Author Topic: (Ended) PCBITE 2.0 PCB holder and pogo pin test probes discounted from Elektor  (Read 4059 times)

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Offline Mechatrommer

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As for the probes - I don't understand - what holds them precisely in place?
maybe you can make something from a Clamp Table Lamp another option for magnetic holder... RC Drone Spare Part Stainless Steel Spring Clamp Holder for Soldering PCB but then... its not European product, so the quality must be "bad"
It's extremely difficult to start life.. one features of nature.. physical laws are mathematical theory of great beauty... You may wonder Why? our knowledge shows that nature is so constructed. We simply have to accept it. One could describe the situation by saying that... (Paul Dirac)
 

Online Fraser

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I have wanted some of those Hakko PCB holders for some time now. The price of them was prohibitive though. The PCBITE appears to be a very nice alternative for my needs. It is the probe assemblies that really ‘sold’ the unit to me as Zi know they will be very helpful in my repair work :)

Fraser
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Offline mikeselectricstuff

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I find the spring-loaded PCB holders the most useful part of the system - I often use them stuck to a large, heavy steel washer for holding PCBs for rework, and also wires & connectors. My only complaint is they are too tall. 
Youtube channel:Taking wierd stuff apart. Very apart.
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Online Fraser

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Mike,

Your comment is interesting as it is mirrored in some of the feedback on the design found in the Kickstarter comments. I am using the unit purely as a diagnostic platform so the height of the ‘towers’ may not be such an issue for me. Soldering on a PCB held around 50mm above the ‘deck’ may not be so great. In that situation I would likely use an arm support bean bag to get the height and comfort just right.

I am not totally sold on the base plate design. Whilst the mirrored finish idea is clever, I think it will be easily scratched as it is not protected. The Chinese magnetic plate I referenced earlier in the thread looks to be a nice design but it does add a little height to the unit as it has corner feet. It still looks a decent plate to work with though.

Once the PCBITE unit arrives I will feedback my user experience but it is great to hear from someone who already owns the unit  :-+

Maybe there will be a PCBITE V3 that takes on board user feedback, as with the V1 to V2 development?

Fraser
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Online Fraser

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The PCBITE Kit is now back up to 134.95 Euros in the Elektor Shop for non members. Elektor subscribers get it for 121.95 Euros. I am pleased with the deal I got :)

Fraser
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Offline Mechatrommer

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It's extremely difficult to start life.. one features of nature.. physical laws are mathematical theory of great beauty... You may wonder Why? our knowledge shows that nature is so constructed. We simply have to accept it. One could describe the situation by saying that... (Paul Dirac)
 

Offline ralphrmartin

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Thanks, Fraser, for explaining how the probes stay in contact. As the probes are available separately, I may get some to try out :D
« Last Edit: July 30, 2019, 04:02:45 pm by ralphrmartin »
 

Offline KL27x

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Quote
I am using the unit purely as a diagnostic platform so the height of the ‘towers’ may not be such an issue for me.
I'm spoiled by my microscope. I think that's a major problem with the height. The probe stems, too.

I suspect one would use no more than 1 or 2 of these probe holders at a time. Flywires for the rest. Trying to get and keep 4 probes connected seems a bit optimistic for any indepth testing/debugging.
 

Online Fraser

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I agree that working with a microscope, as I do, there will be a need to adjust my working style a little to accommodate the probe arms. I am fortunate to own several ‘long arm’ stereo microscopes though and one is a superb portable medical type designed to operate at a good distance from the ‘patient’ that microscope can easily cope with the PCBITE height and probes. As a side note, another of these great medical microscopes came up for sale on eBay recently. I decided it would be greedy to have two though so someone else is getting the benefit of its ownership :) Great bit of kit. I also use genuine Opivisors with different magnifications of lens plate so can usually use those for SMT work as the viewing distance is reasonable.

I attach pictures of the Mediscope from the recent auction. I bought mine in new condition but without the light source a few years ago for £80 and added a powerful LED light source that works well.

