• Published on | Aug 03, 2012 | by Chris Osborn

Capacitor Plague Cured

This has been sitting in my closet for some time.

Several years ago a friend of mine built a low power silent computer with an Epia M10000 board to use as his email server. It ran great for several years, but suddenly crapped out when he was away. When he returned he brought it over and I showed him that it was toast because of the counterfeit capacitors that had all swollen and burst. What was amazing was even though the computer was several years old he was able to go over to Fry's and get the exact same motherboard! As a thank you for helping him, he left the broken motherboard with me.

Since my new HTPC will run Windoze (so I can put Netflix on it) I need a new computer running Linux to be the media center controller. I don't (yet) have a Raspberry Pi but I remembered that I had the broken M10000 still sitting in my closet waiting to be fixed. It's not as small as the Raspberry Pi but it's more than small enough to be a component in an entertainment center.

I went to the local electronics store to get replacement capacitors since it was easier to find something close than trying to spec some online. They didn't have any that were the same diameter, but I was able to jam in the replacements I got. It's not pretty, but it works.

After replacing all the capacitors I was anxious to try it out so I connected it to a power supply without even putting it in a case. First time I tried to power it up nothing happened. I was afraid that there was more wrong with the board than the bad capacitors. But then I managed to make contact with the needle nose pliers on the power pins in just the right way and it fired right up!

This is actually the second time I've tried to fix a motherboard with the capacitor problem. The last time I tried it I had no success because the damaged capacitors had caused some of the power transistors to explode, and there was no source for the power transistors. With the Epia board the only thing that was damaged was the capacitors so once they were replaced the board worked again.

Now I'm going to have build a nice little case that will look good in my entertainment center!

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