Buttkicker Amp smoked - a cautionary note, replacement ideas? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 49 Old 05-17-2011, 11:56 AM - Thread Starter
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So the other day I was demoing my theater and a strange smell/smoke started to come out of my equipment room. Long story short it was my butt-kicker amp. Took the cover off and found that one of the capacitors had turned to charcoal.



I did some googling and found that there had been a bad batch and a recall some years back, but mine was not one of those in the batch. I contacted Guitammer company and talked to Joe who was very nice, I'm well out of warranty so the best he could do was offer to sell me one at a discounted price which I think is actually more than I paid originally. So I think not.

I did check the load and it is right at 6 ohms which is 6 Aura Pros with two parallel strings of 3 each. no short.

What "value" amp would anyone suggest?


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post #2 of 49 Old 05-17-2011, 01:21 PM
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These stories are one of the reasons I have decided to skip the buttkickers. There were a bunch of stories like that a few years ago when I was considering them and they scared me away.
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post #3 of 49 Old 05-17-2011, 01:34 PM
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I've been using the Dayton 100W amp for four of the the Pros in series, two per channel.

Seems to be doing the job, and the amp footprint is small.

You could get two of them and add two more Pros.


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post #4 of 49 Old 05-17-2011, 01:58 PM
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I would call joe back and get a couple of new caps and replace the one that let loose and all the others like it. Chances are the amp is still usable if you replace the caps.
You may want to poke around here..
http://www.badcaps.net/forum/index.php

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post #5 of 49 Old 05-17-2011, 02:03 PM
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Mmm...does anything else inside look like it was fried, or just the single capacitor? Capacitors are extremely easy to replace, as long as you could get the main-board out of the box so you have access to the bottom. Cheap too, probably cost all of $2 at Radio Shack.

Otherwise, I'm using a 500W BASH plate amp from PartsExpress with the exact configuration you mentioned, 2 parallel strings of 3. PLENTY of power to drive all 6, you could probably go with the 300W version or similar Dayton Audio equivalent for a bit cheaper.


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post #6 of 49 Old 05-18-2011, 06:38 AM
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DANG! My buttkicker amp is due to arrive from Roman TODAY!

I hope they fixed this issue.

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post #7 of 49 Old 05-18-2011, 07:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tlogan6797 View Post

DANG! My buttkicker amp is due to arrive from Roman TODAY!

I hope they fixed this issue.

It is not really an issue they fix... the parts that were provided were crap.. If you take a look at the badcap forum http://www.badcaps.net/forum/index.php you will see many many products fail do to faulty capacitors.. The manufactures of the equipment do not make the caps..
Lots of stuff gets tossed into land fills just because a couple of caps failed and no one wants to fix anything because labor is more than a new unit. Dell had a boat load of bad mother boards.. replace a hand full of caps and those boards were like new... still out dated but the point is, if have basic soldering skills and the ability to read, you can fix things like this.

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post #8 of 49 Old 05-18-2011, 07:30 AM
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Originally Posted by airscapes View Post

Lots of stuff gets tossed into land fills just because a couple of caps failed and no one wants to fix anything because labor is more than a new unit.

So true. Last year my dad's 2 year old Samsung 55" LCD started power cycling every 15 seconds, the picture never came up at all. The closest repair center wanted over $500 to "repair" the panel, so I took it apart myself, saw 2 blown caps, and replaced them for $3 and 15 minutes of (very minimal) labor. What a joke.

Of course, this happened within 2 weeks of the warranty running out...can anyone say 'planned obsolescence?'


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post #9 of 49 Old 05-18-2011, 07:43 AM
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OK, maybe it's the Project Manager in me, but by "fix the issue," I meant "found a new supplier." Seems like a pretty simple root cause analysis that I'm hoping has been addressed by now.

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post #10 of 49 Old 05-18-2011, 07:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tlogan6797 View Post

OK, maybe it's the Project Manager in me, but by "fix the issue," I meant "found a new supplier." Seems like a pretty simple root cause analysis that I'm hoping has been addressed by now.

I am sure you will be fine! I just hope Big takes the time to try and repair his amp!

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post #11 of 49 Old 05-18-2011, 08:08 AM
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Big, do you have the remains of the cap sufficient to identify? I've had a similar thing occur several times before in various devices and 30 mins with a soldering iron quickly brought them back to life -- didn't even need to get out the scope.

BTW I'm using one channel of a Berhinger EUROPOWER EP4000 to power 4 buttkicker minis and it's working very well. I also have the subwoofer output running though a Berhinger ULTRADRIVE PRO DCX2496 before being split to front sub / rear sub and buttkicker. This has provided tremendous tuning ability including buttkicker roll off and limiting (to prevent overdriving them).

Cheers.


