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Is an antistatic wrist strap necessary?

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Anonymous
a b V Motherboard
April 15, 2001 1:00:47 AM

Gonna get the new parts soon and need to know if I should get one for putting them together?

More about : antistatic wrist strap

Anonymous
a b V Motherboard
April 15, 2001 1:17:12 AM

Using a wrist stap is real good insurance. You have no doubt experienced static discharges after walking across a carpeted floor. Just imagine what that discharge can do to a motherboard, memory stick, cpu, or a pci board. If you don't use a wrist strap, make sure you touch a metallic part of the case before touching anything with sensitive devices.
April 15, 2001 1:21:15 AM

I would recommend not using one at first. If you learn differently, you will form a different habit. Change keeps your mind fresh.

I know a few people who swear you don't need one, and they have never used one their entire life. If you control your surroundings/workstation, you won't pick up enough static to nail anything. It's just that one time =) It takes less than a 20V differential to fry the majority of transistors nowadays.

The rule is: if you feel/see the spark, it's over. Throw the component in the trash and get a new one. Don't waste time testing it......
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Anonymous
a b V Motherboard
April 15, 2001 1:37:12 AM

how much do they typically cost?
April 15, 2001 2:56:07 AM

I say make your own. Its a real simple concept, you just want to get a lot of electrons off your hands and down to the case frame or something. Get one of those copper bracelets and hook up a wire to it, that should work.

Even a broken watch is right twice a day...
April 15, 2001 3:14:10 AM

Unless you wear plastic clothing adorned with ballons, kiss your tv screen regularly, and plan on building your pc on shag carpet, on a late stormy night, static shouldn't be an issue. Just touch your computer case regularly (assuming its metal) and don't use any gloves, especially plastic ones. It may sound silly but you could also just build your PC barefoot :)  If the wrist straps aren't too much money, and you worry a lot, you can use them, but they aren't necessary.
April 15, 2001 4:11:09 AM

Radio Smack has two different ones. Both have a 1megohm resistor inline. $5 and $7. One has a velcro wrist strap and some metal grommets which are permanently attached. The slight better one uses elastic, and the wrist strap can be disconnected from the cord (which is coiled).
April 15, 2001 4:13:21 AM

I actually spent the first year or so of building computers without using a wrist strap. I was also always careful to ground myself every few seconds, usually against the metal of the case. I've only had one part fail from those days, and that was one where the computer shop (which pre-jumpered the mobo for the CPU as a "free service") jumpered the mobo for the wrong core voltage. :wink:

Still, it's a good thing to have. One of the ten-dollar ones, cloth with interwoven metal threads, does just fine. Or you could make your own.

It's also a good idea to be careful what you lay your components on. There's a whole host of material that's classified as hazardous to static-sensitive componets: paper, some plastics, styrofoam (BIG bad), most bubble-wrap, cardboard, wool (of course), some adhesive labels, and pretty much any synthetic textile fabrics (nylon, spandex, etc). Cold, dry days (like the dead of winter) are days when static electricity is at its worst. Friction (rubbing your feet on wool carpet) and separation (peeling a sticker off its backing) are invariably what cause static.

Now just to make you paranoid, you may not even feel the static shock that kills your components. :wink:

As for materials that are guaranteed to be static-safe: silver/plastic anti-static bags, the anti-static pads you might get at your local computer store, and (usually) whatever your components come packed in. A lot of stuff that's static-safe is color-coded pink, but obviously, not everything that's pink is safe!

Kelledin
<font color=red>"Step away from the gimp suit and put your hands on top of your head."</font color=red>
Anonymous
a b V Motherboard
April 15, 2001 4:49:52 AM

I plan on building the comp on the dining room table on top of newspaper with hardwood floors(no carpet) and my shoes off. Do you still think I should use it? Thx for the responses.
April 15, 2001 4:57:08 AM

Is it worth $10 insurance to you? I've done it both ways, but prefer to use one just to be safe rather than sorry.

BTW, static discharges you can feel are likely in the thousands of volts range (almost no current, luckily), quite a bit more than the 20V that can wreck a fragile component.

