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Epidemic of Faulty Capacitors from China « Consumer Electronics « Industry Applications
 
Wed, 30 Jun 2010, 3:19am #1
grizz
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They are easy to spot. Bulging or leaking electrolytic capacitors are crashing electronic products. Instead of tossing out your PC, TV or other electronics, do an easy inspection for blown capacitors. Photos & full story here:
http://tinyurl.com/They-knew

Problems with Dell here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/29/technology/29...

This might explain why Dell wanted to replace my Mother Board on my service contract when only the memory chip was proven defective. Service tech at Dell Tech Support demanded to replace the Mother Board when the technician arrived on site with the replacement memory chip. We had removed the bad memory chip and the PC was running flawlessly at the time.

Dead PC Monitor with blown capacitor photos here:
http://market-ticker.denninger.net/archives/222...

This is a WORLD WIDE PANDEMIC of leaking, defective capacitors from China: the Chinese Capacitor Plague:

Summary added up front for the benefit of all:
===============================================
Here is the Wickipedia article:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capacitor_plague#C...

Replacement capacitor kits and HOW TO instructions
http://www.badcaps.net/

Google Search "leaking capacitors Computers" = 1 million results Dell plagued by bad capacitors
http://news.cnet.com/PCs-plagued-by-bad-capacit...

Google Search "leaking capacitors engine computers" = 52,000 results Suzuki Car Computer ( one of many listed )
http://www.izook.com/tech/samurai/engine/ecm/ec...

Google Search "Bad Capacitors TV"= 800,000 results

One of MANY videos on how to identify/replace a capacitor.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=on_2CP52cW4
( He should be wearing a wrist strap to ground himself, available at Radio Shack )
Note the bulging tops & or leakage
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDGjWOabJ2E&...

TOYOTA ECU Engine Control Unit Problems:
Is THIS why Toyota's are running away [accelerator problem, sticking accelerator]? If you have a Toyota with runaway or strange problems possibly linked to the ECU, please inspect the capacitors and report back on this thread. It is easy to see these bad, leaking Chinese capacitors.

Grizz

Last edited Fri, 02 Jul 2010, 9:00am by grizz


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Wed, 30 Jun 2010, 4:15am #2
Tec
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Electrolytic capacitors have always been unreliable. People who collect old valve radios and the like generally have to be very careful about switching them on after years of being out of use.

The problem is usually the big electrolytic capacitors in the power supply have degraded and need to be reformed by bringing up the voltage slowly with a variable transformer. If you don't do this, the electrolytics often burst with disastrous results.

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Wed, 30 Jun 2010, 6:24am #3
Geofree
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I never throw electronics out and if I see any laying around I pick them up, 99% of the time a capacitor is at fault.

The boss bought 5 dell flat screens and one after the other died after 2 years of use, bought 10 capacitors from China for 2.97US on eBay and three weeks later when they arrived, he threw them in the trash :), not that he knows anything about capacitors but saw they were from China. So I went back to eBay and spent 6.00US and bought 20 from Texas, 2 days later they arrived. They now work, replaced 2 caps in each, got extras if it happens again in a few years.


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Wed, 30 Jun 2010, 8:04am #4
Tec
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I am a diligent dog walker and always carry plastic bags to pick up any droppings. The other day, whilst embarked on this unpleasant but necessary duty, I noticed something odd. A little prodding revealed the hound had passed a 10,000uF 6V electrolytic capacitor! I expect another phone charger/remote will be found to be missing in due course.

The dog seems in excellent health. I didn't check out the capacitor.

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Wed, 30 Jun 2010, 8:26am #5
eestatic
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I've observed caps in chickens craws....I know, we're all a tad weird. :)

On top of BB's, 22 cal. shell casings, ect...


We are not human beings going through a temporary spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings going through a temporary human experience.

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Wed, 30 Jun 2010, 9:10am #6
EEventually
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Richard Dean Weir wrote:

If anything fails it's aluminum electrolytic capacitors.

heh


“Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled.”- Michael Crichton

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Wed, 30 Jun 2010, 11:04am #7
demalo
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From the Dog: an intact toothpick complete with ham, salami, extra sharp cheddar cube, and olive (with missing pit). What is the dog? A pug. How did he pass it? I have no clue.


