Home / Videos / Probe Technology Breakdown – Oscilloscope Front End Design (part 6)

Probe Technology Breakdown – Oscilloscope Front End Design (part 6)

Learn how probes are designed!
Learn about acquisition board layout and ADC infrastructure!
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Part 1: What is an Oscilloscope?

Part 2: Hardware Layout – What’s Behind the BNC?

Part 3: Attenuators and Preamps

Part 4: Signal Offsets and Filters

Part 5: ADCs and Acquisition Boards


There are different characteristics of probes that must be considered.

1. The signal bandwidth – what signal frequencies do you need to be able to see with the oscilloscope?

2. Signal source impedance – what’s the impedance of the source you are trying to probe? You want your probe to match the impedance of your source to get the best signal quality.

3. Signal size (dynamic range) – what’s the maximum voltage of your signal? Some very fast probes will not be able to measure high voltages.

4. Single ended or differential probes – Knowing whether your signals are differential or single ended will help you decide which probe you need.

5. Probe output impedance – what is the interface impedance with the scope that you are using?

6. Cost and ruggedness.

There are three main types of probes.

1. High impedance passive probes
Pros: more rugged, least expensive
Cons: lower bandwidth and have higher capacitive loading

2. Low impedance resistor divider passive probes
Pros: higher bandwidth, lower capacitive loading than a passive probe
Cons: Low input resistance, scope must have a 50 ohm input.

3. Differential active probes
Pros: Highest bandwidth, lowest capacitive loading, higher input resistance
Cons: higest cost, requires power and control interface, smaller input voltage ranges, oscilloscope 50 ohm input required.

Differential active probes also have a number of optional probe tips and accessories to help engineers connect to their devices.

Learn more about using oscilloscopes:

Check out the EEs Talk Tech podcast:

The 2-Minute Guru Season 2 playlist:

The 2-Minute Guru Season 1 playlist:

More about Keysight oscilloscopes:

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