fat, grease etc you name it, formed at very thin layer at the tip and will affect the surface conductivity.

Usually I dip the tip only into acetone (beware, not allowed the liquid to touch the plastic part), and give the tip a good strong rub using tissue paper or hell, even used news paper, then it will perform as gold ones.

Yes, even gold plated ones, when aged especially used alot, it will be covered with grease/fat/oil, and even the gold doesn't react with them, but still the dirt layer will affect the performance.

Offline jh15

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2017, 04:37:34 am »
I'd be more concerned with the point contact. How long does the gold last there, and what's underneath?
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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2017, 05:14:12 am »
I'd be more concerned with the point contact. How long does the gold last there, and what's underneath?

Depends on the gold flake thickness I guess.  :P

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2017, 06:31:06 am »
Dave, am I imagining things at my advanced age, or do those gold plated leads have non-shrouded connectors on the meter end?

These ones do, but they come in many options.
 

Offline alm

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2017, 07:56:09 am »
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.
 

Online TheSteve

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2017, 08:42:54 am »
I've never done continuity measurements using the side of the probe. :) No question gold wins for resisting corrosion but how quickly does it wear off on the tips where the probes make contact in actual use? Gold is awful soft so a few years in I wonder which might end up winning.
VE7FM
 
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Offline NANDBlog

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2017, 08:44:29 am »
I'll take a 34138A and a good, spring loaded Pomona 6341 over any gold plated test lead any day.
 

Offline alm

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2017, 09:05:21 am »
I like these Hirschmann Prüf 2610 probes for low contact resistance with their sharp spring-loaded tip. But obviously a blunt gold-plated tip like the Brymen ones will be superior :P.
 

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2017, 09:18:56 am »
I have an older set of leads hanging around some place where due to using the slip on crocodile clips the nickel/ chrome coating has worn off revealing a golden coloured substance underneath, I strongly suspect it to be brass but with my run of luck lately it is more likely some highly toxic cadmium coating or something.   ::) :P
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Offline alm

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2017, 09:31:08 am »
Nickel-plated brass is pretty standard for probes (just check a Pomona datasheet). Rugged probes might use stainless steel because it is harder and better suited for punching through thick layers of corrosion.
 

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2017, 09:33:01 am »
Well this video seems to have riled some people up on Youtube comments  :-DD
 

Online BravoV

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2017, 09:33:19 am »
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 guess this video is more on the advertorial side  ;), hence created in BLAB than in BLOG video, cmiiw.

Offline Electro Detective

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #14 on: August 12, 2017, 09:36:15 am »
I've never done continuity measurements using the side of the probe. :)

No question gold wins for resisting corrosion but how quickly does it wear off on the tips where the probes make contact in actual use?

Gold is awful soft so a few years in I wonder which might end up winning.


Good points (no pun intended)  :-+

Either way, gold tips can only take you so far and MAY perform like cheapies if:

the meter sockets are dirty,

the lead plugs are dirty and or in bad shape under the shrouds,

the soft gold tips are abused too often and half rooted,

tarnish, grease, dust, cat saliva etc

and or the plastic shrouds HINDER proper contact and spoil the show  :--

I am going to try DJs tests with the Brymen gold, Fluke standards and better ones too asap,
and see if I can get them to perform identically after I clean them up and ensure no obstructions





« Last Edit: August 12, 2017, 09:49:09 am by Electro Detective »
 

Offline BBBbbb

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #15 on: August 12, 2017, 09:48:19 am »
video from 3:01-3:04:
https://youtu.be/uV9mW0rpRxg?t=181

 :-DD :-DD :-DD :-DD :-DD :-DD
 

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #16 on: August 12, 2017, 09:48:59 am »
I've never done continuity measurements using the side of the probe. :) No question gold wins for resisting corrosion but how quickly does it wear off on the tips where the probes make contact in actual use? Gold is awful soft so a few years in I wonder which might end up winning.

Electronic contacts like probes, connectors, PCB card edge contact connectors all use "hard gold" plating:
http://www.superior-processing.com/hardgold_softgold.html
 

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #17 on: August 12, 2017, 09:52:22 am »
I guess this video is more on the advertorial side  ;), hence created in BLAB than in BLOG video, cmiiw.

No advertorial intended at all.
I was doing my pocket meter shootout (some of which had gold probes) and I thought it might be interesting to show the difference.
Yeah I put some amazon links in the description as I always do when possible, I won't spend my 10's of dollars total in commissions all at once.
 