"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Arthur C. Clarke

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Wed, 30 Jun 2010, 11:09am #8
demalo
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Its amazing how one little discrepancy, like a blown/leaked capacitor, frigs the whole system up. Wouldn't it be nice if computer companies actually had reduntant system checks in place to work around faulty hardware and report to the user of the bad hardware. Of course that would almost eliminate the need for over priced protection plans and over priced support calls.


"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Arthur C. Clarke

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Wed, 30 Jun 2010, 1:05pm #9
RmW
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demalo wrote:

Its amazing how one little discrepancy, like a blown/leaked capacitor, frigs the whole system up. Wouldn't it be nice if computer companies actually had reduntant system checks in place to work around faulty hardware and report to the user of the bad hardware. Of course that would almost eliminate the need for over priced protection plans and over priced support calls.

IBM mainframes have done this for years. Now, they tell you before they go bad.

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Wed, 30 Jun 2010, 2:35pm #10
demalo
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Well that's an IBM mainframe, but you get what you pay for.


"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Arthur C. Clarke

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Wed, 30 Jun 2010, 4:40pm #11
eevestor999
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When are we going to learn that Chinese parts just don't work. A transmitter manufacturer in this country told me after I had replaced almost every transformer in one of his transmitters that, "I bought those from China for pennies on the dollar, but never again."


Y_Po: eevestor999, you brain-dead gnoos

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Wed, 30 Jun 2010, 4:53pm #12
ricinro
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blew a cap in my audio interface..yup, a chinese cap. These don't get tested?


Thanks BTV for the blog

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Wed, 30 Jun 2010, 5:13pm #13
EEventually
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they got paid full price for that lack of quality. no consequence whatsoever in the near term. The cheaper price is well reflected in the results. The manufacturer of that part will still keep the 3 cents they got for making it. They sold it in the first place by beating the Japanese company by 2 cents.


“Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled.”- Michael Crichton

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Wed, 30 Jun 2010, 5:55pm #14
antiguajohn
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eevestor999 wrote:

When are we going to learn that Chinese parts just don't work. A transmitter manufacturer in this country told me after I had replaced almost every transformer in one of his transmitters that, "I bought those from China for pennies on the dollar, but never again."

Hi eevestor999,

For me, this is like Déjà Vu all over again.

In the 50’s and early 60’s Japanese products were crap, we all thought they would never be able to compete on quality.

Is there anyone who now doubts the Japanese can produce quality products?

China too will eventually produce quality products, after all some of their products are still around after more than 2200 years; it’s called the Great Wall of China.

antiguajohn


When the facts change, I change my mind," John Maynard Keynes once observed in a debate. "What do you do, sir?" Why, sir, they take no notice of changed facts and so are untroubled by such questions.

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Wed, 30 Jun 2010, 6:32pm #15
svetan
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Less then half of the failures of electrolytic caps are due to subquality parts....most of them are caused by design flaws!

From their physical construction those caps have a limited temperature range and a high internal resistance for short pulses.

Keeping this in mind, look at most consumer boards and with some experience you will be able to predict which caps will bulge first!

In designing for economy, the circuit designers will forget about the fast, energy rich pulses on eg powerlines wich will cause the electrolytes to heat up because of the internal resistance. Heating up of this cause can be avoided by connecting a ceramic capacitor of .1µF in parallel very near to the electrolyte. This makes the design more costly but greatly enhances the reliability of the electrolytes!

Look at a modern motherboard or grapics cart - all the electrolytes are lined up around the hot heatsinks which heats them up and even increase the problem with the internal resistance mentioned above.

A repair tip: when you buy a new electrolyte, buy one with at least 5mm leads so you will be able to bend it away from the heat source. Buy a smd ceramic cap of .1µf and solder this in parallel as close to the board as possible. This electrolyte repair will probably survive the rest of the assembly.


svetan

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Wed, 30 Jun 2010, 6:40pm #16
Paulcummings55
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Geofree wrote:

I never throw electronics out and if I see any laying around I pick them up, 99% of the time a capacitor is at fault.

