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Identify what part is causing a short to GND

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  • Identify what part is causing a short to GND

    Hello there,
    I encountered a short circuit during testing on a board due to touching a component with a ground test wire. The board now isn't functional at all.
    I see that a particular power line (among 4) after a linear regulator is now shorted (R=1ohm) to ground on the board. I guess a capacitor failed during operation, however I have many between this power line and GND with no apparent visual damage anywhere on the board. (I was looking for a black mark on the PCB)
    Would you know of a good way to find the faulty component on the power line if it is possible ?

    I would also like to know what you think is a good value for power line (12V/5V/3.3V...) resistance ? Do you think 150-200 ohms is enough ? Or at least 1Kohms ? Can this resistance be too high for example in the Mohm order ?

    Thank you for your feedback.
    Last edited by cBegue; 09-03-2021, 06:59 AM.

  • #2
    Sometimes you can find it if the component is getting hot. So, you can touch the components, you can use a thermal camera or you can use some alcohol to find the spot where PCB is hot (alcohol will vapor faster at that place).

    Resistance of power lines can vary a lot. For example if there is a termination, you can easily measure resistance of 10OHMs or even lower and that is still ok (e.g. procesor powers, memory interfaces etc).


    • #3
      Thank you for your answer Robert. I've tried with a thermal camera while reducing consumed current with a power resistor, I'll try with higher currents to see if I can find the hot stop.


      • #4
        It's could be the capacitor / Diode shorting. You didn't mention which component while testing with ground wire.
        As Robert said, a thermal camera is one way.

        Have a look at this for reference:
        If caps are not then try replacing regulator IC.


        • #5
          I found my hotspot: The microcontroller. I guess it is dead then


          • #6
            If the microcontroller is getting hot, make sure that it is not one of the output that has the short.