Offline EPTech

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #18 on: August 12, 2017, 10:02:55 am »
Hi,

Fast continuity response is only useful when wiping across a set of pins. Gold is much softer than nickel so it will wear of much faster in doing that. The coating would have to be really thick, which I doubt.
When wiping across pins we are talking safety voltage (below 24VDC) anyway so what I do, is take some spring loaded test probes with socket and solder some wire on those, heat shrink, banana plugs on the other side. When the probes are worn out, I put new ones in the sockets. I use nickel coated probes for everything else.

Dave's point though, seems valid. Gold coated probes will probably respond faster when checking for continuity. But I do not feel like throwing away a probe set every few months just because they have lost their golden tip.
Kind greetings,

Pascal.
 

Offline EPTech

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #19 on: August 12, 2017, 10:04:33 am »
Ah, so it is some kind of gold alloy plating, not 24 carat? That sounds better.
Kind greetings,

Pascal.
 
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Offline EPTech

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #20 on: August 12, 2017, 10:10:44 am »
A suggestion: (sorry for spamming  :P)

As a stress test, use the 3D printer, attach the probe to the bridge of the printer with a spring pushing it down and have it wipe over a QFP for a couple of 100 times. Check under the microscope.  >:D


Kind greetings,

Pascal.
 

Offline mikron

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #21 on: August 12, 2017, 10:17:45 am »
I noticed that the beeper in my Fluke sounds much more authentic and 3D when I am using gold coated probes!
 
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Offline PA4TIM

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #22 on: August 12, 2017, 10:38:04 am »
I have a new set of Fluke probe from the model Dave shows. They had the highest series resistance and highest isolation leakage from  all my probes.  But I have also a 25 or older set used automotive and they are still usable. My six years old Agilents are totally dead. The leads are now about 50 cm and the probe-"foam" is sticky and falls apart. Only used in the lab.

Just bought a set miniprobes from Pomona with very thin leads and replacable tips. Found out later there are goldplated tips versions too, those tips are for sale  and should fit my probes

I'm thinking about making a set probes with replacable pogopins as tip.

Micron: and the electrons are much better spaced and the multimeter looks much more open,  you can not measure it, but the effect is amazing. Your friends will be jealous .
How many hours you spend on braking them in,  Are the cryogenic treated ?
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Offline WackyGerman

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #23 on: August 12, 2017, 11:11:50 am »
I am using the Brymen probes for a long time and they are still the best bang per buck . With an unlatched continuity tester like the Greenlee 830A which is similar to the BM 829 the difference between gold plated and nickel tips is really huge . With gold tips you hear a real clean beep and with nickel it is a scratchy sound when you put them together softly .
But at my job as electrician I still use nickel tips because they are more robust . Putting the probes in push-in terminals and spring terminals for measuring . The terminals have really sharp edges and would kill the gold plating in a short time .
At home I use the Brymen probes for measuring on boards and I am still really happy with them .  :-+
 

Offline max_torque

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #24 on: August 12, 2017, 11:43:31 am »
Sorry, but gold probes are only "superior" when testing gold targets!

As soon as one contact is not gold, then the "advantages" of gold probes (in terms of low pressure = low resistance) disappear.

For most people, when testing continuity, it's going to be across something that is NOT gold plated! (ie, all your video shows is you testing the continuity of the probes and not against a DUT.......   |O  )
 
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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".












 

Offline 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.
 
 

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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 »
 

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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.
--73
 

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 »
 

Offline 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.
 

Offline 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.
 

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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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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #50 on: August 12, 2017, 11:20:45 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....

Which is why I qualified with saying electronics use.
For high current use, yes, stick to regular probes. The same thing with relays and high current switches, you get gold plating on the low signal level ones and a silver alloy or some such on the high current ones. Basic switch engineering. Again, why people think this is different for probes is beyond me.

No one has ever complained when I have recommended gold plated probes before, nor my BM235 probes which are gold plated for example, people love them and recommend them, but this video seems to have somehow bought everyone out of the woodwork that now are now suddenly crap?  :-//
Heck, when I started a thread discussing which probes to offer with my 121GW meter many people said the gold plated ones were better. Are people now changing their mind and suddenly don't want the BM235 probes with the electronics oriented 121GW?
What about the my BM235 and the probes everyone raves about? Should I suddenly stop selling them because they have this useless gold plating on them?
« Last Edit: August 12, 2017, 11:48:45 pm by EEVblog »
 

Offline alm

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #51 on: August 12, 2017, 11:41:54 pm »
Did you consider that this may not be the same group? I, for one, have zero intention of buying a BM235 or 121GW meter, so why would I complain about the BM235 probes? I have never handled them.

