Main classification and and characteristics of oscilloscopes’ probes
1. Passive voltage probe
1.1 Passive probe
The passive probe is made of wires and connectors and includes resistors and capacitors when compensation or attenuation is required. There are no active devices (transistors or amplifiers) in the probe, so no power supply is required for the probe. Passive probes are generally the strongest and most economical probes, and they are not only easy to use, but also widely used.
1.2 High resistance passive voltage probe
Actually, voltage probes are widely used among which high resistance passive probes are the most. Passive voltage probes provide attenuation 1x, 10x and 100x for different voltages. During these passive probes, 10x passive probes are most widely used probes. For applications where the signal amplitude is 1 v peak-to-peak or lower, a 1 x probe may be appropriate or even necessary. In application where low - and medium-amplitude signals are mixed (tens of millivolts to tens of volts), the switchable 1 x /10 x probe is much more convenient. However, the switchable 1 /10 probe is essentially two different probes in the same product, with not only different attenuation coefficients, but also different bandwidth, rise time and impedance (R and C) characteristics. Therefore, these probes do not exactly match the input of the oscilloscope and do not provide the optimal performance achieved by the standard 10 x probe.
1.3 Low resistance passive voltage probes
Bandwidth of most high resistance passive probes range from less than 100MHZ to 500 MHZ or more than. However, frequency characteristics of low resistance passive probes(also called 50 Ohm probe, Zo probe, voltage divider probe) are very good, adopting probe matching coaxial cable, bandwidth could reach 10GHZ and 100 psec or faster rise time. The probe is designed for use in 50 ohm environments such as high-speed equipment verification, microwave communications and time domain reflectometers (TDR).
1.4 Passive high voltage probes
High voltage is one relative concept. We can define a high voltage as any voltage that exceeds the voltage that a typical generic 10 x passive probe can safely handle. High voltage probes require great dielectric strength to ensure safety of user and probes.
2. Active voltage probe
2.1 Active probes
Active probes include or depends on active circuits, such as crystal valve. Most commonly, an active device is a field effect transistor (FET) that provides very low input capacitance, which leads to high input impedance over a wider frequency band.
2.2 Passive FET probe
Bandwidth of passive FET probes are usually during 500MHZ to 4GHZ. The high input impedance of an active FET probe allows measurements to be made at test points with unknown impedance, and the risk of a load effect is much lower. In addition, because low capacitance reduces the effect of ground wires, longer ground wires can be used.
Active FET probes have no passive probe voltage range. The linear dynamic range of active probe is generally between ±0.6v and ±10V.
2.3 Active differential probe
Differential signals are signals that refer to one another rather than to ground. The differential probe can measure the signal of the floating device, which is essentially composed of two symmetrical voltage probes with good insulation and high impedance to the location, respectively. The differential probe provides a high common mode rejection ratio (CMRR) over a wider frequency range.
3. Current probe
In principle, the current value can be easily obtained by dividing the voltage measured by the impedance measured by a voltage probe. However, in practice this measurement introduces a large error, so generally do not use voltage conversion current method. The current probe can accurately measure the current waveform. The method is to use the current transformer input, the signal current magnetic flux is transformed into voltage by the mutual inductance transformer, and then amplified by the amplifier inside the probe and sent to the oscilloscope.
3.1 Ac current probe
The alternating current in the transformer will generate electric field and induce voltage with the change of current direction. The ac current probe is a passive device that requires no external power supply.
3.2 DC current probe
Conventional current probes can only measure ac and ac signals, because a stable dc current cannot induce current in a transformer. However, using the hall effect, a semiconductor device with a bias current will generate a voltage corresponding to the direct current field. Therefore, the dc current probe is an active device that needs external power supply.
So current probes are basically divided into two kinds: AC current probes and AC/DC current probes. AC current probes are usually passive probes and AC/DC active probes.
4. Logic probe
When observing and analyzing the analog characteristics of digital waveform with oscilloscope, logic probe is needed. In order to isolate the exact cause, digital designers usually need to check the specific data pulse that occurs under specific logic conditions, which requires logic trigger function.
5. Other probes
Because the application scope of oscilloscope is very wide, so in addition to the above types of probes there are a variety of special probes, these professional probes according to the different front-end sensors and have different functions, we introduce two of them below, only for readers to understand.
Photoelectric probe is a combination of common voltage probe and photoelectric conversion device in principle, which can directly measure optical device and optical signal transmitted by optical fiber.
Temperature probe is a combination of common voltage probe and temperature sensor, which can directly measure the temperature of an object.Temperature probe is a kind of sensor probe. Various sensor probes and oscilloscopes can be combined to measure a variety of physical quantities.