Wired Wednesdays – Ideal Industries 61-164 SureTest Circuit Analyzer

ESD Engineer may earn a commission from the company(ies) linked to in this post.

Wired Wednesdays – Ideal 61-164 SureTest Circuit Analyzer Review

Previously, I briefly introduced the Ideal Industries 61-164 SureTest Circuit Analyzer in a post on ensuring a proper equipment grounding conductor. I have personally used this circuit analyzer, so I want to give a review of how I have used it because it works well for my purposes for ESD control compliance, and possibly yours as well.

What is the Ideal 61-164 SureTest Circuit Analyzer?

This circuit analyzer is used to verify the correct operation of AC electrical outlets.  It has features such as checking line voltages, frequency, voltage drop under a load, proper wiring of 3-wire receptacles, Ground to neutral voltage, ground impedance, hot and neutral conductor impedances, and more.

Why is the SureTest Circuit Analyzer Useful for ESD Control Program Compliance?

The Ideal 61-164 is primarily useful in an ESD Control Program Plan to ensure that outlets used as AC equipment grounds are wired properly and that the equipment ground conductor meets the impedance requirements of ANSI/ESD S6.1.

Review of the Ideal 61-164 Easy Operation for ESD Control Programs

The Ideal 61-164 is easy to use for verifying AC equipment grounds and proper outlet wiring.  The circuit analyzer comes with a cord that plugs into an electrical outlet, and upon plugging in the analyzer, the display lights up and then allows you to choose which measurement you would like to read. The measurements are easily chosen using the arrows to scroll through the selections, and it is easy to take multiple measurements quickly.

To verify proper outlet wiring, simply:

  1. Plug the circuit analyzer into the outlet to be tested.
  2. After plugging in the analyzer, the Ideal company logo will be displayed, and then it will display the following wiring conditions for the Hot, Neutral, and Ground  conductors:
    • Correct Wiring
    • No Ground
    • Polarity Reversal
    • Open/Hot Neutral
    • False Ground

To check the equipment ground impedance on an outlet, you would perform the following actions:

  1. Plug in the circuit analyzer to the outlet to be tested
  2. After the wiring condition test described above completes, use the down arrow until the “Z” indicator on the left side of the display is illuminated in bright green.
  3. Push the right arrow button until the letter “G” underneath the measurement number display is illuminated in bright green.
  4. Read the measurement displayed in ohms.  This will be your equipment ground conductor impedance.
  5. If you have more outlets to check, unplug the meter, go to the next outlet and repeat steps 1 – 4 above.
Where can documentation of the meter be found?

The Technical manual is here

The User instruction manual is here

Where’s a good place to purchase the Ideal 61-164?

Everyone’s favorite online superstore!  Find the Ideal Industries 61-164 SureTest Circuit Analyzer on Amazon.

Wired Wednesdays – Basic Work Bench Common Point Ground Suggestion

ESD Engineer may earn a commission from the companies linked to in this article.

Wired Wednesday!

For today’s Wired Wednesday, let’s discuss common point grounding as defined in ANSI/ESD S6.1 . The standard lays out the framework for setting up a common point ground. A basic example is an ESD workbench, which would have various technical elements such as the work surface, wrist strap, floor mat, and shelving. These technical elements connect to a common point ground, and the common point ground is then
connected to the AC Equipment Ground. The standard states that the common point ground shall be electrically continuous and measure less than or equal to 1 ohm with an ohmmeter with a minimum measurement range of 0.1 ohm to 1 megohm with an accuracy of ± 10%.

If you’ve never set up a workbench like this before, maybe you are wondering what is good to use for a common point ground at the bench. Based on the basic definition, it can be just about anything that meets the spec above such as a metal bench chassis, bus bar or the like. In my experience I’ve seen everything from a bolt in a bench chassis to a metal strip bus bar. It is recommended that a common point ground is chosen such that all technical elements come to the same physical location for ease of testing the connections and keeping track of all of the connections. Bus bars with terminal screws work well for this purpose.  Some suggestions are below:


6 Position Bus Bar 12 Terminal Ground Distribution Block Kit  10 Position Terminal Block

Also, don’t forget Common Point Ground labels!

Friday Funnies – ESD Carrier T-Shirt

Esd Engineer earns a commission from Zazzle for this item.

Electrostatic Discharge Funny Signboard T-Shirt

DANGER! ESD Carrier!

For today’s “Friday Funnies” post I’m sharing this shirt I found on Zazzle with a warning that the wearer is an ESD Carrier. While it is a comical shirt, remember it is true that we all pose an ESD danger to sensitive items, unless we take the proper precautions.

ESD Wrist Strap Variants – Single Wire and Dual Wire

So, you have your ESD Control Plan written, and now you are looking to find the right equipment – ESD work stations, anti-static mats, work station monitors, auditing tools, wrist straps, etc.  When it comes to ESD wrist straps there are varieties such as fabric wrist bands, metal wrist bands, and both come in single wire or dual wire.  This article will focus on single wire and dual wire varieties.

What is the difference between Single Wire ESD wrist straps and Dual wire ESD wrist straps?