What does switch engineering say about the wiping action on gold-plated contacts? I believe gold plated contacts are generally used on contacts with little wiping action, since wiping contamination is not as necessary. But I would argue that probe tips (the very tip) see a lot of wiping/rubbing action, so corrosion is not as much an issue and contact wear is. Gold plated relays are often rated for a very low current. A too high current will vaporize the gold plating. Does not sound good for general purpose probes that might see the occasional amps.

Also you could have done better with the demonstration. Measuring current across a small value shunt resistor with various contact pressures, bonus points if the solder is somewhat crusty (e.g. an old µCurrent). Or brushing along a row of IC pins trying to find the one pin that is connected to the node you are probing. I realize this was a spin-off from the pocket DMM test, but the test did not do a good job supporting your conclusion in my opinion.
 
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Offline vk6zgo

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #52 on: August 12, 2017, 11:50:43 pm »


Which is why I qualified with saying electronics use.
For high current use, yes, stick to regular probes. The same thing with relays and high current switches, you get gold plating on the low signal level ones and a silver alloy or some such on the high current ones. Basic switch engineering. Again, why people think this is different for probes is beyond me.


Electronics is "a broad church", from NASA or ESA clean rooms to groping around in the guts of an AM
Broadcast Transmitter in the middle of red dirt territory.

In the latter case,you are probably using the same probes in the smaller, cleaner part of the device that you used in the large dusty power supply, or even to check the Station batteries.

Techs & Engineers in such situations are unlikely to carry two sets of test leads.i

Of course, for your own Lab, why not try for the best result you can get?
 

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #53 on: August 12, 2017, 11:52:38 pm »
Did you consider that this may not be the same group? I, for one, have zero intention of buying a BM235 or 121GW meter, so why would I complain about the BM235 probes? I have never handled them.

Maybe, but on statistics alone I would have expected one person to raise their hand and complain about offering gold plated leads. Yet not a single person did, nor has done so on my BM235.

Quote
What does switch engineering say about the wiping action on gold-plated contacts? I believe gold plated contacts are generally used on contacts with little wiping action, since wiping contamination is not as necessary. But I would argue that probe tips (the very tip) see a lot of wiping/rubbing action, so corrosion is not as much an issue and contact wear is. Gold plated relays are often rated for a very low current. A too high current will vaporize the gold plating. Does not sound good for general purpose probes that might see the occasional amps.

Which again is why I clarified in the video that for "electronics" use.
IME gold plated probes have never really been a problem, and in fact I find them beneficial. YMMV.

Quote
Also you could have done better with the demonstration.

Yes, I know, it was a quick single take blab video. Doesn't seen to have done down well with a small vocal section of the community. Many other however got what I was getting at.
Meh, I'll just move on.

 

Offline MisterDiodes

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #54 on: August 12, 2017, 11:57:32 pm »
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.

That's the problem:  Gold is so soft it's not piercing any oxide layer - it normally mechanically wears away quickly at the tip since any oxide it encounters is many times harder - in a very short time the underlying substrate metal is doing the work as the conductor contact point.   

We work with this stuff all the time at a microscopic level, and that's what's going on.  See it in action every day, especially on a wafer prober that needs to use fine gold-over-stainless tips, hundreds of tips at a time that need to touch gold pads- any oxide contamination anywhere absolutely destroys the connection.

If you do have soft gold on soft gold contact, then that is a great connection!  Otherwise not so much.


 

Offline MisterDiodes

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #55 on: August 13, 2017, 12:35:20 am »
Dave,
Gold plating or not, I think you just found out how many people pay attention to your vids :)

I needed to give you a "Thanks" in there also for all your efforts and providing the forum.  Some days it's not easy....
 

Offline Wim_L

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #56 on: August 13, 2017, 01:31:22 am »
And Fluke does, in fact, offer gold-plated probes. The TL910 has replaceable probe tips, it's delivered with a set of stainless steel ones, and multiple sets of spring-loaded gold (so that's a good indication they expect them to wear out faster than the stainless steel ones, even if the springy probe tips should suffer less from overly hard mechanical action).
 

