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How do you ground yourself?

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October 24, 2012 2:04:43 AM

My motherboard comes with a foam around it, should I keep it on just to install the Ram slots and CPU and then remove it for everything or remove it completely?

Also, how do I ground myself before touching anything?
An electrical engineer (irl) told me in order to ground myself the power supply has to be connected to the PC and be connected with a cable that has a ground pin. He then said you if you have a spare PC touching the back of the PC where the PSU is will take away static while it is turned on.Is the only way to ground yourself, is this efficent? Can I touch any part thats metal on the PC and it will remove static or does it have to be grounded?

More about : ground

a c 137 V Motherboard
October 24, 2012 2:23:27 AM

An antistatic wrist strap is the best way, but yes, touching a grounded bit of metal is sufficient.

With that said, ESD (Electrostatic Discharge) isn't really that big of a deal. I've been building computers for nearly 15 years and haven't ever killed anything with a static shock. It's actually hard to do and you have to be very careless to do it.

As long as you don't run around on a carpeted floor with only your socks on and then go and deliberately touch all of the ESD sensitive parts (the IC's, mostly), you're fine.
October 24, 2012 3:04:15 AM

I have never worn a wrist strap when building my systems... But i always make sure to touch some metal on my case atleast before handling my parts. (i usualy work on carpet)

Never had a problem and hope to keep it that way. :) 
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October 24, 2012 9:13:13 PM

I worked for 37 years for a large communications company, and we were disciplined if we didn't have a static strap on when we replaced circuit boards in ANY of the equipment. We saw videos and pictures of what static can do to a circuit component (of course they were magnified or micro-scoped). The effect of static on a component doesn't always show up immediately, but over time it can cause failures. I have been building and working on computers since 1971 and ALWAYS use my static strap and work on an antistatic mat on my computer workbench. I suggest you do the same, or least neutralize yourself with the box you are working on. Better safe than sorry.
a b V Motherboard
October 24, 2012 10:34:44 PM

Finally, a good answer - toolman0318

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrostatic_discharge
Explanation of just how much static you can build up. Remember You can ground yourself to a chassie, but as soon as that hand is removed 2 minutes later you can have a charge.
Keep inmind a CPU and Ram operate a UNDER two Volts. An it takes 500 and up just to know you had a charge. Also if you have a high build up you do NOT even need to touch the component, just bring your pinky close and it can be damaged.

Look at two things in this link 1) amount of volt that can be built up - REMEMBER winter an LOW Humidity is just arounf the corner. Then Look at the two types of damage that can occur - Ever wonder just How many of the DOAs returned to companies are caused by ESD damage?
http://www.minicircuits.com/app/AN40-005.pdf
And ther are many More.

Best grounding is to install PSU in case, Plug PSU into one of the power strips and leve turned off. Connect wrist stap to any UNPainted part on the case.
a c 137 V Motherboard
October 24, 2012 10:42:01 PM

I still say that if you're not a complete idiot, it's not really a major problem.

Can it happen and can it cause damage that may not be immediately apparent? Absolutely it can, but if you don't act like a complete idiot and handle everything with no regard for the safety of the components at all, you'll be fine.

Just be a little cautious with how you handle the components and don't build in a room with a carpeted floor with no shoes on. That's all it takes. It's not some scary thing that any smart individual can't avoid with even a little idea of what they're doing.

Edit: Maybe I give people too much credit. I don't know. I mean, I know I know what I'm doing, and I never have had an issue with it. Never have been overly cautious, either (certainly never used a wrist strap). Common sense is all it takes. Just don't be an idiot...
November 14, 2012 7:02:04 PM

RetiredChief said:
Finally, a good answer - toolman0318

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrostatic_discharge
Explanation of just how much static you can build up. Remember You can ground yourself to a chassie, but as soon as that hand is removed 2 minutes later you can have a charge.
Keep inmind a CPU and Ram operate a UNDER two Volts. An it takes 500 and up just to know you had a charge. Also if you have a high build up you do NOT even need to touch the component, just bring your pinky close and it can be damaged.

