Converting from Axial to Radial Capacitors

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These days most capacitor manufacturers favor radial-lead capacitors, but older hardware may still contain lots of axial-lead capacitors.

High-quality axial caps are becoming more difficult to find, and the options tend to be very limited. If you do happen to find an exact replacement axial cap, the price is guaranteed to be considerably higher than the equivalent radial cap.

Converting an axial cap to a radial cap isn't usually difficult as older hardware tends to be roomier. However, you may find that the leads are too physically short to reach the holes in the board.

Simple "Quick 'n Dirty" Conversion Method

  1. Cut the leads on the original cap right at the cap body, leaving most of the old leads behind.
  2. Size up the new capacitor and trim the leg lengths, leaving a bit of overlap between the old & new leads
  3. Form the ends of the leads into hooks and hook the new capacitor leads to the old capacitor leads
  4. Squeeze and close the leads with pliers, then apply solder

This ensures that you have both a decent mechanical AND electrical connection.

If there isn't enough of the original cap leads left to follow the above procedure, you'll have to take up the slack with a bit of spare wire.

If the new capacitor doesn't seem to be held down securely, electrical tape or hot glue can be used to keep it in place.

Professional Looking Conversion Method

Depending on the PCB layout, you may be able to reuse one of the original soldering points for one leg, and drill a hole for the other leg. This allows you to reinstall the capacitors in their original mounting positions.

Ryan T sent these photos of his conversion for the Intellivision power supply