Online EEVblog

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #57 on: August 13, 2017, 01:32:53 am »
Dave,
Gold plating or not, I think you just found out how many people pay attention to your vids :)

I also found out how many people take things personally, like I insulted and humiliated them for not using gold plated leads  ::)
 

Online EEVblog

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #58 on: August 13, 2017, 01:35:59 am »
And Fluke does, in fact, offer gold-plated probes. The TL910 has replaceable probe tip

Ah, yes, forgot about those. And what do you know, they call them "electronic" leads, wow what a coincidence! ;D
 

Online TheSteve

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #59 on: August 13, 2017, 02:21:49 am »
Fyi the probes with my 34461a and u1282a both trigger the continuity beeper constantly under there own weight like your gold probes do.
I like gold plated stuff, but as others have said the gold on the tips will be gone in no time.
A better version of the video would have had some new probes with and without gold compared as well as the aged ones.
VE7FM
 

Offline vk6zgo

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #60 on: August 13, 2017, 02:33:19 am »
Gold used in rings, etc, is usually an alloy to get around the softness of 24ct gold.
These things survive for many years,without much wear.

Possibly, the gold plating on probes is the same.
 

Offline SL4P

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #61 on: August 13, 2017, 02:41:32 am »
I noticed that the beeper in my Fluke sounds much more authentic and 3D when I am using gold coated probes!
Don't tell Batteroo / Batteriser (or whoever they are this month)   ::)
Don't ask a question if you aren't willing to listen to the answer.
 

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #62 on: August 13, 2017, 02:48:24 am »
A better version of the video would have had some new probes with and without gold compared as well as the aged ones.

FYI, the Agilent ones were brand new out of the packet
 

Offline MK14

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #63 on: August 13, 2017, 03:05:07 am »
Out of curriosity.

Does the gold probes (only 1 X oxide layer from the device under test) vs non-gold probes (2 X oxide layer), cause resistance readings to be out by a certain amount (due to the small current flow making a voltage drop, between the non-gold probe tip and the lead of the device under test) ?
I suspect the answer is NO, as we are probably only talking about additional milliohms worth of resistance (going by typical switch contact resistances).

When you short the probes together, and the meter reads a small resistance, of perhaps 0.5  \$\Omega\$.

Does that reading (super very approx 0.5  \$\Omega\$), reduce for gold plated tips ?

Analogy:
This to me, sounds a bit like comparing the switch (or relay) contact resistances (and whether wetting currents are needed or not), between different contact type plating's, such as gold to gold, silver, etc etc.

Explanation as to why the very quick probe flick/beep test, is sometimes important/needed
Sometimes you want to see if a particular signal (input or output) line, connects (or not), to a particular integrated circuit.

So with a quality (fast beeping) multimeter and probes set, you can (in beep continuity mode), put one probe on the signal line of interest, and quickly skim the other probe tip, across the various pins of the IC(s) involved.

E.g. You might NOT have the schematic available for something you are repairing.
 

Offline Electro Detective

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #64 on: August 13, 2017, 04:02:10 am »
I always use the probes that suit the job

If Dave is referring to the "1KV 10A Cat 4" Brymen gold tip probe leads with non-gold metal shrouded plugs,
I've got a pair of those and they perform well, easily on par with the big dollar Fluke leads

I wouldn't use them at a crusty switchboard or to pierce blackened contacts on a vintage tarnish magnet,
I've got tough stainless probes for that or sharp prod n scrape tools to get the party started

Cleaning solves a lot of meter contact issues anyway, especially if playing with low ohms


FWIW, the Brymen leads work great   :-+   better than many of the bog standard flex challenged Fluke leads, 
but I will never find out how 'tip tough' the Brymen are because I use them for board surfing,
so they need to be in good 'beep beep' shape always/forever

(or till the sillycone rubber perishes or turns to goo)

 

Offline nctnico

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #65 on: August 13, 2017, 10:04:11 am »
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.
Gold is too soft to do any piercing. It is like using a wooden toothpick to carve granite. And it is not just oxide but also flux residues. As others already mentioned: stainless steel is much better because it is hard and it doesn't oxidize.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline SeanB

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #66 on: August 13, 2017, 11:47:32 am »
Stainless steel does oxidise, and the oxide layer on the surface is the thing that makes it stainless, as it is covered with a thin chromium oxide layer that keeps the base metal away from oxygen. Gold is typically applied to a surface after a nice smooth nickel plate is applied, so even if the gold wears away there is a pretty hard near monocystalline nickel layer as the contact, which is pretty good as a conductor still, and under that there will be a thin copper interface layer deposited before you hit the base metal, probably in most cases a brass alloy of some sort.

