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When working with another computer-on-a-board, my instructor warned me not to touch the board components as body static charges may damage it. Is R-Pi just as sensitive and will likely get damaged even in OFF state due to body static or can it withstand it.

What protection techniques and tips can I use/follow?

I have the plastic casing but it will mostly be off as I want to work with the GPIO.

  • I always touch the outside of the usb port on the Pi first, before touching anything else on the Pi. The outside of the usb-port is connected to the ground of the Pi. I'm not sure this prevent ESD-damage, but in my electrical-noob head it makes sense. But, please correct me if I'm wrong! – Gerben Jun 26 '13 at 15:24
  • I just picked up my RPi3 while it was running and, without thinking, touched the underside to feel how warm it was. I felt a static pop and the connected screen turned off. On power cycling, the "ACT" LED that indicates reading from the SD card no longer flashes and the monitor no longer lights up. So... yes. 😞 – Nathan Long Feb 1 at 18:24
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In theory yes, it could be damaged by electrostatic discharge (ESD). This could happen if the device is powered off.

In practice it is very unlikely to happen. I would take mild measure to avoid this (don't shuffle on nylon carpets; touch a grounded object before touching the RPi).

Learning about ESD is useful for times when you do need to handle more sensitive devices, or if you ever work in the industry, or to keep instructors happy.

You would normally have a special wrist-strap, with a long lead connected to an Earth bonding point. It is very important that the lead has a safety resistor of at least 1 Mega ohm. This will protect you if you inadvertently touch a live device.

Workspaces have 'conductive mats' which are also connected to ground. Mats come in two forms; normal and high impedance. You'd use high impedance if you're working on a device with a battery in it to prevent the battery discharging through the mat.

Some factories have conductive flooring and workers wear special heel devices.

Other things you should remember are to avoid wearing nylon clothing!

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