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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I need to handle some bare hard drives, but first I want to figure out how to ensure I won't accidentally damage them with static electricity. Apparently a popular technique is to use a plugged in power supply or computer casing to ground yourself. My problem is that I've seen several how-to pages say the metal must be unpainted, and my computer casing and my power supplies are painted black like this one.

Would black metal be enough to ground myself and ensure the safety of my hard drives, or should I try some other technique?
 

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If you tried to stick a magnet to the radiator would the paint stop it from sticking? I think its the same principle.
 

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The back panel on computer cases are bare metal, I'll normally rest my arm on the case when working on them, as long as it's plugged in, the ground is good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
If you tried to stick a magnet to the radiator would the paint stop it from sticking? I think its the same principle.
So if the magnet sticks it should be able to ground me, right? (I tested with a fridge magnet and it did stick to both the case and the power supply). How confident are you in this rule, exactly?
 

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When you're dealing with delicate electronic components to be safe you need to be properly earthed.

You may get away with a partial earth, and many people do, but the static voltages needed to break down the substrates on microchips are low, so if you're not properly earthed, then damage is always a possibility.

Personally I use an anti-static mat as well, but then that's the way I was trained to work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
When you're dealing with delicate electronic components to be safe you need to be properly earthed.
Yes, I know. How to do that is what I'm trying to surmise. I don't have an anti static mat so that's not an option for me.

So to recap, I need a power supply/computer that's plugged in but not turned on, and maintain contact with it either by touch or by anti-static wristband, correct? And the black paint on the metal shouldn't be a problem if a magnet can still stick to it?
 

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Just get the wristband(s).
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I think I have one already.

Does the size of the grounding object matter much? Would my spare power supply suffice to discharge the static, or would a large metal object like my computer case be considered strongly preferable?
 

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You're overthinking this. Most techs just use the static band. Some take the extra precaution of a mat. A rug is the most dangerous conductor. IMO RAM or CPU is the most vulnerable.
 

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Most wrist bands have a connector that plugs into the mains socket (well the earth line in the mains socket really) which is as good an earth as you'll need.

As Corday says, it's best if you're not stood on something like a rug or carpet, since they will generate more static than a hard floor surface.
 

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Gamers Nexus on youtube actually had a static gun they were using to try to break PC components and it is actually very specific and difficult.
You very likely couldn't damage the hard drives if you were trying to, via normal handling methods.

Essentially, try to find users damaging components because they didnt have a wrist strap,, doubt you can find any.
 

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Would the strap work if attached to painted metal?
No, not reliably. Paint is an insulator. I use a wrist strap connected to bare metal. If working on a laptop that does not bare metal available, I connect to the bare metal on a USB cable plugged into the laptop.
 

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Magnets do NOT verify anything in this regard and do not apply.
Painted/coated surfaces will interfere with any electrical ground connection unless the coating is designed to mitigate static charges...usually by being partially conductive. Some plastic bags and foam for electronic part packaging are impregnated with conductive materials, or they may be coated with an temporary anti-static material that WILL wear off eventually.
Wrist strap and mat connections are made with unpainted/uncoated conductive metal with a connection to AC mains ground, with a high-ohm RESISTOR in series with the wrist strap and/or anti-static mat.
Do not work on electronic devices on plastic surfaces (except anti-static mats and similar purpose-designed surfaces).
Wood surfaces also help reduce static charges by retaining moisture.
Even dry paper can develop and hold static charges in excess of 30,000 volts.
Dry air environments also encourage static charge development and accumulation. Using a humidifier can greatly reduce static charges, however excess humidity can cause other problems like corroded parts and connections.
There are also air ionizer units that help reduce static charge accumulation on surfaces in a small volume of space.
 

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Put any screw (that is not painted or otherwise coated) in any screw hole and use the screwhead as your ground point. Also... only wear cotton clothing while doing this... synthetics and wool create huge amounts of static in comparison. Always ground yourself before touching any electronic device. The clip for a wrist strap has to be clipped to bare metal also... unless the teeth of the clip scrape through the paint to bare metal, the clip will be insulated by the paint. If you are on carpet... almost all carpet is synthetic or wool (wall-to-wall is sythetic, area rugs are synthetic or wool or cotton), consider covering the carpet with a cotton towel or blanket to discourage static... otherwise, move to a solid-surface floor or to a table (preferrably not one with a synthetic top surface... wood or metal is best.). If you do produce a static discharge in spite of precautions, you don't have to "feel" the static discharge like the spark that jumps from a finger to a doorknob in cold weather. Many times, you can't feel a static discharge that is powerful enough to damage an electronic device. The device can be rendered dead immediately following a static spark discharge, but that's not the only possible outcome. Some percentage of devices won't be damaged at all by many static discharges. Another group of devices won't show damage right away, but they could fail in an hour, a day, a week, a month, or even a year or more before the damage finally kills the device. There has been some improvement in solid state devices and circuit designs that make many devices less susceptible to damage than used to be the case, but there's no way for us to identify devices with thoughtful design that eliminates all or most chances for damage from static discharges.
 
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