Magnetic Screw Drivers?
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Thread: Magnetic Screw Drivers?

  1. #1
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    Question Magnetic Screw Drivers?

    i've heard from some friends that using magnetic screw drivers for computers is a big no-no. Can it really short-out a mother board? i've used them to install many, many mobo's and i've never had a problem with them.

    What do you guys think??

  2. #2
    Senior Member gore's Avatar
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    Put a magne on your monitor. Answer it for you?

  3. #3
    The Doctor Und3ertak3r's Avatar
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    Can it really short-out a mother board?
    ANY metal screwdriver when placed in the wrong/right place on the mobo will cause a short..

    but to cause problems on the MoBo because of the magnetic fields? no..

    certainly dont place the screwdriver near magnetic media,, Floppy disks..etc.. but near HDD's unless the driver is a magnet for chick magnets (ie can attract a car) then it would be fairly safe around hdds..

    If a magnetic screwdriver causes shorts on mobo's by being near them then we would be using ceramic or plastic screwdrivers
    "Consumer technology now exceeds the average persons ability to comprehend how to use it..give up hope of them being able to understand how it works." - Me http://www.cybercrypt.co.nr

  4. #4
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    Originally posted here by Und3ertak3r

    but to cause problems on the MoBo because of the magnetic fields? no..

    thank you sir.

  5. #5
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    The magnetic field on a screwdriver is not nearly enough to wreck anything you may touch with it. What you need to worry about is repeated or chronic exposure to magnetic fields, such as might come from unshielded speakers, or stroing floppy disks in a metal box. Sometomes you'll see the monitor go funny colours if you use unshielded speakers for a long time next to it. You certainly wouldn't see this from a magnetic screwdriver. The only part of your computer you need to worrky about magnetic fields with is the hard drive, or floppy disks if you still use those, since they store information magnetically and are therefore very sensitive to magnetic fields. However, the field produced by something barely strong enough to pick up a screw is hardly worth worrying about. It might probably interfere with electromagnetic signals across your board, but that would only be a problem if you screwed around with the power on.

    I have been using magnetic screwdrivers professionally for years and never had a problem. The whole magnets and computer thing is blown way out of proportion. I wouldn't bring a speaker magnet anywhere near a computer, but like I said, don't worry about a screwdriver. They've never given me any sort of problem.

    Even if there is a slight risk, I would think there is a greater risk of dropping a screw, forgetting about it, and turning the box on with that screw short curcuiting something. Beyond that, when you drop a screw in a case, you tend to move things around rather hastily to get it out. I think people are more likely to make a mistike while fishing out a screw than the screwdriver is likely to flip a bit on the hard drive (which has never happned to me in years). Even if something was changed on the hard drive, the chance that it's something critical is slim to none.

    Don't forget that the hard drive case is also electrically grounded and therefore very difficult to magnetize. It is also composed of ferrous metal, through which a magnetic field cannot pass. You would need to forst magnetize the hard drive case to pass a field through it, which is near impossible given that the case is grounded. (If you can't tell, I've had to defend this to a customer under accusations of incompetency before.)

    All said, the benefit and reduced risk of mechanical damage when using magnetic screwdrivers is far less, IMHO, than the risks incurred when using demagnetized ones.

    <EDIT>
    This should really go in the hardware forum I think, if someone feels like moving it.
    </EDIT>
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  6. #6
    Senior Member RoadClosed's Avatar
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    I have considered this. Would I take a magnetic screwdriver and touch it to the contacts on my memory stick. Nope.

    For voltage damage you need a difference in potential forces to induce electron flow. That is, hit a small voltage surge, like a static electricity pop forceful enough and in close proximity to be able to blow the microscopic juctions in transistors. In fact you could blow one and never know it until one day out of the blue you get a blue screen or the server just hangs for no reason and you reboot to never see it again.

    As gore stated, run one along your monitor and tell me there isn't a strong field there cable of inducing electron flow in microscopic components. It's not the field that will do (like Und3ertak3r mentioned) damage it's the difference of potential induced when you run one by a connector and force electron flow. That is the definition of generating electrcity.

    Todays components are much more hardy then 5 and 10 years ago. Chances are slim and when it does happen no one ever contributes bad ESD practices to the outcome. It just went bad. Was bad out of the package etc. Most computer maintenance kits come with magnetic screwdrivers, just be careful where you stick them. And I will tell you that in a clean room or precision environment magnetic screwdrivers are a big variable that people aren't willing to induce considering the component you are touching the screw driver too is a few billion dollars versus a 49 buck memory stick.

    //EDIT "If a magnetic screwdriver causes shorts on mobo's by being near them then we would be using ceramic or plastic screwdrivers."

    No - the motherboard is isolated even if metal screws are used. There is no electrical connection to the screws. There is probably a floating ground through the power supply to keep the case the mobo and components at the same voltage potential but there is deffinite volatage isolation on the screws. Otherwise the case would be "hot".
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  7. #7
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    very informative, thanks everyone.

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