The boss bought 5 dell flat screens and one after the other died after 2 years of use, bought 10 capacitors from China for 2.97US on eBay and three weeks later when they arrived, he threw them in the trash :), not that he knows anything about capacitors but saw they were from China. So I went back to eBay and spent 6.00US and bought 20 from Texas, 2 days later they arrived. They now work, replaced 2 caps in each, got extras if it happens again in a few years.

Yeah- I've read a bit off and on about bad caps, especially coming out of China. I have done very little soldering- some on a few laptops where I had to replace the Power Jack when it came loose. I picked up a used 17" flat panel monitor this last year, but have not had time to look at it, but suspect something like a blown capacitor. I am curious, though, if you have any good resources/links showing the innards of a monitor- I am pretty good at taking apart computers, but have never done so for a monitor- would prefer some pictoral guidance first, if I can find some;-)


Paul C in Austin
"The calm before the Eestorm"

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Wed, 30 Jun 2010, 8:10pm #17
grizz
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Paulcummings55 wrote:

if you have any good resources/links showing the innards of a monitor- I am pretty good at taking apart computers, but have never done so for a monitor- would prefer some pictoral guidance first, if I can find some;-)

Paul,

See message #1 in this thread for the complete procedure with photos to replace caps in the monitor.

Griz


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Wed, 30 Jun 2010, 9:55pm #18
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capacitor_plague#C...


The only thing that will slowly change believer's minds is years of unfulfilled promises.

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Wed, 30 Jun 2010, 10:01pm #19
Y_Po
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You people are slow, faulty capacitors epidemic is very old story.


Q: What would happen if you give 12V battery and two 6V light bulbs to Weir/Nelson?

A: They will wait 8 years for 12V➜6V DC-DC converter.

http://theeestory.com/topics/3687
http://theeestory.com/topics/2105
http://theeestory.com/topics/4835

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Wed, 30 Jun 2010, 10:10pm #20
hillcountry
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......and we are funding a large buildup of the peoples liberation army and a blue water navy.

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Wed, 30 Jun 2010, 10:39pm #21
Paulcummings55
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grizz wrote:

Paul,

See message #1 in this thread for the complete procedure with photos to replace caps in the monitor.

Griz

Ah- the 3rd link- gives me a place to start- thanks, Grizz;-)


Paul C in Austin
"The calm before the Eestorm"

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Thu, 01 Jul 2010, 3:27am #22
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We get a very poor TV signal here due to some large and growing trees a few hundred yards away in direct line of sight of the transmitter. In winter they have no leaves and reception is possible. In summer it is hopeless. In UK an aerial will normally allow reception of 5 analogue channels and ~50 digital channels, but not in our case.

Hence I have just spent £600 (~$1K USD) on upgrading the satellite dish system. We now have an 8-way LNB on a larger satellite dish which gives independent satellite feeds into every major room.

The subscription Sky HD (High Definition) set-top box driving the 50" Pioneer plasma TV was playing up - giving "no satellite signal" on some channels and occasionally recording programmes that we had not asked it to, but I had hoped that the new and stronger feed would at least cure the first of these problems.

No such luck. The Sky HD box was even worse than before. Researching the Internet showed that the Thomson Sky HD boxes were known to have cheap electrolytic capacitors which tended to go after 2-3 years. A company called SatCure sells a pack of replacement power-supply caps for £12 (~$20 USD), so I spent 3 hours on my birthday 3 weeks ago unsoldering 16 electrolytic caps and resoldering back the new and higher-quality ones. One old electrolytic cap was leaking, and one was bulging. But now the Sky HD box works perfectly again.

We also have 2 older non-HD Sky boxes. When I tried the newer of these (an Amstrad Sky Plus box which had not been used at all for a year or so) on the new satellite feed there was a bang and a blue flash from inside the box on the power supply side. Again electolytics were responsible, though they had taken an IC and maybe other components out as they failed.

This time I decided to send the power supply board to SatCure for refurbishment at a total cost of £40 (~$60 USD). This Sky box is now working perfectly, so we have two "Freesat" receivers for the ~50 free digital satellite channels, in addition to the subscription channels from Sky which include ~ 30 HD channels.

The bang and blue-flash co-incided with the satellite LNB stopping working, but the installer replaced this at no charge.

