Amiga recapping is something that needs to be done it’s as simple as that, just like your car or gas boiler needs a service and certain parts that need replacing. When Commodore created the Amiga family of computers and consoles (in fact any manufacture) never envisaged that the Amiga computer will still be actively used in 2019.
The design and manufacturing was to be made as cheap as possible so there was no serious thought on the quality of components that was used. They were fit for purpose but the issue in particular are the surface mount capacitors.
These SMD capacitors in the Amiga are electrolytic which in fact have a liquid inside called electrolyte however with age (even if the Amiga is not used) these will start to leak. Now it’s not always easy to see the leakage as sometimes the leak is under the capacitor itself, and you won’t see it, but the majority of the time there can be visible clues, for example the solder is dull and has a green tinge to it, or simply the capacitor falls off!
- Sound problems
- Random rebooting
- Guru Errors
- Non booting
- Floppy fails to work & then black screen.
- Slow switching on
The symptoms below could be caused by capacitor leakage:
- Slow turning on – This is a common fault, if the unit is powered and after an amount of time boots up, that is the sign the capacitors are tired.
- Audio is distorted – This may resolve itself after the Amiga has warmed up, again capacitors are tired, however this could also be caused by another component failure.
- Random rebooting – you could be using the Amiga and it suddenly reboots.
- Guru Errors – These are not so common and could be caused by a hose of other possible issues like software incompatibility, or another hardware issue.
- Non booting – I see this more with the Amiga CD32.
Although capacitors can cause the above issues there is always a possibility that it could be caused by something else for example your PSU especially with issues with sound.
If your unsure if the Amiga 600, 1200, CD32, 4000 or 4000T has been recapped you can do any of these checks:
- Brand of the capacitors – The brand of the ‘tin cans’ are more and likely will be SHOEI or ELNA and will be a light blue and dark blue in colour respectively.
- Small of fish – Yes if you small a fishy ammonia smell they have leaked and need replacing asap.
- SMD capacitors – The colour of the solder will be a dull gray, even green. solder should be a clean silver colour.
The later Amiga computers in particular the Amiga 600, 1200, CD32, 4000 & 4000T have SMD (Surface Mount Devices) Capacitors these are surface mounted and like the ‘tin can’ aluminium capacitors there is a substance called electrolyte, this is a liquid, now this electrolyte within these SMD capacitors will eventually leak with time, the risk of this increases as the capacitor ages (even if the unit is used or not!) this is also compounded by the fact that Commodore used the cheapest capacitors available.
Yes that’s right! There are 2 capacitors that was installed incorrectly at manufacture, you see this more in the revision 3 board (not seen any in the rev 4 board) I have also seen some Rev 3 boards where the caps are installed correctly, however its hard to see if this was at manufacture.
You can tell if the capacitors have been installed the wrong way as you will see them bulging, the amount of bulging depends on how much they have been used, the ones below as you can see a bulging and have been installed incorrectly. look at the negative gray strip, if its like the image below they are installed incorrectly.
Yes! I do offer a premium service which uses Polymer capacitors. Polymer capacitors will never leak this is due to the polymer that is used once manufactured the liquid polymer will become a solid within a few hours hence why it will never leak as there is no liquid!
Traditional electrolytic capacitors has a liquid and hence prone to leaking as they age. However I use a good brand of capacitor and always use Panasonic or if I’m able to source it will be another trusted brand so these will still be good for 20 plus years. But polymer ones will last a lifetime.
Now some recappers use Tantalum capacitors, these are solid and used else where in the Amiga, however these are NOT suitable replacements for the electrolytic ones check out why in a separate FAQ.
NO!, simple as that, why? The Amiga when it was designed, was designed to use electrolytic capacitors in those particular circuits because they are fit for purpose, they have the correct characteristics required for that circuit and the circuit they have been installed in take in to account that.
When you replace the electrolytic capacitors with Tantalum ones these have different characteristics and thus you change the circuit. And yes Tantalum’s do not leak and may look very nice soldered on the board however unlike electrolyte capacitors, when Tantalum’s fail they do so with a bang and its far easier to repair leakage than a burnt board.
Below is one example of a Tantalum exploding in an Amiga.