I've designed an RF device that runs via a USB connection to a PC. It needs to be connected to an outdoor antenna to receive a telemetry signal.
On the antenna input PCB trace i've added an ESD diode rated to 15kV, as well as a gas discharge tube and a clipping diode to protect the sensitive RF input MMIC. As far as I know all these ESD protection devices work by shunting ESD pulses to ground, and they require a good ground (earth) connection to actually work.
But what happens if there is no ground? For example one scenario might be that someone inexperienced connects an ungrounded outside antenna (which we are assuming has built up a large ESD charge), BEFORE connecting the USB cable (meaning that the USB shield/GND is not connected).
In this case there is no ground for these ESD protection devices to shunt to. Is the MMIC probably going to be damaged in this case?