Preventative Maintenance and Cleaning of
Everett Charles and Ostby-Barton Test Probes

Customers of Everett Charles/Ostby-Barton Test Probes frequently ask what procedure we recommend for the preventative maintenance of our spring contact probes. The necessary frequency and method of the maintenance/cleaning of our probes depends upon a variety of factors such as, the working environment, the type of fixture involved and even the probe tip style. Therefore, while we have given some guidelines below, each customer should use their own discretion in determining what is best under their circumstances.

To keep probes clean, the first place to begin is by utilizing dust covers provided by most fixture manufacturers. Their use will prevent air-born contaminants from settling on probe tips. This is especially important in the case of vacuum fixtures. Dust that settles on the board test area can be easily drawn directly onto the probes when the fixture is put into use.

Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) are part of the contamination problem. Flux coated solder pads can contribute to poor contact and leave flux behind for the next test.

The test environment itself is also a large contributor to probe contamination due to cigarette smoke, nearby wave soldering machines or even shop floor dust and dirt.

Generally speaking, we recommend "preventative maintenance" be done every five-to-ten thousand cycles. However, situations can vary from a fixture testing extremely dirty boards in a very contaminated environment to testing very clean boards in a clean room environment. Of course, the frequency should be established by the customer to try to decrease unnecessary "down time" caused by contaminated probes.

A maintenance program which calls for probe replacement at specific intervals or after a predetermined number of cycles will insure maximum performance. Developing such a program requires tracking to determine the average life of the probes in your particular application.

Proper probe maintenance can ultimately save time and money at the production level. Reliable testing reduces the chance of false failures and added rework expense.


Option 1
Brush cleaning is recommended over the use of a solvent, as the solvent can damage vital component lubrication.

To clean probe tips of dust, lint, flux and other contaminants, gently brush the tips with a nylon bristle brush. Dislodged particles can then be vacuumed off the probes and fixtures.

Option 2
Remove probes and clean in a vapor degreaser with an ultrasonic attachment. An ozone friendly solvent for the degreaser (no more than five seconds) may be used. DO NOT USE THIS METHOD ON LUBRICATED PROBES.

Option 3
A. Spray probes in fixture with DeoxIT D5 Spray manufactured by Caig Laboratories (619) 451-1799, fax (619) 451-2799.
B. Lightly brush tips with a nylon bristle brush. Note:Some customers have had success with pushing a thin paper over the probes before brushing, to help keep the debris under contro. However, this may not always be successful, depending on the type of probes being cleaned.
C. Rinse with an odorless petroleum naphtha or isopropyl alcohol (99.9%).
D. Lightly spray probes with DeoxIT D5 to protect and relubricate the probes.

This method does not use any ozone depleting chemicals. The DeoxIT D5 spray has ozone safe propellants and a petroleum naphtha solvent.

Option 4
A. Mix DeoxIT D100L (100% pure) in a high grade of isopropyl alcohol, 5 parts per 100.
B. Shake well. The DeoxIT liquid is an oil base and the isopropyl alcohol is a water base. The solution will separate if not shaken frequently.
C. Lightly spray probe tips with the solution.
D. Brush the tips with a nylon bristle brush.
E. Rinse with isopropyl alcohol.
F. Lightly spray with the solution to protect and relubricate the probes.

This method does not use any ozone depleting chemicals.

Option 5
A. Dip a nylon bristle brush in DeoxIT D100L Liquid (100% pure).
B. Brush plunger tips. Repeat process until all tips have been cleaned.
C. Rinse with isopropyl alcohol.
D. Lightly brush probes with the DeoxIT (D5L) Liquid to protect and relubricate.

This method does not use any ozone depleting chemicals.

Option 6
A. Remove probes from fixture.
B. Rinse in isopropyl alcohol for thirty seconds maximum.
C. Install probes in fixture.
D. Spray lightly with the DeoxIT D5 Spray.

This method does not use any ozone depleting chemicals.

Option 7
Use pressurized air to remove the contaminates.

This method is effective only if the contaminates are loose particles.

If you have any questions or if we can be of assistance to you in recommending the best maintenance procedure for your circumstances, please do not hesitate to contact your local sales representative.

Probe and Receptacle
Maintenance Kit

This kit contains the following items for maintaining "Bed of Nails" test fixtures:

  1. Adjustable, 100 mil, Receptacle Insertion Tool
  2. Adjustable, 75 mil, Receptacle Insertion Tool
  3. Adjustable, 50 mil, Receptacle Insertion Tool
  4. Probe Insertion/Extraction Tool, 100 mil
  5. Nylon Bristle Cleaning Brush
  6. Brass Bristle Cleaning Brush
  7. Torrington Pins for 50, 75, and 100 mil Receptacles
  8. Spare Probes and Receptacles: 50, 75, and 100 mil Types
  9. Probe Insertion Tool for 50 and 75 mil Centers

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