ESD

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ESD

Postposted on Tue Jan 10, 2012 9:30 am

Quick question to my fellow gerbils about ESD. I'm getting ready to build my system (first one in 10 years, I last built when I was 17), and I was wondering how you have handled ESD for past system builds. Specifically, I have a wooden table that I will be using to do the assembling/testing, but I don't really have a large enough tile area to stand on, just carpet. Should I put cardboard under the table and under my feet when I'm working on it just to be safe, or would it be ok on the wooden table and carpet?

Also, in order to ground myself properly before touching the components, should I just use the PSU casing with it plugged into the wall? When I did the build 10 years ago I would just touch the unpainted case surface, but I realize now it wasn't grounded at all.

Any other suggestions on how you deal with ESD would be appreciated!

BTW, the system specs are:

AMD Phenom II X4 840 (you know, the fake Phenom)
ASUS M5A88-V Evo
Corsair Force Series 3 90 GB SSD (for OS, programs)
A salvaged 80 GB Deskstar HDD (for media, mostly mp3s - right now I can fit most of my collection on 40 GB, so this should be good until prices on a 1 TB come down)
Corsair CX 430 (possibly a little under-powered, but considering TR recommended a 380W for their budget system build and I'm sticking close to that, I think it's good enough)
Antec Three Hundred
Two donated 19" widescreen monitors (1440x900)
Just need to pick up 8 GB RAM and a copy of Win 7 Home upgrade edition (which will be one of the most expensive things in this build)

I'll be adding a stand-along video card at some point in the future (the integrated graphics [HD 4250] should work fine at that resolution to get it up and running), probably an HD 6850, or whatever TR is recommending when I have the extra money.

As you can see, it's quite behind the cutting-edge, but that makes it affordable enough for me, and it will be a huge upgrade on the old and busted laptop I'm running now.
Phenom II X4 840
MSI Radeon HD 7770 OC
90 GB Corsair Force 3
80 GB HDD
Asus M5A88-V Evo
Antec Three Hundred
8 GB Corsair XMS3 DD3 1333
Klanky
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Re: ESD

Postposted on Tue Jan 10, 2012 9:59 am

I don't do anything special at all and I've never had a problem. Maybe that's like saying I play in traffic but have never gotten hit but its worked for me so far with no regrets. Now I wouldn't shuffle my feet on the carpet in dry weather or anything but normal everyday tinkering seems to work just fine.
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Re: ESD

Postposted on Tue Jan 10, 2012 10:12 am

I've built literally hundreds of systems, and I always just use the chassis with a plugged-in PSU to ground the system and discharge any static before I touch any components. If you're standing on carpet though, be extra careful, it's very easy to build up static especially in the winter. The cardboard on the floor seems like a good idea, just be mindful of when you're stepping on and off of it to get tools, etc.
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Re: ESD

Postposted on Tue Jan 10, 2012 10:58 am

I'll be the first to admit that I don't always follow "ESD best practices" when working inside my PCs. However, given that you're on carpet, and it is winter (dry air = lots of static electricity), I would strongly recommend the use of an ESD strap.

Also, while your procedure from 10 years ago (touching the *ungrounded* PC case) was far from ideal, at least it ensured you and the case (including any components already inside) were at the same electrical potential. In other words, better than nothing!
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Re: ESD

Postposted on Tue Jan 10, 2012 12:46 pm

The wood table is a good idea, and plugging the case and PSU into a grounded outlet is also a good idea. If the PSU lacks a hard power switch then an inline powerstrip can be used to create one, instead.

Mostly, avoid wearing any wool or synthetics (nylon, polyester, vinyl) while you work, and that includes the soles of your footwear. Cotton jeans, socks, and a t-shirt are adequate. If you have low ambient humidity, a humidifier running in the room will help keep static potentials down. If the carpet is a type that tends to cause lots of shock issues, you can try misting or sprinkling water on it until it just starts to soak into your socks. This may need to be repeated a couple times depending how long the build takes.

