Exactly what it says on the tin.

Oscilloscope probe with spring-type ground connector of unknown name

How is this pictured accessory called? The obvious place to look for a name would be the probe manual, but it looks like they decided to add the accessory to the package after making the manual, since it's not on the component list.


3 Answers 3


It's a "Probe tip ground clip" (or something very similar like the examples below)
An example of it being named as such is here. It's called "Probe tip ground" here. It is also called a "Probe tip spring adapter" here.
Whatever it's exact name, I think the main thing is to have "tip" in there, as it differentiates from the standard ground clip by implying the clip is used at the probe tip.

Basically, it's function is to shorten the ground lead, as this lowers inductance and enables higher frequency signals to be displayed accurately.
Try it with a very fast rising signal, and compare it to using the normal ground clip and you will see the difference. A common mistake is using the wrong setup to probe a signal and then assume the fault is with the signal, when it's really issues caused by the setup.

The way to use it is like the following picture, touch the ground wire to the IC ground pin, and the probe tip touches the pin you wish to probe:

Probe tip ground example

When designing your board, you can add dedicated test points to make getting to the signals easier. You can even add on board probe tip adapters (available from any decent distributor) if you have enough space.

For a detailed discussion of scope probes the Tektronix ABCs of Probes is good reading.
Here is a diagram from the above link showing the effects of different ground lead lengths on a fast rising signal:

Probe Ground Lead Length Effects

  • \$\begingroup\$ I know what it does, but I'm asking if this specific type of ground clip has a separate name. Somehow term ground clip always brings up the picture of short cable with alligator clip in mind. \$\endgroup\$
    – AndrejaKo
    Sep 15, 2012 at 16:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Oli - what happened to the red border? I'm getting totally confused! :-) \$\endgroup\$
    – stevenvh
    Sep 15, 2012 at 16:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AndrejaKo - I also think "ground clip" is a too general name. My way of testing a description is looking it up in images.google, and "ground clip" only showed one picture of the dingus you refer to. \$\endgroup\$
    – stevenvh
    Sep 15, 2012 at 16:24
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ At my office, we called it a "pig-sticker" ground...but that's not very official. \$\endgroup\$
    – The Photon
    Sep 15, 2012 at 16:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AndrejaKo - okay, I had a good look around and mostly I see "Probe tip <something>". My preferred name has always been "Probe Tip Ground Clip" (or "Probe Tip Ground Spring" maybe) as I think it is the clearest. It's very picky, but for example "Probe tip spring adapter" does not mention ground, "Probe tip ground" does not mention it's clipped on, etc. In practice I think all of them are okay as long as "Tip" is mentioned to distinguish from the connection for the standard ground clip further back. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oli Glaser
    Sep 15, 2012 at 16:59

It is what it looks like - a ground spring*.

enter image description here enter image description here

  • At least that's what Agilent call it.

I have always known those to be "Ground Clips" or "Ground Spring Clips". Another seller refers to them as "Tip Grounds". Notice the different sizes with various arm lengths in the clip.

On more than one occasion, when trying to make a difficult single handed measurement, I've had to resort to making a similar type of temporary clip out of a piece of bus wire.


enter image description here


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