Monthly Archives: December 2013

  • 15 Surprising ESD Static Electricity Facts

    esd_symbol_lAlthough many people have heard or know about electrostatic discharge (ESD), there are still many facts about it that may surprise them. The reasons for this can include the many ESD myths/misconceptions still hanging around; another is the fact that ESD is a much more common effect than most people realize.

     

    Some of those rather interesting (if not bizarre) facts about ESD include:

     

    1. High humidity environments increase the chances for ESD trouble/activity.

     

    1. Engaging in simple everyday acts can be considered “risky behavior” in the world of ESD susceptibility. Some of those acts (and the charges they can produce) include:

     

    1. Walking across a carpet (1,500V to 35,000V)
    2. Walking across a vinyl floor (250V to 12,000V)
    3. Utilizing vinyl envelopes (600V to 7,000V)
    4. Working on a polyurethane chair (1500V to 18,000V)

    1. All electronic components/parts have different relative sensitivities to ESD—why they cannot all be treated the same. Some electronic components (and their electronic susceptibilities) to watch out for include:

     

    1. CMOS (250 to 3000)
    2. SAW (150 to 500)
    3. VMOS (30 to 1800)
    4. EPROM (100 plus)
    5. Schottky Diodes (300 to 2500)
    1. Parts degraded/damaged by ESD may pass operational tests only to malfunction in the field when subjected to stresses. In other words, ESD damage is often difficult to diagnose/pinpoint.
    2. ESD protection devices should not be optional. ESD will cause damage most of the time unless managed properly.
    3. ESD is not a modern phenomenon; people have known about it for hundreds of years. For example, people in the 1800s took measures to make sure that black powder was safe from ESD.
    4. There are still many myths surrounding ESD. Touching metal objects to discharge oneself, for example, does not make one ready/safe to work on ESD-sensitive material. Body charges tend to rebuild right away.
    5. Inserting components into printed wiring boards (PWBs) do not make them ESD-proof.
    6. Different, especially-tailored ESD management strategies are necessary for different settings/needs.
    7. ESD problems can come from seemingly unlikely sources (e.g., charged plastic faceplates).
    8. ESD precautions are not taken by all manufacturers at all times. Because of costs involved, some manufacturers cut corners and, thus, see their products fail in the field.
    9. Everything is not presently known about ESD. Every once in a while something new is learned about ESD.
    10. ESD solutions don’t always come in neat, clearly-predictable “packages.” Periodically, creative solutions have to be found for previously un-encountered dilemmas.
    11. ESD management doesn’t always require expensive equipment and techniques. Sometimes what is required is avoiding simple errors of operation.
    12. Contact does not have to take place for ESD to be a problem. Sometimes just getting near an electric field can impart ESD effects.

     

    Conclusion

    ESD is arguably one of the most interesting aspects of electronics. Both experts and amateurs continue to be amused by what can be learned about ESD.ThinkingEngineer

  • Why Compressed Air Dusters make electronic repairs easy and help maintain circuit boards

    As anyone who has ever looked inside electronics devices knows, they collect dust and fuzz like nobody's business. Technicians can tell you that first, electronics in use in virtually any environment from the home to the office are constantly exposed to dust (and, in the home environment, pet hair) and that secondly, the electrostatic charge that any electronics device generates attracts dust like a magnet does iron filings. It doesn't matter if the electronics device is a TV, home entertainment system component or computer, if its been in use any length of time, it'll have dust inside.ES1017

    The first thing a tech will do is use a product like Chemtronics ES1017 Duster to blow out the dust. Believe it or not, clearing the dust out of a system may actually repair a problem as some dust particles can be electrical conductors, making bad circuit connections and causing issues. Also, clearing the dust and debris out of a system with compressed air enables the technician to work in a clean environment which, in the case of computers that haven't seen a lot of maintenance can be very dirty indeed.

    In those cases, using a product like Chemtronics ES1024 Typhoon Blast Duster or Chemtronics ES1020 Ultrajet Duster with a heavier compressed air spray can make a huge difference. Dust not only can cake over chips and other components but can work its way under components and boards as well. With the higher pressure, that dust can be blown out where using a normal compressed air spray will require several tries to do it or won't do the job at all. Some dust "infestations" can actually leave a layer of fuzz on a circuit board that can literally be peeled away in a sheet before any duster can be used and in severe cases like these, having a high pressure duster is imperative.

