Feel Better About Yourself With These Ugly Repairs

A fun thread over at the EEVblog forum starts off with [TerraHertz]’s triangle-peg, square-hole capacitor repair job and goes entertainingly down-hill from there.

Everything from horrifying eBay purchases to work (horror) stories can be found in this thread. But you can learn something too. Did you know the correct way to fix a mercury switch stored in the incorrect orientation is to whack it against a table really hard?

We enjoyed the cigarette box shroud used to fix a graphics card with a defective fan. We’re still not sure about the person who managed to Dremel bits off a graphics card and end up with a working PCI-e card. That one may be a troll.

Regardless, it’s a lot of fun, spanning the hilariously bad and the seriously impressive. We would not be surprised if some of these people met the devil at the crossroads for some soldering skill. Do any of you have an interesting or ugly repair to share? We’d love to see it.

50 thoughts on “Feel Better About Yourself With These Ugly Repairs

  1. Heh, yup, committed various atrocities with ugly bundles of caps and resistors, due to not having the right value on hand. … Also had a cardboard shroud on a GPU for quite a while, it was fixing a bad design.

  2. Oh man, where to start. Decades ago I replaced fuses in my stereo with single strands of headphone wire. Yeah, bad boy. I know.

    I have weird spare caps dangling in PC cases from wires soldered to motherboards where the old swollen/failed ones used to be.

    And then there’s the momentary toggle switch I wired into my girlfriend (now wife!) ‘s car when the ignition key starter contact wore out. Car constantly stalled unless you pumped the gas to keep the revs up. (Might have been better to fix the 1/4″ crack in the intake manifold, but this was cheaper).

    1. My ’69 Nova had the a cheap slide switch to ‘fix’ the broken starter switch; it was wired with some lamp cord and lived in the glove box. My wife’s and my first car together was a ’72 Plymouth Duster. Soon after we got it, a locking washer in the windshield wiper linkages broke, and we pressed (literally!) the pop-top form an empty beer can onto the fitting. Never DID get around to fixing it permanently.

    1. Though the better solution, if the layout of your motherboard allows for it, is to dremel off the back wall of the socket, instead. You’re not destroying anything functional that way.

  3. The gpu one is not a troll, pci express gpus will allow less lanes to be connected.

    I have an external thunderbolt gpu for my macbook that only uses a quarter of the PCI lanes on the card, the only real downside is longer load times since that full x16 bandwidth is mainly used for loading texture data into video memory.

    1. Duck brand or other duct tape, seems to have lost it’s legendary properties over the years. I remember doing things like taping a leaky radiator hose and it holding up for a week. There’s a couple of other things I can’t pull to mind right this second where it exponentially outperformed anything you can pick off the shelf today.

      1. 3m does some really nice gaffers tape that is extremely heavy duty, as well as duct tape that works under water.
        most of the generic duct tape really does suck compared to proper products.

  4. I made a cardboard fan duct for a slim PC casing once. Without it, CPU temperature crept up to > 55c even when idle due to poor aiflow inside the casing.

    Also replaced motherboard caps on a Pentum III motherboard…with ordinary electrolytics (not the low-ESR type). Surprisingly, it soldiered on for a year and a half before finally dying for good.

    1. Ah yes the early noughties, where it seemed if you couldn’t solder caps, you wouldn’t have any machine run more than a month. Bad caps, BAAAAAD. … at least a couple of mine got regular plain old electrolytics, and they soldiered on long enough.

  5. All of my repairs are “ugly” but they work. One of my most cringe worthy (to most people) would be the microwave in my shop. It kept resetting itself whenever you tried to microwave something, but every time I took the cover off to test things, it worked fine. Long story short, we finally figured out that the case was somehow bouncing interference back into the logic board What did we do? What any good technician would do, would wrapped a metal shield (otherwise known as a faraday cage) around the logic board. Been working great ever since. And since I know I am going to get blasted, yes I did test for radiation leakage. Not a single drop is (or was) leaking out.