Look at two things in this link 1) amount of volt that can be built up - REMEMBER winter an LOW Humidity is just arounf the corner. Then Look at the two types of damage that can occur - Ever wonder just How many of the DOAs returned to companies are caused by ESD damage?
http://www.minicircuits.com/app/AN40-005.pdf
And ther are many More.

Best grounding is to install PSU in case, Plug PSU into one of the power strips and leve turned off. Connect wrist stap to any UNPainted part on the case.


Sorry for bumping this thread, but Chief, you know what your talking about when it comes to static.

I need to ask you, what is the proper way to ground myself and prevent ESD? I've heard I should use a wrist strap that connects to an anti static mat, then the mat should be connected to ground, yes? My problem is, will my painted case be grounded whilst its laying on the mat?

Thanks,

Paul
a b V Motherboard
November 14, 2012 8:02:27 PM

Pmckenna said:
My problem is, will my painted case be grounded whilst its laying on the mat?

If your computer case is disconnected from the wall and on a non-grounded or non-conductive workbench/surface then your case itself is not grounded but that in itself is not a problem because by touching the case before putting your hands in it, you equalize the charge between the case and your body and bring the voltage difference, whatever it might be, to zero.

You can build a computer in an environment where everything is charged to several kV. You just need to make sure to equalize charge between components before putting them together. Pick IO cards up by the metal bracket, keep a hand on the computer case somewhere where aligning the card with the expansion slot and everything will be fine. Pick up DIMMs by the edges so any ESD will jump from your fingers to the PCB's power/ground plane, touch your case to equalize before inserting the DIMM. Touch the CPU's IHS before picking it up, keep a hand on the case while you line the CPU with the socket, drop the CPU clamp and now you can use both hands to finish the job.

The name of the game when working with floating grounds in an ESD-prone environment is to equalize charges before putting two components together. The wrist strap attached to the floating-ground PC spare you the trouble of remembering to touch the PC's case between manipulation but you still need to be careful about how you pick up your other non-grounded components.
a b V Motherboard
November 14, 2012 8:41:11 PM

Yes, ideally a ESD mat and your ground strap would go to earth ground. What I do is Toke a AC plug and connected one wire to the round prong (ground) I then plug this into a power strip that is plugged into the wall. This becomes my "single point" ground.

Not many have a ESD mat, So:
Do not recommend using a Non-conductive material, like plastic/Styrofoam/glass, but wood is fine. NON there is some treated Styrofoam (normally green) that is excellent but problem is hard to verify that infact it is the treated sytrofoam.

For most, first installing the psu in the case then plugging into the Powerstrip or outlet with rocker switch in the OFF position is OK.
If NO bare metal, simply insert a screw into one of the case screw holes and clip to that.
November 14, 2012 9:30:41 PM

RetiredChief said:
Yes, ideally a ESD mat and your ground strap would go to earth ground. What I do is Toke a AC plug and connected one wire to the round prong (ground) I then plug this into a power strip that is plugged into the wall. This becomes my "single point" ground.

Not many have a ESD mat, So:
Do not recommend using a Non-conductive material, like plastic/Styrofoam/glass, but wood is fine. NON there is some treated Styrofoam (normally green) that is excellent but problem is hard to verify that infact it is the treated sytrofoam.

For most, first installing the psu in the case then plugging into the Powerstrip or outlet with rocker switch in the OFF position is OK.
If NO bare metal, simply insert a screw into one of the case screw holes and clip to that.



I don't think I'll be able to get my hands on any of that styrofoam you mentioned so I'll go for the mat instead. Could I ask what you think of these ESD mats?

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B005PM98T2/ref=ox_sc... ~ £50 - Expensive but it's a good size and it comes with its own uk grounding plug.

Or...

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B000I2JX3A/ref=gno_c... ~ this is only £15. It's about half the size of the other and doesn't come with a plug. However I did see this being sold separately ~ http://www.amazon.co.uk/Anti-Static-Grounding-Plug-1x10... ~ if I attach the ground cord to this it should work, right?

Also, are these mats made of the same materials? I ask because I'm not sure if some mats are better at dissipating static than others.

Thanks for your time. :D 
a b V Motherboard
November 14, 2012 10:01:35 PM

Pmckenna said:
Also, are these mats made of the same materials? I ask because I'm not sure if some mats are better at dissipating static than others.

