Crappy test leads hack

Everybody who works and tinkers with electronics will have a set of these test leads. They really are useful, and no matter where you buy them they inevitably will come in that standard group of colors including green, red, white, yellow, black and green.

While some are better quality than others, there really won’t be much difference between different brands. I can’t really express how frustrating it can be to troubleshoot a circuit for a while only to realize your test leads are the problem. Even considering how cheap these leads are, these really are just throwaway items.  But alas, you’re down to your last one and don’t have the motivation to drive out to the supply shop to get more while your circuit waits…you will inevitably do the following.

 

Alligator clip

Alligator clip with its plastic shroud pulled away.

 

Take it Apart!

 

I’ve pulled away the shroud of this suspect alligator clip that was showing anywhere from 2Ω to 50kΩ resistance. As you can see, the crimping job leaves a lot to be desired. I have seen this style of crimping on most of the test leads I have come across. The last 1/4 inch of insulation is stripped from the wire and the copper strands are folded down. The crimp is grabbing the wire insulation with the folded over copper strands merely pressed against the alligator clip. No wonder these things fail after 10 uses!!!

 

The Hack

 

So anyway, I immediately knew what I would be doing for the next 30mins. I hacked/upgraded my entire collection of alligator clips to last longer than an ice cube in a sauna.  I used a screwdriver to keep the clip open to make pulling the plastic shroud away easier.

 

IMG_0016

Soldered wire to the alligator clip. Only slight melting of the wire insulation.

 

This worked a treat! My test leads are reading slightly lower impedance (between 0-2Ω) than the good ones measured before the mod. Be aware that soldering the wire to the clip takes a lot of heat due to the clip sinking a lot of heat away from where you want to solder. Using flux will make your job much easier.

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