Can I ground to a plugged-in USB-C cable?

I'm about to start the laborious process of replacing the screen of my Nexus 6P. Having bought an anti-static wrist wrap, I'm looking for a good place nearby to ground myself. The nearest power outlet is too far for the wrist band's cord to reach, but I read I can also ground to an unpainted metal part of a PC that's plugged into a grounded outlet.

Unfortunately, my PC doesn't have many unpainted metal parts. The back is too far for the cord to reach, so I can't use the audio in-/outputs. I could open the case and clip the cord to a cooling fin, I guess. But it would be more convenient if I could use the USB-C cable that's sticking out of the front of the case.

So, will clipping the wrist band to a plugged-in USB cable ground me?

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Lets backup here a bit... Do you have an antistatic mat?

If you do, you can attach it to it and as long as you don't create a static charge by getting up you'll be fine. Make sure to place all of the tools and other gear on the mat so they are all at the same static charge.

Think of it this way: In a helicopter in the air there is no ground point so the metal frame of the copter is the reference so all of the devices within it at at the same charge. Now as the copters blades are moving through the air they collect a static charge (5,000 to 20,000 volts) so the frame has this charge!

Now think what happens when the copter is trying to save someone in the ocean if he drops a line to the person (insulated) to grab as soon as the person is raised to the open door the person reaching for them would give them (and them selves) a good zap! Or if the line was conductive the person reaching for the line in the raft would get the hit alone! Still not good! This is why the pilot always dips the cable into the ocean just before getting it to the person to equalize the charge.

So what does this have to do with your antistatic wrist strap? Quite a lot! As the same holds true here. All you need to do is think like to copter pilot. Place every thing on the conductive mat and then use it as reference. As long as you don't move your set. If you must get up, touch the mat first and wait a good 15 sec's before continuing.

The risk of ESD is dependent on how much static electricity is in your environment. In the winter months, as well as in the arid enviroments static is a big problem. So depending on where you are and when you are planning on working on your phone the risk of ESD damage fluctuates.

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I might add, if you go the the hardware store you should be able to pick up a roll of Green wire which you could use to tie to the electrical outlets ground and tp the antistatic mat. I would get a three prog plug as the best means to connect the wire to the outlet. Just make sure to make sure only the ground pin is wired and if you can cut off the others so there is no possible way to get power into the wire.


That's a great explanation, thank you, but I have no anti-static mat. I was under the impression that grounding myself to a PC would rid me of enough possibly accumulated charge to let work on the device safely. This is what people here have recommended, at least. Isn't this right? In any case, I'd still like to know if clipping to a USB cable will ground me to my PC.


So clipping the strap to the USB port's metal shield will equalize you to the cords charge and what it is tied to on the other side. So if the computer was plugged in with a three prog plug into a correctly wired outlet then you would be at the same charge potential as the outlets charge.

But! What about the phone & the tools you are using they won't be! Think of the copter hosting someone up with the insulated line only to zap them when the person inside the copter reaches out to them... Ouch! So that won't do! As you are at a different charge potential than the gear you are working with.

Best to get the mat or just be very careful! As I explained how staticy your environment is, is the key here as well as how far you are going into your device.


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