I have some really nice gold plated probes that came with an insulation tester, and they are some of the best leads i have, gold plated and very flexible. Wonder who the OEM of those are, as Major Tech is always a rebranded meter, but they are really good probes, and as I know very sharp.
 

Offline G0HZU

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #67 on: August 13, 2017, 12:35:00 pm »
Fyi the probes with my 34461a and u1282a both trigger the continuity beeper constantly under there own weight like your gold probes do.
I like gold plated stuff, but as others have said the gold on the tips will be gone in no time.
A better version of the video would have had some new probes with and without gold compared as well as the aged ones.
I agree but the tests in the video were poorly controlled and unrealistic anyway. It would be interesting to see if it would be possible to wear away the gold from the sharp tip of those cheapo looking Probemaster probes inside a few days. i.e. inspect under a microscope on day 1 and then do a few hours' continuity testing on a wiring loom or complex PCB. Repeat over a few days. Then inspect the very tip of the probe under a microscope again. Even when the gold plating is gone at the very tip the probe tip will probably still look intact to the naked eye  ;)

Any keen user of a DMM will eventually wear out the plating on the tips of a set of regular DMM leads, but nowhere near as quickly as on those gold plated probes in the video ;D



 

Offline R005T3r

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #68 on: August 13, 2017, 06:18:26 pm »
Beside the fact that gold is not a highly reactive material, this video made me think about an interesting thing: beside the oxide, if you polish two sufraces and rectify them, the contact resistence should be a lot better, even better than the gold plated ones...

As stated above, it might well be the surface might get rought whit oxidation...
 

Offline SNGLinks

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #69 on: August 14, 2017, 09:35:03 am »
(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?

Only if you miss-adjust the zero ohms pot. :)
 

Offline thm_w

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #70 on: August 14, 2017, 09:40:37 pm »
Fyi the probes with my 34461a and u1282a both trigger the continuity beeper constantly under there own weight like your gold probes do.
I like gold plated stuff, but as others have said the gold on the tips will be gone in no time.
A better version of the video would have had some new probes with and without gold compared as well as the aged ones.

I tried with a Fluke 115 and ~2 year old Pomona leads, stated as nickel plated brass (http://www.pomonaelectronics.com/pdf/d6601_2.pdf). They are a bit shinier than the ones Dave used.
Couldn't reproduce the probe sitting on the other and not triggering, tried for 5mins.
In the video you can see the resistance sits in the 500k(?) range, I can't get this to happen on continuity. But if i switch to resistance mode, hovering one probe carefully can get a reading of ~20k or so.

So I wonder if continuity mode on the 121GW is partially to blame here. Not saying its bad, just that whatever Fluke is doing for continuity is more sensitive to trigger.
The Fluke 115 outputs 2.5V in continuity mode. How does that compare to 121GW?
 

Offline Old Don

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #71 on: September 24, 2017, 07:23:12 pm »
When I was looking for new leads for a nearly 40 year old Fluke 77, that I purchased new way back when, and I didn't like the new Fluke leads I saw. I have several sets of crap leads I picked up over the years and decided that I'd pick up something better than more Chinese knock offs. So I purchased a set of the Probe Master leads and the gold plating was only one reason. I like the shape of the probe, I like the screw on adapters, I like the fact that they're made in the USA vs. China and I really like the price. While I'm sure there's better leads on the market, at some point I wonder if the cost vs. performance is justified.  :-//

If you don't want gold, then so be it, don't buy them. People want to pick on anything they don't like these days! :box: Is there any downside to having gold plating? Gold vs. whatever doesn't seem to be too important to me, but I don't see how having gold plating can cause any problems even if they do/don't add to the performance. For all I care, they could be coated with yttrium (I think that was the coating) used on the old Xcelite screwdrivers. Xcelite once upon a time were made in my old home town and easy to come by. OBTW, the Xcelite coatings used to flake off and yet the screwdrivers worked just fine. If nothing else, the gold looks good while probing fried Chinese made PCB's.  :palm:  :-DD
Retired - Formerly: Navy ET, University of Buffalo Electronic Tech, Field Engineer and former laptop repair business owner
 

Offline schopi68

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Re: eevBLAB #33 - Why Gold Plated Probes Matter
« Reply #72 on: September 29, 2017, 02:14:15 pm »
In the video there is one test missing:

not probe against same probe - but probe against another material (i.e. all probes against solder joint or against the same nickel-platet one or so). If the gold plated probes are beforming better in such a test, then gold is the winner. ;)
 


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