It’s better than new now!

A while ago, the spring fell out of my test lamp’s ground clip and disappeared before I could find out where it rolled off to. So to save myself a trip to the store, I took the spring out of an old retractable ballpoint pen and soldered it inside the clip. It worked, but not great.

The spring was weaker than the original one, and it wasn’t very good at clipping onto anything smaller than ~1/4". I put up with it like that anyway for far too long, clipping it around larger studs so that it might have a better chance of not falling off.

But I remembered noticing some YouTuber (I want to say it was probably EricTheCarGuy or Eric O. of SouthMainAuto) using a modified one that used locking pliers for a ground clamp.


Well heck, that’d be perfect! I don’t have the heart to go buy a new test lamp when all I need to replace is the ground clip, and I don’t even need to cut off a “perfectly good” ground clip to take advantage of this upgrade.

So today, I finally got around to just that-


I went to the store and picked up the smallest, cheapest pair of locking pliers that I could find: this $4 Tekton one. I then yanked off the test lamp’s old clip, which was crimped on tight enough to make a good connection, but it didn’t do much to keep it from coming apart when I tugged on it.

Next, I stripped back some insulation for some fresh wire and zip-tied it to the new pliers, to hold it in place for soldering and serve as a little stress-relief. I then soldered the exposed wire onto the pliers. It’s not often that I break out my little soldering iron, and wouldn’t ya know it popped right off when I tried to test its strength. I really need more practice (and probably a better soldering iron)... But before trying again, I took a grinder and scuffed up the metal on the pliers where I wanted the wire to make contact. Gave it another go, and boom. Now it was holding well!


It was probably gonna be fine as-is, and the pliers, wire, and zip-tie made it too awkward for heat shrink anyway. But I’ve got this roll of “heat shrink tape” that I’ve been meaning to try out... So I wrapped it around a few times and applied some heat:


Well, it’s not quite as nice-looking as I’d hoped, but it’ll do. (Maybe I just need some more practice with this tape, too.)

But I’m pleased. This is one hell of an upgrade, and I’m looking forward to having a nice, TIGHT ground connection next time I need to trace power. Wish I had done this sooner!