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Static electricity

mccmcc glitchRegistered User, ClubPA regular
edited January 2007 in Help / Advice Forum
I work at this place that has a lot of weird electronics lying around and questionable safety practices. I have this problem where, especially when I'm in one of the rooms where someone's actually working on electronics, I keep getting static shocks when I touch things. This has gotten really bad lately-- today it was happening even when i touched stuff that doesn't conduct any electricity, like plastic or wood.

I don't think this is actually a safety hazard, but this is really starting to bother me-- it hurts, and I don't really know what's going on. I don't know barely ANYTHING about electronics or electricity (I'm a software person) and I'm trying to figure out what's going on, if I need to be worried, and what to do about it.

When these static shocks happen-- what exactly is the cause? How does this stuff work? Is it that I've built up an electric charge, or that the thing I touched had built up an electric charge, or could it be either? And what do I do about it? Is there something I can do to get rid of charge from either myself or something I'm about to touch without it hurting, or something unobtrusive I can do to insulate myself from whatever it is I'm touching so if one of us has built up a charge, it won't hurt me?

Physics/EE understanding people please help thanks so much.

mcc on

Posts

  • Blake TBlake T Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Ok. This is all from year 10 physics which was a while ago. (I'm too lazy too wiki it)

    Static electicity from memory comes from stripping the electrons off your body by rubbing it against nylon, basically a surface charge once you touch something metal it cancels the charge out and the shock you get is the electrons going back to your body.

    Unless you charge yourself up for hours or hook yourself up to a van mier (is that what it is called) machine you can't going to hurt yourself.

    You say you work with electronics though? you can seriously fuck them up with you charge unless you stay grounded. Usually this involves having a small strap around your arm attached to a grounding wire.

  • mccmcc glitch Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited January 2007
    Hmm. Does that obviate this thread then?
    Blaket wrote:
    You say you work with electronics though? you can seriously fuck them up with you charge unless you stay grounded. Usually this involves having a small strap around your arm attached to a grounding wire.
    Well.. I don't work with electronics, but I work in the same room as people who work with electronics, and they never put the lids on things when they're done and leave things plugged in they maybe shouldn't. So I think what's happening is, it doesn't matter whether I'm grounded or not, because nothing else in the room has its electrons all messed up. I think. I'm trying to figure out (1) is that gibberish or not and (2) is there anything I can do to ground, like, random objects in the room? I'm also trying to figure out, if I do accidentally build up an electric charge, is there some way to ground myself without it hurting.

  • EggyToastEggyToast Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    This is common when the air gets dry (aka wintertime). I shock things much more when the humidity drops below 30.

    Unfortunately, it's you, and not the objects. Humans create and use electricity, albeit not in a way that The Matrix would make you think. We also wear clothes and typically move around quite a bit. So, you could go to work bearfoot and wear burlap, but I wouldn't recommend it.

    Can you fuck up other people's electronics? Yes, but only by actually touching the circuits. When working on computer hardware, for instance, most companies recommend you discharge any static electricity by touching the metal casing of the computer. Obviously it's peripherally attached to the circuitboards, but the charge itself is only really an issue at the points of contact.

    As for the best way to discharge yourself, you need to think about it in terms of surface area and nerve endings. Most people get shocks on their fingers, because when they reach for things the fingers hit the object first. And, of course, fingertips are very sensitive. Really, the best way for you to deal with this is to simply reach out and touch metal objects on purpose with the palm of your hand. It's the least unnatural way to come in contact with objects while avoiding your fingertips.

    I used to be really bad with the same problem -- every time I would get out of our car, I would get a huge shock shutting the door. I got to the point where I was physically afraid of touching the car door after I got out of the car, and would instead either use the glass window or my foot. After I figured out that I could use the palm of my hand and the shock would barely hurt, I gradually overcame my mild fear. I have the same issue at work, although not nearly as strong anymore, but our cube edges are metal posts. I always reach out for them with an emphasis on my palm, and while I do get shocked, it's very mild and really it's just "neutralizing" myself more than anything.

    You can also shock your elbow, foot, whatever, any exposed skin really, but I find sticking to the hand area the easiest solution.

    || Flickr — || PSN: EggyToast
  • HeirHeir Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    EggyToast wrote:
    This is common when the air gets dry (aka wintertime). I shock things much more when the humidity drops below 30.

    Unfortunately, it's you, and not the objects. Humans create and use electricity, albeit not in a way that The Matrix would make you think. We also wear clothes and typically move around quite a bit. So, you could go to work bearfoot and wear burlap, but I wouldn't recommend it.

    Can you fuck up other people's electronics? Yes, but only by actually touching the circuits. When working on computer hardware, for instance, most companies recommend you discharge any static electricity by touching the metal casing of the computer. Obviously it's peripherally attached to the circuitboards, but the charge itself is only really an issue at the points of contact.

    As for the best way to discharge yourself, you need to think about it in terms of surface area and nerve endings. Most people get shocks on their fingers, because when they reach for things the fingers hit the object first. And, of course, fingertips are very sensitive. Really, the best way for you to deal with this is to simply reach out and touch metal objects on purpose with the palm of your hand. It's the least unnatural way to come in contact with objects while avoiding your fingertips.

    I used to be really bad with the same problem -- every time I would get out of our car, I would get a huge shock shutting the door. I got to the point where I was physically afraid of touching the car door after I got out of the car, and would instead either use the glass window or my foot. After I figured out that I could use the palm of my hand and the shock would barely hurt, I gradually overcame my mild fear. I have the same issue at work, although not nearly as strong anymore, but our cube edges are metal posts. I always reach out for them with an emphasis on my palm, and while I do get shocked, it's very mild and really it's just "neutralizing" myself more than anything.

    You can also shock your elbow, foot, whatever, any exposed skin really, but I find sticking to the hand area the easiest solution.

    I get the same problem at my grocery store. For some reason, only in the grocery store, I get state electricity buildup.

    By the time I'm half way down the isle I'm practically touching a shelf every couple of steps to get rid of a small charge.

    People watching me probably think I'm that guy from the show Monk.

    I've yet to discover a way to stop it though, as I've gone there wearing a variety of clothing.

    camo_sig2.png
  • Blake TBlake T Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    It could also be your shoes, my old work shoes used to build up static electricity and I had to be careful of grabbing USB keys out of boxes because if I didn't ground myself first I could reset the computer.

  • WylderWylder Registered User
    edited January 2007
    I used to work at a mobile phone repair centre. While in the workshop, we all had to wear special ankle straps to prevent static buildup. It was basically a strap that went around your entire shoe, and made contact with the ground. It also had a lead that you tucked down into your sock to make contact with your flesh.

    Not exactly, but a lot like this

    While actually working on a phone, we also had to use wrist straps which plugged into a grounding socket at the workbench.

    From what I can tell they eliminate static buildup completely. I would have thought these were very common practice for working on electronics.





    Edit: Since you also asked what the hell static shocks are....

    Static electricity shocks occur because you are insulated from the ground by the rubber soles of your shoes. High wind, brushing against certain fabrics, or being in the presence of charged devices can give you a "static charge" that is different to the ground. When you touch something conductive that IS connected to the ground, the current flows out of you through the conductive material, restoring your charge to the same level as that in the earth. The current flow is what hurts you.

    You can prevent the buildup of static charge by maintaining contact with the ground, or removing the source of the charge.

    No sig for you!
  • mccmcc glitch Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited January 2007
    This all helps a lot. Thanks all!

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