Tech Briefs

ESD Test Apparatus for Soldering Irons

Prior lengthy testing now takes less than a minute.

ESDA (Electrostatic Discharge Association) ESD STM 13.1-2000 requires frequent testing of the voltage leakage from the tip of a soldering iron and the resistance from the tip of the soldering iron to the common point ground. Without this test apparatus, the process is time-consuming and requires several wires, alligator clips, or test probes, as well as additional equipment. Soldering iron tips must be tested for electrostatic discharge risks frequently, and this typically takes a lot of time in setup and testing. This device enables the operator to execute the full test in one minute or less.

This innovation is a simple apparatus that plugs into a digital multimeter (DMM) and the Common Point Ground (CPG) reference. It enables the user to perform two of the electrostatic discharge tests required in ESD STM 13.1-2000.

The device consists of a small black box with two prongs sticking out of one end, two inputs on the opposite end (one of the inputs is used to connect the reference CPG to the DMM), and a metal tab on one side. Inside the box are wires, several washers of various materials, and assembly hardware (nuts and screws/bolts). The device is a passive electronic component that is plugged into a DMM. The operator sets the DMM to read voltage. The operator places the heated tip of the soldering iron onto the metal tab with a small amount of solder to ensure a complete connection. The voltage is read and recorded. The operator switches the DMM to read resistance. The operator places the heated tip of the soldering iron onto the metal tab with a small amount of solder to ensure a complete connection. The resistance is recorded. If the recorded voltage and resistance are below a number stated in ESDA ESD STM 13.1-2000, the test is considered to pass.

The device includes all the necessary wiring internal to its body so the operator does not need to do any independent wiring, except for grounding. It uses a stack of high-thermal-resistance washers to minimize the heat transfer from the soldering iron to the wiring used to measure the resistance and voltages. This minimizes thermal error.

The device allows very rapid execution of a test that is performed frequently.

This work was done by José Sancho and Robert Esser of Goddard Space Flight Center. GSC-16611-1

This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).

ESD Test Apparatus for Soldering Irons (reference GSC-16611-1) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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