Superprobe

The Superprobe is a logic analyzer, multimeter, and much more rolled into a fun to build project. [Ben Ryves] didn’t come up with the original idea, but he definitely took a good thing and made it better. You can use it to test logic, inject logic into a circuit, read capacitors and resistors, test frequency, read the device address from 1-wire devices, and more. Interchangeable probes, choice of internal or external power, simple two-button operation, and a powerful PIC microcontroller at the heart of it all make this a fantastic tool for your electronics workbench. Check out the quality video after the break that  [Ben] put together to show off the results of his tinkering.

30 thoughts on “Superprobe

  1. Wow, added to my To-Do list. This sounds like a very useful tool.
    I’d opt for a less blinding display, but otherwise I love it, great work!

  2. Having found this guy before in the past makes me think I should start submitting finds to hackaday. But if I have learned anything from this guy, it’s that if you want to sound really competent and intelligent… talk with a “real” english accent “old skool” and such.

  3. nice :)
    Now, how about fitting one into something screwdriver sized? that would be useful for on-the-fly testing of parts and free up some bench space.
    Add an accelerometer such as the FC-30 to rotate the display depending on the angle and this would increase the useability of the superprobe.

    I tried to make something like this based on the LM3914 built into a live test screwdriver from one of those Woolworths toolkits but couldn’t find a small enough battery.

    in retrospect a micro would have saved space,and maybe use an ORB cell in place of a battery with a short duty cycle..

    for those who are into small displays, a good source is those “digital picture frames” and then figure out the protocol using a Logic and program your micro accordingly.

  4. @Dan

    ~$5 PIC, ~$3 display, the rest of the bits cost maybe $10, unless you buy them individually from rat shack. <$10 for the case and board.

    Worst likely price:$30 * # of times you set it on fire. Plus shipping/taxes.

    Going by the pile of parts I happen to have on hand: maybe $20 including shipping for the PIC, display, and nicer regulator.

  5. Very handy!
    I was very impressed with the video as it demonstrated several of the functions and was explained very well.

    I’m interested in building one now. Contrary to what some some people would want, I’d build it into a slightly heavier case for benchtop use, I have a slight tremor in my hands so I’d mostly be using clips for probes anyways.

  6. Thank you for the feature and for all the kind comments! Most of the credit should go to the Mondo Technology website; the “Hall of Fame” page there shows a number of versions of the project in a variety of different enclosures.

    I know blue LEDs are not especially popular here, but that display turned out to be the cheapest 4-digit module on eBay at the time.

    It’s also comforting to know that when my technical knowledge runs out I can always fall back on my “nature documentary” diction. :-)

    Thank you zerth for estimating the price; I’m never very good at that as most of my projects use components I already have knocking around. I’m even worse at estimating time – I spent a Saturday afternoon cutting holes in the enclosure and soldered the electronics together on the Sunday afternoon, but I probably work slowly in comparison to most people (it’s a hobby, so I don’t feel the need to rush)!

  7. Is there anywhere I can buy something like that or an inexpensive pre-programmed kit?

    The one linked above is a bit too expensive and I just want something like that preferably from the US?

  8. At first I thought is was a mere toy, but the array of functions in combination with the form factor: grrrrreat! Only problem I would see is accuracy.

  9. Very nice, well made and documented in BBC style ;-) I like how perfectionistic he is-he even eliminated the background from the superprobe pictures.
    Check out Ben’s Journal, he has quite a few interesting electronics projects up there!

  10. Very nicely done Ben, kudo’s for the excellent video.
    I’ve watched this after the last eevblog.com episode , the difference in “style” could not be bigger :)

  11. I love my superprobe, it’s such an awesome tool. It doesn’t get used all the time, but when it does, it’s invaluable.

    Small piece of advice though – if you can’t find a 4 digit display, *don’t* be ‘clever’ and wire up four single-digit displays instead. It’s a royal pain in the arse! Look harder for the 4-digit display.

  12. He doesn’t have an accent – thats just how English sounds when it is spoken properly!

    Seriously well done, great work and decent video.

  13. If you’re keen on working with plastics, use ABS. It’s tough, resilient and can be seamlessly glued by dissolving flakes in acetone.

    I tend to not care about the scratches I make, because I use sandpaper to smooth the surfaces and corners anyways, and then apply spray paint on top to alter the texture and surface between matte and gloss. You can use the dissolved goop as filler if necessary and then sand it down. I treat the plastic a bit more like wood actually.

    There also exists drillbits for making accurate and round holes with optional countersinking, called step drill bits.

  14. The accuracy is admittedly not great when measuring components, Steve (especially the resistor mode due to the non-linear relationship between the sampled resistance and the value read from the ADC input). It certainly won’t replace my multimeter for taking more trustworthy readings, but I feel it makes up for these deficiencies by its convenience!

    Thank you for the tips, Einomies. I think most of the project boxes I’ve seen for sale are ABS, so I should be safe there. I hadn’t thought of sanding and repainting afterwards, and the filler sounds useful. I’ll have to look out for those step bits too!

    Thanks all for the comments! :-)

  15. Just remember that the dissolved ABS shriks as it dries, so apply some extra. The thicker you make it, the less shrinkage but the harder it is to make it stick. You can also glue the stuff by brushing it with acetone and then joining the pieces, but that results in a weaker seam.

    You can also use the dissolved plastic to cast items.

  16. I find it immeasurably more useful to just buy half a square meter of 2-4 mm ABS sheet and then cut up suitable slivers from it. Custom project boxes are quite trivial to make.

    Here’s one of my early attempts at working with the stuff: http://koti.mbnet.fi/jeti/loota/

    I was trying to design a computer case with minimum material requirements and hand tools. Just aluminium L-profile and plastic/alu sheets. Turned out slightly rough around the edges, but it was a proof of concept anyways.

  17. @zerth: Thanks so much for the information! It looks like an absolute must-have, so I might embark upon its creation soon (if I can create the free time).

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