HP 436A Power Meter: smoke and stench – X-rated cap failure

By coincidence, another HP 436A power meter – this one, emitting smoke and terrible stench! The culprit was easily found, a defective X-rated cap. One of the known-bad epoxy covered capacitors that tend to blow after about 30 or 40 years of service.

436a x2 capacitor 100 n

The residue, oily stuff, terrible smell. Use plenty isopropanol or methylated spirits to clean – otherwise, the stench will stay with the instrument for years, and I can’t say that it is a healthy smell.

436a 100n oily

The cap is of the well-known PME271M series. Still available, but hopefully, with improved construction.

436a pme 271 m 610

436a pme271 series

A replacement is easily found – taken from an old switchmode power supply. Make sure to take a “X2” cap, not an ordinary cap. Only X2 caps are specified for mains voltage service, and self-exinguishing, anything else will present a major fire hazard, don’t compromise on the choice of capacitor!

436a 100n x2 replacement

Fix complete – new cap soldered in, and insulated with some electrical tape. In general, I tend to avoid electrical tape where possible, but in this case, it appears to be the only viable solution.

436a fix complete

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