Electrolytic replacement

A large percentage of electronic failures can be traced back to the premature failure of electrolytic capacitors. Electrolytics should last a good long time, but for several reasons they often don't. One is simple cheapness, often circuits are made extra cheap and simply cycle them faster than they were ever intended to go. The device in question is a knockoff and never meant to last more than a few years. The other reason is often explained with an old wives' tale of industrial espionage. It goes something like this: A major Japanese manufacturer had their capacitor recipe stolen by an employee agent, Shenzhen starts making them to the specs, Foxconn and other big manufacturers switch to the cheaper Chinese ones, 2-8 years later all manner of electronics in every consumer market segment start failing left and right. And it's all because the sweet old couple that owned the Japanese cap company never wrote down the stabilizing ingredient formula and only treated the batches at night when nobody was around. Whether the story has any truth or not, undeniably tons of electronics made from about 2004-2012 failed prematurely. Here are a few images from a couple of repairs I did today. They are an LG (stands for Lucky Goldstar, remember those VCRS?) FLATRON L227WTG from 2008 and an Antec power suply from 2005. Sorry for the terrible quality of the pics, I only took them so I had a polarity and position reference to install the new caps.

Here you can see the caps visibly bulging:

They should be cylindrical and have flat (not convex) ends. Bulging and leaks are both sure signs of failure. Absence of these symptoms is by no means an indicator that they're ok. Proper cap testing is beyond the scope of this note though.

Installation of new caps is pretty straight-forward. Just pay attention to the polarity. There are several companies online that offer cap kits for specific models of computer displays, power supplies, dvd players, and other consumer electronics. The prices are in the 10-20 dollar range and are worth every penny. Both of these repairs were successful.

More images in this gallery.