The amount of energy that needs to get dissipated to prevent static buildup is miniscule. Many grounding cables even have a 100k-1M ohm resistor in series to reduce electrocution and short hazard in case you touch a live wire.

All that grounding mats/straps need to do is bring floating local grounds which includes components, machinery and their operator(s) to a common (usually but not necessarily Earth) ground so discharges cannot jump between items since everything is charged to the same potential or 0V relative voltage.

Any ever so slightly conductive surface should easily provide sufficient conductivity for ESD purposes. Simply increasing humidity can increase the air's conductivity enough to prevent static buildup. So unless the mat/straps are fake, you do not need to worry about their effectiveness.
a b V Motherboard
November 14, 2012 10:03:48 PM

I got my mat free. probably would not speed 50 quid on one - I'd just cut a 3 ft x 2 ft piece of 1/4 in plywood. That one for 15 pounds would be OK if large enough.
November 14, 2012 11:17:01 PM

RetiredChief said:
I got my mat free. probably would not speed 50 quid on one - I'd just cut a 3 ft x 2 ft piece of 1/4 in plywood. That one for 15 pounds would be OK if large enough.


Heh, lucky you. Believe me I'd prefer not to spend the £50, Im just trying to lessen the risk of ESD as much as possible during my first build.

You mean doing the build on a large piece of wood, and using the switched off PSU method would work just as well?

It's just large enough for my case and no more. So this mat and the plug I linked would work together, yes?
November 14, 2012 11:26:00 PM

InvalidError said:

Any ever so slightly conductive surface should easily provide sufficient conductivity for ESD purposes. Simply increasing humidity can increase the air's conductivity enough to prevent static buildup. So unless the mat/straps are fake, you do not need to worry about their effectiveness.


Thanks for clearing my worry about the quality of the mats. It's very cold & dry here at the moment so I'm aware I should increase the humidity somehow. I'm thinking about doing my build in the kitchen, and boiling some pasta whilst I work.

Would that do the trick? :D 
a b V Motherboard
November 14, 2012 11:40:26 PM

Static disapative material is in the never-never land between conductyor and insulators.
Quote
An efficient way to prevent ESD is to use materials that are not too conductive but will slowly conduct static charges away. These materials are called static dissipative and have resistivity values in the range of 10^5 to 10^11 ohm-meters.
Endquote.

Our criteria at work is somewhat overkill, but when the Humidity is below 30% speacial permission is required to work on ESD sensitive systems. Here in the home the RH can get below 20% if I did not run a humidifier. 30% RH is bad, but 20 % is 10x worst. 50% and above ESD is considerably reduced, But even at 70% a small charge can still be developed, but then components today operate on <2V (CPU and Ram) so just 30V can still damage.
a b V Motherboard
November 14, 2012 11:48:45 PM

Kitchens are almost ESD-safe environments. Not many materials I can think of in a typical kitchen would allow much of a static accumulation. Just don't rub synthetic fiber/wool on glass tables.

In any case, with the least bit of care in the way you pick up and, handle components and bring them into the computer case, the risk of busting something with ESD is extremely small. The main reason for ESD mats/straps is simply to not have to worry about people getting distracted and forgetting to ground themselves between workpieces... prevent easily preventable mistakes.
a c 137 V Motherboard
November 14, 2012 11:52:42 PM

InvalidError said:
In any case, with the least bit of care in the way you pick up and, handle components and bring them into the computer case, the risk of busting something with ESD is extremely small. The main reason for ESD mats/straps is simply to not have to worry about people getting distracted and forgetting to ground themselves between workpieces... prevent easily preventable mistakes.


Exactly my point much earlier in this thread. If you know what you're doing and aren't completely careless with how you handle the components, you don't have much to worry about.
a b V Motherboard
November 15, 2012 12:08:37 AM

Most use these as examples "fiber/wool on glass tables." However there is a table that indicates based on the two materials and how far apart they are indicates the amount of statice that can be generated. The simple thing of taking tape off of a tape dispenser can generate a considerable amount of ES. Moving air (low RH) and clothing can generate voltage charge. Example twisting your body creates the air flow.