Let’s compare the two:

  1. Single wire ESD wrist straps and cords have a single conductor running from the wrist strap to the termination of the cord.
    • They have a single snap connection on the bottom.
    • Single wire cords are terminated with a banana plug.
    • Continuous monitoring is not as reliable as a dual wire monitor.  There are single wire ESD monitors, but they do not monitor that a person is connected as reliably as the dual wire monitors.
  2. Dual wire ESD wrist straps have 2 conductors running from the wrist strap to the termination of the cord.
    • Dual wire ESD wrist straps have a dual snap connection or a 3.4mm connection jack on the bottom.
    • Dual wire cords are terminated with a 3.4mm plug.
    • These wrist straps are best for use with continuous monitors because the monitor will use the additional conductor for monitoring that a person is attached to the wrist strap reliably.

It sounds like dual wire ESD straps are better, why use a single wire strap at all?

It is true that dual wire ESD wrist straps sounds superior to single wire wrist straps.  However, before you throw out all the single wire wrist straps, there are suitable uses for each type.

Single Wire Uses

  • Used at ESD work stations without a continuous monitor. In which case, an ESD wrist strap tester should be used to verify proper operation of the wrist strap
  • Use with an alligator clip when working on grounded equipment in the field

Dual Wire Uses

  • Use at ESD work stations with dual wire continuous monitors (removes the requirement for daily wrist strap testing)

It comes down to Wrist Strap Testing or Continuous Monitoring at ESD Work Stations

The choice between single and dual wire wrist straps for use at an ESD work station comes down to the decision:  Do you want to implement daily wrist strap testing or use continuous monitoring instead? ANSI/ESD S1.1 states that daily, or more frequent, wrist strap tests are not required when using continuous wrist strap monitors. On the other hand, continuous monitors should be verified periodically per the manufacturer’s recommendation. You’ll have to decide which choice is best for your particular budget and operation.  Compare the cost between purchasing single wire wrist strap testers and dual wire continuous monitors.

What is the Most Challenging Aspect of an ESD Control Program?

ESD Engineer may earn a commission from the companies linked to in this article.

What’s the most challenging aspect?

Getting people to understand the importance of the the ESD control program and compliance with its guidelines!  When implementing an ESD control program don’t overlook the importance of the people aspect.  As an engineer or technical person implementing ESD control,  it is easy to focus on the technical aspects of the control program, like picking the right equipment and auditing tools.  However, the best selection of tools and equipment is of no use if they are not used properly.

Who are the people needing to understand and comply with the guidelines?

First of all, management needs to understand the importance of an ESD control program, because you will need funding for equipment and resources assigned to ESD control such as your time and anyone else who is affected by the ESD control program. In order for management to be on board, they will want to see how the benefits of spending money on ESD control will outweigh not spending money on ESD controls.  Think of it from their perspective, equipment and employee’s time not only costs money, but there is a limited amount of resources that need to be used wisely.

Secondly, all employees that work in an ESD Protected Area (EPA) will need to have a working knowledge of the guidelines in the control plan that affects them.  This can be as simple as making sure an ESD wrist strap is properly worn at all times when working with ESD sensitive items to performing routine maintenance and audits of ESD workstation technical elements.  For this, a training program should be developed that explains why ESD control is important, how it relates to product quality, and allows employees to easily apply what they learn.

Looking for a good resource to help you pitch an ESD control program to management and train employees?

Look no further than Ted Danglemayer’s book ESD Program Management. Mr. Danglemeyer writes about his experiences in implementing an ESD control program at AT&T and addresses both the technical and people aspects of an ESD control program. The book covers how to make an economic case for implementing a control program, which includes case studies. This section of the book is targeted at helping the reader make a case to management to support the implementation of a control program. Also, the book provides guidance and tips on how to implement a training program for employees working in an EPA.  Now, don’t be concerned that it won’t satisfy your need to dive into the technical details.  Mr. Danglemeyer also includes technical ESD topics from ESD fundamentals to device and system level ESD protection and testing!




Ensuring a Proper Equipment Grounding Conductor per ANSI/ESD S20.20

Wondering what is the proper way to ensure that an equipment grounding conductor meets the requirements of ANSI/ESD S20.20?

Maybe you are implementing a new ESD Control Program, or you are inheriting a control program from a previous ESD coordinator and you are wondering about what is meant by the equipment ground conductor. This article will explain what the equipment ground conductor is, and the proper way to test it is in compliance with ANSI/ESD S20.20.

First of all, what is the equipment grounding conductor?

This is the conductor for the ground in the ANSI/ESD standards references as the equipment ground.  The equipment ground is the ground that a common point ground is ultimately connected to.  For example, all technical elements on an ESD workbench will be connected to the common point ground, and this common point ground will be connected to the equipment ground.  With the exception of applications that use auxiliary ground or equipotential bonding, the equipment ground is the earth ground. ANSI/ESD S20.20 states that the impedance of the equipment grounding conductor shall measure less than 1Ω. I put impedance in bold to highlight the proper measurement is not 1Ω resistance, but 1Ω impedance.

What is the proper test method for measuring the impedance of the equipment grounding conductor?

ESD standard ANSI/ESD S6.1 covers the test method to properly check that the equipment grounding conductor meets the less than 1Ω impedance requirement.  In order to measure the impedance a circuit analyzer intended for use with AC outlets is needed.  The circuit analyzer checks the impedance of the grounding conductor from an outlet connected to the equipment ground to the earth ground at the electrical box.

What is an Ideal circuit analyzer to use for this task?

Pardon the pun in the heading above, but the Ideal Industries 61-164 SureTest Circuit Analyzer is well suited for this task.  In fact, I’ve used this meter myself.  It is easy to use, and not only can it measure the equipment ground impedance, but it will also check that electrical outlets are wired correctly, check the line voltage, and much more!