Managing Electrostatic Discharge – CompTIA A+ 220-801: 5.1

| February 5, 2013


Electrostatic discharges can quickly damage your computer equipment. In this video, you’ll learn about static electricity and how you can keep your silicon away from ESD.
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When we’re using electricity, we’re so used to plugging into a power source and having that electricity move through a device. It completes a circuit. It’s able to power our equipment. And it’s constantly in motion.

But static electricity doesn’t work that way. Static electricity doesn’t move at all. The problem that you have with static electricity is not that it exists. The problem is when it decides to actually move and discharge itself. That’s when you start to have problems with equipment.

When you look at computer components especially, those are extremely sensitive to electrostatic discharges. You can see an example of this from NASA’s JPL. They have an electron microscope that they use to look at what the damage actually is. You obviously wouldn’t be able to see this with the human eye. But you can clearly see that there are problems when you have a static electricity discharge.

If you start doing the measurements of this, you can feel a static discharge when you rub your feet across a carpeted floor and touch a doorknob. You’ll feel it at about 3,500 volts. When you start to damage a component however, you don’t need anywhere near that type of voltage. You can have as little as 100 volts or less, and you’ve already created a problem. You’ve already damaged that very sensitive electronic equipment.

There are many different ways to control electrostatic discharge. One way is to keep the humidity in a room or an area somewhere around 60% humidity and higher. The problem you have of course is when you’re working with electronic equipment or even when we are working in an office environment, it’s air conditioned. And that air conditioning itself is pulling humidity out of the air.

So that’s not always the best possible scenario, and our electronic equipment doesn’t like to sit in very humid areas. And it’s uncomfortable for us to work in. So perhaps that’s not the best way to prevent ESD. But obviously in very humid areas, there’s not as much ESD of an issue as it would be in areas where there wasn’t as much humidity.

When you’re working with your computing equipment, there’s a very easy things you can do to help minimize the instances of electrostatic discharge. One is when you’re working with your computer to of course always disconnect it from a power source. You don’t want to have any part of you directly connected to anything that might be with a wall outlet or power source.

Before you touch any of the components inside of your computer, simply touch a part of the exposed metal case surrounding it. This will create a equilibrium of electrical potential between yourself and what you’re working on. And if there is any type of ESD it will be on the metal case, which of course isn’t going to be affected by any type of electrostatic discharge.

A good best practice is to never touch directly those components that are on your adapter cards or your memory chips or anything else that’s inside of your computer. If there was an electrostatic discharge, it would obviously go directly from you into that component. Instead, simply hold the edges of the device you’re working on. That way if there is an electrostatic discharge it’s going to go into the edge of the component, and hopefully not affect the actual components themselves.

Another best practice to minimize ESD is to use an electrostatic pad or to stand on an electrostatic mat. These devices are commonly connected to the electrical ground that’s on the power supply coming right out of the wall. But it’s important to remember that these devices have resistors inside of them that will prevent any type of voltage from ever getting to you. It’s important to keep in mind that you should never directly connect to any type of electrical wall outlet. Always use something like this devices that are specifically designed to connect only to the ground. And they’re designed to protect you from any type of voltage discharge.

If you’re removing components from inside of a computer and you’re taking them somewhere else, you’re obviously not going to be on an electrostatic mat or electrostatic pad or even be protected from any type of ESD as you travel from point A to point B. So you want to use something like this. This is an anti static bag, and this bag will help protect these components from any type of ESD as you’re moving them from place to place.

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Category: CompTIA A+ 220-801

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