Picture the scene - It's a glorious Saturday afternoon and you've just driven to your chosen shopping destination. You open the car door and step out, grabbing at the door frame for support - Aagghh!
You hear a small 'crack' as you feel a painful jolt at one of your fingers. You've just been introduced to Static Electricity.
Static as it is more commonly known, is a naturally-occurring, very high voltage, electrical charge that is usually a result of two different surfaces coming into contact with one another. The human body makes for an excellent conductor of this electricity.
Normally, static electricity is fairly easily dispersed from your body, but sitting in the car, you've lost electrical contact with 'ground' and become a giant 'store' of accumulated static electricity.
When you touch the metal door frame, all the static electricity that has accumulated during the journey finds a great way to escape - as a tiny 'lightning bolt' from your finger! This is known as ESD - Electro-Static Discharge
Certain types of electronic components rely on the very fine control of low voltages to produce desirable electrical properties. This is what enables them to work correctly. A CPU for example, is basically millions of these electrically 'delicate' components all crammed into one tiny space.
If you pick up your CPU with your bare hands (without ESD protection), there is a good chance that your 'stored' static electricity will find a path to ground via the delicate components in your CPU.
Worst case scenario - this will be like a Magnum bullet through a block of butter. Your CPU fries.
'Almost as bad' scenario - the static electricity finds a path to ground but only partially damages some of the components. The device might still function as we would expect at the time of building the PC, but its life span has been significantly reduced. In real terms, your device fails after a short period of time for no apparent reason!
You're looking for a basic ESD device which gives reasonable protection for minimum cash
Buy and use an anti-static wrist-strap.
Static electricity is safely dispersed, via the snug-fitting wrist-band, down the cable and to the grounded connection at the other end, leaving your hands free to work.
The wrist-strap must be a reasonably tight fit to the wrist and the cable must be connected to a suitable ground point.
You're willing to 'go the extra mile' to ensure that you don't lose out to a static electricity disaster!
MethodGet yourself an ESD kit, comprising an anti-static wrist-strap and mat on which you can place your PC Case, devices and even your tools while you work.
ResultThis offers 'belt and braces' ESD protection, with connections to ground via the wrist strap and via the work mat.
As with the previous example, checking the connections to ground is imperative.
You want the ultimate in anti-static protection...
Find yourself a spare room for PC building. Rip up the carpet and either replace it with anti-static carpet, or paint the floor with a special conductive anti-static floor paint.
Buy a foot-strap (like a wrist-strap, but for the ankle - wraps round your leg and under your shoe to form the connection to the special floor.)
Completely cover your desktop or work area in anti-static matting material and finally, install some ESD testing equipment to make sure your equipment is all working correctly.
The static electricity doesn't stand a chance! The moment it starts to build up it's got several separate paths to safely disperse!
You drop your ESD-sensitive device on the floor and break it! (Only kidding!)