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post #12 of 49 Old 05-18-2011, 08:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tlogan6797 View Post

OK, maybe it's the Project Manager in me, but by "fix the issue," I meant "found a new supplier." Seems like a pretty simple root cause analysis that I'm hoping has been addressed by now.

This all happened a couple of years ago. The situation has long been identified and corrected. It was traced down to a process problem in the Chinese electrolytic capacitor production. Anthing being shipped now should be good.

As airscapes stated: the whole industry got burned. It wasn't just consumer gear. I was working on flight electronics for the Boeing 787 which were affected, and we were forced to recall and repair hundreds of circuit boards on that one. You simply cannot believe the process the aircraft industry goes through to ensure operational reliability, so something like this showed a failure in the entire supply chain.

Fortunately, these capacitors are cheap and easy to replace. Just needs some basic soldering skills. The only caution is that electrolytic capacitors are polarized, so you have to be careful not to put them in backwards.

It also makes sense to replace them all when you have it open. You can tell which ones are about to fail because they start to bulge.
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post #13 of 49 Old 05-18-2011, 09:13 AM
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That suks.

I'm using a Sherwood RX-4105 driving 4 Aura's (2 each in series then those in parallel).

Hey Tom - you have nothing to worry about as you need to use the Amp to actually get a burned out capacitor

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post #14 of 49 Old 05-18-2011, 09:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Moggie, the only thing to be learned from the remains is the approximate size.



It is bloated and any identification is up in smoke, Also no clue about the polarity orientation.

There are however a bunch of similar sized capacitors spread throughout the board.



I guess I could source one and take a 50/50 chance of slotting it in correctly.


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post #15 of 49 Old 05-18-2011, 09:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post

It is bloated and any identification is up in smoke, Also no clue about the polarity orientation.

There are however a bunch of similar sized capacitors spread throughout the board.

I guess I could source one and take a 50/50 chance of slotting it in correctly.

It is kind of hard to tell, but it looks like one of the leads below that mess is a common ground trace. If the cap is connected to that, it is a pretty good chance that the negative lead goes there. Look at the surrounding caps and see if they share the trace. BTW, if you get it wrong, it will blow fairly quickly and then you can put it back the other way

Looking at the ones of the same size is a pretty good indicator on one board. Designers like to minimize the number of different components used.
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post #16 of 49 Old 05-18-2011, 09:42 AM
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Not being familiar with this kind of amp, Here are my suggestions:
check for a similar circuit near by. If the amp has more than one channel, chances are the same circuit is repeated for each channel, from which you can copy the component values and placement.

Capacitors like that are normally used between some load and ground. The stripe side being ground( negative). If I was to guess, I would use a multi meter to check which pin is connected to the ground plane and put in a new cap accordingly.

As for the value, again, if I had to guess, I would probably look at the values of other caps in the circuit of the same physical size. Just make sure you get a voltage rating as high, or higher than what is currently used. Big caps like that are not usually dead on the correct capacitance anyways, and dry out over time, loosing capacitance, hence I would not be too worried about the value as much as I would be the rated voltage .

edit:
the above post appeared while I was typing this
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post #17 of 49 Old 05-18-2011, 10:13 AM
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I also have 6 Aura Pro shakers (wired the same as yours)... I use the 300W BASH plate amp from parts express.

http://www.parts-express.com/pe/show...TR=300w%20bash


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post #18 of 49 Old 05-18-2011, 10:16 AM
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Hey Tom - you have nothing to worry about as you need to use the Amp to actually get a burned out capacitor

Look what I’m dealing with, man, I’m dealing with fools and trolls.

You can’t process me with a normal brain. If you borrowed my brain for five seconds, you’d be like, ‘Dude! Can’t handle it, unplug this bastard!’ It fires in a way that’s maybe not from, uh… this terrestrial realm.

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post #19 of 49 Old 05-18-2011, 10:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tlogan6797 View Post

Look what I'm dealing with, man, I'm dealing with fools and trolls.

You can't process me with a normal brain. If you borrowed my brain for five seconds, you'd be like, Dude! Can't handle it, unplug this bastard!' It fires in a way that's maybe not from, uh this terrestrial realm.

...Unless you add the required tinfoil hat?
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post #20 of 49 Old 05-18-2011, 12:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ADDUpstate View Post

I've been using the Dayton 100W amp for four of the the Pros in series, two per channel.

Seems to be doing the job, and the amp footprint is small.

You could get two of them and add two more Pros.

Big,

I'm running a lowly Dayton 70 watt amp for 4 standard Auras. I have 2 pair (each pair is first wired in series, then the 2 pairs are connected in parallel to the amp, final impedance is 4 ohms). It's been working fine for over a month.

The link below will take you to one example from the ebay seller I used. He has a number of "Plate Amp" choices including Dayton, Custom Audio, (and some BASH 300W plate amps for $150)

http://cgi.ebay.com/BASH-300S-300W-R...item27b923a466


Good Luck!

