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Grounding

By Nitzle
May 19, 2009
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  1. I'm currently building a new computer. Before I even take any of the parts out of their ESD protective covers, I want to know how to properly ground myself.

    Here's what I was thinking of doing: Plug the PSU into a power strip and turn both the power strip and the PSU off. Then I'll either maintain constant contact with either the PSU itself or some part of the metal case. Or I might buy a wrist strap.

    My main problem is that almost every thread I read on the Internet about this subject seem to contradict each other. No one can seem to agree about how to ground yourself properly. I think if I just have the wrist strap attached to a piece of unpainted metal inside the case, have the PSU turned off but plugged into a power strip which is ALSO turned off, I should be fine.

    What are your thoughts?
  2. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 18,353

    Actually a proper "grounding" requires you to be connected (via wrist strap) to an earth stake in the ground (note this stake can be also connected to a terminal on your workbench via cable/wire)

    But you also need your wrist strap tested and passed ISO requirements, and then the wrist strap labeled with a date, not less than 6 months old !

    I'm not even going to talk about the anti-static mat, or standing on a rubber mat :D

    So how officially grounded do you want to be?

    It is suggested for the home user to disperse all residual electricity by first touching the non painted casing of the computer, power off first ;)
    And then not to move your shoes again, whilst handling electronic components
    That should suffice ;)
  3. Nitzle

    Nitzle TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for the reply! So essentially I can leave it plugged in, powered off, and just touch the inside of the case? My motherboard is ATX, does that make a difference? I have seen something on the Internet about ATX constantly drawing power even if the computer's shut down. Is this true even if the PSU is switched off but plugged in?
  4. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 18,353

    Yes you can do that

    It is true that there may still be power in your computer after turning off
    To reduce most of this power, actually pull the power cord completely out, then press the ON button for 20secs. This will rid most of the power left in the computer
    Obviously due to "grounding" you could then plug the power cord back in, but leave the switch off at the wall.

    There is still power inside the machine. This power is in the electronic capacitors and and also in the CMOS battery itself. I suppose the real issue is don't go arcing (touching electronic pins) with a screw driver or anything. But you yourself, can actually touch things, as long as you have grounded to the case, and not moved your feet.

    One more quick point. Generally most techs, onsite, do not ground themselves any longer (except possibly touching the inside of the case) This is because electronic components are now more stable than they once were. Generally they don't break ;) Although when picking up electronic components and boards I recommend never to touch the connector pins (being the most sensitive area in electro-static shock) ie If you pick up Ram cards, just hold it from both ends, don't touch the connector pad itself.

    More questions? :)
  5. Nitzle

    Nitzle TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Really informative reply, thank you for letting me pick your brain. ;) I have but one more question: what brand would you recommend for anti-static wristbands?
  6. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 18,353

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