Author Topic: Better Leads For My Agilent 1242B  (Read 7578 times)

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Offline NeoMorph

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Better Leads For My Agilent 1242B
« on: February 11, 2013, 05:01:42 pm »
Sorry... mini rant alert...

I want suggestions for better leads for my Agilent MM... because honestly the Agilent ones SUCK big time. The normal probes that come in the pack are blunt as hell and the grabbers (http://www.home.agilent.com/en/pd-1191778-pn-U1163A/smt-grabbers) are bloody hopeless. Put them onto a component and move your meter slightly and BOING!... the damned things fly off. Nearly threw my one project across the room when it happened five times on the trot today.   |O

Seriously, at the moment I am using a £200 multimeter with probes off a crappy £10 meter I bought when I was like 10 and hooks that are just pieces of bent copper in cheapo plastic housings. Unfortunately they are on their last legs as well but they are way better than the Agi leads because they aren't blunt and bulky due to Agi using a modular setup. Oh and of course the hooks actually hook to the damned test points without catapulting themselves across the bench... Sheeesh.

I would like :-

   1. Decent normal test leads (short and medium set) for lab work only.
   2. Hooks for through hole and smd components that actually HOLD THE LEG/WIRE AND DON'T KEEP FLYING OFF. Something like my scope hook probes would be awesome but I have never seen any for multimeters.  :-//

I love the 1242B meter itself... Even came with a free Bluetooth....it's just let down by those crappy leads. I prefer smaller, easier to handle tips rather than these monstrosities. It's like having an extra large magic marker in your hand rather than the slim pen types that I love.

 
 

alm

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Re: Better Leads For My Agilent 1242B
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2013, 05:55:42 pm »
Pomona (who also makes most of the Fluke-branded leads) is the top brand. Probemaster has also gotten some good reviews on this forum. For SMD work, I like the spring-loaded type probes that Dave received in a recent mailbag episode. The standard (Fluke TL-71 type, don't remember the Pomona p/n) are nice for general purpose work. They're not terribly sharp, but I don't usually have to deal with layers of heavy oxidation. They also make steel tipped probes for the heavy duty work.

For through hole components, I prefer grabber hooks (like the Pomona minigrabber stuff) to the pincer (two hooks) type. For SMD it highly depends on the component. The EZ-Hook type is nice for SOIC and 1mm pitch. The $$$ ones with the tiny hooks are nice for smaller pin pitches. Almost anything sucks on 0805-size passives.

Someone on this form (I believe saturation) gave the accessories that came with the Fluke leads some fairly negative reviews.
 

Offline T4P

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Re: Better Leads For My Agilent 1242B
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2013, 06:01:28 pm »
Are you pretty sure you got agilent probes  :o The last time i got my hands on one it was much better than the ones i have with no-brand(Already much better than the ones with UT61E)
 

Offline Huluvu

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Re: Better Leads For My Agilent 1242B
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2013, 06:20:09 pm »
I often build some special Leads by myself... 

Ingredients:

- High flexible silicon wires
- 2mm Hirschmann stuff
- some standard 4mm Plugs



"Yeah, but no, but yeah, but no..."
 

Offline zaoka

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Offline NeoMorph

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Re: Better Leads For My Agilent 1242B
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2013, 07:54:53 pm »
LOL @ probemaster... gives image of aliens on the prowl... heh.

Thanks for the advice peeps. I'm in the UK so will have to find a local equivalent of ProbeMaster

Are you pretty sure you got agilent probes  :o The last time i got my hands on one it was much better than the ones i have with no-brand(Already much better than the ones with UT61E)

Yup... brand new U1252B with the modular probes (U1166A). The actual probe ends with the connector comes to a whopping 166mm. I think these are more the electricians rather than electronics ones as there is only 3mm of probe bare at the end. Makes sense for the size of them then.

They are Cat IV 600V probes after all. I think want the lower rated ones as I am only working on 12v max most of the time. Not exactly killer volts/amps in a flight simulator (until I get into Force Feedback for the control columns that is).

Oh yeah... one other thing about my cheapo DMM... it's WAYYYYYY faster at continuity testing than my U1242B. Do you think the auto ranging is what slows it down?
« Last Edit: February 11, 2013, 07:58:42 pm by NeoMorph »
 

Offline T4P

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Re: Better Leads For My Agilent 1242B
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2013, 11:22:56 pm »
Hold on, i think you mean U1242B again and yes the 1242 is a bit slow. Bummer.
I have a U1273AX on my way (Dave got an early unit 5 months ago!) but i think it should have the 19mm and 4mm
In any case any shrouded probe is pretty much going to be for electrical and will probably not be sharp
 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: Better Leads For My Agilent 1242B
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2013, 11:47:14 pm »
I have those same Agilent grabbers, and they're not the most wonderful. Even if they hold, the wires are thick and get in the way.