So roll on the days when DW's CMBT powder is used to make caps to replace standard electrolytics, and I never have to do an electrolytic cap swap on a Sky box ever again. Even if they were twice the price of cheap electrolytics, the improvement in the MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure) for most consumer electronics would be immense.

So thank you DW, for at least giving us some hope that the current electrolytic cap failure regime may be coming to an end.

Regards,
Peter

Last edited Thu, 01 Jul 2010, 3:34am by Technopete


Assumptions: 1) E=1/2CV2. (Only dummies assume this). (I am one of these dummies).

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Thu, 01 Jul 2010, 5:24am #23
grizz
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Spaceballs,
Your link is FANTASTIC,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capacitor_plague#C...
especially the references & links section where I found the BADCAPS Website and videos.

http://www.badcaps.net/
Badcaps.net sells premium capacitor kits for all the popular PC's and the recommend the Polymer [Solid State] caps that are indestructible.

My old friend Charlie, who services PC's reports:
"I have replaced over a hundred system boards with leaking capacitors--what a mess. Many different symptoms depending on which caps are bad and to what degree they are leaking. China has some serious quality problems and we still keep buying from them."

My Dell was made in 2007, so I suppose I am going to suffer this problem, too! Yuck. Well now that USB 3.0 is coming out, I will likely just get a new PC with rhe USB 3.0 interface.

Bad Capacitor System Faults:
============================
[ from BadCap.Net ]
Motherboard fails to POST.
Memory Test Fails.
System randomly and/or constantly reboots itself.
Fails to fully boot (or even install) Operating System.
System randomly and frequently freezes.
Random & frequent 'Blue Screens of Death'
BSoD or hard freeze under heavy drive activity (Either RAID, SCSI, or standard ATA)
CPU temps abnormally higher than usual under typical or less load.
*CPU VCORE & other system voltages are erratic or far out of tolerances.
Resetting the system after a freeze and the system will not repost.
(You have to completely power down then power back up.)

*CPU VCORE & System voltage issues can also be associated with a faulty power supply. Before you decide your caps are bad, ALWAYS try a known good and high quality power supply.

Grizz

Last edited Thu, 01 Jul 2010, 6:26am by grizz


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Thu, 01 Jul 2010, 6:32am #24
Geofree
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Paulcummings55 wrote:

Geofree wrote:

I never throw electronics out and if I see any laying around I pick them up, 99% of the time a capacitor is at fault.

The boss bought 5 dell flat screens and one after the other died after 2 years of use, bought 10 capacitors from China for 2.97US on eBay and three weeks later when they arrived, he threw them in the trash :), not that he knows anything about capacitors but saw they were from China. So I went back to eBay and spent 6.00US and bought 20 from Texas, 2 days later they arrived. They now work, replaced 2 caps in each, got extras if it happens again in a few years.

Yeah- I've read a bit off and on about bad caps, especially coming out of China. I have done very little soldering- some on a few laptops where I had to replace the Power Jack when it came loose. I picked up a used 17" flat panel monitor this last year, but have not had time to look at it, but suspect something like a blown capacitor. I am curious, though, if you have any good resources/links showing the innards of a monitor- I am pretty good at taking apart computers, but have never done so for a monitor- would prefer some pictoral guidance first, if I can find some;-)

I usually Google the model# or take it a part and find the FCC ID, usually someone has already had the same problem, but if you look at the links Grizz supplied. The one has an internal view of a monitor. It shows the basics of what a blown cap looks like. Sometimes you can sniff it out. The caps are usually bubbled or brown electrolyte seeping out.

I see a lot of failed car computers, mostly Mitsubishi. If you shake them and you hear a rattling noise, it is generally part of a cap rolling around in there. That is really all there is to it, it is nice to have an ohm meter around to :)


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Thu, 01 Jul 2010, 9:59am #25
grizz
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Geofree wrote:

I see a lot of failed car computers, mostly Mitsubishi. If you shake them and you hear a rattling noise, it is generally part of a cap rolling around in there.

Ohhhhhh My Gawd ...

car computers, too?

Could this be causing the Toyota "Runaway Cars?"

