VOGONS


ESD and you

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Reply 20 of 42, by Standard Def Steve

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The humidifier on our larger furnace conked out a few months ago, so we've had an extremely dry & staticky winter. I've been zapping everything I touch, including tap water.

I've received several painful jolts just plugging USB devices in. Surprisingly, none of our electronics seem to have been damaged by the frequent ESD this winter. I would've expected at least a reboot from some of the lightning bolts I've unleashed! Guess as long as your rig isn't built around an Asus 865PE motherboard, you're OK. 😉

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Reply 21 of 42, by Shreddoc

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dionb wrote on 2022-04-15, 22:05:

Thing is, newspaper is actually really good.

I've heard the same. And on that basis, I'll readily use newspaper for mundane items, on occasions when I have no available ESD bag for shipping.

I have heard some hypothetical counter-argument. Regarding paper-plastic friction being less than ideal (e.g. in a common paper-then-bubble-wrap shipping scenario). But exactly how all this stacks up in a lab test, I don't know. With respect to friction and containment, there are also key differences between metalised bags and 'conductive grid' bags, of course.

As dude mentions above, the actual risk - while real at a selective component level - is fairly dilute in the common PCB context. No shortage of us who have long term, haphazard shelves and boxes full of misc, which continue to function decade-after-decade. General proof enough.

Reply 22 of 42, by Tetrium

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Standard Def Steve wrote on 2022-04-16, 00:06:

The humidifier on our larger furnace conked out a few months ago, so we've had an extremely dry & staticky winter. I've been zapping everything I touch, including tap water.

I've received several painful jolts just plugging USB devices in. Surprisingly, none of our electronics seem to have been damaged by the frequent ESD this winter. I would've expected at least a reboot from some of the lightning bolts I've unleashed! Guess as long as your rig isn't built around an Asus 865PE motherboard, you're OK. 😉

During winter, I usually don't even want to touch any of my bare hardware components, unless I really have to if only because touching it and killing or damaging it just because I want to move it around a bit or something isn't worth the trouble I went through to actually get that part and any potential future trouble of having to troubleshoot it. So in winter, I just game instead of build 😜.
In spring I find it a good time to de-dust all my most heavily used rigs anyway, along with the rest of the house.

What's with the Asus 865PE?

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Reply 23 of 42, by Tetrium

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dionb wrote on 2022-04-15, 22:05:

Thing is, newspaper is actually really good. Its electrical properties are very similar to ESD bags - conductive, but very very badly. Basically you're packaging the item in a big bleed resistor. Additionally it cushions blows and avoids scratches. I'd far, far rather receive my old crap in newspaper than pretty much anything else other than a proper ESD bag *and* a good amount of foam around it.

I'm kinda glad to hear this. What makes it different from regular paper btw, if there is a significant difference at all? I thought regular paper was more of an insulator?

I often get mildly annoyed when someone uses a lot of tape though. I'd rather remove the wrap with scissors or a knife in such cases. Really carefully though, wouldn't want to cut up the item itself 😜

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Reply 24 of 42, by dionb

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Tetrium wrote on 2022-04-16, 08:11:
dionb wrote on 2022-04-15, 22:05:

Thing is, newspaper is actually really good. Its electrical properties are very similar to ESD bags - conductive, but very very badly. Basically you're packaging the item in a big bleed resistor. Additionally it cushions blows and avoids scratches. I'd far, far rather receive my old crap in newspaper than pretty much anything else other than a proper ESD bag *and* a good amount of foam around it.

I'm kinda glad to hear this. What makes it different from regular paper btw, if there is a significant difference at all? I thought regular paper was more of an insulator?

Nothing special about newspaper, any uncoated paper should perform similarly.

Take a look at this paper:
https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Charge-de … _fig5_279716932

Charge dissipated between 0.03 and 0.04 sec for 'copy papers'. Compare that to spec for dissipative antistatic bags, that generally aim to dissipate 90% of charge with 0.01 and 0.5 sec. All the paper measured falls within that range.

I often get mildly annoyed when someone uses a lot of tape though. I'd rather remove the wrap with scissors or a knife in such cases. Really carefully though, wouldn't want to cut up the item itself 😜

Yep. Electrically it's also risky: the act of pulling tape from a roll is highly static-generating. If I'm not doing things properly, I prefer generous newspaper around the components, which I pack tightly inside a box, then put the tape on the outside of the box. Not much can go wrong then.