  6. Nothing to show yet but in my younger years I just about fixed anything with painters tape. I recently revisted my old soldering projects, an 15W amplefier and wienbridge oscillator. The heatsink of the amp was stuck to the TO220 opamp and perf board with painters type. To its credit, it still sticks 30 years later, though it’s dried out a long time ago. I tried salvaging the ic but the legs broke off just by looking at them. Can’t seem to find a replacement part as it’s been eol’d a long time ago.

    Not a fix but an expansion: I’ve upgraded the memory of the msx2 home computer, the nms8250 with an old 1MB simm, using the instructions from Hans Otten iirc. It involved cutting off ic pins, piggyback riding one ic on top of the other holding on for dear life with only two pins (74lsxx series, Vdd and GND), lots of wires. It did work but when I checked a year ago the typical blue bootscreen was red and locks up randomly. The soldering job probably didn’t survive the last house move. I’m planning to fix it some day, now with an oscillpscope at hand it should be a lot easier to troubleshoot.

  7. Happens all the time to me. I tend to be a bit sloppy when designing my schematic and forget to add important things like crystals or pullups, wrong footprints and swapping signals..

    Here are some of my documented fixups/repairs:


  8. Broke down out in the sticks with a hole in the radiator. Only thing in the boot was some car body filler. Mixed it all up, mashed it in the rad around the big hole. Waited 30 mins to set, filled it rad up. The fixed worked for over 3 years until the car was scrapped. :)

  9. One of my best bodgy “repairs” was when I was called in to assist in getting a prototype microcontroller mounted on a piece of earthmoving equipment working for a demonstration. Was kinda urgent, with lots of big bosses and clients milling around with better things to do than watching nerds clambering over a haul truck in a state of panic dragging their test equipment. It was obvious there was a high resistance connection somewhere that was stopping the blinkenlights from blinken but to get to the likely location required lots of things being pulled apart.

    Three well-placed applications of my steel-capped boot, a quick bow to the stunned onlookers and I went back to finish my lunch :)

  10. Had some friends over for a Lan about 15 years ago, One of the guys PC Lit up orange for a second something burnt the GND trace up on the motherboard, No further testing just Soldered on the burnt trace with some AT-PSU cable from old supply.

    Worked for a considerable time.

  11. Seems to be lots of PC bodges in this thread so I thought I’d add my own. I have a PC built into our fitted kitchen unit so it is out of the way and connected to a big LCD TV.
    So recently the power supply failed, no big deal it was time upgrade to a larger one anyway (bigger GPU was beckoning) however the existing one was a proprietary format specific to the case so there was no available upgrade. I needed to keep the case as it fits in a specific width in the unit so I bought a much larger PSU, dremmeled holes in the case to feed in the power cables and then cable tied the PSU to the outside.

    1. Ah yes, cable ties, also known to me as add on 3.5 drive bays. There was a period where storage demands seemed to be expanding quicker than I could fork out another 200 bucks for a decent sized hdd, say late 90s, and the minitower and desktop cases tended to only have 2 or 3 bays. So when I had to press every drive I could lay my hands on from a hundred MB upwards into service, they got mounted to any spare flat space in the case.

  12. This one was from a friend of mine at Tektronix: the 7473 dual J-K flip-flop, for some reason lost to antiquity, was in a 14-pin package with its power and ground on pins 4 and 11, respectively, rather than the otherwise universal pins 14 and 7. What my friend discovered was that the die was also mounted off-center in the epoxy. I don’t remember which side the die was on, but what this meant was that you could cut off half of a 7473 and end up with a 10-pin single J-K flip-flop, which in at least one case was just enough of a difference to allow it to be deadbugged in a space too small for the full package.

  13. My old Celeron 700 had a noisy CPU fan. I took the fan out and connected the heatsink to the PC case with corner and straight metal brackets. CPU temp only goes up to 60 C, and computer still runs when I turn it on occasionaly.

  14. My previous pc had an Athlon processor and it kept heating up a lot, also because i put it in a small enclosure. I added a mains powered fan and some cardboard manifold to allow it to take colder air from outside the enclosure. The only downside was the noise that fan made.

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