Repairing a Shuttle motherboard with new capacitors

Just a short post today, in case this will save someone’s day like it did my friend’s. He has a small Shuttle PC setup that suddenly stopped working about three weeks ago – the machine seemed to power up, but no picture came to screen. After some googling, he found out that the motherboard of this specific MB+case combo sometimes dies because of failed capacitors. And indeed, the biggest caps on the MB seemed to have a slight bulge on the top. So he called me if I could help him to replace them, to see if that would help.

The first thing to do was of course procure similar caps. The possibly failed models were three 1500 uF, 10V caps, so I got four new ones to replace them.

Removing the old caps

The first task was to remove the old capacitors from the motherboard. Because we wouldn’t be needing them, we used some force and cutters to first remove the capacitors themselves, and then set out to remove the legs with a solder iron. Unfortunately, the lead-free solder had a melting point beyond the number 7 tips of my Weller Magnastat, and no amount of heating was able to remove the legs!
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Weller Magnastat Autopsy and Repair

Immediately after soldering together my USB password thingy, my solder iron, the family heirloom Weller Magnastat stopped working. Some investigation showed that the base station was providing 24V AC voltage just fine, so I decided to unassemble the handpiece to see if something could be done. Here’s what I found:

It turned out my iron was salvageable; read on to learn a bit about the Magnastat and how I was able to repair mine.
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