Reply 25 of 42, by Tetrium

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dionb wrote on 2022-04-16, 09:04:
Nothing special about newspaper, any uncoated paper should perform similarly. […]
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Tetrium wrote on 2022-04-16, 08:11:
dionb wrote on 2022-04-15, 22:05:

Thing is, newspaper is actually really good. Its electrical properties are very similar to ESD bags - conductive, but very very badly. Basically you're packaging the item in a big bleed resistor. Additionally it cushions blows and avoids scratches. I'd far, far rather receive my old crap in newspaper than pretty much anything else other than a proper ESD bag *and* a good amount of foam around it.

I'm kinda glad to hear this. What makes it different from regular paper btw, if there is a significant difference at all? I thought regular paper was more of an insulator?

Nothing special about newspaper, any uncoated paper should perform similarly.

Take a look at this paper:
https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Charge-de … _fig5_279716932

Charge dissipated between 0.03 and 0.04 sec for 'copy papers'. Compare that to spec for dissipative antistatic bags, that generally aim to dissipate 90% of charge with 0.01 and 0.5 sec. All the paper measured falls within that range.

I often get mildly annoyed when someone uses a lot of tape though. I'd rather remove the wrap with scissors or a knife in such cases. Really carefully though, wouldn't want to cut up the item itself 😜

Yep. Electrically it's also risky: the act of pulling tape from a roll is highly static-generating. If I'm not doing things properly, I prefer generous newspaper around the components, which I pack tightly inside a box, then put the tape on the outside of the box. Not much can go wrong then.

Thanks for the link!
It's an old paper as well. Good thing it was a static link (harr harrrr).

And now that you mention the difference between uncoated and coated paper, it does make sense.
Paper does indeed also cushion the item somewhat (a light item could be cushioned fairly good actually). Not sure on the shielding though.

Depending on how much I would be selling an item for, I'd probably just package it with a proper ESD bag (and not the pink kind) and cushion it depending on the needs. But I'd need to look deeper into this if I were to do this on any kind of regular basis. But it's something I'd myself definitely take seriously (or at least try to).

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Reply 26 of 42, by Standard Def Steve

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Tetrium wrote on 2022-04-16, 07:52:

What's with the Asus 865PE?

I remember reading somewhere (probably here) that Asus didn't properly shield the southbridge on some of their i865-based motherboards, so they were prone to USB ESD damage.

Edit - found it:
ICH5 USB ESD problems
https://www.badcaps.net/forum/showthread.php?t=15907
https://arstechnica.com/civis/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=381648

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Reply 27 of 42, by FioGermi

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This is a really stupid question considering iv been building PCs for years and you'd honestly really think i would know. But alas:

So if you pet your fluffy cat and touched a stick of ram in a computer that was in a grounded PC. The tiny invisible shock would not damage said ram as it was connected to a grounded motherboard/case/whatever?

Reply 28 of 42, by davidrg

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FioGermi wrote on 2022-04-17, 04:31:

This is a really dumb question considering iv been building PCs for years now and you'd think i'd know this. But alas:

So if you pet your fluffy cat and touched a stick of ram that was in a grounded, PSU plugged in PC. The tiny invisible shock would not damage said ram as it was connected to a grounded motherboard/case/whatever?

Depends on where the static electricity went. If the shock went straight to the ground plane on the stick of ram then it may be fine. If if the shock went through a chip its way to ground then it could damage that chip. Thats why you're supposed to touch the grounded case first - then any static electricity will go straight to ground via the case rather than via something not designed to handle several thousand volts.

Reply 29 of 42, by FioGermi

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davidrg wrote on 2022-04-17, 04:49:
FioGermi wrote on 2022-04-17, 04:31:

This is a really dumb question considering iv been building PCs for years now and you'd think i'd know this. But alas:

So if you pet your fluffy cat and touched a stick of ram that was in a grounded, PSU plugged in PC. The tiny invisible shock would not damage said ram as it was connected to a grounded motherboard/case/whatever?

Depends on where the static electricity went. If the shock went straight to the ground plane on the stick of ram then it may be fine. If if the shock went through a chip its way to ground then it could damage that chip. Thats why you're supposed to touch the grounded case first - then any static electricity will go straight to ground via the case rather than via something not designed to handle several thousand volts.

That's what i thought. Cool!

