Electronic – Oscilloscope gear and ESD


The answer might be obvious, but I am curious, how well are oscilloscopes and probes usually protected against ESD?

I noticed that oscilloscope probes are usually shipped in esd-protected bags. On the one hand it's just easy to always use these bags for all electronics equipment but on the other it could add up to the cost.

Best Answer

You may take a look at "Best Practices High Performance Oscilloscopes" document from Tektronix or similar document from other manufacturer.

Oscilloscope manual should also contain comprehensive information, probably including ESD protection capabilities.

Document I mentioned says:

CAUTION. ESD is a concern when handling any electronic equipment. All Tektronix oscilloscopes and probes are designed with robust ESD protection; however, large discharges of static electricity applied to the signal inputs may damage the equipment. A cable that is left unconnected on a bench can develop a very large static charge that can damage the instrument. To avoid this source of damage, use the following techniques to prevent electrostatic discharge into the instrument:

  • Discharge the static voltage from your body by wearing a grounded antistatic wrist strap when you connect and disconnect cables and adapters. Your oscilloscope provides a convenient front-panel connection for this purpose.

  • Discharge the static charge from any cable before you connect it to the oscilloscope or device under test by momentarily grounding the center conductor of the cable, or by connecting a 50 ohm termination to one end, prior to attaching the cable to the instrument.

Sentence about unconnected cable should explain why probes are delivered in ESD protection bags.

This is "better safe than sorry", but in some ESD-friendly environments/laboratories/workshops care about ESD is very important.