Build a Simple PantoProbe for High-Precision Electronics Troubleshooting

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Build a Simple PantoProbe for High-Precision Electronics Troubleshooting

Anyone who has done circuit testing/troubleshooting on surface-mounted components knows how hard it can be to accurately position the probes over the pads and points you wish to test. To solve this frustration, one industrious maker, Kurt Schaefer, has created a website and 3D print files to spread the word on a free and open source PantoProbe device that he has designed. The PantoProbe is based on a pantograph, a mechanism which can divide down motion such that a larger motion at the input point can translate to a much smaller motion at the output. The current PantoProbe design offers a 3x mechanical advantage. With this degree of amplified precision, you can attach electronics testing probes to the PantoProbe and confidently test solder pads that are fractions of a meter apart.

I’ve invented a great tool for building and troubleshooting electronics. It’s basically a pantographic mechanism that amplifies your precision so you can probe electronic circuits easily. I have also made a pick and place device using the same mechanism. I’ve open sourced all the designs and have setup a web site to help share them.

In this video, Kurt introduces the PantoProbe, explains why he made it, and shows you how it works.

In the second video, Kurt runs through all you need to know, do, and have to build a PantoProbe yourself.

Basically, all you need are the five 3D printed parts, some tubing and wire, a commercial ball joint, and miscellaneous hardware. For tools, you basically need a file, a hobby saw, and an optional rotary tool. It all looks very straightforward and easy to print and put together. The video runs through every step of the assembly process.

You can access the print files for creating your own PantoProbe on Kurt’s Thingiverse page.

[H/t to Michael Pechner for sending me the link to this project.]


Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

View more articles by Gareth Branwyn