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How to find out the shorted path on PCB?

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How to find out the shorted path on PCB?

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How to find out the shorted path on PCB?


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#1

29th January 2005, 09:21

bluewave
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locating short on pcb


Assuming an unknown shorted path exists on a PCB which had be soldered with all components.
How to find out where occurs the shorted path? Considering that excluding the path on board,
there are internal paths in on board ICs which also possible induce the shorted path.
I think it also can be a general methodology question. How to find the shorted path among
multiple possible paths?
Needs for your good idea.
Thanks.
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#2

29th January 2005, 11:28

aryajur
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find short circuit pcb


I think this would me more of an intiution analysis. 1st what makes u think there is a short. Once
you have that reason clear in your ming, you can try isolating the sources. I think this is the best
start. Then of course get busy with the soldering iron and the Multimeter !

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29th January 2005, 11:28

#3

29th January 2005, 12:42

IanP
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locate short circuit pcb


It is good to have the schematic diagram and the PCB layout .. This helps to identify which pads
should not have a short circuit ..
And the recipe is somethong like this:
success (in finding short circuit) =patience+multimeter+magnifying glass

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#4

29th January 2005, 13:14

Ace-X
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test equipment to find pcb track shorting


If some components on board have JTAG, then it will significantly simplify this process. Especially,
if you have some BGA packages.

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#5

30th January 2005, 02:54

House_Cat
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how to find a short on a circuit board


There are inexpensive pieces of test equipment that can be used to find shorts on circuit boards.
They are microohm meter bridges that use an audible signal to help you trace out the short.
One of the least expensive, and one that works really well, is described at:
http://www.eds-inc.com/leak.html
The cost is about $200 US - I've had mine for about 5 years, and it works like a champ!

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How to find out the shorted path on PCB?

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30th January 2005, 04:43

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#6

30th January 2005, 04:43

electron_boy
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find pcb shorts


it is not necessary to buy short circuit checking devices connect one used battery(with low
voltage) with an LED or a piezobuzzer and check the traces for any short

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#7

30th January 2005, 12:54

Ace-X
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how to find a short on a pcb


Originally Posted by electron_boy

it is not necessary to buy short circuit checking devices connect one used battery(with low
voltage) with an LED or a piezobuzzer and check the traces for any short

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With such device you can figure out that all wires on board are shorted together, even if they are
not!!! Try to connect such device between GND and VCC lines - it will show that they are shorted
(if your device uses 5V, 100 mA - it will be exactly 50 Ohm, that are detected by such simple
device as short!)
That is the reason for high price of short detectors - they precisely measure in range less than 1
Ohm.

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#8

30th January 2005, 17:55

Borber
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locating pcb short circuits


One of the methods can be to use stabilized power supply with current limit. First set the current
limit of the power supply to expected current consumption of your circuit or device, and
corresponding supply voltage. Because of the short circuit, the current consumption of the circuit
can be normal or exceede expected value. In the case the consumption is greater then expected
voltage of the power supply will drop and in this way you will prevent eventually burned
component. If the voltage of PS remains normal the next step is to find component that does not
operate correctly. If voltage drops you may increase current limit and find which element has
raised temperature. This is a bit risky but may bring success. Measure node voltage and try to find
abnormalities.

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#9

30th January 2005, 18:37

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pcb short circuit finding techniques


My experience follow what others have said.
But my usual rule of thumb is to troubleshoot this way.
1. A Good visual inspection.
- sometimes a strey wire strand or some other foreign object can cause short.
2. If no obvious defects are noted then I would check most likely culprits.
- first capacitor, then coils.
-- components like resistors usually burn out and open, I have yet to discover a shorted resistor.
-- open components are usually easy to spot. but this is about a short so.
-- capacitors don't show signs of shorting out but usually do so I go after them first.
-- finally i check coils. these do short-out. mostly I find they partially short out so the defect is not
obvious. We had a similar problem, it took us a few days to discover the culprit was a coil. it didn't
look burned out but it's impedance characteristics were significantly wrong.
Hope this help to further discussion
wa

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12th January 2012, 06:14

#10

yesABC
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How to find out the shorted path on PCB?

