Fix a fried Asus RT-N16

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Fix a fried Asus RT-N16

A few weeks ago we had some power fluctuations that resulted in the power flickering on and off a handful of times before going out completely. Every time this happens, I hold my breath right after the power comes back on and hope that none of my beloved electronics are fried; but this time, I wasn’t so lucky. My Asus RT-N16 router was toast.

Symptoms: When I plugged the power adapter into the router, the power light came on for a few seconds. Shortly afterwards I would hear a slight “click” and the device would just power down.

This definitely sounded like a power issue, so I wasn’t hopeful. But knowing that my warranty had long expired, I was definitely going to peel it open and check out the situation. Before I got the screw drivers and soldering iron out, I plugged in the wall wart and did a quick voltage test to ensure that wasn’t the culprit. 12.56V output from this 12V 1.25A power adapter was definitely within spec.

The RT-N16 case is a simple assembly; remove the 4 sticky rubber feet to uncover 4 philips-head screws. After removing the screws, the top pops right off with ease. Upon inspecting the circuitry, I immediately noticed a 680uF capacitor that had crowned a bit. I de-soldered this  capacitor and scrounged around until I found a 480uF capacitor (close enough). I know it’s a major pain to solder through-hole components into vias that have already been used, so I just soldered a couple of wires to the bottom of the board and soldered my new capacitor to the other end of the wires. A bit of masking tape for mounting (couldn’t find my hot glue gun), and we were back in business.

Hopefully this will encourage a few people out there to break the warranty seal and poke around for themselves. I’m sure there are tons devices out there that have been thrown away and replaced when the fix was a $0.5 capacitor and 15 minutes of time.

Bad capacitor in Asus RT-N16 Bad capacitor in Asus RT-N16 Asus RT-N16 capacitor replaced

 


Comments ( 42 )

