Hard­ware quick-fire ques­tions

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How do I find re­place­ment parts?

Just re­plac­ing one 0.22 mi­crofrarad ca­pac­i­tor with an­other of the same ca­pac­i­tance isn’t enough. Ca­pac­i­tors are also rated ac­cord­ing to the max­i­mum cur­rent and volt­age they can han­dle, as well as the time it takes them to dis­charge, once the volt­age is re­moved. The only way to be sure is to find the ex­act part num­ber writ­ten on the side and google that, or search an elec­tron­ics cat­a­logue such uk. rs-on­line.com or uk.far­nell.com.

What was the ca­pac­i­tor plague?

Nor­mal elec­trolytic ca­pac­i­tors last 6-10 years in nor­mal use, but be­tween 1999 and 2003, some dis­rep­utable Tai­wanese man­u­fac­tur­ers used poor qual­ity elec­trolyte in ca­pac­i­tors that were used right across the elec­tron­ics in­dus­try, in­clud­ing by Dell, In­tel and Ap­ple. These ca­pac­i­tors be­gan fail­ing in 2002 and cost hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in war­ranty re­turns for the next five years.

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