A right-to-repair battle is being waged in courts. The results of it, we might not see for a decade. The Caps Wiki is a project tackling our repairability problem from the opposite end – making it easy to share information with anyone who wants to repair something. Started by [Shelby], it’s heavily inspired by his vintage tech repairs experience that he’s been sharing for years on the [Tech Tangents] YouTube channel.
When repairing a device, there are many unknowns. How to disassemble it? What are the safety precautions? Which replacement parts should you get? A sporadic assortment of YouTube videos, iFixit pages and forum posts might help you here, but you have to dig them up and, often, meticulously look for the specific information that you’re missing.
The Caps Wiki talks a lot about capacitor replacement repairs – but not just that. Any device, even modern ones, deserves a place on the Caps Wiki, only named like this because capacitor repairs are such a staple of vintage device repair. You could make a few notes about something you’re fixing, and have them serve as help and guideline for newcomers. With time, this won’t just become a valuable resource for quick repairs and old tech revival, but also a treasure trove of datapoints, letting us do research like “which capacitors brands or models tend to pass away prematurely”. Plus, it also talks about topics like mains-powered device repair safety or capacitor nuances!
As an example, this page on repairing a Toshiba T1600 talks about the known issues, disassembly instructions, and replacement capacitors (plus other parts). As a result, anyone with a broken T1600 now knows how to disassemble it and which parts to order! Other pages may have less extensive documentation – it’s a volunteer-driven system, after all. That said, “which capacitors had to be replaced” documentation notes alone tend to be exceptionally useful.
Crowdsourcing such a database is a ginormous goal. With thousands of devices out there, an ambitious project like this requires plenty of effort before it’s part and parcel of our repairs journeys – as it ought to eventually become. Would you be interested in helping that come true? Here’s what we think you should do.
Whenever you next repair a device, be it by recapping or fixing some other fault that others might encounter, take a few notes and photos of what you’re doing. Then, do pay a visit to the Caps Wiki and try out their device documentation process, streamlined by [Shelby] to make it easy and painless. There’s even an eight-minute video showing you how to quickly create a page and outlining the things to keep in mind!
After going through the process, see how you can integrate it into your repair workflow. If you have some feedback for the project, the Caps.Wiki forum and the Discord server are both good places to visit.
We’ve covered Tech Tangents exploits before, for instance, repairing this IBM PCjr with an ATX power supply and then designing an adapter PCB so that any of us can do the same, or repurposing a Macbook charger-specific powerbank for use with generic AC PSUs. It is nice to see them apply their experience to a significant project like this!
We thank [Chaos] for sharing this with us!