A grounding strap and a proper ESD floor mat are the ideal setup but very few people doing a personal system build use either one. Mainly, if you take appropriate precautions about clothing and work surface, that will reduce the primary risk, and grounding the computer chassis will negate most of the difference.
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Re: ESD

Postposted on Sat Jan 14, 2012 10:06 pm

I make a real effort to avoid touching any electronics before discharging both myself and the bagged device to a common ground. When installing memory, cpu, cooler hardware etc. outside the case, I use the anti-static bag as an ESD mat of sorts, again keeping the bag in firm contact with a ground. Touch the ground, then the bag with one hand, and only then the board with the other.

When working on an assembled system, keep the PS plugged in (but switched off) and touch bare metal on the case before and while touching anything on the mobo. In general, I try to keep at least one finger in constant contact with a ground. Incoming goodies are left in their ESD bags and placed in contact with ground for a while before the goodies are removed.

Never had a problem, even when sparks are flying from every doorknob.
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Re: ESD

Postposted on Wed Jan 18, 2012 3:05 pm

The assembled electronics are going to be less subseptable to static then the memory modules and CPU. I leave everything in the bags untill they are all on the table at once, with the needed tools. That way I don't need to get up in the middle of the process. I then touch the case and the parts in the bags at the same time in an effort to get them all at the same potental. And I usually do this with the case plugged into a power strip.

It seems a bit silly at times, but any damage done to the boards may not show up right away. I have a PIII 500 that ran for 7 years before I took it apart. Now I have a E7400 in the same chassis and it is still running after about 4 years now.
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Re: ESD

Postposted on Mon Jan 23, 2012 12:17 pm

Geonerd wrote:When working on an assembled system, keep the PS plugged in (but switched off) and touch bare metal on the case before and while touching anything on the mobo. In general, I try to keep at least one finger in constant contact with a ground. Incoming goodies are left in their ESD bags and placed in contact with ground for a while before the goodies are removed.


this is what I do and never run into any problems...
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Re: ESD

Postposted on Mon Jan 23, 2012 12:40 pm

I've built & worked on several hundred desktops, laptops, servers, monitors, printers, and even a few iPhones over the past 15 years and NEVER had a problem. The only thing I consciously did was I made it a habit early on to "ground" myself (discharge any static) before touching the device(s).
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Re: ESD

Postposted on Mon Jan 23, 2012 1:59 pm

To be honest I don't really follow any of the rules I should for ESD safety. The only thing I've ever done is touch something metal before picking up bare components. I've never killed anything to date.
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Re: ESD

Postposted on Mon Jan 23, 2012 2:12 pm

TheWacoKid wrote:To be honest I don't really follow any of the rules I should for ESD safety. The only thing I've ever done is touch something metal before picking up bare components. I've never killed anything to date.

...that you know of.

ESD damage can sometimes result in latent failures which don't manifest themselves until weeks or months later. So if you've *ever* had a component randomly fail for no discernible reason, you *might* have zapped something without realizing it.
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Re: ESD

Postposted on Mon Jan 23, 2012 2:58 pm

Thanks for all the helpful tips. It turns out I will have access to a tile floor and a wood table to work with the computer on, so that should be helpful. Basically, it sounds like I should install the PSU first (keeping it plugged in but powered off), and then use the case to ground myself before I touch any components. Of course, when the time comes to install all of the power cables, I'll unplug the PSU from the wall, but by that point everything should be secure in the case and I won't have to touch components any more. Oh, and before I remove the components from the bags, I should touch the outside of the bag with one hand and the case with the other?

Thanks!
Phenom II X4 840
MSI Radeon HD 7770 OC
90 GB Corsair Force 3
80 GB HDD
Asus M5A88-V Evo
Antec Three Hundred
8 GB Corsair XMS3 DD3 1333
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