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The 9 Common Oscilloscope Probes, Choose The Right One For Your Application

Oscope Probe
Scope Probe – Credit: Tektronix

There are a variety of categories of oscilloscope probe types to choose from, with 100’s of models available for every application.

A quick description from Tektronix covers the 9 most common oscilloscope probes. These range in frequency response from 10 MHz to over 30 GHz, and will support acquisition rates through 50 GS/s.

Active – Offers broad signal bandwidth and reduced probe loading to capture single-ended, ground referenced signals. Best choice for small geometry applications that would be seriously loaded by passive probing solutions. Generally required whenever the measurement signal contains high-frequency components that should not be distorted. Even signals in the kilohertz range can contain high-frequency components of well over 100 MHz on their edges.

Current – Widest selection of high-performance current probes available. Tektronix current measurement systems provide programmable and manual simultaneous AC/DC measurements, bandwidth from DC to 2 GHz, and amplitude measurements from mAs to 20,000 A. These measure the current that flows through a wire. Generally suitable for both AC and DC current measurements.

Differential – View complementary (differential) signal pair using a single channel. While a matched pair of single-ended probes may be used to make a differential measurement, a true differential probe typically gives higher performance, providing high CMRR, broad frequency range, and minimal time skew between inputs.

High Voltage – Extends the ability to safely and accurately capture real-time signal information from “elevated” or “floating” voltage systems. Solutions available for single-ended, differential or isolated measurements.

Logic Analyzer – Verify and debug today’s high speed, low voltage digital signals with a broad range of Logic Analyzer probes and connectivity solutions for your specific board or chip configuration.

Low Capacitance – Minimizes device under test loading for a more accurate characterization of how your device is performing with or without the measurement system.

Optical – Optical-to-electric converters specifically designed for seamless operation with an oscilloscope. Commonly used to test and characterize a wide range of optical communication standards (SONET/SDH and Fibre Channel).

Passive – Most common, general purpose probe type. Designed for cost efficiency and to be mechanically robust; offer a wide dynamic range and large input resistance. These are best are suited for general measurements on low-frequency signals with less stringent accuracy requirements.

Temperature – The Tektronix TP750 probe is manufactured using a coil suspension element design for increased shock and vibration resistance

Other suppliers of probes are:

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