Don’t repair computer power supplies

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It may sound straight for a “Right to Repair” advocate to discourage even technically savvy end users from repairing power supplies, particularly for computers. While bad electrolytic capacitors can sometimes be visually spotted by their tops and/or sides swelling, the cumulative damage caused to semiconductors is not at all obvious in circuit. From adolescence onward, I have worked with some of the most expensive communications and computing equipment in existence, from the finest laboratory environments to the dirtiest field environments. The weak link in even these very high-end computing and communications systems is essentially always the power supply systems, including where the equipment runs full-time on mains-isolated batteries.

Yes, these systems has primary, secondary, and tertiary surge suppression at the mains power panel, power distribution and module levels. Electrolytic capacitor performance always gets worse with time. Good designers build a healthy performance margin, perhaps a factor of two or larger. Somehow, even in very expensive equipment like the Motorola Quantar, the power supply is still the weak link. This includes premium made-to-order USA OEMs like Acopian.

Redundant power supplies are the answer.

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