For a modern rig, any rigs that come out within the last 20 years. How long would it last in storage? By that, I mean "dust it off and plug and play". Assume it is in a dry and cool place, without exposure to extreme temperature.

What component would likely go bad first? I would imagen capacitor might dry out or some weak solder joint fail.


In modern, medium- to high-end equipment, chances of dry solder joints are slim to none, especially in radio equipment, where your solder process needs to be especially safe against this kind of failure to not inadvertedly add parasitic capacitance.

I'd agree, electrolyte capacitors are a prime aging suspect. They've gotten better, so in most cases, I wouldn't even expect a capacitor failure after 20 years from a device with medium density (i.e. enough room for mechanically large caps) that came out in the 2000s.

What's typically not good after 20 years are batteries, which are still common to preserve volatile memory (e.g. channel settings) and by more more commonly to keep an internal timekeeper running.

Some thermal greases (between electronic components and coolers) tend to deterioriate over time.

Dust and dirt are actually most likely to pose problems due to clogging cooling structures. So, a dustproof plastic bag might be a good idea. Make sure it's not 100% airtight, though, if the device is exposed to some thermal cycling: you don't want moisture to condense within the bag.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Anecdotally, the high-voltage electrolytic caps used in tube-type power amplifiers seem to be more likely to need replacement than lower-voltage units. Having discovered a large cache of improperly stored ham gear, I found that pest waste products can seriously damage materials and connections, including circuit boards. $\endgroup$
    – Brian K1LI
    Jul 29 '19 at 11:09

Capacitor Plague

Also keep in mind the capacitor plague that afflicted many electronic devices built between 1999 and 2007. Details on Wikipedia.

Short summary abstracted from the Wikipedia article:

A higher-than-expected failure rate of non-solid aluminum electrolytic capacitors, between 1999 and 2007, especially those from some Taiwanese manufacturers, due to faulty electrolyte composition that caused corrosion accompanied by gas generation, often rupturing the case of the capacitor from the build-up of pressure.

  • $\begingroup$ Hello and welcome to hamSE! Likely some of these capacitors made their way into amateur radio equipment, and I wonder which brands might be affected. $\endgroup$
    – Mike Waters
    Jul 31 '19 at 17:04

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