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We report on a scanning tunneling microscope with a photoconductive gate in the tunneling current circuit. The tunneling tip is attached to a coplanar transmission line with an integrated photoconductive switch. The switch is illuminated through a fiber which is rigidly attached to the switch substrate. By using a firmly attached fiber we achieve an excellent reproducibility and unconstrained positioning of the tip. We observe a transient signal with 2.9 ps pulse width in tunneling mode and 5 ps in contact mode. The instrument is applied to investigating the mode structure on a coplanar waveguide. The measurements show that the probe works as a transient voltage detector in contact and a capacitively coupled transient field detector in tunneling mode. We do not measure the transient voltage change in the ohmic tunneling current. In this sense, the spatial resolution for propagating electrical pulses is better in contact mode than in tunneling mode. © 1997 American Institute of Physics.