Electrostatic discharge

I have noticed there isn’t much discussion here about preventing damage to boards from static electricity. I did a search and only found some speculation after unexplained failures. One of the most important rules we stress when handling electronics in the satellites we build is preventing damage from electrostatic discharge (ESD). The thing about ESD damage is it is often latent. Things are locally damaged causing cracks that grow later under vibration load or high current flow (sound familiar?). Complete failure when it finally happens is generally catastrophic. An anti-static pad and wriststrap is about $20 down at Fry’s. I have them and seldom use them for handling normal home electronics but I think the guts of my board deserve the extra care. You learn a lot about prevention when your product goes into service where there are no servicemen.

Edit: when I say board I meant the circuit boards. I realized I wasn’t clear there.

As long as you touch something grounded or a large piece of metal once and a while, I don’t see a reason to use one. Never had one when I assembled my pc nor my esk8.

Probably a good idea though for those that regularly touch bare pcb’s and stuff.

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mh I once ‘bricked’ 2 hard drives on desktop computer by touching the inner parts of case… Was quite a lesson what can happen…

though im not entirely sure when and how big spark can be generated and when more caution should be used…

The single biggest risk factor by far is low humidity. We don’t touch the satellites if it is below 15%. We shut all the work down unless something is schedule critical. Then we set up humidifiers around the satellite and work when we get the humidity back up.

I agree. If you are diligent about grounding yourself by touching some metal right before you first touch the board it is as good as using a wrist strap. To be as safe you would have to do it every time you let go of the board and then touch it again. See the response below about humidity.

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