Saturday, December 3, 2011

Trying to revive the dead.

As an engineer and resident nerd, when a piece of electronics breaks the first thing that comes to mind is can I fix it? I've managed to bring a sound system back to life with a single capacitor. Actually I met a guy while working at Radio Shack that was buying LCDs on Craigslist and fixing them by replacing capacitors on the main board.

So when my router stopped working I decided to crack it open. Netgears routers are simple to take apart if you have a set of torrix bits. There are four screws under the feet. Typically these feet are glued in place but it seems that Netgear may reuse these shells or repair them often because the feet are hinged rather than stuck in place with an adhesive.

 Looking at the internals, its pretty easy to look around. There's no metal covers hiding anything. Everything is open for the pokin'....Sorry. Ill never say that again. Anyway upon inspection I saw that it indeed had a blown capacitor. The green one on the left had a bulge in the top of the canister.

This gave me an opportunity to play with the macro setting on my Nikon D3000.  Enjoy the eye candy. It hard to tell its blown without comparing it to the brown cap beside it so I took a picture with both of them in the frame.

 You can see how flat the one on the right is. Its almost convex compared the blown capacitor.
Radio Shack is way overpriced on parts but the convenience of being able to go down the road and pick it up the same day makes paying 1.49 for a single capacitor ok. Its slightly larger than the original cap due to the fact that it has a higher voltage. When dealing with capacitors you can substitute one with a higher voltage but its important to keep the farads the equivalent. They balance the impedance of the circuit as well as other fun stuff.

So after all this did it work? Sadly it did not this time but it did give me a good reason to upgrade to a N router. It also may provide some useful spare parts in the future. There's several SMD LEDs, resistors, and other junk that could be salvaged with the aid of my high tech solder reflow system (an electric skillet). For now I'm going to keep it intact just in case I come up with another idea to fix it. Drop me a line if you have any clues.

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