Reply 30 of 42, by PcBytes

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I have no idea how, but almost 99% of my hardware has sat , directly or indirectly, on a very very old soviet-style romanian carpet.

It's still a miracle how they still work to this day. I've had countless boards set up on those kinds of carpets and yet none died, and keep in mind, some of these boards are easily 20-30 years old!

I know I'm gonna be buried under a sea of angry comments for this but I guess I'm just lucky?

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Reply 31 of 42, by Tetrium

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Standard Def Steve wrote on 2022-04-16, 17:51:
I remember reading somewhere (probably here) that Asus didn't properly shield the southbridge on some of their i865-based mother […]
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Tetrium wrote on 2022-04-16, 07:52:

What's with the Asus 865PE?

I remember reading somewhere (probably here) that Asus didn't properly shield the southbridge on some of their i865-based motherboards, so they were prone to USB ESD damage.

Edit - found it:
ICH5 USB ESD problems
https://www.badcaps.net/forum/showthread.php?t=15907
https://arstechnica.com/civis/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=381648

I remember this now 🤣. That's a serious flaw and apparently it wasn't just ASUS that did this.
And it was apparently only a portion of the southbridges that were affected, luckily for us 🙂

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Reply 32 of 42, by Tetrium

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PcBytes wrote on 2022-04-17, 09:26:

I have no idea how, but almost 99% of my hardware has sat , directly or indirectly, on a very very old soviet-style romanian carpet.

It's still a miracle how they still work to this day. I've had countless boards set up on those kinds of carpets and yet none died, and keep in mind, some of these boards are easily 20-30 years old!

I know I'm gonna be buried under a sea of angry comments for this but I guess I'm just lucky?

The icky thing with ESD damage is that it usually doesn't completely kill a component, but can make it unstable with no apparent cause and/or shorten its lifespan.
And the only way to know for absolutely sure is to look at it with something like an electron microscope which may require disassembly of the part in such a way that the part you would want to check for ESD damage for, may become unusable.

Personally I don't know why people would want to get mad at you.
The way I see it is that in the end it's your stuff. Do whatever you feel like doing with it. You own it, right?
I've seen enough people doing questionable stuff with their hardware like that one person who had a rare I think it was ASUS Black Pearl and deliberately overclocked it till it died.
Is it stupid? Yes, it kinda is because his Black Pearl (I think it was the Black Pearl or one of those other limited edition s370 boards) was functionally just like a regular ASUS CUSL2-C but he wanted to destroy it by overclocking it.
I don't get mad about it, it's his stuff in the end. Sure, I think it's senseless and rather stupid in that particular case but I don't loose any sleep over it. It's how things are in this world and I know how people are.

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Reply 33 of 42, by PcBytes

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I know it's not okay, but for slight stability tests and to check if everything works fine before installing into a case, a little carpet hasn't harmed any of my stuff, apparently. Though for most of the times, I was using either some old geography book from my grandma, or a mobo box to raise the board, mainly because the expansion cards wouldn't slot in fully. The ones that I directly used on carpet were usually those that had integrated graphics, like a PCChips M810LR ver 8.0 I have right now.

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Reply 34 of 42, by notsofossil

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I think a really big factor in ESD that should be more stated is the ambient temperature and moisture in the air where you're at. Some places are extremely hot and humid like closer to the equator, those are places where using an ESD grounding wrist strap is essential. But further north like in Canada, Northern Europe and Russia? The air here in north-ish Canada is usually very dry and either moderately hot, cold or extremely cold. I've never used a grounding wrist strap and I've yet to actually have something die or become damaged after digging it out to solder or even handle with my bare hands.

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Reply 36 of 42, by Tetrium

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maxtherabbit wrote on 2022-04-18, 12:10:

that makes no sense, the more humid it is the less static builds up in your body

Correct.
And this is also why colder weather is more ESD prone with similar humidity numbers, because colder air can hold less max watervapor.

Temperature and humidity are definitely factors to some degree, but I find it hard to tell exactly in how much this is the case?

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Reply 37 of 42, by pentiumspeed

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ESD is real.

Killed 2 this way. One was D800 and Asus pentium motherboard, killed the super I/O chipset when I reached over to plug something, my finger touched parallel port and zapped through that.
Replaced that chip and got board back to working.

Since then, I ground through the grounded bits only to equalize the charge.

Cheers,

Great Northern aka Canada.