Being a little over cautious is NEVER a bad idea. A 50 quid mat is overkill, but a 10 buck wrist stap - give me a break.
a c 137 V Motherboard
November 15, 2012 12:15:15 AM

I agree that a cheap wrist strap is basically just extra insurance, but I'll say this: I've either been extremely lucky in my years of working with computers (and other electronics, as well), or ESD really isn't this big, scary black cloud hanging over builders' heads like a lot of people believe it is.

ESD damage happens, but it takes a lot of carelessness to do it.
November 15, 2012 12:16:53 AM

RetiredChief said:
Static disapative material is in the never-never land between conductyor and insulators.
Quote
An efficient way to prevent ESD is to use materials that are not too conductive but will slowly conduct static charges away. These materials are called static dissipative and have resistivity values in the range of 10^5 to 10^11 ohm-meters.
Endquote.

Our criteria at work is somewhat overkill, but when the Humidity is below 30% speacial permission is required to work on ESD sensitive systems. Here in the home the RH can get below 20% if I did not run a humidifier. 30% RH is bad, but 20 % is 10x worst. 50% and above ESD is considerably reduced, But even at 70% a small charge can still be developed, but then components today operate on <2V (CPU and Ram) so just 30V can still damage.


Just so I'm 100% sure about this before I buy.

That esd mat and plug will work together, right? And I can set my painted case on the mat and install my components into it without fear of the case somehow not being effectively grounded and zapping a component once they make contact inside?

It's late here so I'll be back in the morning.

Thanks again guys :D 
a b V Motherboard
November 15, 2012 12:27:19 AM

ESD mat (if you want), but in either case the Psu should be installed in the case and the power cord plugged in. A "painted" case means that the metal is coated by an insulator. So even if laid on a sheet of metal, the only thing you have set up is a capacitor. def of capacitor - Two conductors seperated by an insulator.
a b V Motherboard
November 15, 2012 12:44:33 AM

DJDeCiBeL said:
ESD damage happens, but it takes a lot of carelessness to do it.

Particularly once semiconductors are assembled on a PCB since most of the ESD energy that might hit an IO pin will get safely shunted to the VCC or GND plane through the IO buffers' body diodes and absorbed by the board's decoupling capacitors. With loose chips, ESD goes from whichever pin has the lowest impedance from the ESD source to whichever pin has the least impedance to ground which may take it to places you do not want it to go and drastically increases the likelihood of damaging something.

You can easily zap a loose IC but once soldered to a finished PCB, it takes a considerably nastier zap to damage it and you are also far less likely to directly zap the IO pins.
November 15, 2012 8:21:42 AM

RetiredChief said:
ESD mat (if you want), but in either case the Psu should be installed in the case and the power cord plugged in. A "painted" case means that the metal is coated by an insulator. So even if laid on a sheet of metal, the only thing you have set up is a capacitor. def of capacitor - Two conductors seperated by an insulator.


Sorry mate, I'm not sure I follow.

1). You say just having the PSU installed, (its painted as well) plugged in and attaching a wrist strap with a crocodile connector to a screw is enough to rid all static?

2). Also, when I go to take the components out of their bags, there's no way id discharge into them because I'm at the same potential as the earth, correct?

3). Should I buy a mat anyway? And use it as a grounded surface to assemble my MOBO on? Then take the MOBO and place it into the already grounded case?

Sorry if that's incomprehensible... :??: 

This is my first build and I need to be certain there's no way my parts will be damaged.
a b V Motherboard
November 15, 2012 11:42:00 AM

1) The PSU has a grounding pin. If you connect the PSU to the wall, that effectively grounds it assuming you have grounded electrical wiring. The paint on the PSU/case does not make much of a difference for the ground connection between case and PSU since they will be connected by the screws.

2) components are in anti-static bags. Those bags either have a microscopic metal film, conductive ink pattern or are made of slightly conductive polymer to uniformly disperse ESD

3) you can use the antistatic bag your motherboard came in as an antistatic mat if you want to use one that bad
a b V Motherboard
November 15, 2012 12:29:49 PM

^ Concur.
November 15, 2012 4:56:45 PM

InvalidError said:
1) The PSU has a grounding pin. If you connect the PSU to the wall, that effectively grounds it assuming you have grounded electrical wiring. The paint on the PSU/case does not make much of a difference for the ground connection between case and PSU since they will be connected by the screws.