How do you get to see a lot of failed car computers? Do you repair them?

Grizz


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Thu, 01 Jul 2010, 10:54am #26
nekote
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For once, again on computer stuff, Y_Po is right.
Very old (at least 5 years) story:

Nov. 10, 2005: PCs plagued by bad capacitors

"Last week, Dell announced it was going to take a $300 million financial charge on its earnings to cover costs associated with the replacement of motherboards with faulty capacitors in some of its Optiplex workstations. The Dell system boards in question were manufactured from April 2003 to March 2004, according to several contract computer repair firms that are starting to replace the systems."

The way I heard it, the cause of this incident was some poor bozo was filling the caps to capacity, rather than leaving some space for the supposed natural expansion of the electrolyte that takes place, over time / use / cycling / ...


Go DW Go - *economical* mass production

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Thu, 01 Jul 2010, 11:03am #27
grizz
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Nekote,

Sorry if this is old hat to you, but I never heard of it. This news about a plague of defective Chinese capacitors is CENSORED in the public media. I'm sure many others have not heard anything about this, either.

I don't believe for one nanosecond that "was some poor bozo was filling the caps to capacity".. this is too big and too widespread to be caused by "Some Poor Bozo." Reports suggest it was a bad formula for the electrolytes being used in BILLIONS of capacitors. Also, "Some Poor Bozo" cannot be responsible because different Chinese manufacturers have the same problem ["CapXon brand capacitors (among other Chinese brands) found in these products are usually puffed up and leaking."]

Also here is a link to Toyota Runaway possibly being caused by the Chinese capacitor plague:
http://www.philadelphiaspeaks.com/forum/technol...

PHOTO OF FAKE CAPACITOR WITH CHINESE CAPACITOR HIDDEN INSIDE ! ! ! This is ABSURD.
http://www.discovercircuits.com/dc-mag/Issue_4/...

THERE ARE DOZENS OF CHINESE MANUFACTURERS AT FAULT!
http://www.badcaps.net/forum/showthread.php?t=388

The more I look into this plague, the worse it gets !

Grizz

Last edited Thu, 01 Jul 2010, 11:34am by grizz


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Thu, 01 Jul 2010, 11:48am #28
Robert
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nekote wrote:

The way I heard it, the cause of this incident was some poor bozo was filling the caps to capacity, rather than leaving some space for the supposed natural expansion of the electrolyte that takes place, over time / use / cycling / ...

http://spectrum.ieee.org/computing/hardware/lea...

Fairly widely reported at the time. IEEE Spectrum was the first I remember reporting the corporate espionage angle (EETimes picked it up from them IIRC). There were even small mentions in the popular press which is unusual for such a technical issue, probably because of the large number of computer mother boards affected. That the cause was bad electrolyte seems to be pretty well accepted.

Robert

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Thu, 01 Jul 2010, 11:58am #29
EEventually
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http://www.discovercircuits.com/dc-mag/Issue_4/Photos/FakeCapacitor1.jpg

wow, there's alot wrong with this picture. the circuit was obviously not tested very well if it went into production.


“Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled.”- Michael Crichton

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Thu, 01 Jul 2010, 12:28pm #30
Robert
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EEventually wrote:

wow, there's alot wrong with this picture. the circuit was obviously not tested very well if it went into production.

Not necessarily. Remember electrolytic power caps are often -20%/+80% so the cap may be closer to that spec than appears apparent(1). Then they are often paralleled so ICT on ESR and ESL could very well have a difficult time picking out the contribution of the large bulk storage caps from the higher speed ripple and local charge storage caps. And large bulk storage is difficult to test on ICT so often all that will be tested will be whether the power supply comes up and stabilizes to the correct voltage within the correct amount of time (and depending on the test quality too fast a startup might not be flagged).

I suspect the only way this would have been caught is with incoming inspection. Depending on the company and how much they trust there supplier that might only be performed if the receiver happened to notice that the boxes seemed unusually light.

It's possible that circuit test would catch it but it might well not.

Robert

1 - An additional factor of 2 beyond tolerance would also not be surprising (Both to account for degradation over life and to increase lifespan to begin with electrolytics are typically overspecced)and that would actually place the capacitor within nominal spec.

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