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post #21 of 49 Old 05-18-2011, 02:00 PM
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Maybe there is someone there in in NoVA that has a buttkicker amp you could inspect? You could open up their amp and take a look at what is inside.

Or anyone, really, could take a picture and post it. I would do it for you if I owned a buttkicker amp. From the picture, you could circle the cap that blew up, and they could read the markings for you.

It appears my hypocrisy knows no bounds.

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post #22 of 49 Old 05-18-2011, 05:08 PM
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Don't ask Tom to photo his Amp......you know, he's busy with his build....

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post #23 of 49 Old 05-18-2011, 05:12 PM - Thread Starter
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I know where he lives and the dog already knows my scent. So If I go over there and "borrow" it I bet he won't realize it is missing for a couple of years.


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post #24 of 49 Old 05-18-2011, 09:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post

Moggie, the only thing to be learned from the remains is the approximate size.

It is bloated and any identification is up in smoke, Also no clue about the polarity orientation.

There are however a bunch of similar sized capacitors spread throughout the board.

I guess I could source one and take a 50/50 chance of slotting it in correctly.

Often the orientation is marked on the pcb (if that's still readable!). If not, does the amp still work? I suspect there is a good chance it does since electric caps aren't typically use to transfer the signal. If so you can use you multimeter to check polarity on the pcb where the capacitor fits, turn off and fit a new one. Unfortunately the physical size isn't much of clue since the value can vary drastically, however it is likely the electrolytic cap is used simply for smoothing and noise rejection -- I'd pick the largest of the similarly physically sized caps and pick the highest voltage rating (to be safe) and base the replacement spec on that. The physical size may vary depending on vendor.

If the unit doesn't work now there is a good chance that something else is fried, but I'd say worth a few $ to give a new cap a try.


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post #25 of 49 Old 05-19-2011, 06:06 AM
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Originally Posted by airscapes View Post
I am sure you will be fine! I just hope Big takes the time to try and repair his amp!
Maybe it's just me here, but there is no way that I would try to fix that dude and put it back into service! It's very easy for another cap to go and cause a pretty decent fire, particularly given that these amps have issues. There was someone way back that posted a photo of his fire caused by one of these amps.

Methinks Big is on the right track to get a replacement.

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post #26 of 49 Old 05-19-2011, 06:20 AM - Thread Starter
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The mad scientist in me wants to put a capacitor in just to see if I can get it working. I've never soldered anything to a board so it would be good on the job training. However I have serious doubts that I would ever tuck the amp back out of sight in my Equipment closet. Maybe craigslist? Not sure if I would list it under Amplifier, Space heater, or Smoker.


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post #27 of 49 Old 05-19-2011, 06:40 AM
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I would probably replace all the electrolytics since they likely came from the same batch, but hey, that's me. Or actually, it was me. Lately, I have been feeling my age and jobbing stuff out that I would have tackled a few years ago.

Replacing all the caps wouldn't cost much, but it would take several hours, half of it in cataloging and finding the replacements. Probably doesn't make sense.
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post #28 of 49 Old 05-19-2011, 06:42 AM
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Quote:
I know where he lives and the dog already knows my scent. So If I go over there and "borrow" it I bet he won't realize it is missing for a couple of years.
You know, the dog WAS barking at SOMETHING last night.

What would I have that I am missing? I know I have a Denon 3806 lying around somewhere because I just found the extended warranty paperwork and I still have a year left on it. I'm pretty sure I have a Panasonic AE4000U still in a box somewhere. I THINK the Sonotube is that big round black thing sitting in the corner in the basement. Roman is holding chairs for me, I know that but only because I just won the GRAND PRIZE in the Power Buy. SOMETHING showed up in two boxes yesterday but I couldn't tell you what it is.

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post #29 of 49 Old 05-19-2011, 07:01 AM
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Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post
The mad scientist in me wants to put a capacitor in just to see if I can get it working. I've never soldered anything to a board so it would be good on the job training. However I have serious doubts that I would ever tuck the amp back out of sight in my Equipment closet. Maybe craigslist? Not sure if I would list it under Amplifier, Space heater, or Smoker.
As already stated, replace all the big caps and you are good to go. MCM is a good source for parts. Once replaced it is good as new. These things run on low DC voltage and you are not going to burn the house down.. For $15 with shipping and a couple of hours your amp will most likely be good as new forever. If you don't want to play with it, send it to me or hell, take it to your local repair shop and let them do it, should not be more than $75-100 and that is way less than a new amp.

Doug

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post #30 of 49 Old 05-19-2011, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post
Maybe craigslist? Not sure if I would list it under Amplifier, Space heater, or Smoker.
Maybe cross list it in all three sections?


That nearly made me choke on my coffee....thanks for the good laugh!

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