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I need a device that would discharge static electricity from my body in order to safely work with electronics. I have looked and found some that interested me, but I don't know whether they work:

  1. Anti-Static Wrist Strap

    anti-static wrist strap

  2. Anti-Static Release Discharger Keychain

  3. Anti-Dissipative Wrist Strap

    anti-dissipative wrist strap

  4. Anti-Static Rubber Finger Stalls

    rubber fingers

Which of above mentioned actually do something?

Do I also need and anti-static screw box?

screw box

It has holes that screws get put in. Will I need magnetic screwdriver to pull screws out?

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One way or another you need to get your body to the same potential as the chassis you're working on. If you're careful and don't have much to do, simply being careful to touch the metal of the chassis before reaching is is sufficient. Otherwise (if you're the careless type or you'll be doing a lot of work on the chassis) the wrist strap is the way to go. Other approaches can also be used, such as having a grounded workstation with anti-static shoes, but they get more expensive/complex. –  Daniel R Hicks Sep 23 '12 at 3:07
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closed as not constructive by DragonLord, Dave Rook, techie007, Indrek, Mokubai Sep 23 '12 at 19:25

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4 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

The only true safe way to work with electronics is with the use of an anti-static wrist wrap (that is connected to electrical ground). The reason I am skeptical of the other products is the fact that they provide no path for electrical discharge of any static electrical charge on your body.

The anti-static wrist wrap provides a path to ground for said static electricity, through a current limiting resistor, to ground. Without a path for electricity to flow, there is no way to discharge this static buildup. Just due to that scientific fact, I will argue that products 2 (anti-static release discharger keychain) and 3 (anti-dissipative wrist strap) simply don't work.

As for product 4 (rubber finger covers), this would work, but only to a limited extent. The rubber provides a good insulator between your skin and the conductors, but if there was enough buildup of static electricity in your body, it could theoretically overcome this resistance. That being said, the resistance of rubber is extremely high, and I would recommend this product over 2 and 3.

At the end of the day, your best (safest) bet is to use the anti-static wrist strap ("grounding strap").


Oh, and as for that anti-static screws box, don't bother. If you use an anti-static wrist strap, and you are in direct contact with the screws/screwdriver, you shouldn't have a problem. If you do go with it, I believe you would need a magnetic screwdriver (otherwise how would you get an individual screw out without flipping the whole thing upside-down?).

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How about discharging by touching chassis first and then wearing finger stalls to not accumulate any static buildup? And how about number 2? You think it does not have grounding? What if i constantly touch it while working with equipment in order to discharge static? –  Boris_yo Aug 11 '11 at 14:52
    
You can discharge by touching the chassis first, but wearing finger stalls does not prevent you from accumulating any more static charge. Most of the charge comes from buildup from moving on carpets, or friction induction by other means... Lastly, the problem with 2 is the same as 3, there is just no path to ground. It doesn't matter if you touch it or not, there is no place for the buildup of static electricity to go. –  Breakthrough Aug 11 '11 at 15:00
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These things only work when they are connected to ground via some path.

  1. should be fine, provided you do connect it to ground.

  2. is for gently discharging overly sensitive humans so they don't feel a shock. It has nothing to do with protecting electronics.

  3. seems to be a so-called wireless anti-static wrist strap, though Dealextreme is careful not to mention that. This basically means it is snake oil, see this article.

  4. being antistatic probably means that they don't accumulate static electricity when used (rubbed), as rubber normally does. Probably they conduct somewhat, but this won't magically discharge your body, unless you also wear a wrist strap. The same applies to other things labeled ESD safe, for example plastic bags and tools.

The screws box is only for manufacturers, it would be major overkill for hobbyists.

A sensible thing to get besides the wired wrist strap would be an antistatic desk mat, though they tend to be somewhat more expensive. To work that mat needs to be grounded, too.

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So number 2 is not useful? Why is that? I can constantly touch it while working with equipment in order to be safe. –  Boris_yo Aug 11 '11 at 14:54
    
You need to touch ground with it. You might as well touch ground with your finger. –  starblue Aug 11 '11 at 14:56
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1 and 3 work equally as well (well 3 does, if tied to something).

2 looks funny, but, I don't really see it working as well as 1 as you will need to touch it yourself.

4 just looks dirty/funny! I have seen anti static gloves, but they can rip easily and can get in the way - especially when dealing with sharp edges / removing blanking plates etc.

Personally, 1 is so cheap, old and a proven solution, it would far be my favourite with 3 coming in second.

Never seen the screw box, sort of looks like snake oil to me - whilst it does look good, it addresses a problem that does not really exist.

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I've only ever used #1, and i know that works (as long as you ground it to something). Dont know about #2 or #3.

I don't use one myself day to day, i know that's bad :-( - i usually just touch something grounded before touching electronics.

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How to find out what ojects are actually grounded and how to find grounding point to touch? –  Boris_yo Aug 11 '11 at 9:50
    
Depends, in the UK electrical outlets are grounded, so touching a metal case of your pc while the power lead is in should ground you (power does not need ot be on for this). Radiators, plumbing etc are sometimes good targets too. –  Sirex Aug 11 '11 at 9:59
    
p.s: I don't want to give the impression that you can get away without a proper strap if you are regularly touching sensitive electrical equipment day-to-day, particually chips and ram modules etc. –  Sirex Aug 11 '11 at 10:01
    
So you mean i need to touch contacts of equipment that is grounded and shut down in order to discharge static electricity every time or just attach lead to it to be constantly grounded? –  Boris_yo Aug 11 '11 at 10:31
    
While the computer (or device) is still plugged in with a three-prong (in th US this usually means grounded) but not powered on, just touch the chassis with a bare hand. I do this myself because I don't have a handy ground to connect any grounded anti-static device to. The other tools are for specially sensitive devices and situations. Say your workbench has a thick shag carpet or something silly like that. –  music2myear Aug 11 '11 at 13:58
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