    In normal situations, especially when a technician is doing maintenance runs, having an inexpensive duster like Chemtronics ES1217 Economy Duster is the best tool he'll have in his kit. Doing maintenance runs in an office environment is one of those necessary evils that may be boring to do, but saves time and money since keeping computers well-maintained is much easier than trying to repair them later and having a good supply of compressed air makes life a lot easier for a technician as well.

    When working on electronics, dust and debris is an unavoidable issue that any technician can tell you is simply part of the job. With compressed air to blow the dust and junk out of the device, not only can the technician get to work on the problem, using compressed air to maintain a system can actually keep problems from happening in the first place.

  • Take Care of Your Solder Tips when Lead-Free Soldering

    Lead FreeIn the mid-2000s, many electronics manufacturers were in a panic. The European Union had mandated that most electronic products be manufactured with lead-free solder by July 1, 2006, in large part because of concern about the effect of lead in discarded printed circuit boards (PCB) on the environment. This meant that anyone who wanted to do business in the EU had to "get the lead out."

    But what can be used instead of standard tin-lead solder, which was cheap and worked well? And what are the considerations to equipment lead-free solder presents?

    One of the most widely used lead-free solders has become SAC305 tin-silver-copper (Sn-Ag-Cu), in large part because of its reduced melting point. In general, however, lead-free solders are not as reliable for mission-critical applications such as military and aerospace. And one problem that's been reported with largely tin-based solders is the formation of tin "whiskers," which can cause shorts in electronics equipment.

    The generally higher melting temperatures of lead-free solders can cause soldering tip defects and premature wear when hand soldering. This, in turn, can lead to surface contamination and nonwettability. Using Sn-Ag-Cu solder, for example, can erode the iron plating on a solder tip four to five times faster than when using traditional tin-lead solder.

    To ensure longer life of your soldering tip when hand soldering, proper care of the tip is required. Tip temperature plays a big role in durability. Using a lower temperature, when possible, can mean increased solder tip longevity. Temperature modulation tools (Auto Turn Off) within the soldering station can help you keep the heat off as much as possible.

    It's also important to clean your solder tip regularly, especially when using rosin-based flux, which is highly corrosive. Cleaning should be done with a wet sponge or brass wire sponge to remove as much flux and oxides as possible after soldering.  If conventional cleaning methods do not work, consider using a tip polisher like the Hakko FT700.  ThinkingEngineer

  • Even more holiday gift ideas from GoKimco.com

    You can see our first two gift guides here and here.

    Do not wait any longer to get gifts for the hobbyist on your list, time is flying by!

    Under $50:

    Panavise 210
    Panavise 201 PV Jr Mini Vise Head and Base
    - Kimco Price: $26.99

    The Panavise 201 features a single knob control system and is perfect for arts and crafts, jewelry and model making, electronics, and other small projects! Any hobbyist or crafter would be delighted to find one of these under the tree.

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    Aven Helping Hands
    Aven 26000 Helping Hands with Magnifier
    -Kimco Price: $7.90

    Everyone needs a helping hand sometimes. The Aven 2600 features two small clamps that can be used to hold components for soldering, flies for tying, or other crafty projects, and also includes a small magnifier.

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    Under $100:

    Panavise 350
    Panavise 350 Multi-Purpose Vise Work Center
    - Kimco Price: Price: $89.99

    For those needing a more substantial vise, there is the Panavise 350. The weighted base may be bolted down to a work bench, and features a handy parts tray. The jaws open to a full 9", and can hold large, heavy parts. This is a top of the line vise!

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    Eclipse Soldering Station
    Eclipse Pro's Kit SS-206E ESD-Safe Analog Soldering Station
    - Kimco Price: $59.63

    This affordable station is perfect for simple soldering needs, or as a first station for someone learning to solder. It features a temperature range of  200- 480°C (392-896°F).