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Re: How to find out the shorted path on PCB?


I had a pretty simple solution... but not sure will works for all cases...
1st, u need to have a moderate accurate multimeter in ohmic sensing. my case i m using
fluke-177.
let say short occur in between Vcc and GND, u can check the ohmic of in between them, and
problem now is to find the location, since VCC and GND is everywhere in ur circuit.
a total short circuit will shows 0.1ohm in my multimeter, and the short circuit VCC shows value of
0.3ohm. means it is a little short in somewhere else. Then i fix my negative probe at GND at a
specific location, n positive probe will try to probe the VCC at others location. u might found some
places have a little bit lower ohmic value, like 0.2ohm... or maybe even higher value. when u
found the smaller value, tat's will be ur location the traces short circuit.
this help narrow down the debugging area, then rest of it u need to find the most possible short
circuit location with ur intuition.
Hope this can help... i just found out this is quite easy and useful...

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#11

12th January 2012, 06:38

ALERTLINKS
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Re: How to find out the shorted path on PCB?


i have a continuity tester based on LM741. It buzz when resistance is below .25 ohms.
Similar like,
Connection Tester - Test Gears Circuits Schematics - Electronics Tutorials and Hobby Projects
Electronic continuity tester circuit diagram using 741 op amp | Electronics Projects Circuits
Diagrams and Schematics
You don't have to spend 200$ for testing, even digital meter is sufficient for this testing as yesABC
have stated.

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Being an intellectual creates a lot of questions and no answers. Lack of knowhow is a more advanced form of
wisdom
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#12

12th January 2012, 08:51

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Re: How to find out the shorted path on PCB?


I check the easy things first. A 5 to 10 power magnifying glass is invaluable.
Solder blobs where they ought not be. Also cracks in solder joints. Cracks in board traces.
Especially where the board might bend due to cables being plugged in and out, etc.
It's a natural step to want to try, to reduce supply voltage and see how current draw changes.
However we have to think twice, because this can cause digital devices inside an IC to improperly
go into partial conduction instead of normal on-off action, causing overmuch current flow, which
could ruin them.
What level of undervoltage is safe? Not sure.
I test voltage levels at all pins of the IC. If they are all the same, I know there's a problem (such
as innards fused together).
I have to be careful when I use my analog ohmmeter on the lowest range setting (X1). It contains
a 1.5V cell and it will send 60mA through circuitry. So I'm careful to start on a higher ohm range.
After working on the problem I want to test it. But I don't want to blow a fuse. To limit current the
first method I think of is to put a bulb in series. Awkward to set up, but it tells me a lot of things I
need to know. A bright bulb tells me there's a short. A dim bulb tells me it may be fixed, and I can
try supplying full power.

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#13

12th January 2012, 19:38

DartPlayer170
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Re: How to find out the shorted path on PCB?


There is a device called a digital current tracer which traces low impedance shorts in logic circuits.
It only works on circuits where the current is changing levels though. It does not locate dc current
shorts. But it is useful for logic circuits with multiple paths. It can be used in conjunction with a
logic pulser to trace relative current paths.

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#14

10th May 2012, 22:14

morzh
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Re: How to find out the shorted path on PCB?


Back in the 90s, I worked at a place where they had an instrument for finding shorts on PCBs.
It so happened only I was able to use that instrument (requires good hearing).
It changes its sound's pitch as you get closer to the short.
I was able within 5 minutes to pinpoint a short with tremendous accuracy on a PCB of any
complexity.
I think it was called "The Whistler". I forgot who made that.
I've been looking for it ever since on the web, to no avail.
If anyone knows where I could find one, I'd be so grateful.
Short of making one myself...
This was the best ever tool I came across; I wonder why those folks stopped making them.
PS. Onetime I found something that I thought was that, bought it, and sent it back - it happened

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to be a simple squealer that squealed at the short. As useful as using a DMM on the "buzz"
setting.

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