I have a few questions regarding reduction of capacitive loading of oscilloscopes probes and cables in case of 10:1 probes compared to 1:1 probes. I am basing my research on these links:

In the first link, it reads -

a one meter direct (1X) coaxial probe will load a circuit with a capacitance of about 110 pF and a resistance of 1 MΩ.

Since the oscilloscope has 1MΩ||\$C_{inp}\$ (range up to 20pF), and coaxial cable will add 90pF/m, this will add capacitive load and reduce the bandwidth of measured signals.

Attenuator probes (10:1) will have 9MΩ||C (tunable) with the same circuit (again, probe capacitance is added in parallel and OSc input [1MΩ|20pF]). This attenuates the signal but increases the probe bandwidth to observe the high speed signals, if $$Rp \times Cp = R_{osc} \times (C_{osc} + C_{lumped\,cable\,capacitance} ) $$

I didn't understand how the attenuator probe will present more bandwidth because 10:1 probe will also have the same cable capacitance (90pF/m), which is not reduced. How will this balancing increase the probe bandwidth and reduce loading on measured signal?

I've not been able to simulate and see the actual effect on measured signal spectrum. I have calculated that the impedances in parallel branches Z1 = R1||C1, Z2 = R2||C2||C3, and Z2/(Z1+Z3) should be 0.1.

I used Micro-CAP10 evaluation copy to simulate it, but I am getting weird results if I plot this quantity (Z2/Z1+Z2). I don't know what results CircuitLab would give.

Below is the equivalent schematic I used in Micro-CAP10.


simulate this circuit – Schematic created using CircuitLab

Edit: The equivalent circuit is like 10MΩ shunted with ~14pF. So, the equivalent load on measured signal is reduced to 14pF. But it's not clear to me how one arrives to this equivalent circuit. Is there anyway to find the equivalent circuit of a more complex RC?


1 Answer 1


You need to establish that the ratio of series resistor to scope input resistance is the same for the capacitors. If series resistor is 10x bigger than scope resistance then series cap needs to be one tenth of cable and input capacitance. If using microcap look at the spectrum of Vout and it should be flat.

  • \$\begingroup\$ In Micro-Cap i plotted impedance, it shows flat response upto Ghz range.this looks not correct. I have edited the equation, by adding equalent circuit of the probe+Osc in to be 10Mohms shunted by ~10-14pF...how they have arrived i am not sure \$\endgroup\$
    – user19579
    Jan 26, 2014 at 0:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ i would recommend using AC analysis and looking at v out. \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy aka
    Jan 26, 2014 at 1:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ AC analysis at Vout is giving flat response up to 20G \$\endgroup\$
    – user19579
    Jan 26, 2014 at 23:11

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