BW

the more I learn, the less I'm sure I know... :eek: 
Anonymous
a b V Motherboard
April 15, 2001 6:17:03 AM

If you had asked me this a few months ago, I would have laughed and said no just touch the case. However, I am almost finished with Microcomputer Architecture in college, and the very first thing we talked about was ESD. I really didn't understand just how sensitive these components were, or just how easily you can build enough static up to destroy them.

I guess what impacted me the most, was when they said if you burn the trace completely out, be glad. That's easy to track down. However, most ESD's will result in a 'half-burned' trace and it is almost impossible to track this down, and it will most likely result in instability and intermittent problems. Hmm, kind of sounds like half of the problems on this and other forums doesn't it?

They wouldn't let us touch their computers until we had a strap, so I had it already when I built my a7m266 based board. I am happy to say that I refuse to go into my case without my strap now. And, I run rock stable all of the time with no probs at all. Just make sure you leave the psu plugged in the wall and clip your strap to the metal on the psu case. That way it is properly grounded.

To answer your question, ABSOLUTELY! Do yourself a favor and protect that investment. Honestly, I wasn't worried half as much about frying components, as I was about having them run unstable. I just wanted a good, stable, fast pc - and I got it.

"I've been called worse by better people. You can do better..."
April 15, 2001 7:49:30 AM

Are you suppose to leave the power supply plugged in or unplug it when you open up and mess with the insides? Seems like every manual tells you to "unplug the case before you open it", but then every conversation I read about ESD, people say to leave it plugged in to remained grounded while you touch it. Just curious :) 
a b V Motherboard
April 15, 2001 11:56:26 AM

You have to leave it plugged in! Otherwise you have no direct connection to ground. Inside the power supply you have 110/220 volts.But outside PSU you only have 12v,5v,and 3.3v.. As long as you don't open the PSU you are in no danger of being shocked.

I aint signing nothing!!!
Anonymous
a b V Motherboard
April 15, 2001 1:58:36 PM

If you leave the power cord plugged in, you should keep the power switch on the rear of the power supply in the "0" (Off) position if it is an ATX motherboard/power supply. Keeping the case grounded is a good idea, but I disagree that it is absolutely necessary. When working on a PC you are trying to keep all the components of the PC and your body at the same electrical potential. Grounding the case through the power ground doesn't really accomplish this. It just makes all the PC components and your body (through the wrist stap) to be at the same electrical potential as the power ground.
April 15, 2001 2:38:05 PM

I'd say get the strap. It's ten dollars, and if nothing else, it gives you peace of mind. If you can't get a strap, you can manage simply by touching the bare metal of the case every few seconds, just before touching components. The strap merely saves you if you forget to do this.

Whether or not you get one, I would build the comp on top of something other than newspaper. If you can lay your components on some anti-static bags--or just have them resting on the bags they came packed in--you should be fine. Get styrofoam packing out of the way first, then give yourself maybe ten seconds to discharge, either through the strap or through the case (I'm not kidding about styrofoam, it packs enough static to light up a christmas tree :wink: ). Other than that, your setup's fine.

Kelledin
<font color=red>"Step away from the gimp suit and put your hands on top of your head."</font color=red>
April 15, 2001 8:09:01 PM

I picked up one at an electronic specialty store. The band is like one of those stretchy metal watch bands, more convenient than a velcro or snap strap.
Anonymous
a b V Motherboard
April 15, 2001 8:35:26 PM

Bah, seeing sparks doesn't mean it's dead. I design electronic devices for a living and during the testing phase, it's actually quite common to be probing around with test leads and cause some sparks. I've had to replace my fuses from time to time but I've never caused any damage this way.
April 16, 2001 8:25:45 PM

<b> "When working on a PC you are trying to keep all the components of the PC and your body at the same electrical potential. Grounding the case through the power ground doesn't really accomplish this. It just makes all the PC components and your body (through the wrist stap) to be at the same electrical potential as the power ground." </b>

I would of thought this is exactly what you would want to achieve!

This argument will run for ever but here's my tuppence worth...

