@DRow cannot say that static is killing the ports on the V5 brains.
First, I think, they are not 100% sure what is the exact mechanism. There is always some level of static in the air this time of the year, but ports are not all dying as soon as you put the robot out on the field - there is something else that is triggering ESD events. It could be wheels or flywheels generating extra charge as they move, it could be long wires accumulating surface charge, or it could be intermittent connectivity in the ports, …
It would have been nice if V5 brains had dedicated ESD protection circuitry, but they don’t and without knowledge how exactly ports are killed it is not clear what we could do to protect them.
The second reason is that once you admit that V5 brains are inadequately protected from ESD, then the next logical question would be: what about recall? And that is hardly possible, because you either need to issue the fix (which may be too long to produce, too costly, or both) or you need to reverse V5 transaction, which is difficult, because you could refund the money but reuniting teams with cortex hardware is hard.
For example, one way to protect the ports, without redesigning V5 brains, would be to insert surge protector between V5 ports and motors. Each having TVS devices and redundant ground connections to V5 brain ground. That would take time to design and manufacture and will add to the costs.
If that is the case, issuing anti-static recommendation to teams and EPs is perfectly reasonable thing to do, because it could be implemented quickly and doesn’t tie up any additional VEX resources. It has a potential to save the season for any team that got static vulnerable V5 brain on their hands.
Before VEX issued this recommendation I was researching a way to protect V5 from the team’s side. Making your own TVS protector is both not VRC legal and would be beyond the skill set of an average team.
If static charge accumulation on the fields is reduced by the spray and TVS port protection is not possible, then the next best line of defense might be to shield the wires and tie electrical ground of the V5 brain to all metal subsystems of the robot. Protecting wires is legal.
I found several products that might be able to achieve such task:
Flexo Conductive Braided Sleeving
Flexo® Chrome Expandable Braided Sleeving
Assuming average V5 robot needs about 16" of cables, then it will cost $20-$30 to protect it, depending on the supplier.
My questions to the mentors who has experience protecting electronics from ESD are:
Do you think this will work? Do you think it is a good idea to invest into one of these products as an insurance policy to protect V5 brains?