Fraser

« Last Edit: August 01, 2019, 11:59:34 am by Fraser »
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Online Fraser

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For anyone interested in the Mediscope, I attach pictures of the ‘manual’ for information. This is often missing when these are sold.

The Mediscope has an interesting history to its design. It was intended to be used as a part of a portable operating theatre package where a surgeon or doctor could take the required equipment to the field hospital (tent or convenient building) and perform surgery on those patients either too ill to move, or unable to travel to the Hospital. Mine came ‘as new’ in its little attaché case, complete with the washable fabric hygiene covers to protect the microscope from splashed fluids. I was not bothered that the cold light source was missing as it is large and very old fashioned to enable easy maintenance in the field. Technology has moved on and LED light sources are a far more convenient option. I purchased some high power COB white LED’s that are conveniently mounted in an aluminium heatsink cylinder that mates with the light input port of the Mediscope. I tried using the fibre light bundle with the LED sources but the losses are high. I also have compact cold lights that work with the unit using its fibre bundle but the LED source is fine for mist work and very compact. In my job we converted Olympus Endoscopes to LED technology using custom designed LED ‘torches’. They were little more than high power LED torches with a very nice Aluminium coupling adapter for the fibre optic bundle.

Some may think that the Mediscope eyepieces and prism housings look familiar. I certainly recognised them. Nikon produce miniature binoculars that look the same. I do not know for certain that Nikon made the Mediscope but they do make a lot of medical microscope equipment

Fraser
« Last Edit: August 01, 2019, 12:28:50 pm by Fraser »
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Online Fraser

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A DIY 3D printed Oscilloscope probe holder for the PCBITE probe head  :-+

A chap has kindly created a simple oscilloscope probe holder for the PCBITE unit. It looks functional, if a little too ‘heavy duty’. In ABS I think I could reduce the dimensions to make viewing of the pin under test easier. Once my kit arrives Inwill have to do some experimentation  :)

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3753119

Fraser
« Last Edit: August 02, 2019, 02:17:17 pm by Fraser »
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Online Fraser

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The PCBITE kit arrived today from Germany  :)

It is excellent quality and exactly as shown in the pictures. The probe mounting is a good weight to keep the sprung probe tip in place and the probe tips are of good quality. Replacement gold plated pogo pins are easily obtained from China so different tip styles can be used if desired. The kit comes with an extra set of pogo pins with fork tips.

The insulating rings that protect against shorts on PCB’s are not fitted to the PCB support towers. The user must fit them, if desired. You get enough self adhesive rings for the four towers, plus two spares. I advise the following procedure for fitting the rings as the 3M adhesive is very strong !

1. The rings are split so fit them to the towers in the correct orientation with the adhesive backing sheet still attached. You will end up with the yellow upper surfaces facing each other and the adhesive sides facing their respective contact surfaces when stuck.

2. Pull the tower spring mechanism down and hold the two rings down with it. With tweezers, remove the adhesive backing strip whilst holding the edges of the ring only.

3. Gently allow the tower plunger to rise whilst keeping the ring even with its edges. Allow the tower plunger to press the ring onto the contact surface whilst using your fingers to keep its edges in alignment with the contact surface edges.

4. Repeat the exercise on all for towers.

5. Now attach the lower rings in the same way as the upper ones were fitted. This time hold the plunger down and hold the ring against the upper ring before removing the adhesive backing. Then carefully release the plunger and allow it to press against the adhesive of the ring. Repeat the process for all four towers.

Note that the 3M adhesive is strong and pressure activated so it is hard to remove a ring to reposition it unless done very soon after application. Hence the two spare rings.

Hope this helps

Fraser

« Last Edit: August 07, 2019, 02:51:44 pm by Fraser »
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Offline Berni

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We have bought two sets of these at work after seeing it at a trade show.

They work great and id get a set for myself if it was not so expensive. The spring loaded action makes them really fast and conveniant to use while holding the board plenty solidly enugh for exacto cutting traces and other violent work.

