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Old 04-13-2014, 11:59 AM   #1
Zappo
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Default ESD - Apevia X-Dreamer 4

In all the case reviews, I see no mention of ESD box integrity or grounding considerations. Correct me, but it seems Gaming Case users have been lulled into accepting inferior electrical design just because it looks cool? My recent Dreamer 4 system is an ESD disaster. The case sheet metal sub-assemblies have a thick powder coating that are then pop riveted together. There is zero electrical connectivity between sheet metal components. The front panel is isolated from the back panel (I found bare metal probe points on each sheet metal surface). The shiny rear MB cover panel with fingers that touch the USB and other connectors makes no connection to the rear panel. The front USB connectors are not even grounded to the case (not that it would do any good since the front panel is not grounded). Instead, all the ESD discharge energy is directed back to the ASUS Z87-K ATX MB. Talking to Apevia customer support was no help. At the same time I see blogs about Gamers having to add protective ESD mats in their gaming area or have to be very careful to discharge themselves around their gaming PC. I have and HP and Dell machine near the Dreamer 4. When those machines take a static zap, they just keep cranking, the Dreamer 4 USB re-enumerates.

Are there any high integrity cases out there that someone can point me to? Pop riveted case might work if it is painted after assembly. Welded would be better. Special ESD connection clips that make positive contact between rear panel USB and case would tell me that the case manufacturer can at least spell ESD.

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Old 04-13-2014, 12:54 PM   #2
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There is no such thing as a welded case, and never has been as far as I know. The rivets do conduct electricity, so the very fact that the rivets have to contact both panels would mean that there is electrical contact. It's probably to do with the front USB ports not being properly grounded. Any case from a decent manufacturer would not have this problem.
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Old 04-13-2014, 05:30 PM   #3
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NZXT made some welded aluminum cases a ways back. Also found this on on Amazon:NZXT CS-NT-KHAOS-B KHAOS Full Tower Welded Aluminum Chassis but is a bit pricey. My old HP m7570n has a steel chassis that is folded on three sides then spot welded.

Even if you wanted to, it would be impossible on a production basis to powder coat the metal sides and pop rivet the bloody case together and not have the it make contact. But that is what I am seeing. This is the second Dreamer 4 case. The powder coat on these parts is crazy think. I probed two points on each sheet metal panel to make sure I had good contact and then probed the adjacent panel. Nothing! All the internal bay structure is floating as well. No two adjacent panels make contact.

On your Cooler Master N200, how do they guarantee contact for the rear USB shiny cover plate and the chassis? Is there a metal mesh gasket or some kind of copper spring clip making contact with the rear panel? Also are your front USB connectors grounded to the case with some kind of bracket? Dreamer 4 USB is just flapping in the breeze with a cable running from the connector to the MB.

So I am looking for recommendations for quality manufacturers that are grounding the front USB to the case, have story for how the rear USB cover plate gets connected to the case, and a guarantee that the sheet metal is all electrically connected.
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Old 04-14-2014, 06:33 PM   #4
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It doesn't matter of the rear cover plate (IO shield) doesn't make electrical contact with the case. You can even leave it off altogether and the ports will still work perfectly fine.

On the CoolerMaster N200, the front USB ports are soldered onto a PCB, and that PCB screws to the case. (see http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/artic...-Review/1770/2)
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Old 04-15-2014, 02:57 PM   #5
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Thanks for the link to the CoolerMaster N200. I'd run out in a a heart beat if I knew it would solve my problems. Is there any way for you ohm sections of your case to show there is conductivity between sections thru the pop rivets? Even continuity between pop rivets? (I wanted to ask if there was good grounding between the front USB and case, but that's a dumb question of the front sheet metal is not grounded).

IO shield (shiny metal back plate with grounding fingers that contact the rear MB connectors) is a fundamental part of the box's ESD protection. Idea is to route as much of the ESD discharge to the earth ground on the power supply and to keep it from being directed at the MB. Once it hits the MB, suppression becomes very expensive if not impossible. Normal commercial machines use either a bifurcated beryllium/copper or metal mesh gasket to ensure intimate contact between the IO shield and the rear of the case.

Companies like Dell and HP have functional and destructive ESD test requirements. Being able to survive 10-20kv discharge from a test probe (capacitor) without going up in smoke and zaps of about 1/10 that for uninterrupted operation.

Be interested in having Gabriel start including a grounding check in is case reviews. Is one side of the box connected to the other....?
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Old 04-15-2014, 07:01 PM   #6
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I'll probe my N200 later when I am back at home.

Is it only the front USB ports that play up? or do you have problems with the rear ports too? If the rear USB ports play up as well as the front ones, then I doubt if the case has anything to do with it. I bench-test motherboards on nothing but a cardboard box all the time, and the USB ports always work perfectly.
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Old 04-15-2014, 09:14 PM   #7
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Humidity is pretty darn low to non-existent indoors during the winter time here in Colorado. For ESD what we try to do is keep all the currents on the outside of the box to form a Faraday cage (hehe love this pic: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cage_de_Faraday.jpg) Discharge Current is supposed to flow on the outside of the USB cable's shield to earth ground via the outside of the box. The inside of the shielded cable is just an extension of the Faraday cage where E-field is supposed to be zero. If you don't stop the discharge at the rear IO Shield plate by having it connected to the case, and it goes all the way to the MB, then the show is over. Of course the Dreamer case is not a true Faraday cage because it has the big hole in the side for the cool looking blue LED fan.

You're one upping me by using a piece of cardboard for bench tests. Remember some lab debug sessions 25 years ago bringing up a SPARC Clone cpu board. We'd have contests rolling office chairs around to see who could make the biggest ESD spike on the brand new sampling DSO. Posted the prints on the wall. Somebody didn't have a sense of humor because they brought in janitorial service the following week that applied anti-static wax to the floors.

Very curious what you come up with on the rivets.
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Old 04-16-2014, 02:16 AM   #8
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Probing around with the DMM reveals that there is full electrical continuity between the rivets on the front and those on the back (and the real IO panel and the front USB ports casing) on my N200. I did find, though, that the paint does tend to get in the way of the DMMs probes. I could probe two places on the same panel and get nothing. It would only register continuity between the rivets and screws.
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Old 04-16-2014, 06:11 PM   #9
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Much appreciated info. Tells me not all recent generation cases suffer from the Apevia issue where the sheet metal sections are not grounded. There may be hope. I will contact Cooler Master Support.

tkx
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Old 05-04-2014, 10:23 PM   #10
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Hi, I'm building a computer and I'm looking at importing the Pink Dreamer 4 (All the cases in New Zealand are so ugly ><)

I'm not all that tech savvy, what does this all mean for me?
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