I'm building an amplifier in a conductive metal chassis. The general grounding plan is to have an audio ground, a power ground, and a digital ground that converge at a single point on the chassis. However, my audio connectors are all panel-mount, so the shield of the connectors get grounded by contact when mounted. Technically, should I insulate them from the back panel and wire the ground connection? Practically, does it matter whether I insulate them or not?
Electronic – Grounding Shielded Panel-Mount Connectors
This is a very complex issue, since it deals with EMI/RFI, ESD, and safety stuff. As you've noticed, there are many ways do handle chassis and digital grounds-- everybody has an opinion and everybody thinks that the other people are wrong. Just so you know, they are all wrong and I'm right. Honest! :)
I've done it several ways, but the way that seems to work best for me is the same way that PC motherboards do it. Every mounting hole on the PCB connects signal gnd (a.k.a. digital ground) directly to the metal chassis through a screw and metal stand-off.
For connectors with a shield, that shield is connected to the metal chassis through as short of a connection as possible. Ideally the connector shield would be touching the chassis, otherwise there would be a mounting screw on the PCB as close to the connector as possible. The idea here is that any noise or static discharge would stay on the shield/chassis and never make it inside the box or onto the PCB. Sometimes that's not possible, so if it does make it to the PCB you want to get it off of the PCB as quickly as possible.
Let me make this clear: For a PCB with connectors, signal GND is connected to the metal case using mounting holes. Chassis GND is connected to the metal case using mounting holes. Chassis GND and Signal GND are NOT connected together on the PCB, but instead use the metal case for that connection.
The metal chassis is then eventually connected to the GND pin on the 3-prong AC power connector, NOT the neutral pin. There are more safety issues when we're talking about 2-prong AC power connectors-- and you'll have to look those up as I'm not as well versed in those regulations/laws.
Tie them together at a single point with a 0 Ohm resistor near the power supply
Don't do that. Doing this would assure that any noise on the cable has to travel THROUGH your circuit to get to GND. This could disrupt your circuit. The reason for the 0-Ohm resistor is because this doesn't always work and having the resistor there gives you an easy way to remove the connection or replace the resistor with a cap.
Tie them together with a single 0.01uF/2kV capacitor at near the power supply
Don't do that. This is a variation of the 0-ohm resistor thing. Same idea, but the thought is that the cap will allow AC signals to pass but not DC. Seems silly to me, as you want DC (or at least 60 Hz) signals to pass so that the circuit breaker will pop if there was a bad failure.
Tie them together with a 1M resistor and a 0.1uF capacitor in parallel
Don't do that. The problem with the previous "solution" is that the chassis is now floating, relative to GND, and could collect a charge enough to cause minor issues. The 1M ohm resistor is supposed to prevent that. Otherwise this is identical to the previous solution.
Short them together with a 0 Ohm resistor and a 0.1uF capacitor in parallel
Don't do that. If there is a 0 Ohm resistor, why bother with the cap? This is just a variation on the others, but with more things on the PCB to allow you to change things up until it works.
Tie them together with multiple 0.01uF capacitors in parallel near the I/O
Closer. Near the I/O is better than near the power connector, as noise wouldn't travel through the circuit. Multiple caps are used to reduce the impedance and to connect things where it counts. But this is not as good as what I do.
Short them together directly via the mounting holes on the PCB
As mentioned, I like this approach. Very low impedance, everywhere.
Tie them together with capacitors between digital GND and the mounting holes
Not as good as just shorting them together, since the impedance is higher and you're blocking DC.
Tie them together via multiple low inductance connections near the I/O connectors
Variations on the same thing. Might as well call the "multiple low inductance connections" things like "ground planes" and "mounting holes"
Leave them totally isolated (not connected together anywhere)
This is basically what is done when you don't have a metal chassis (like, an all plastic enclosure). This gets tricky and requires careful circuit design and PCB layout to do right, and still pass all EMI regulatory testing. It can be done, but as I said, it's tricky.
When I'm standing in my room on the 10th floor, is my body at the same voltage potential as the ground pin? I don't think this is the case, because the ground wire doesn't make contact with the floor I'm standing
A building has usually rather low ground resistance. Think of all the plumbing and other metal structures, for example.
So probably the 10th floor is at 110V and the ground pin is at 0V, and when I touch the ground pin I get a shock.
If the ground resistance is (unusually) high, you won't get a lethal shock, because there will be no current flow. Note that you may get a small shock from your own electrostatic discharge, but that is not dangerous.
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Yes you should insulate the chassis ground also, from the ground star connection at the Poewr Supply.
The chassis should be connected to Earth terminal, right on the Power Input, thus all signals after the transformer should be isolated from the chassis.
Yes it matters if you insulate, because insulation from Earth avoid some "hum" noise often found in poorly designed Audio Electronics.