The basic Pomona lead set alm mentioned is the 5519A, and the basic kit (adds alligator clips and extended probe tips), is 6343. BTW, both of these are for RT angle safety shrouded banana's your meter uses. There are others that might be of interest if you need to use it with other equipment (i.e. older, that doesn't accept the shrouded types or RT angle is an issue). A number of kits with a broader range of accessories too if you need such a set.
Pomona's DMM Probe page: http://www.pomonaelectronics.com/index.php?i=prodmain&page=1&getDetails=1&parent=TESTKIT

All of the good stuff I've bought is Probemaster these days, as they offer a better value IMHO (at least in the US; not sure about the UK). Accessories are quite good too, so if you can get them, it would seriously be worth considering in my opinion. A modular kit would (9000 series) would be worth a look (plug in accessories), and if you just need a basic set of leads, the 8000 series (screw on accessories). BTW, if it matters to you, the tips are sharp, as in can draw blood, especially the spring loaded series using either of the pointed tips (8150 is the RT angle kit). I use retractable banana ends for the modular sets, as they'll fit more gear.

Hope this helps.  :)
 

Offline NeoMorph

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Re: Better Leads For My Agilent 1242B
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2013, 12:02:23 am »
I ordered some Amprobes for the time being while I find a decent set of leads for my new setup (stopped doing electronics back in 1990 due to disability getting worse)... The Fluke cheaper brand and they come with alli's too.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/121061216707

My problem is that 90% of my lab kit either got sold or is lost in the numerous boxes in my shed or store rooms lol. I can't remember when I last saw my probe case and can't even remember if I sold them, stored them or just gave them away. I did stumble on my old, old, self made logic probe (the very first project I made on a custom PCB back in '85). It was mouldering in the bottom of a cupboard and I found it when I was trying to see if I could find any of the old leads. God knows if it still works lol.

Oh and I did find one thing I hadn't seen in ages. My Tech 375 scope. Found that about a month ago. That's what got me interested in electronics again... then I stumbled on Daves site. Yup... hooked again.

And yeah, I meant the U1242B was tired when I posted... still am (which is why I am waffling).

 

Offline Stephenniall

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Re: Better Leads For My Agilent 1242B
« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2013, 05:20:50 am »
I'd reccomend having a look on 'RS Components' Website, For some... I'm using some Hirschmann ones off of their and their great.
 

Offline casinada

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Re: Better Leads For My Agilent 1242B
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2013, 06:36:37 am »
Look for Mueller test leads. I had some for more than 20 years. They make test leads for Tektronix and Keithley or at least they did just like Pomona makes probes for Fluke and Agilent. I purchase probes on exxy when I find good deals but they have to be new or new old stock.
The Parrot invent Probes look interesting but I don't have personal experience with them
http://www.parrot-invent.com/

Good look in the quest for good test leads. They are integral part of your measurement system. I think that they should be discussed and analyzed at least as much as the test equipment.
 

Offline NeoMorph

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Re: Better Leads For My Agilent 1242B
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2013, 11:55:12 am »

Good look in the quest for good test leads. They are integral part of your measurement system. I think that they should be discussed and analyzed at least as much as the test equipment.

Damned straight... A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and the leads/plugs are usually the weakest link in the testing environment.

I can't believe I never looked at RS (after all, that was where I bought the meter from... DOH!) but I normally deal with Farnell and the selection isn't brilliant there. RS though have a TON more hooks and even those ones like on my scope.

http://uk.rs-online.com/web/p/hook-clips/7148174/

Yup... I think I have found the right ones now....
 

Offline NeoMorph

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Re: Better Leads For My Agilent 1242B
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2013, 02:36:37 pm »
OK... I'm baffled. My cheap Amprobe leads arrived just and they are just as blunt as the Agilent. They use 18AWG plastic wire where the Agilent uses nice silicone 16AWG wire. The Amprobe is only about 1" shorter than the  Agilent and is thinner slightly than the Agilent. The rating on the Amprobes are only Cat II 1000V 10A while the Agilent are Cat III 1000V and Cat IV 600 with 15A.

