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Info: Static electricity

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
What is static electricity?
Static electricity is the accumulation of electrical charges in an object.

What is ESD?
Electrostatic discharge (or ESD) is the term used to describe the transfer of static electricity from one object to another.

The problem with static is that it is harmful to computer parts, if allowed to transfer to the components in sufficient quantities. What doesn't help is the fact that you become charged with static when you, for example rub a part of your body against a woolly object, e.g. torso against woolly jumper or feet against socks against carpet. In seasons with periods of low humidity such as winter, these static charges stored in you become easier to charge and store as static electricity energy in you as the low humidity does not aid the ESD from you to the air, whereas periods of high humidity increase the transfer of static from you to the air, therefore reducing the overall charge that you have. This is why it is easier to become charged in winter than in other high humidity seasons.

Even though you don't feel static electricity charged in you, it is always there, and poses a large threat to your computer components if you touch them while charged with sufficient amounds of static electricity to cause damage to your components. Remember the last time you touched a metal object like a door knob or a shopping trolley and felt a sharp shock on your finger, and maybe even heard a little clicking sound? That's static electricity. Lightning is actually just supercharged static electricity, caused by the movement of electrons in the atoms of the water molecules in the clouds. As a metal object, such as a skyscraper point becomes close enough, the static immediately becomes discharged to that point because the clouds have built up a strong negative charge due to the gain of electrons, whereas the skyscraper has a positive charge, attracting the static down to it. That occurance between you and the knob is the same, but on a miniature scale.

Why should I care about Static electricity?
Whilst tinkering around inside your computer, you stand the great risk of damaging your components by ESD. It is easy to damage your components by ESD without knowing it. A discharge as low as 200 volts (which you can't feel being transferred) can destroy a computer chip. If you felt a shock when touching a metal component inside your computer, that is most probably static electricity being transferred from you to the circuitry that you touched, and most probably caused severe damage as that shock you can feel would be more than 2,000 volts! Seeming as though computer parts can get damanged at 200 volts, thats quite a problem. Now think, your sensitive computer components such as the Processor (CPU), hard drive, memory, main board chips and expansion cards could be severely damaged. Low voltage static shocks to your PC hardware may not be demonstrated immediately, but over a period of time if your computer begins to lock up or act strangely, then you may have damaged it previously with a low voltage static electricity shock, but the effects have only just showed. And we wouldn't want that would we!? Got a new conroe? Or an expensive new system upgrade? Don't want it all to fry? Then read on!

How do I help prevent the build up of static electricity on my person, in order to reduce the risk of transferring it to my computer components?
The best way to prevent the build up of static on you is to ground yourself. You can do this by touching a grounded metal object such as you computer's metal case, or, personally I use that and my metal radiator . The easiest way is to wear an anti- static wristband, which you tie around your wrist and clip it to your metal computer case, and it keeps you grounded constantly, so that any static that you charge up becomes immediately grounded.
You can also help prevent static in the following ways:
  • Don't wear woolly or nylon clothing.
  • Do not wear socks
  • Do not stand on a carpet while working inside your computer
  • Make sure you havn't been moving around a lot before working inside your computer, and make sure you havn't been rubbing your clothes against you
  • Ground yourself before working inside your computer by wearing an anti-static wristband or touching a grounded metal object
  • Whilst working inside your computer, try to keep one part of your body touching the case at all times, such as a hand or an arm etc. With an anti-static wristband, the wristband does this for you, so you don't have to worry about that
  • Protect your components with anti-static bags when they are not inside your computer.
  • Take care not to touch any metal object or circuitry or chips on your components such as the motherboard and processor pins
  • Handle your components by the edges where there isn't any circuitry present
  • You could try controlling the humidity of the room by keeping it between 35 and 50%. This will help prevent the buildup of static.
  • Keep your clothes away from components
  • It also helps to keep your PC plugged into a anti-surge expansion plug which is plugged into the wall socket while you are working on it (this step isn't recommended), but REMEMBER TO ALWAYS KEEP THE POWER SWITCHED OFF WHEN WORKING INSIDE YOUR COMPUTER

I hope this page has been helpful to you. Taking all the steps is not necessary, however I highly recommend grounding yourself before working inside your computer, and keeping yourself grounded at all times. Also, never touch the bare circuitry of your components, and always handle by the edges. Protect components outside of your computer by placing them in anti-static bags. I always remove my shirt and socks when working on my computer, and I make sure I am not standing on any carpet. Pay attention to the dress tips above! Clothes are the main reason you become charged with static.
Have fun working in a static-reduced environment!
Bob
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post #2 of 8
I have a wristband that doesn`t use a groundwire. Is this reliable?
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post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hvacgaspiping
I have a wristband that doesn`t use a groundwire. Is this reliable?
No. It won't help discharge any static from you if it isn't connected to a grounded object by a wire.
Bob
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post #4 of 8
That`s what I thought, but that`s what it`s supposed to do, even without the ground wire. Thanks.
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post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hvacgaspiping
That`s what I thought, but that`s what it`s supposed to do, even without the ground wire. Thanks.
Hmm, I doubt it helps discharge static much.
Bob
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post #6 of 8
Can I just wrap bare wire around my leg and then to a grounded object? I guess it would be a homemade ground strap.
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post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Villainstone
Can I just wrap bare wire around my leg and then to a grounded object? I guess it would be a homemade ground strap.
Yeah I think that would work. Make sure that the wire is made from a metal that conducts electricity, such as copper.
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post #8 of 8
I've seen anti-static wristbands that have no wire for sale at stores before. I don't know how they work, but they say they do. The instructions were to wear it 15 min before working in a computer.
    
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