How to use an Anti-Static Mat and Wrist Strap

Hi, i have this kit: Radioshack Electronics Anti-Static Service Kit

Is a Red Mat with a coiled cable that ends in a wrist strap and another cable that end in an alligator clip.

I am not sure on how to CORRECTLY Use it. I want to use it to build my New PC today. All the components are new.

Is kind of a dumb question, but Basically, can someone tell me the CORRECT WAY TO USE THIS mat and wrist strap? Where should i ground? does the Wriststrap has to be really tight to might wrist? etc...

To give you an idea of the things i have around of the working area for assembling the PC that I THINK can be used for GROUNDING are:
- i have one of those white plastic tables, with metal legs that have some sort of paint. Similar to this: Plastic Table
- behind me i have some Black Painted metal shelves similar to this ones: Black Metal Wire Shelve
- One Independent False Metal Floor (60cms x 60 cms) with adjustable metal "legs" or "screws" similar to this one: Metal False Floor  (NOTE: My floor is a concrete floor, i just have 1 unit of this "False metal Floor" that i bought from a Scrap Metal Recycliing Center, that i use as a "base" to elevate my other computer from the Floor.

Thanks in advance
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Steven HarrisPresidentCommented:
Hard to tell from the pic what all is going on, but here is a basic example based on my setup:

Usually, on one corner of the mat there is a snap connector. From that snap connector there is a long, (usually GREEN) wire, as well as a coiled wire that goes to a wrist strap.

The green wire goes to the round GROUND connector of an AC wall socket, either by an included dummy plug, a round lead that fits around the center screw of a wall outlet, or even an alligator clip that connects to the center screw on a wall outlet.

The coiled wire that goes to a wrist strap goes just like that. Wrap the wrist strap around your wrist.

There are some other models that connect specifically to the PC Chasis with alligator clips. from the mat and wrist strap, which creates a grounded loop.

Also, in terms of grounding:  think GROUND.  Having a metal object on a concrete floor is not a sufficient grounding item.  It needs to be thoroughly distributed into DIRT like your home electrical wiring.  

Did this model not come with some sort of a user manual or setup diagram?  I would hate to hear you fried yourself or your board components from improper hookup...


Ran across the kit on Amazon.  This is from one of the users:


Terrible, confusing directions and poor illustrations on box. You pretty much have to just figure it out on your own.



Here is how I used the system. There are two cords included, the wrist strap with its attached cord and alligator clip -- plus another cable called the ground cord connector.

1) Plug the ground cord connector into the third grounding hole of a wall outlet.

2) Snap the other end of the ground cord connector onto the work mat.

3) Connect the wrist strap cord alligator clip to the piece that you already snapped onto the mat. The snap on connector will have two holes on the side for this purpose.

4) Put on the wrist strap and adjust the fit. The metal piece on the wrist strap should be on the underside or flat part of your wrist.

5) Now the mat and you are both grounded to the electric wall outlet.

Electronics Anti-Static Service Kit 276-2370

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unrinoceronteAuthor Commented:
Hi, thanks for the quick response. I bought this Radioshack Mat and Wrist strap many years ago, and i dont remember where i put the manual...if it had one...

In the meantime i have been googling and many people mantion to connect the mat cable to the Ground part of a wall socket... I am afraid to do this, but if you think is safe i will do.

I tought that an Alligator Clip (on the ground cable) was to be attached to the Computer Chassis or any metal part or item i had lying around... I guess that was my misconception...

So, back to your recommendation, will it be safe if i plug the mat's Ground cable (the alligator clip is removable) to the AC outlet of my APC UPS instead of directly to the wall outlet? Will it be the same? The UPS is in a closer distance than the wall outlet, so thats why...

Will it also work if i just put all the components in top of the mat while working, and attach the alligator Clip to the Computer CHASSIS? Remember that since is a new PC, it doesnt even have the PSU installed...