I used to work for Oki (printer manufacturer) as a workshop engineer and was sent on an IBM course to be taught all about the dangers of static electricity.

We were shown some microscopic images of just what havoc static discharge from a person can cause to a circuit board.

It can be extreme and we left the course humbled, positive we would be very careful about grounding ourselves and our workbenches.

Well that was four years ago, I've picked up bad habits since and haven't fried anything yet.

I do always leave the power cord connected to a PC when working on it though, and ground myself on the chassis regularly.

On an ATX case, the power MUST be either switched off on the PSU or at the wall when the power lead is connected.

ATX supplies maintain a constant 5v to the motherboard when in 'soft off' mode, you are more likely to damage a component by shorting 5v to earth than frying it with static.
April 17, 2001 11:53:24 AM

A simple and effective way to ground is by using some Christmas tinsel (the long strands) with a alligator clip on the end. Hook the clip to the case and the other end into ground at the wall. Now when you approach you computer just step on the tinsel and all is well.

You Dont Want To Be The Last to Know Anything.
April 17, 2001 12:06:15 PM

Using a strap is pretty much essential, static charges can build up very quickly (especially for example if you sit on a chair that has plastic wheels for example. You could work with your machine permanently plugged in and always holding the chassis but a strap is easier. I use an old plug and a loop of wire that I put together myself out of stuff I had lying around - cost £0.

All the people saying I don't use one and I've not had problems are just not aware of the damage they have done to their machines. I used to work in a lab that worked on chips, when you see the damage that working without a strap does to a chip when viewed under an electron microscope you'll be amazed.


Look at the size of that thing!
April 17, 2001 12:12:40 PM

"Well that was four years ago, I've picked up bad habits since and haven't fried anything yet."

How do you know? static damage can cause failure years after the damage was done - had any failure's that you couldn't account for? or just put down to too much overclocking?


Look at the size of that thing!
April 17, 2001 11:03:09 PM

I don't really go for overclocking.

Grounding yorself on the system chassis works fine.

It is no different from using a strap. Earth is earth.
April 18, 2001 1:21:06 AM

In my house it appears that many of the outlets are not grounded. Thus my question is what can I attached to or touch regularily to make sure I am grounded? I plan on working on building my PC in the kitched. Does touching the kitch sink pipes (under the sink) on a regular frequency help or not?

It worked yesterday! :lol: 
April 18, 2001 3:06:27 AM

The metal pipes in any house are as grounded as anything gets, unless you have lead fresh-water piping.
April 18, 2001 5:20:00 AM

So I don't get it...are you saying that lead fresh-water piping are "not" grounded?

Also, do you have to where 2 static wrist bands (1 for each hand)?

It worked yesterday! :lol: 
April 18, 2001 12:46:15 PM

Yes grounding on the chassis does work, but it's not a continuous contact, all you need to do is walk a few paces or, even worse, roll your chair around if it's on roller's and wher-hay 15kv of static suddenly appears. If you're really conscientious it'd be ok, but I'm not. Also requires a grounded supply to your case (some aren't)

Look at the size of that thing!
April 18, 2001 4:20:28 PM

Lead has been know to become brittle, and reduce it's electroconductivity quite a bit. Probably from other materials seeping into the cracks and insulating.

No, you just need one ground strap. You're whole body is made of ions and water, which conduct static potential very well. A beer will help ground you even better.
Anonymous
a b V Motherboard
April 18, 2001 5:32:56 PM

My father has a degree as an electrical engineer and he also taught it at a university. He highly recommends using a static mat and wrist strap. In addition he also had this to say..."its crazy to leave the power plugged in while having one of those on and operating on it". Given you may not necessarily being messing with the power supply, things can happen and quite simply your risking your life depending on whether you have it plugged in or not. So....How much guts do you have? If youve gotten shocked before and it didnt hurt much consider yourself lucky because DC power flucuates greatly, it can go on levels from almost painless to fatal. Personally however ive followed his advice and id rather be safe than sorry and havent had a single problem since because last time I wasnt using one even though I was touching the chassis pretty much at all times, long story short...screwed a few components.

Good luck,
_RK_
!