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  1. #1
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    Retro-hardware, capacitors and storage

    I posted this over at EAB, but since it's quite an important issue that affects everyone I thought I'd bring it up here too.

    I was doing some reading today on capacitors to see if they fair worse in storage than in constant use, as, like many of you here, I have some older hardware that's just sitting around and not powered up very often.

    It seems that capacitors in storage suffer from a leakage issue that builds up an oxidizing layer. They can be restored using a "reforming" technique that isn't really practical when they're soldered on circuit boards!

    Does anyone here know if it's best to power up electrical devices in storage every month or so to slow the process? Or won't it make a difference?

    I don't want to be powering up stuff for no reason! But if it's helping to prolong the life of their capacitors I guess it's something to keep in mind.
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  2. #2
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    That is a very good subject you raise. Especially now that the Amiga is starting to get quite old. Many A500's are now over 20 years old!

    I think the one person who will know better than anyone the answer to this question has to be Zetr0.

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  3. #3
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    A better option would be to replace all electrolytics approaching 20 years old, as they're only supposed to last that long anyway The drift in values as they age could cause malfunctions or damage to other components when they eventually give out, so if in doubt, re-cap

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    How hard is it to replace capacitors? I've got no electronics or soldering iron experience at all, but would seriously be interesting in such a project to prolong the life of ageing hardware, both Amiga and other systems alike.

    If you haven't played a classic game in years, it's never too late to start!


  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fern View Post
    A better option would be to replace all electrolytics approaching 20 years old, as they're only supposed to last that long anyway The drift in values as they age could cause malfunctions or damage to other components when they eventually give out, so if in doubt, re-cap
    Good news for us Amiga owners then eh?
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  6. #6
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    You melt the solder that joins the capacitors legs to the pads on the PCB and pull it out. To put it back in, you put it back in, warm the legs up with the soldering iron and put some solder on, and it will melt.

    Different story though if you are thinking about surface mounted ones.

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    SMD caps are unlikely to "blow" in any serious way. Far better to leave them exactly where they are and not get involved! To be honest unless something's visibly leaking, smoking or obviously "not quite right", I'd be inclined to leave it alone until it starts playing up.

    As for replacing "thru-hole" electrolytics, it's not that hard. You just have to take care not to burn any of the PCB tracks (because then you WILL be up a faeces creek without any means of propulsion). There's loads of soldering tutorials around, and chances are a lot of them are better than my method!

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