Specifically one of those plastic spiral slides - I was at the playground with my children yesterday and when we went down the slide there was enough static generated to stick our hair on end. Of course my son has more hair than I do by now...

Anyway, there was a drastic increase in charge - such that I could feel the buildup as we got closer to the ground. And when we grounded it felt like a jolt from my feet to my hair. I'm not super intimate with electricity, but from what I know that seems like it was a lot.

I had my cell phone in my pocket, and was wearing my DSLR around my neck, but both devices seemed to be un-damaged by the voltage - I'm guessing it just didn't pass through them.

Is there a circumstance where the static could damage these electronics, based on how I was holding them or something? Or are they designed well enough that they would withstand this staticy sort of shenanigans?

  • \$\begingroup\$ When you discharge the static through the device. Like charged and the touched the grounded device and got the spark between you and it. \$\endgroup\$ – Eugene Sh. Jun 26 '17 at 13:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Some DSLRs have metal bodies(magnesium?), should provide some protection to the inner electronics from discharges. \$\endgroup\$ – Wesley Lee Jun 26 '17 at 14:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Any well-designed piece of portable electronics should not be damaged by ordinary (sloppy with respect to ESD) handling, such as shuffling across a carpet and arcing it to a doorknob. I'm not going to test it with my own stuff, however. \$\endgroup\$ – Spehro Pefhany Jun 26 '17 at 14:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it does not appear to be a question about electronic design \$\endgroup\$ – DerStrom8 Jun 26 '17 at 14:26

ESD will create an arc when it finds "ground," which in this case could be the actual ground, and the path to ground being the slide and/or yourself. At this point you probably had several thousand volts between yourself and ground. Here, "ground" could also be found in the playset, maybe even the slide itself, depending on what it was made of. Basically, if you shocked yourself, you just found ground. :)

Here, it sounds like your camera or phone were on your person and therefore were at the same voltage as you and not in the path to ground. Therefore, no current passed through them and they were fine.

If those devices changed position in the circuit and the ESD current passed THROUGH them to get to ground, then they might have been in trouble. This would have happened it you had connected a wire to your camera, the other end of the wire was stuck in the playset, and then you touched the camera. Then you would have presented the camera with a couple thousand volts across it, and inducing a current to flow as a result.

Generally it should survive such an ESD hit, though. The high voltage and current as part of the ESD shock would pass through the metal case, if its case was metal, and the electronics inside would not have seen much disturbance itself. Most devices have decent ESD protection, as it is a part of many product standards.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.