The probe necks work well mechanicaly but not electricaly. Those long unshilded wires make a mess of signals. Sure it works well for hooking up a bench DMM, but for scope probes they suck. Fast edges turn into wobbly garbage and a good deal of noise is picked up. I suggest making your own scope probe ends for it. I personally just use a 3rd hand soldering stand to hold a real scope probe on my circuit.
 

Online Fraser

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Berni,

I agree. You need decent scope probes for anything much more than voltage monitoring or basic low speed  logic level analysis. I already have some suitable scope probes with spring loaded needle tips (PMK) and I have HP logic analyser probes that I will with the PCBBite. I will need to 3D print some adapters to hold the scope probes and logic analyzer probing heads. I already bought plenty of the Brass threaded inserts to mate with the arms and, after hearing from Mike, I ordered some 2mm banana plus that fit inside the arms tip to form a quick change probe option. I see the PCBite as a good baseline on which to build a custom probing bench. Each user can ‘tune’ the unit to best meet their needs  :) The key is to start with a decent design that is open to easy modification :)

As you say, it is certainly not an inexpensive product and there are similar Chinese designs for the board. I may be totally wrong but the flexible arms almost look like a standard thin gooseneck, as found on an LED book light. They are super flexible though. I wonder if the stiffer versions contain a solid wire down the hollow centre ? If so, that wire could be removed to make an LED light gooseneck super flexible as well ?

Sometimes you want stiff gooseneck arms with crocodile clips on the end. I am actively searching for suitable thin gooseneck arms to modify.

Fraser

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Online Fraser

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I purchased some twin LED reading lights a while back to use a illumination when looking at PCB's under an inspection microscope.
They cost £2.94 each and work on ordinary AAA cells instead of Lithium button cells. The light from them is decent and I will liley use one with the PCBite for general illumination. The flexible arms are the same diameter as those of the PCBite.

Now the interesting bit. The gooseneck section is relatively flexible, but nowhere near as flexible as the PCBite arms. They may be good enough for a DIY version though ? The stiffer arms would be perfect for holding wires etc when fitted with a crocodile clip end in place of the LED light, or even attached to the LED light ? These book lights are so cheap that they are begging to be modified for other uses  ;D

There are plenty of these twin LED book lights to be found on ebay...... These have been improved to incorporate two LED's per LED head ! An external power socket is also provided.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Music-Stand-Clip-On-4-Led-Light-Duel-Twin-Reading-Lamp-Usb-Musician-Teacher-Gift/182418916475?hash=item2a7903c47b:g:Z6YAAOSwo4pYF-z4

I have seen them being advertised at £20 each !!! £2.94 is a far nicer price. I just bought four of the newer version with twin LED's per head from the above seller at £2.65 each :) They look versatile and useful :)

Fraser
« Last Edit: August 07, 2019, 05:05:41 pm by Fraser »
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Online Fraser

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There are also magnetic bases available on eBay. I found a set of 6, with a 20mm diameter, for around £8 but can likely find them at lower cost if I look.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/6PC-13KG-Neodymium-Pot-Magnet-D20mm-Thread-Stud-M4-LED-Light-Magnetic-Mount-Base/163192320599?hash=item25ff053257:g:89oAAOSw39FazB30

Fraser
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Offline Fred27

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Mine also arrived today. Looks nice. I'm sure the pillars could be shorter which would make using it with a microscope easier. They just about fit under mine though.

I was surprised just how floppy the goosenecks for the probe holders are. I expected some stiffness to them but there's pretty much none. As you said, it's gravity not springiness that does the work. I shall reserve judgement until I've used them properly.
 

