Novatech Ooops

Well I did previously have a reasonably good opinion of Novatech. We once managed to get something not as labeled and they handled the complaint very web indeed. They are always helpful.

Sadly they can blow that reputation so easily by demonstrating how to fit a heatsink to a processor for us by getting a motherboard from stock, opening it, and handling it, and putting on the desk, and showing how the heatsink fits on. All without any sign of an anti static strap or mat.

Sad day.


  1. Oh, bugger. That means I've built thousands of dodgy PC's and 10's of dodgy servers then.

  2. Yeah, you can go overboard on the anti static strap thing. As long as you've left the box plugged in (switched off at the plug, obviously) then the entire chassis is earthed anyway.

  3. Yes, and you need to be earthed too - to touching the chassis. That is fine. When you are standing at a shop counter taking a motherboard out of its nice anti static bag and handling it - no!

  4. After discussion on irc I am shocked to find Olorin is not joking. He considers anti static measures to be a "storm in a teacup" because he has never managed to damage anything. Do people not realise that anti static damage is usually latent - causing holes in insulation within devices and damage to conductors meaning they break later.

    I suppose in the PC repair business it makes commercial sense for machines to keep breaking. Ho hum.

  5. What is even more surprising is that when we explain it is not all a "storm in a teacup", and he knows he is causing damage to components some of the time, he "does not care". No plans to change his ways. Enough mugs come to him for PC repair that it does not matter.

    I suppose every trade has tradesmen like that. Shame.

  6. One interesting comment made was that some places seem not to have anti static straps. In factories it is often the case that people have heel straps and conductive floor coating and a whole load of measures to ensure the environment as a whole is anti static.

    Now, it is conceivable that something was going on behind the scenes at novatech. They may have had anti static flooring and heel straps for all staff.

    If so - good - but I feel it would be good policy for customer facing use of anti static handling precaution to be conspicuous to members of the public.

  7. I've actually managed to kill a laptop straight off with a Massive ESD discharge whilst plugging a USB peripheral in Not a situation where most people would even consider using an Anti-static measures.

    I do find it depends what I'm working on as to if I bother or not.

    If I was handling something for a customer then yes I'd probably use an ESD strap or at the minimum at least ground myself first.

    If it's my own stuff I'm less likely to bother particularly if it's older kit, unless it's something that would be very expensive to replace then I really don't care.

  8. Yes, sorry should have included "and touch the chassis to ground yourself".

    Can't comment for Novatech but the PC builders I have been in, have tended to have earthed metal workbenches so they're fairly well protected without messing about with anti static straps.

    However, I do agree that it would be good policy to be conspicuous with anti static handling in front of customers. Hell, you might even manage to upsell an anti static strap!

  9. An earthed metal surface (in fact any metal surface, if big enough) can be an ESD hazard in itself as from an electrical potential point of view it is an immovable object.

    If you (and a component you are holding) are charged, then an ESD event will occur when the component touches the surface as the charge will conduct to ground. Not too bad if the users are wearing anti-static straps to the bench (or the same earth) as the charge will dissipate through them first.

    Ideally the surfaces should be static dissipative and connected to earth. Any possible electrical path to earth from the component should be in the 1 to 50 MOhm range to be safe.

    The 'touch the chassis to ground yourself' procedure can be effective *provided you re-touch the chassis every time you move* as it is a one-off thing an not continuous like wearing a strap.

    The company I work for manufactures semiconductors, we know what an effect ESD can have on them, and yes it is most often a medium-term effect not an outright kill.

    Rant over ;)

  10. Ooh, only just spotted this one ... had to join in. You may be interested to know that for spacecraft hardware construction there are ESD damage tables to encompass all components, even resistors! It's really true, you can alter the performance of a metal-film resistor with an ESD. This is the sort of care you need to take when you are building electronics for a 10 year mission in a high-radiation environment, with no hope of repair after launch. (It's also why I am obsessed with thermal design issues).


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