Popping like Popcorn: A Tale of Four Capacitors

…and Why I Haven’t Updated in a Few Days

An astute reader might recall the so-called “capacitor plague” from the earlier part of this decade. The general consensus holds that the plague of failing capacitors originated from corporate espionage and the theft of an electrolytic formula minus a critical component. Without the critical component–a stabilizer–charge and discharge cycles combined with their respective heating a cooling would eventually generate a build up of hydrogen gas, triggering a potentially catastrophic failure of the capacitor.

I recall reading about that in 2005, because it was then when the influx of failing boards that had integrated these capacitors from the years previous began to hit computer repair shops. I was working for TCI during my fall semester of that year, next door to MDC Computers, and I recall that for several months, they were tending to nearly a machine a week suffering from “bad caps.”

When I left to finish my studies, I thought that the faulty capacitor problem would be destined to become a distant memory. In December 2006, I built my existing workstation; it was reasonably inexpensive, and I’ve always had an interest in building and integrating the components of my own volition, but I never realized that a fairly critical component would fail about three years and three months later due to precisely the same reason that had kept the guys at MDC insanely busy for months. Read more…

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