Online Fraser

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« Last Edit: August 07, 2019, 07:07:20 pm by Fraser »
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Online Fraser

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Just a follow-up on the PCBITE 2.0 kit I purchased and Elektor support, or rather lack there-of :(

One of the probe head PCB’s was not correctly mated to its 4mm brass ferrule and so always twisted off angle in use :( I could not remove the ferrule without breaking the thin PCB material. It appears to be glued in place. This issue did not seem acceptable considering the price paid so I wrote to Elektor detailing the issue and asking for a replacement probe PCB. After a long wait for a response (they said they had I.T. Issues) I received a most unhelpful message directing me to a link on how to use the PCBITE 2.0 kit  :palm:
The message stated that I could request further help if required. I sent a reply stating that their response did not resolve my issue and I resent details and pictures of the fault. Since then....... no response :(
It would appear that Elektor are not well equipped for dealing with problems with the items they sell.

I may write to the manufacturer but thought it worth highlighting the risk of buying from Elektor .... nil support if there is a problem  :-BROKE I remember when Elektor were a decent magazine and company.


On a brighter note, I have now collected together all of the additional parts that I want to use with my PCBITE 2.0. I will detail them in a post later. The little LED gooseneck lights are very neat and the Chinese magnetic PCB holder board is very nice..... more later  :-+

Fraser
« Last Edit: August 24, 2019, 02:05:08 pm by Fraser »
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Online Fraser

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Some pictures of the various bits and pieces I put together to make my PCBITE more useful to me in diagnostic work.

I have plenty of Dupont leads and connectors so can make up custom test leads as and when required. I also have some very nice 250MHz PMK oscilloscope probes that have spring loaded tips.... perfect for mounting on a goose-neck arm. The sharp eyed will see a Seleae logic analyzer Clone in the pictures. I bought that as a very simple and compact USB LA to have with the PCBITE Kit and drive it with SIGROK. I have much better LA's when required. The little goose-neck LED lights will be great for both spot illumination and as a mount for a crocodile clip or other needs.

I have plenty of pogo test pins and their correct holders, as well as prewired types, so I can make up many custom probing heads. On Mikes recommendation, I purchased some 2mm banana plugs in order to obtain the sprung contact that I can use as a quick fit probe head. The weighted probe head has a convenient 2mm hole down its centre.

Fraser

« Last Edit: August 25, 2019, 06:50:09 pm by Fraser »
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Online Fraser

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The smaller magnetic PCB holder board is shown in the attached pictures. I include detail of the PCB supports and also the PCBITE accessories being used on the smaller board.

I did not like the white border on the top face of the board so I simply reversed the rubber feet as the board is double sided.

The PCB supports are lower than those of the PCBITE. They offer a slot mount, a spike mount on top or a finger nut clamp on top. The spike mounting may look familiar.... it did to me..... the brass spikes are actually common 3D printer extruder nozzles ! They screw into the aluminium support and over the screw thread that is used by the finger nuts. Very clever use of an item that is already mass produced in China   :-+

The small board is more restrictive in terms of how may magnetic accessories may be fitted onto its surface before it gets over crowded, but it will still be useful for my diagnostic work on miniature thermal cameras etc :) The Chinese board with PCB supports cost £17 delivered from China.

Fraser
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Offline Berni

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What i am wondering about it is how does the chinese version compare with the genuine PCBite kit. Does it work as well and is as convenient to use?
 

Online Fraser

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In a word, No.

The PCBITE is superior. The spring loaded clamps are excellent and hold a PCB firmly. The large metal plate is the perfect size and the flexible probing arms are perfect for my needs. The Chinese board is limiting in that it is small so it works as a PCB holder but a larger PCB would leave little room to mount magnetic accessories. It holds a PCB pretty well but is nowhere near a secure as the PCBITE PCB holder towers. The Chinese unit does not come with the probing arms that I need for my diagnostic work and I have not seen any Chinese clones of the super flexible probe arms yet. I purchased the Chinese unit as an accessory for my PCBITE kit to provide an alternating PCB holder and a more compact metal board for when I am working on small PCB’s that do not justify the larger metal base. It was a bit of an experimental purchase and is not an essential addition to the PCBITE kit.

Fraser
« Last Edit: August 26, 2019, 09:46:04 am by Fraser »
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