So why the hell do I feel more comfortable using the Amprobe leads?  :-//

It's bonkers... It's like they feel more precise and I don't get into half the tangles I get into with the Agilent ones. That might have to do with the Silicone leads being over floppy and also being about 12" longer than the Amprobes.
 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: Better Leads For My Agilent 1242B
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2013, 02:51:05 pm »
OK... I'm baffled. My cheap Amprobe leads arrived just and they are just as blunt as the Agilent. They use 18AWG plastic wire where the Agilent uses nice silicone 16AWG wire. The Amprobe is only about 1" shorter than the  Agilent and is thinner slightly than the Agilent. The rating on the Amprobes are only Cat II 1000V 10A while the Agilent are Cat III 1000V and Cat IV 600 with 15A.

So why the hell do I feel more comfortable using the Amprobe leads?  :-//

It's bonkers... It's like they feel more precise and I don't get into half the tangles I get into with the Agilent ones. That might have to do with the Silicone leads being over floppy and also being about 12" longer than the Amprobes.
To me, the difference between the Agilent silicone leads and the Probemasters (18AWG silicone insulation), seems to be with the diameter rather than the length (harder silicone & perhaps fewer, larger diameter wire strands <can't verify the latter without damaging them>). Yet the Probemasters are like a wet noodle, and don't get tangled like the Agilents do (they don't have any memory either, unlike the Agilent, which still have the folding pattern in them from when they were packaged).
 

Offline NeoMorph

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Re: Better Leads For My Agilent 1242B
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2013, 05:47:27 pm »
Yeah, that memory thing is a pain. I also think the extra inch of the probe itsef sticking out of your hand results in extra leverage which makes using the probes unwieldy. That's why I like shorter probes... the wire lies across the web of your thumb rather than sticking up and causing you to lose control of the thing.

I'll try and get some pictures to show what I mean because for me, when I am trying to reach an awkward test point it is the difference between getting the reading easily verses getting tangled up and irate at something that should be easy.

I have to say that if these Amprobes are supposed to be low end probes then I have sooooooo got to get my hands on some Flukes. Mind you I will be getting my Muellers sometime in the next month so I should be set.
 

Offline SLJ

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Re: Better Leads For My Agilent 1242B
« Reply #15 on: February 16, 2013, 12:32:47 am »
Here are two of the sets I use.



The Fluke TL-175E set is my favorite.  They feel good in my hands and the cable is flexible.
The end twists to move a shroud over the tip leaving only the very end exposed if you are in a tight area.
Although the tips are pretty pointed, they are blunt so I would not use them to pierce a cable. 
The "E" in the TL-175E means they came with the screw on banana ends. I did not think I'd use them but I have actually used them several times.  Quicker than swapping to banana leads when setting power supplies and such.  They cost around $22 US.  Around $20 (TL-175) without the screw on bananas.

The Pomona 5953A set I use when I need to get into really tight areas or when I need to pierce insulation.  The tips are needle sharp, adjustable, and go from completely hidden to extend over 3 inches.  What I don't like is the handles are a little thin for my liking (I have big hands) and feel cheap. They also have the thinner cable. The thin cable is really flexible but does kind of get tangled on things once in awhile.  Still these are very sharp and great for probing in tight places that I can't get to easily with the Flukes.  These are a little more expensive than the Fluke set and cost around $26 US.

I have a set of Fluke test leads with all the different ends that came with my 87V kit but I find I use the Fluke TL-175 set most of the time.

I have heard good things about the Extech TL809 test lead kit which comes with a set of alligators and grabbers also. That set is around $16 US.  I have a set on the way and will put them through the paces next week when they get here and let you know what I think of them.
 
« Last Edit: February 16, 2013, 12:35:42 am by SLJ »
 

Offline NeoMorph

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Re: Better Leads For My Agilent 1242B
« Reply #16 on: February 16, 2013, 02:06:29 am »
Thanks Steve.  The info is definitely useful. I never realised the amazing difference in quality.

These Amprobe leads have screw on shrouds as well (which threw me when I first opened them - I thought they had sent the wrong leads lol). The croc clips that come with them screw onto the end but they are HUGE...  definitely electricians rather than electronics use.

One thing that I have never thought about (until I busted my logic probe end) was that there aren't more probes with spring loaded ends. When I went onto Farnell to get a replacement I found these...

Spring Loaded Probes on Farnell

... which are really awesome for what I want. There are also those probes that Dave used to test those Wun Hung Lo resistors. Why don't we see them used more often in probe ends? Kind of mind boggling tbh.
 

Offline SLJ

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Re: Better Leads For My Agilent 1242B
« Reply #17 on: February 16, 2013, 02:32:23 am »
I don't think spring loaded probes are a good idea in many cases.  I often find myself putting considerable pressure on the contact point of the probe.  I would think a spring loaded end would not always make the best contact.