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    Under $200:

    Akro-Mils Bin Rack
    Akro-Mils 30016 2-Sided Bin Rail Hanging System
    - Kimco Price: $181.27

    This bin rail hanging rack from Akro-Mils is perfect for organizing a messy workshop. It is compatible with most Akro-Mils hanging bins and is easy to assemble. Different sized bins hang on the powder coated rails to make a customize-able organization system.

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    Master Appliance Heat Gun Kit
    Master Appliance HG-751BK 750-1000°F Heat Gun Kit
    - Kimco Price: $184.16

    Heat guns are very versatile, check out the many uses for them in Master Appliance's excellent blog post. The hobbyist, crafter, or tinkerer on your list will find many more uses for this high quality heat gun kit from Master Appliance. It features several accessory attachments and a storage case.

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    Visit our gift page for more great holiday gift ideas, and get your orders in now!

  • More Holiday Gift Ideas at Kimco!

    Last week, we presented several gift ideas for the hobbyist on your list. This week we follow up with some more suggestions, again in three price ranges. Get your holiday shopping done now, don't wait any longer!

    Under $50:

    Weller WLC100
    Weller WLC100 40 watt Hobbyist Solder Station
    - Kimco Price: $44.99

    The WLC100 is a nice, affordable, entry level soldering station perfect for casual hobbyists or students. It features adjustable power from 5 to 40 watts, a built in iron stand, and tip cleaning pad. A soldering station is a great addition to anyone's tool bench.

    Suggested add-on:
    Extra ST3 Tip

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    X-Acto 13pc. Knife Kit
    Xacto X5082 13pc. Knife Set in Wood Case
    -Kimco Price: $19.97

    Every self respecting hobbyist and crafter needs a good set of Xactos! This kit features many different blades and handles to tackle nearly any project, all packed in a handsome wooden case.

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    Aven 20 Piece Precision Screwdriver Set
    Aven 13714 20-Piece Precision Screwdriver Set w/ Interchangeable Blades
    -Kimco Price: $22.79

    This precision screwdriver set from Aven is great for working on electronics, servicing computers, and repairing small items like eye glasses. Many interchangeable blades are included in slotted, Philips, Hex, and Nutdriver configurations.

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    Under $100:

    Hakko Omnivise
    Hakko C1390 PCB Omnivise
    Kimco Price: Price: $59.57

    This unique product from Hakko holds a printed circuit board firmly in place and level so heat and solder may be applied. However, it can be used to hold many other items. It features height adjustment for maximum versatility.

     

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    Eclipse Pro Drill Driver
    Eclipse Pro's Kit PT-1441A Cordless Drill Driver
    Kimco Price: $51.51

    The Eclipse Pro's Kit 14.4V Drill Driver is a powerful cordless drill for a great price. It features many different torque settings, forward and reverse control, and a 3/8in keyless chuck. Every household needs a good cordless drill!

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    Steinel Heat Gun
    Steinel SV803K Variable Temperature Heat Gun Kit
    Kimco Price: $69.42

    A heat gun is a handy thing to own, and has many uses: shrink wrapping, thawing frozen pipes, desoldering, plastic welding, dent removal, even roasting coffee! This Steinel heat gun features 3 airflow settings, a soft grip handle, and includes two add-on nozzles for various applications. Surprise the tool geek in your life (that thinks they have everything)  with a tool that is likely missing from their quiver!

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    Under $200:

    Luxo LFM Magnifier
    Luxo 18345LG LFM LED 3 Diopter Edge Clamp 45" Arm Magnifier
    Kimco Price: $145.70

    This Luxo magnifier is perfect for hobbyists who work on small projects. It clamps to nearly any work space and has a 9.5W LED light source. Luxo is known for quality magnifiers, and this unit is no exception, featuring a die-cast aluminum housing and crystal clear glass lens.

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    Branson Ultrasonic Cleaner
    Branson B200 Compact Ultrasonic Cleaner
    Kimco Price: $119.95

    Ultrasonic cleaners are used to clean a multitude of small parts, optical pieces and even jewelry. The Branson B200 is a small 15 oz. utrasonic unit suitable for home use. Just add the correct cleaning solution for your application (listed below) and you are ready to clean.

    Suggested add-on:
    Branson General Purpose Solution
    Or
    Branson Jewelry Cleaner Solution

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    Visit our gift page for more great holiday gift ideas.

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