2) components are in anti-static bags. Those bags either have a microscopic metal film, conductive ink pattern or are made of slightly conductive polymer to uniformly disperse ESD

3) you can use the antistatic bag your motherboard came in as an antistatic mat if you want to use one that bad



1). All I have to do is follow the PSU method and build on a wooden table or plywood, yes?

2). What I'm trying to ask is, once I'm grounded and have everything setup, I go to take my motherboard out of the bag. Will my hand zap the board because its grounded and the board is not? Do you know what I mean?

Thanks mate, you've been a great help so far.
a b V Motherboard
November 15, 2012 5:13:45 PM

"2). What I'm trying to ask is, once I'm grounded and have everything setup, I go to take my motherboard out of the bag. Will my hand zap the board because its grounded and the board is not? Do you know what I mean? "

With wrist strap on and connected to Ground your Body is at O VDC, The MB is at 0 VDC - So Godd to remove the MB from it's antistatic bag.

To populate the MB ,ie Install CPU on, Install HSF, memory, GPU. Just sit MB on the Antistatic bag that you just took it out of.
a b V Motherboard
November 15, 2012 5:30:29 PM

Pmckenna said:
2). What I'm trying to ask is, once I'm grounded and have everything setup, I go to take my motherboard out of the bag. Will my hand zap the board because its grounded and the board is not? Do you know what I mean?

You will ground the board (or bring it up/down to whatever electrostatic potential you are at) the moment you pick up the antistatic board it is in. If there is a potential difference between you and the bag/motherboard, you will zap the bag when you pick it up but since zapping the bag equalizes the charge between you and the bag (and its contents), everything is fine.

ESD is not something you need to turn paranoiac about. It is something you just need to keep in mind and take basic handling precautions to minimize potential harm.

Another way to reduce potential ESD is to simply go barefooted during your build. This way, no chance of building up static by walking on carpet or other potentially static-generating surfaces. Some labs make their employees wear shoe straps that effectively do exactly that - connect people to ground through their foot/shoe and facility floor.
November 15, 2012 5:33:19 PM

RetiredChief said:
"2). What I'm trying to ask is, once I'm grounded and have everything setup, I go to take my motherboard out of the bag. Will my hand zap the board because its grounded and the board is not? Do you know what I mean? "

With wrist strap on and connected to Ground your Body is at O VDC, The MB is at 0 VDC - So Godd to remove the MB from it's antistatic bag.

To populate the MB ,ie Install CPU on, Install HSF, memory, GPU. Just sit MB on the Antistatic bag that you just took it out of.


Thanks for clearing that up chief. Again, I'm very new to building PCs, so I do need an ESD safe screwdriver?

Also I thought you weren't supposed to place components on top of the bags.

1). Because the outside is supposed to be conductive, therefore possibly harming the component.

2). Or they don't do anything to prevent static once the bag has been opened.

I could be very wrong, but I'm sure I heard that on this site.

Thanks again
November 15, 2012 6:42:05 PM

InvalidError said:
You will ground the board (or bring it up/down to whatever electrostatic potential you are at) the moment you pick up the antistatic board it is in. If there is a potential difference between you and the bag/motherboard, you will zap the bag when you pick it up but since zapping the bag equalizes the charge between you and the bag (and its contents), everything is fine..


Thank you, that's exactly what I needed to know.

Another thing I'd like to know is, when I'm assembling the MOBO on the wooden surface, should I have one hand constantly touching the board whilst I'm installing other components like CPU, RAM, ect.?


InvalidError said:
ESD is not something you need to turn paranoiac about. It is something you just need to keep in mind and take basic handling precautions to minimize potential harm.


Yeah, I'm aware I'm over thinking the whole situation, it's just what I do. I prefer to gather as much info as I can, then do the job right the first time and not have to think about complications in the future. :D 

InvalidError said:
Another way to reduce potential ESD is to simply go barefooted during your build. This way, no chance of building up static by walking on carpet or other potentially static-generating surfaces. Some labs make their employees wear shoe straps that effectively do exactly that - connect people to ground through their foot/shoe and facility floor.