I do like Fluke's idea of the tip shield coming out of the probe with just a twist.  I also have a few sets of mini grabbers for when I need to attach to component leads.  I think they are all Pomonas.  The alligators that came with my Fluke 87V/E2 set are to large for most of my uses.

Offline SLJ

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Re: Better Leads For My Agilent 1242B
« Reply #18 on: February 21, 2013, 05:34:11 pm »
Got the Extech TL-809 Test Lead Kit kit in today.  (under $17 US)


 
These DMM probes are CAT III rated, 1000 volts.  The 42 inch PVC leads are stamped 2,000 volts.  The leads are 18 ga. and very flexible.  The set comes in a really nice case and includes a nice pair of alligators with rubber covers (they push on the probe ends) and a pair of grabbers .  The probe points are not sharp and they have the banana ends built on to them accept the alligators.  The probes are not as thin as the Pomonas and don't have the shrouds the Flukes have but they feel good in my hand. The grabbers seemed to work fine and the grabber ends have a nice stiff hook.
 
The only negative is I'm not sure I like the fact that the probe tips have the banana type ends that don't come off making the probes fatter.  Might be a problem sometimes getting into tight spaces.   Still, for under $17 U.S. for this whole kit with the case it's probably the best anyone will find that's on a tight budget.


Offline nanofrog

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Re: Better Leads For My Agilent 1242B
« Reply #19 on: February 22, 2013, 01:19:52 am »
I don't think spring loaded probes are a good idea in many cases.  I often find myself putting considerable pressure on the contact point of the probe.  I would think a spring loaded end would not always make the best contact.
It seems that way, but they do work (aimed at densely packed SMD boards).

Also keep in mind, that these types of probes are used in automated QC testing (aka bed-of-nails, where each test point is made with a spring loaded probe set in a fixture), so if they didn't make good contact they wouldn't be used for this.  ;)

The only negative is I'm not sure I like the fact that the probe tips have the banana type ends that don't come off making the probes fatter.
Are you sure the lanterns don't unscrew from the probe shaft?
 

Offline SLJ

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Re: Better Leads For My Agilent 1242B
« Reply #20 on: February 22, 2013, 01:49:46 am »
My problem is I work on vintage equipment.  Where spring loaded tips might be fine in a assembly QC environment on new circuits. I run into a lot of corrosion, dirt and grime when working on the older equipment.  That's just a matter of preference though.

The lanterns don't come off.  They are built into the end of the probe (they do spin).  It's really the only negative I see with this whole set.  It's actually a great test lead set for the price.   Heck,  just the alligators from Fluke cost 10 bucks.  Here you get the CAT III probes, leads, alligators, mini-grabbers, and a nice case for around $16.

Offline nanofrog

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Re: Better Leads For My Agilent 1242B
« Reply #21 on: February 22, 2013, 08:18:51 am »
My problem is I work on vintage equipment.  Where spring loaded tips might be fine in a assembly QC environment on new circuits. I run into a lot of corrosion, dirt and grime when working on the older equipment.  That's just a matter of preference though.
Nothing wrong with this at all IMHO.  ;) I'll be tearing into a Tek 2445B I just picked up.

I like my probes sharp (spring loaded or otherwise), as it pierces through the oxidation and gets a good signal with less chance of slipping. And I need all the help I can get to keep from smoking parts.  :-DD

The lanterns don't come off.  They are built into the end of the probe (they do spin).  It's really the only negative I see with this whole set.  It's actually a great test lead set for the price.   Heck,  just the alligators from Fluke cost 10 bucks.  Here you get the CAT III probes, leads, alligators, mini-grabbers, and a nice case for around $16.
Couldn't tell from the pics. Would be really nice if they did come off (allow you to use threaded accessories), but for the price, I wouldn't complain either.

If you're intersted in a better basic kit, you could look into a Probemaster 8043S (RT. Angle banana) for $31 shipped (http://www.ebay.com/itm/Deluxe-Probe-Master-DMM-Test-Lead-Set-NEW-8043S-/400299931669). Wire is silicone insulated, and the flexibility reminds me of a freshly cooked spaghetti noodle. They also offer quite a few additional accessories that fit (threaded) if you go to their site.

Just the probes run ~$15, but for small quantities, you're better off looking on eBay or similar (minimum shipping directly from Probemaster runs $13.33; good deal when you make an order of ~$100 or so, such as their 9000 series kits, which are a better value than Fluke or Pomona IMHO). All of their products are made in the USA if that matters to you.

I can take pics of the Probemaster stuff I have if you wish.
 


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