After the big East Coast blizzard, the atmosphere in my ham shack became very dry. I sit in one of those desk chairs with little plastic wheels. The shack is carpeted. So when I roll from operating bench to workbench, the chair, the carpet, the dry air and I all become a kind of Van de Graaff generator. Yesterday, my hand brushed against the 16X2 LCD display on my new R2 phasing receiver. The pretty glowing numerals in that display disappeared in a small spark, never to return. I swapped out another display I had, so all is well. But the repair was a pain in the neck, involving the soldering of some 16 LCD pins, so I don't want to do it again. I consulted with Pete Juliano N6QW who told me that this kind of LCD carnage is quite common in dry environments. He said he had cured the problem by placing a small piece of Plexiglas in front of his displays. This got me thinking about those static protective bags that Digikey uses when shipping many of its components. Might the material from these bags prevent the loss of another display? I retrieved a couple of these bags from the garbage and did a little test: First, I rolled across the shack in the chair with a small screw-driver in hand. At the other end of the shack lies my well-grounded DX-100 transmitter. I moved the screwdriver close to the metal on-off switch. SPARK! It was visible, and quite audible in the AM broadcast receiver nearby. Next I taped a small piece of this material over the switch and repeated the ride in the chair. No spark. Nada. I repeated this several times and always got the same result. It appears that the material in the bag helps dissipated the static discharge over a wider area, preventing the spark. I quickly taped a piece of this material over the two LCD screens in my shack. It's not pretty, but it is temporary, and cheaper than a humidifier. I'm not going to try this on the actual screens, but I do think these small pieces of material will help prevent another accidental frying of an LCD display. Here is the Wiki on anti-static bags: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antistatic_bag And here is the data sheet on the bags that I am using: http://documents.staticcontrol.com/PDF/Static_Shielding_Bag_1000_Series.pdf
In response to popular demand, "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" is now available as an e-book for Amazon's Kindle.
Here's the site:
For the print version:
For shipping from a printer in the U.S. (probably better for N. American buyers) Click here: SolderSmoke USA Version
For shipping from a printer in the UK, Spain, or the USA (probably better for UK and other European buyers)
Click here: SolderSmoke EU Version
The two versions are identical, except for a minor difference in the paper used. That's why the prices are a bit different.
Bill's OTHER Book (Warning: Not About Radio)
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W4HBK's QRSS Grabber: The Amazing Pensacola Snapper (Live!)