• EEVblog #33 1of2 – Capacitor Tutorial (Electrolytic, Tantalum, and Plastic Film)

    Dave attempts to give the low-down on different capacitor types in under 10 minutes, can he do it?
    (Hint – Dave likes to waffle…)

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      • I loved this one! I think it’s my favorite yet. It had lots of practical information that I haven’t learned in my classes. You didn’t mention supercapacitors in your lineup – I think they’re worth looking at.

        • Lionel

          Good point!
          Dave, how about a mention of supercaps?
          The salient points are mega-high capacitance, very high ESR, low voltage.

      • RyanE

        Any podcast that ends with the words “you could kill someone” is doing something right by me.


        Good Stuff.

      • Anthony DeChiaro

        I just learned in 15 minutes more about electronics industry practices then I’ve known in the years tinkering with it as a hobbyist. All the different types and their strengths were always something of a mystery to me. I would love it if you followed with similar ideas like resistors or semiconductors for future postings. Please keep up the great work!

      • David Ciampini

        Thanks for this tutorial and for the eevblog in general! I am teaching myself electronics and I found this tutorial very helpful. It provided a good mix of theory and practice. Keep up the good work! 🙂

      • Michael Thompson

        I’d like to repeat what Anthony DeChiaro said above.

        Not only am I surprised that some of my creations have survived, but NOW I can go in forewarned and forearmed to make my NEXT project that much more robust and…survivable!


      • Don’t be too hard on Y5V caps, Dave! We analogue guys use them commonly as high-value varactors. I’m using four of them as high frequency tweaks in a reasonably advanced noise cancelling photoreceiver I’m designing.

        They require some supervision, of course, but there aren’t any high value varactors left.


        Phil Hobbs

      • Alan Holt

        Great blog! I know what you mean; I have years of experience with tantalum and electrolytic capacitors – both good and bad. How about a blog about ESR and ESR meters?

        • Kathy Quinlan

          Hi Alan,

          A google search will give you heaps of hits for ESR info, a good website for a meter is http://www.ludens.cl/Electron/esr/esr.html
          It was mentioned in an article in Circuit Cellar by Ed, which is what he based his digital version on.

          I would recommend everyone to go sign up for Circuit Cellar (the digital version only costs US$30 for two years IIRC)



      • James

        Not sure what the general opinion about a tutorial type blog is but I loved it, really wouldn’t mind seeing it more often, Thanks David.

      • Wonderful post, and I wish I had been able to see it 10 years ago.

      • bnmvbmvbmn

        This would be much more accessible if it was an article (eg, written words), rather than a video.

      • wiin

        you are free to write every word down and publish that here!

      • Andrew

        Great video! I learned a lot of practical stuff about capacitors in that.

      • Sean

        Bad electrolytics, can’t say enough about being quality conscious. We had problems with Taiwan produced motherboards that would start getting flaky. These were boards from reputable companies that would fail after warranty. You could avoid having to buy a new one by getting out your solder sucker and replacing all the electrolytic caps. The rumor mill said that somehow the electrolyte composition had been messed up in production causing widespread problems in all electronics.

      • Ross Vumbaca

        Sean: That’s a well known story, involving industrial espionage and stolen formulas! See this as an example:


      • fjw

        Ahh such memories…
        Welcome to the real world of electronic design.
        10-15 years ago there was only one version of smt tantalum capacitors that had built in fuses, the Kemet T496 series.
        We were restricted by our Japanesse customers from using any other type of smt tatatlum for the very reasons so delightfully shown in your video.
        Ironically, at that time, the National semi Simple Switcher design software would spit out a list of components for the switching regulator design and always specify these little mini IEDs.
        My favorite cap detonation was a 100,000uf 400V electrolytic (min milk bottle) used in a magnetizing circuit. THese beauties have a relief valve the size of a 6-32 screw head. They spew like old faithful and smell like death.
        Remember, capacitors are NOT passive components….O:)

      • Jeffrey

        Hi Dave, great videos and well done in explaining the tiny details of a topic you post. I have a question regarding replacing a 4.7uF electrolytic capacitor with a 4.7uF 1206 ceramic capacitor. It will be used for a 555 astable mode circuit ( it will be part of the R x C section) will there be any difference or is it ok to do so ? Thanks.

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