Barefoot on stone tiles do ok?

a b V Motherboard
November 15, 2012 7:05:05 PM

The only thing ESD-safe screwdrivers do that normal screwdrivers don't is have a conductive treatment on their handle so you can ground the tip by grabbing it normally. Since you will be using the screwdriver only to secure component to the chassis, there isn't much chance of of the screwdriver building up much of a charge between touching grounded screws.

The conductive treatment on antistatic bags has fairly high impedance, 5k-1M ohms per millimeter. I would not recommend turning the PC on with a bag under it but for motherboard assembly, it will do. The only thing that might possibly be a slight concern is the battery discharging through the anti-static bag but you can simply remove it until you are done installing the motherboard in the case - I do that anyway just in case the board slips during install to avoid possibly shorting the battery through the case.

An anti-static mat is made more or less the same way anti-static bags are: either made of conductive plastic/polymer or coated with a conductive film of some sort.

At this rate, I suppose you won't be building your PC until you have ordered an ESD jacket, basically a half-body wrist strap. Those are used in labs handling highly sensitive components to prevent localized static buildup in clothes. Often combined with the foot grounding straps I mentioned earlier.
November 15, 2012 10:11:07 PM

InvalidError said:
The conductive treatment on antistatic bags has fairly high impedance, 5k-1M ohms per millimeter. I would not recommend turning the PC on with a bag under it but for motherboard assembly, it will do. The only thing that might possibly be a slight concern is the battery discharging through the anti-static bag but you can simply remove it until you are done installing the motherboard in the case - I do that anyway just in case the board slips during install to avoid possibly shorting the battery through the case.


But the bag isn't connected to any ground. Where would the static go?


InvalidError said:
At this rate, I suppose you won't be building your PC until you have ordered an ESD jacket, basically a half-body wrist strap. Those are used in labs handling highly sensitive components to prevent localized static buildup in clothes. Often combined with the foot grounding straps I mentioned earlier.


Ha, don't give me more ideas! I'll know I've gone too far when I start searching for deionizer :lol: 

Anyways I think I'll just play it safe and buy the mat. The info you two have given me is great, but I'd really like to see a diagram of what you're explaining to me.
November 15, 2012 10:42:45 PM



Is this the setup you're describing to me??

Yes, it is a terrible MS paint drawing and yes, there is more to come... :p 
November 15, 2012 10:48:39 PM

And would I be better off with this setup?....




Just gotta bear with me for a bit longer mate :lol: 
a b V Motherboard
November 15, 2012 11:15:47 PM

Pmckenna said:
But the bag isn't connected to any ground. Where would the static go?

You can connect the mat to your case using alligator clip leads the same way you would ground yourself to the case by clipping your wrist band to a screw or other metal part on the case.
November 16, 2012 6:49:35 AM

RetiredChief said:
Yes, ideally a ESD mat and your ground strap would go to earth ground. What I do is Toke a AC plug and connected one wire to the round prong (ground) I then plug this into a power strip that is plugged into the wall. This becomes my "single point" ground.


Is the pic above with the ESD mat, similar to your setup? And am I right in assuming the motherboard and components are grounded whilst they are in contact with the mat?

Thanks for your time.
a b V Motherboard
November 16, 2012 12:40:16 PM

Yes and yes
November 16, 2012 2:04:18 PM

RetiredChief said:
Yes and yes


Brilliant, thank you. :D 

Final thing I'd like your help with is this, could you to take a look at the description of this mat and let me know if its suitable. Up to standard I mean.

http://pcvalet.co.uk/Buy/Anti_Static-Mat-ESD-Grounding-...(600-x-500mm)

I will be purchasing the 1200 x 500mm version. The smaller mat just has more details in its description.
a b V Motherboard
November 16, 2012 3:34:57 PM

should be fine
Enjoy
November 16, 2012 3:40:01 PM

RetiredChief said:
should be fine
Enjoy


Cheers mate! You've been great.
!