Capacitor Plague Up Close

A friend dropped off a dead eMachines Celeron for my next recycling trip. Peering inside, what do my wondering eyes behold but a nasty case of Capacitor Plague!

Herewith, some pix of the victims within the box. Note the bulging tops ready to blow along the pressure-relief grooves, the distinct tilt caused by the bulging bottom plug, and the right-hand cap near the power supply on countdown for launch!

More background on the plague is there.

I must build an ESR tester one of these days…

2 thoughts on “Capacitor Plague Up Close

  1. I highly recommend an ESR meter – have built one about 6 years ago and it’s the first tool I go to after making sure I have voltage and that the fuse isn’t blown. Electrolytic capacitors are the single-most unreliable components in electronics, in my experience.

    In fact, the monitor which I’m looking at right now had a bad capacitor in it – actually, it wasn’t that bad (ESR 2.0 ohms), and normally I’d consider that good for that voltage/capacity of capacitor, but replacing it indeed fixed the problem with the monitor. The number of other pieces of consumer electronics I’ve repaired with the ESR meter must be several dozen by now.

    In many cases it’s easy to visually detect leaky/bulging capacitors… but capacitors may already have failed, or are close to doing so, long before they show any outwardly visible symptoms. ESR meter to the rescue! And love the fact that you can test them without even having to desolder them. (I’ll stop now before I wax lyrical – an no, I’m not an ESR meter salesman :-) )

    1. I highly recommend an ESR meter


      Anything containing metallic sheets separated by juicy not-quite-insulation can’t possibly last very long, no matter what they say. ESR seems to be the only way to find the deaders in-circuit, though.

      I actually built an ESR meter after writing up that post, but it turned into a Circuit Cellar column. I ought to do a core dump here, probably after I get a Round Tuit for rebuilding the resistance soldering gadget. So many projects, so little time… [grin]

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