I tought the MAT was in itself antistatic and could work like i mentioned above, or am i completely wrong?
unrinoceronteAuthor Commented:
The DIFFERENCE with the KIT that you posted from AMAZON, is that indeed it has another Hole, but it did not came with the cable. So thhere is only 2 cables, one that has the Removable Alligator Clip, and if i remove it it is similar in shape to a Ground plug..., at the other end of this cable, its something like a HUB, which attaches to the MAT and on the other side it has 2 holes, one for the Wrist strap coiled cable, and one other hole that is empty, since there was no more cables on the kit....
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unrinoceronteAuthor Commented:
One more thing, What if i DONT have a correctly Grounded Wall Outlet around?  How will you do this?
Steven HarrisPresidentCommented:
I wouldn't suggest connecting to the UPS, so I would create a Ground Loop connecting you to the mat to the Chassis.  If in doubt, ground yourself to a metal surface as with a spare wire from the alligator clip to a metal bench or similar.
Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
This PDF from one of my customers shows how the mat and wrist strap are supposed to be connected on a workstation.  Note that you are expected to have the power off while you are changing parts and the chassis of the computer should also be connected to the common ground point.

The whole idea is to connect everything so it is all at the same potential voltage which will prevent sparks which could damage sensitive IC's.
Good news, I see you have the computer all assembled and booting to the CMOS Setup (BIOS) screen.
Well done.  It gives you a great buzz when your first self-assembled computer boots for the first time, especially after having a few heart-stopping glitches to contend with.

I was going to suggest here that you dress in a synthetic fibre "shell suit", wear a pair of styrofoam slippers, and work on the PC while sliding your feet back and forward on a cheap nylon rug.  Just to be sure you could also rub a balloon on your hair first before grasping the memory modules firmly with all 4 fingers wrapped around the chips.  I guess you won't be needing my advice though, unless you decide to build another ;-)

Here in the UK we are fortunate to have 3-pin plugs and sockets (230volts), where the Earth pin is longer than the positive and negative and the socket has a spring-loaded flap inside it.  That way it needs the longer earth pin to be inserted before it allows the + and - pins to go into the holes.  I just use a normal 3-pin plug with a standard length of cable, but with only the earth wire connected to the earth pin of the plug, and the other two cut back and insulated before entering the plug.  That way I can have one with a kettle plug on the end that connects to the power supply in the computer chassis, and another with a very large crocodile clip for the case and my wrist strap.  My closed-circulation hot water central heating system has radiators in every room, and these form a very good grounding point, as do any of my faucets and copper water pipes.  I am never far away from an earthing point  ...... and no, I don't wear the above attire when working on a PC.

I just handed back a laptop to a colleague who complained about it running incredibly slowly.  I found a thick cat's whicker under the removable flap in the case which covers the memory modules.  It was touching the chips of one module and was stuck into the connections on the memory socket, and coincidentally that memory module was dead.  I believe that it "zapped" that memory stick, as incredible as this may sound.
unrinoceronteAuthor Commented:
Thanks guys. Thinkspace, i did exactly as you suggested, and the comment you quoted. It seemed to work fine...altough i wonder if there is a way i can TEST if my body is not charged with electrostatic...???  Perhaps with the Balloon method from BillDL?!!

DaveBaldwin, the pdf was very educative, thanks a lot. And BillDL, thanks for the advice on the outfit hehe!!... You are right about the great buzz after i finished assembling it for the first time, but i still have  couple of things to do before i call this a total ACCOMPLISHMENT...i have to install the OS and programs, but i dont have time until the weekend...

Wish me luck.

Thanks Experts!
Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
Actually, you don't test, you ground yourself thru the wrist-strap and then you know you are not charged relative to the workstation.  You can do a resistance test on the wrist-strap.  It should measure about 1 MegOhm from the snap to the wrist contact.  The idea is that it should discharge any static but fairly slowly (in electronic time) because discharging a static charge quickly means a higher current and possible damage.
Thank you unrinoceronte.  Good luck with the next stages.
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