Hacked Gadgets Forum

July 13, 2014

How to Quickly Trace PCB Tracks

at 7:07 pm. Filed under Electronic Hacks


If you are trying to troubleshoot a PCB you probably don’t have the schematic and can just guess where PCB traces go, if you try to follow them manually it can be tedious as you follow vias from one side of the board to the other just to loose the trace under a chip. Sure you can probe around to try to find where the trace goes but with any substantial sized board that can take forever. The technique demonstrated above uses a large finger tip size piece of aluminum foil to quickly dab around the board covering a dozen or more points at a press looking for a common pin. When an area has been found you then just need to probe around and see where the connection was. If the board you are working on is mainly through hole you are probably best off probing around on the rear of the board since items such as electrolytic caps won’t be testable from the component side. 

I have never seen this technique used before, I wonder if a wand type probe tip could be made that would work a bit better than the foil finger. I am imagining a tip that looks something like a brush that girls use to apply blush, if the puffy thin strands of the brush were conductive this might be the ideal tool.

Via: Electronics Foru



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2 Responses to “How to Quickly Trace PCB Tracks”

  1. Farzad Says:

    I’ve used a similar technique to identify rx/tx or JTAG pins on a header, using just probes. The trick is to tap a known point (eg. rx/tx/JTAG pin on chip or pin on header) with one probe and then lay the other probe across a set of pins or headers. If you get a beep then you can localize by testing each pin/header.

    If you have a fast latching continuity tester then you can also simply slide the other probe across the set of pins quickly, stopping at the beep rather than laying the probe down across all the pins. This is much faster and very efficient.

  2. Sk Says:

    Amico chip lifter brush on amazon

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