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Author Topic: Mining Without A Case And Static Electricity???  (Read 1784 times)
gigabytecoin
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May 05, 2011, 10:00:57 PM
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When I was in school learning computer networking about 10 years ago... my instructor always drilled into us how important it was to "ground" yourself by touching something large and metal before touching any bare computer parts lest they be zapped and fried to death by a dreaded static shock...

To this day I religiously touch some metal before working on my computers, but with so many cases out in the open right now with mining I am beginning to get a little worried.

Basically my question is: Is there really/still a need to worry about static electricity ruining your boards?

Side note: I went to un plug my metal usb drive the other day and felt a slight shock but it's still running smoothly.
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May 05, 2011, 10:04:41 PM
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I have ruined equipment in the past, but it's not very common... in my whole career, I think I have ruined 1 stick of memory.  (It was a 1 MB stick when 1 MB was worth $40).

I work with a lot of bare circuit boards, and it's pretty rare I ruin anything.  On any given day, there's less than a 0.01% chance I'll ruin something handling it with my bare hands, and I never wear wrist straps.

Circuit boards aren't going to get ruined just sitting without a case unless you give them a static shock in a place where it would cause damage, like walking across the carpet and then touching a black computer chip as the first thing you make contact with.

For devices that are not plugged in, if you always follow these simple rules, you'll be safe pretty much 100% of the time without needing a static wrist strap.

1 - If a bare electronic device is sitting on a table or other surface, touch that surface first if it's metal (so you shock it and not your device), and then, the first place you touch parts to pick them up should be some prominent bare metal feature.  Example, if it's a video card, touch the metal plate that has the VGA/DVI connector and then pick it up.  if it's a motherboard, touch the USB ports and then pick it up.  These are designed to reliably withstand static shocks.

2 - If you are handing a bare electronic device to another person, touch the person's hand with your own hand first before you hand them the device.  This way you will dissipate any shock in advance that otherwise might have travelled through the device as you handed it to them.

Devices that are surrounded by metal (likely including your USB drive) are meant to accept shocks on their metal enclosure.  Electricity will always prefer going through bare metal rather than ruining your gear, it is only when those shocks are forced to travel through delicate circuits with no better alternative path will your equipment be ruined.  

While you are at it, always avoid touching the gold-plated connector surfaces.  If you touch it by accident once, no big deal, but just make a habit of avoiding it whenever you can.

Companies claiming they got hacked and lost your coins sounds like fraud so perfect it could be called fashionable.  I never believe them.  If I ever experience the misfortune of a real intrusion, I declare I have been honest about the way I have managed the keys in Casascius Coins.  I maintain no ability to recover or reproduce the keys, not even under limitless duress or total intrusion.  Remember that trusting strangers with your coins without any recourse is, as a matter of principle, not a best practice.  Don't keep coins online. Use paper wallets instead.
gigabytecoin
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May 05, 2011, 10:50:44 PM
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Thank you for the incredibly detailed response, +1 for you!

Ah wrist straps, I almost forgot about those Tongue

Yes I am always quite careful to hold my components by their sides without touching anything.

So as long as I touch the large metal filing cabinet inside my workroom before I pick up a motherboard, I should be good right?
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May 05, 2011, 10:56:28 PM
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So as long as I touch the large metal filing cabinet inside my workroom before I pick up a motherboard, I should be good right?
To be technical: only if the filing cabinet and motherboard share the same ground. It's usually good enough, since most everything finds its way to Earth ground eventually, but you should do your best to ground to whatever the device is grounded to.

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May 05, 2011, 10:57:39 PM
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So as long as I touch the large metal filing cabinet inside my workroom before I pick up a motherboard, I should be good right?

Only do that if the motherboard is sitting on the filing cabinet.  It is more important that you touch whatever the motherboard is sitting on, particularly if it is metal.  The reason is, you might touch a safe part of the board, but if the shock exits the board through something connected a delicate part, you ruin it.  The shock won't exit to a filing cabinet that's across the room, so touching it won't help.

Companies claiming they got hacked and lost your coins sounds like fraud so perfect it could be called fashionable.  I never believe them.  If I ever experience the misfortune of a real intrusion, I declare I have been honest about the way I have managed the keys in Casascius Coins.  I maintain no ability to recover or reproduce the keys, not even under limitless duress or total intrusion.  Remember that trusting strangers with your coins without any recourse is, as a matter of principle, not a best practice.  Don't keep coins online. Use paper wallets instead.
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May 05, 2011, 11:01:02 PM
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So as long as I touch the large metal filing cabinet inside my workroom before I pick up a motherboard, I should be good right?
To be technical: only if the filing cabinet and motherboard share the same ground. It's usually good enough, since most everything finds its way to Earth ground eventually, but you should do your best to ground to whatever the device is grounded to.

I would respectfully disagree - only because most filing cabinets, even if metal, aren't electrically grounded.  Neither is a motherboard that is sitting on a desktop (unless it is plugged into something like power).  You are correct to the extent the filing cabinet and motherboard share the same ground that that will work, as a practical matter, that shared ground is only likely to be present when the motherboard is actually sitting in contact with the cabinet.

The goal is less to be grounded and more to always have the same electrical potential as whatever else might be touching the motherboard at the same time you are.

Companies claiming they got hacked and lost your coins sounds like fraud so perfect it could be called fashionable.  I never believe them.  If I ever experience the misfortune of a real intrusion, I declare I have been honest about the way I have managed the keys in Casascius Coins.  I maintain no ability to recover or reproduce the keys, not even under limitless duress or total intrusion.  Remember that trusting strangers with your coins without any recourse is, as a matter of principle, not a best practice.  Don't keep coins online. Use paper wallets instead.
steelhouse
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May 05, 2011, 11:06:33 PM
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I don't know if this works I never ruined part that I know of I build computers in bare feet.  Also, if the plug is grounded is not the whole board grounded? 
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Mike Caldwell
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May 05, 2011, 11:10:52 PM
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I don't know if this works I never ruined part that I know of I build computers in bare feet.  Also, if the plug is grounded is not the whole board grounded?  

If the motherboard is plugged in, then yes, it is grounded, even when it is off.  A grounded motherboard can still be ruined if you shock a part of it that isn't directly part of its ground (e.g. chips or data traces on the board).

Companies claiming they got hacked and lost your coins sounds like fraud so perfect it could be called fashionable.  I never believe them.  If I ever experience the misfortune of a real intrusion, I declare I have been honest about the way I have managed the keys in Casascius Coins.  I maintain no ability to recover or reproduce the keys, not even under limitless duress or total intrusion.  Remember that trusting strangers with your coins without any recourse is, as a matter of principle, not a best practice.  Don't keep coins online. Use paper wallets instead.
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May 05, 2011, 11:17:05 PM
 #9

It seems like droping something on running MB is just as much of a risk without a case.

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May 05, 2011, 11:54:11 PM
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Don't know about static electricity, never seen it or had any issues and i have exposed boards all over the place ... spider webs are getting to be a nuisance though .... although maybe they are filtering the dust so i'm undecided if they are definitely a 'bad' thing ....

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May 06, 2011, 04:01:54 AM
 #11

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If the motherboard is plugged in, then yes, it is grounded, even when it is off.
But you don't want it plugged in when you're handling it  Tongue

Quote
spider webs are getting to be a nuisance though .... although maybe they are filtering the dust so i'm undecided if they are definitely a 'bad' thing ....
Just wait until one of the spiders falls into your GPU fan...

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