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Cipher Engineering LLC: Home of the ShortSniffer Short Circuit Finders.


The ShortSniffer is the World’s Best Portable PC-Board Short Circuit Location Product, featuring:
  • Non-contact inductive current path sensing - Locates shorts on inner PCB layers and under components.
  • Adjustable injection current drive signal - can trace short-circuit paths from micro-Ohms to k-Ohms.
  • Diode-Clamped injection current pulses - limits applied voltage to +/- one Silicon diode drop, protecting ICs from damage.
  • Small size - portable (9V battery powered), with all accessories contained in the clear zipper-pouch.
  • LED and stereo audio output current-flow direction feedback - reduces confusion while tracing complicated current-flow paths.

The only guaranteed faster way to locate your short circuit is an automotive battery and a set of jumper cables, but the ShortSniffer lets you repair your board after clearing the short.


Frequently Asked Questions
Typical scenario: 

The newly assembled prototype gizmo wouldn't start up.  It took a while, but you finally found the problem with your scope, after noticing some signals had compromised logic levels.  The continuity beeper confirmed the diagnosis that D7 is shorted to D6, somewhere on the PC board.  

All you have to do is find where the short is located.  It shouldn't be too hard, since those two lines are only parallel for 15 inches, and only 4 of those inches are under chips or on inner layers . . . 

No problem . . . Now, where did you put that ShortSniffer?


Click here to see the ShortSniffing troubleshooting process:

Click here for the FAQ

The ShortSniffer locates short circuits in electronics circuits, projects, and and is specifically designed for working with fine-pitch surface mount PC boards.


The ShortSniffer injects an audio current into a conductive circuit, allowing the current Path to be followed with the non-contact inductive pick-up Probe.  The basic short circuit locating principle can be reproduced with a signal generator, an inductive pick-up coil, an amplifier, and a speaker.  The ShortSniffer SS3 has been designed for convenience and optimized for PC board short circuit locating performance. 

The ShortSniffer is not a short circuit detector, but a short circuit locator.  You'll have to rely on your troubleshooting techniques to determine that you have a short circuit.  You can check out the video presentation for some steps to determine which nets are shorted.  Once you know which nets are shorted together, connect the ShortSniffer, and "follow the Sound to the Short".




  • The original design was produced in the early 90s and has been used successfully ever since.  I compliment myself for making it, every time I rapidly pinpoint a short.  I have even fixed shorts on inner layers of PC boards, after first verifying the location to 1mm (radius), then drilling at that location. The newest design is the ShortSniffer SS3, which senses the direction of the current flow to help with some of the trickiest shorts.  The inductive pick-up probe has an LED that lights to indicate direction, and the stereo headphone jack provide stereo imaging to indicate direction.  Together, with the increased gain and drive features, the SS3 is your best PC Board short circuit locating choice.


Key Benefits

  • locates PCB shorts under solder mask, under components, and even on inner PCB layers
  • non-contact (inductive) pickup wand
  • pinpoint short to within 2mm radius
  • rapid location with audio feedback
  • "follow the sound to the short"
  • no need for relative or reference measurements
  • battery operated
  • diode clamped current drive, won't harm your circuitry
  • edge-slope control to reduce effects of parallel path components
  • stereo audio imaging to reduce confusion on complicated short circuit paths


Please note: Sales of the ShortSniffer products are handled by Cipher Engineering LLC.  Clicking on the purchase links will open a new window on the Cipher Engineering website for the purchasing process.


Products: Price (w/o shipping)
ShortSniffer SS3 Basic
 - includes Probe Cable and Normal Probe, Test Clip Cable, Headphones*, Practice Board


Click Here to Buy From the Cipher Engineering ShortSniffer Sales Website

ShortSniffer SS3 Pro Kit
 - includes the ShortSniffer Basic components, along with Sensitive, Tiny and Voltage Probes, and the Connection Kit for easier connections to small components


Click Here to Buy From the Cipher Engineering ShortSniffer Sales Website

Sensitive Probe

Highest sensitivity, lowest spatial resolution


Click Here to Buy From the Cipher Engineering ShortSniffer Sales Website

Normal Probe

Best mix of sensitivity and spatial resolution


Click Here to Buy From the Cipher Engineering ShortSniffer Sales Website

Tiny Probe

Best spatial resolution, lowest sensitivity


Click Here to Buy From the Cipher Engineering ShortSniffer Sales Website

Test Clip Cable

Current injection cable with alligator clips


Click Here to Buy From the Cipher Engineering ShortSniffer Sales Website

Connection Kit

Pairs of extension clips to aid connection to smaller features, includes 0.25" square pin sockets, mini, micro, and nano grabbers


Click Here to Buy From the Cipher Engineering ShortSniffer Sales Website

Practice Board

Intensive training exercises use this board to demonstrate SS3 features and train user in the finer details of locating the most difficult short circuits

(download PDF document for review)


Click Here to Buy From the Cipher Engineering ShortSniffer Sales Website

Voltage Probe

An alternate use of the SS3's high-gain amplifiers is using a voltage sensor for troubleshooting and tracing circuits, allowing you to hear signals above 10uV.


Click Here to Buy From the Cipher Engineering ShortSniffer Sales Website

*Headphones: 1 set of low-cost, low quality stereo headphones is free with each ShortSniffer
(limited warranty on headphones: 30 feet or 30 seconds, whichever comes first)


Shipping methods can be selected after credit card information has been entered.  Here is the typical range of shipping charges:

US Shipping
UPS Next Day

US Shipping
UPS 2nd Day

US Shipping
UPS Ground

US Shipping

Shipping UPS

Pickup Domestic
or International





$40 to $180

$17 (using your shipping account)


If these delivery options do not meet your needs, please email for additional options or information.

If you have a preferred shipping service, please let us know the details and we will try to use that account.

ShortSniffers are usually shipped within 1 workday of order.  Domestic Company Purchase Orders accepted by email or fax.

ShortSniffer SS3 products are constructed with ROHS materials, using Pb-Free solder.

Warranty: 1 year, against defects in parts, materials, and workmanship.


Click Here for the ShortSniffer Practice Board Instructions

(a document with extensive information about the operation of the ShortSniffer capabilities)


Click Here to jump to the ShortSniffer Practice Board Videos

(a group of videos showing quick segments of the Practice Board lessons)


Click here to email a request for additional information or to ask questions.


Contact Information

Postal address
21195 NW Evergreen Parkway, Suite 209
Hillsboro, OR  97124  USA
Electronic mail
Sales & Support Email


Privacy Policy
Your privacy will be protected.  We won't give your name or information to anyone.  Any private information you give to us will only be used to support our direct business relationship with you.