View Full Version : What kinds of anti-static equipment do you use?
09-20-2011, 05:30 PM
I have worked on and assembled PCs for almost 20 years. A static draining wrist strap is all I've ever used.
I anticipate doing a bit more electronic assembly in the future. My soldering iron is ESD safe, but I'm considering an anti-static mat for the top of my workbench and the ones I've found aren't cheap. I was wondering if anyone had suggestions, recommendations or things to be aware of. What kinds of anti-static equipment do you all actually use?
09-20-2011, 07:08 PM
We use the standard light blue mat that has a ground wire attached. Here is a link for cheap mats: http://www.apogeekits.com/anti_static_mats.htm.
09-20-2011, 07:15 PM
I use the New Orleans area climate, which is almost never dry enough for static buildup to be a problem.
09-20-2011, 07:38 PM
Same here in Taiwan, high humidity eliminates the hazard. But if you want to make your own wrist strap, be sure to add a 1 meg ohm 1/2watt resistor between you and ground to avoid potential electrocution if you accidentally touch a live 120VAC circuit. That is all the expensive units contribute to the scheme.
09-20-2011, 08:51 PM
I use a few anti-static mats (like dandreae listed) and hire people to solder my circuit boards. :P
09-20-2011, 11:40 PM
Well, it's not like Mississippi is exactly a desert :) , but it can get kind of dry and stat-icky (?) during the winter when the heat is on a lot, plus there's the synthetic carpeting.
Dave, thanks for the link, that's the best price I've seen (especially on the larger size). However, now I'm thinking since the top of my work table is so trashed, I'd like to cover the entire thing and it's about 30x60 inches. So I guess I'm still shopping around.
09-20-2011, 11:48 PM
All I use is the standard blue mat without any sort of wriststrap. I've only started using it recently and I never fried any chips after or before I got it, so it must be a climate thing.
As previously stated, if you get a wriststrap, make sure the current to ground isn't too strong....
Yea, fine, I just wanted an excuse to use that picture.....
09-21-2011, 12:09 AM
I inconsistently use a mat I bought at Radio Shack. I use it more often in winter when static is a problem, but hardwood floors generally keep it to a minimum.
09-21-2011, 12:11 PM
LOL. I embrace ESD
I have had a HFT meter survive that thing ..
09-21-2011, 11:24 PM
I just spray frabic softener on the carpet scrap under my work bench during winter. I have never used a wrist strap or other static precaution, and I never noticed a part go bad due to ESD.
09-21-2011, 11:48 PM
I don't use any protection device. A bad static shock would certainly put the hurting on an unprotected device, but the main reason for the paranoia concerning static discharge damage is that the device would fail prematurely ( not instantly). From what I've read, the damage is microscopic and continues to grow over time. Therefore a manufacture could have warranty issues. Also, military and medical industries have more at risk. I read about this twenty years ago.
A quick internet search found this http://www.trestonltd.co.uk/index.php?article_id=6220&__from_id__=6180
09-21-2011, 11:49 PM
I frequently grasp a cold aluminum cylinder, tip it up a little, then set it back down.
So far, nothing zapped - works great for me.
09-23-2011, 11:58 PM
In a professional pcb assembly plant that I was involved in the floor was painted regularly with antistatic paint. Wires were originally placed on the floor in a grid and earthed. Employees wore special coats, benches were earthed. No antistatic straps were worn. The factory was certified.
Outside of that, the blue mats should be fine as long as they are earthed and you use an antistatic strap.
Having said that, I have soldered many pcbs without any problems and without any of this, but I do take precautions such as touching the metal frame of my workbench and the bench had an antistatic mat on top - when I had one - not much room on a boat - and now back on land I dont have much room. Don't forget most ics these days are protected, not like yesteryear.
09-26-2011, 08:56 PM
Well, thanks to one of the forum members I now have an anti-static mat top for my work table. It's used but in pretty good shape. I just finished trimming one end to fit. It still is a little buckled up from being shipped in a roll, so I'll let it relax a week or so before trimming the other end. I had to take everything off the table to put the mat down, this is the neatest it's been in years :) It sure looks better than the old vinyl fake wood grain which was torn up and peeling off everywhere.
09-26-2011, 09:22 PM
I've also done PC repair for a few years.. Usually I discharge myself on the grounded casing, except in the Winter when I'll wear a strap when the air is dry indoors due to heating.
09-26-2011, 11:15 PM
FYI... as a point of interest... my Dad invented the "Anti-Static Wrist Strap" back in the 60's while he was working at AVCO on small radar units for bomblets (like in a cluster bomb.) They happened to be one of the earliest uses for CMOS technology and he figured out (quite by accident) that they needed to protect them from damage (which was occuring frequently prior to that invention.)
Incidently, his original "invention disclosure" also included a side note that they could be used as pick up leads for "heart monitors," which he was also working on.
The funny thing is that we didn't know anything about it until after his passing when we started going through all his old papers. We found the invention disclosure documents all the other paperwork associated with it. He got a whole silver dollar for that invention!
What I find most useful of all by far is antistatic floors. After we got that at work everything is easy. No sudden shocks when touching metal anymore, not even in winter. In the room where I solder I just take off my shoes (or I could have used special shoes, but not being one of the 'regulars' in there I don't have my own set of those). The antistatic floors is the best ESD problem solver I've tried, much safer than using just a wrist strap. There doesn't seem to be any build-up of charge anywhere, it's pretty safe to work without any wrist strap at all.