  1. ReplyChris Snyder
    Funny thing. I just had the same thing happen to my RT-16. So I popped it open and found the exact same cap bulging. After fighting for two hours with it (I now understand your point about re-using through hole vias. ugh!) I have a new cap and a working router again. However, I had alsready replaced it with a new rt-16 so now I have two. Heh. Radio Shack only had a choice of a 470uF or 1000uF cap, so I opted for the 1000uF. I figure it will either die quickly or not. And I'm not worried about the 1000uF possibly screwing up the wireless as I'll probably disable wireless on the repaired unit and maybe load dd-wrt on it and use it as a gateway/firewall for my home nework. Anyway - you're not alone on this repair. Your page was handy and confidence building. Thx, Gopher.
  2. ReplyZbigniew Zasieczny
    I had the same issue caused by a crowned 480uF capacitor. My rt-n16 worked continuously for over a year (hooked up to a UPS) sharing a powered USB drive but one evening suddenly switched off. After replacing the faulty cap with a 1000uF/25V one (which has a smaller diameter and can be soldered directly to the bottom ends of the original cap's leads) the unit got back to life. Thanks for pointing the right direction.
  3. ReplyMILAN
    Thanks a lot my friend! You saved me $80
  4. ReplyMichael Brock
    I have this exact same problem! I diagnosed it from some forum thread and I have a 680uF capacitor on its way. Can you explain the issues with re-using the via and more details on how you got around it by using the wires? (maybe pictures of the bottom if you have any).
    • ReplyAuthoradmin
      Sorry, I don't have any pictures of the wiring work around. Basically if you de-solder something from a through-hole via, solder will remain in and around the via making it very difficult to reuse. Another option is to use a solder removal method such as copper braid or and solder bulb which is akin to a turkey baster on the end of a soldering iron. If you can easily clean the vias out, you shouldn't have any issue reusing them. Otherwise, use the pads around the vias to create a solder "pad" and run some fine wire around to the top of the board and to your capacitor. Either way you are accomplishing the same thing. Good luck, hope this helps!
  5. ReplyMichael Brock
    That definitely helped! I have both a piston-powered solder sucker and coper braid. I just wanted to make sure there wasn't something I was overlooking. I'm glad I checked back; I didn't think my post had gone through as the "resistor value" captcha was broken.
  6. Replynzcym
    After two to three (2~3) years continuously working, my RT-N16 stopped working; well, it's the same "exploded capacitor" issue. Thanks for you tip.
  7. ReplyAvinash
    Hi, Thanks for the guide. I used an RT-N16 for more than 3 years. Then it turned on and turned off a few seconds later, until a point when it didn't turn on at all. I changed the same capacitor (470uF , 16v) and its back in action. I almost put it away and might have bought another one
  8. ReplySully
    Same problem. Love this router's specs, really didn't want to replace it. Noticed wireless performance degrading over several months, finally stopped turning on. Took it apart, the same cap was bulged on mine. Replaced with RShack 1000uF cap and back to working great. Thanks for the heads up.
  9. Replychupstix
    Thanks for the guide. I had the same problem on my RT-N16: WiFi was very slow and unstable for a few days, and after a while the router powered off by itself and crashed a few seconds after boot. Substituting the capacitor with a 1000uF/25V seems to have done the trick! Thanks again
  10. ReplyMild
    Thank you! Ran into the same problem and thanks to the guide I knew exactly where to look. Sure enough, the same cap was bulged out. A 680uF 25V replacement did the trick and I'm back in action!
  11. ReplyFrank
    Would a higher value just buffer more power and just have negligible benefit or would having as close to the original value as possible be best? I don't mind getting a 1000uf from RShack, since I feel like more is better. But it doesn't always work that way..
  12. ReplyJustin
    I have the same problem and have a question for you... hopefully you still see this! In your first picture, the capacitor's negative... I though that is supposed to be on thick white line side? But in the picture, its coming out of the non white line side..? Could you explain this to me by any chance? I read somewhere that the negative side should be going into the thick white line side otherwise the capacitor will blow up. Could you explain thanks.
  13. ReplyArchipelago
    Thanks so much. Same problem. Seeing so many failures of the same component, one has to wonder why Asus has not offered a fix. The RT-N16 is NOT a cheapo router. My old Linksys WRT-120 has been more reliable.
  14. ReplyJames
    @Justin: I've ready that Asus marks polarity for caps on their boards the opposite of what everyone else does. So the wiring in this case is correct, but would be backwards for other manufacturers.
  15. ReplyBen
    Thanks much! Just repaired my RT-N16 today. :) Unfortunately...after buying a new one. But...it's good to have a spare. :)
  16. ReplyChad Garrett
    THANKS SO MUCH!!! Especially for pointing out the bad capacitor on the board. Mine does not show any bulging at all. No visible way to tell the one at fault. But replacing the same capacitor fixed it for me!!!
  17. ReplyFred
    My RT-N16 had the same symptoms, came across your write-up and opened my baby up - blown cap, replaced with a 1000uF/10V that I had extras from working on a Philips DVD player. Works like a charm! Thanks for the post
  18. ReplyduFo
    worked for me - thanks a lot!!
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  20. ReplyJohn
    Thanks for sharing! Same thing happened to our Asus RT-N16. I was about to toss it in the trash until I found your post. It's been up and running for 3 days now with a new 1000uF 25V cap. @Fred: With a 10V cap, you're probably going to encounter a second failure. The RT-N16 runs on 12VDC. As this is a 12V filter circuit, minimum acceptable capacitor voltage is 16V. Most electrical engineers agree it's best practice to assume double voltage when selecting electrolytic caps. So, 12*2=24V rating minimum. Asus was cutting corners here to keep production cost low.
  21. ReplyGeorge
    Same exact problem... replaced with a 470uf 35v, working great again.
  22. ReplyMumbai
    You just saved me about 100$!!!! Replaced with a 1000uf, 25V. Thanks a ton!!
  23. ReplyTerence
    Thanks a lot ... it works great as you said ...
  24. ReplyJames
    Hey, can I just pay someone with more knowledge in circuitry to do this for me? I got the case off fine. I removed the bad capacitor by just pulling it up until there were 2 empty holes left in the removed capacitor, and the prongs left sticking up out of the board. I have a soldering iron, I brought with a PC repair kit a while back, but unfortunately, I've never used it before and have no experience. I want to replace this (along with all the other capacitors on the board) with Japanese solid-state capacitors like you find on ASUS motherboards. Can someone help?
  25. ReplySorak
    Thanks a lot! I have two of these routeur and both died in one year! Now they're back! :) I knew I would find someone else with the same problem that had the problem solved! Hurray for Google Search.... !
  26. ReplyJon
    Had mine fail last week. Already replaced it but I opened it up and sure enough the same cap looks just like yours. Going to try replacing it and see if it works again.
  27. ReplyMac
    Yup, same story. Had 25V 1000uf laying around, slapped it in and working so far. Caps do look like they are in "backwards" just orient new one like the rest. If you have problems removing solder to pass new cap, heat it up and shake the board (just make sure you do it over something you don't mind damaging).
  28. ReplyRaul
    Mine failed yesterday; replaced the same capacitor with a spare 680uF/V25 cap I had lying around. Got it up running in no time. Thanks a lot!
  29. Replyhdpete
    Seems as if the router self-destructs after 2 years... Your hint saved me $80. Thank you. Wires of a new capacitor are long enough to solder it at the bottom and bend the cap around the edge of the circuit board.
  30. ReplyJens
    Thanks! I fixed my router today and soldered a new cap on the back of the circuit board. Used a scrap 470uF/16V Version I had on an old audio card.
  31. ReplyDerek
    Thanks for this .... replaced the caps on two different routers, both now working fine....
  32. ReplyRodolfo
    Same Capacitor problem here, still trying to solve it :/ the router now turns on but its turn off after a few seconds, i will try with a bigger one tomorrow.
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  34. ReplyMartin
    Many thanks for this guide! Mine was continuously running for 3 years and just died one morning. Replaced the cap with a 820uF 25V and now it's back to life.
  35. ReplyGlen
    Same as above, 3 years continuous and then on/off issue. I see the bulging Cap and will fix tomorrow
  36. ReplyDilbert
    Thanks, mine died suddenly and is now back up thanks to a 1000uF,35V from RadioShack.
  37. ReplySteve Rada
    Another successful repair to report! Replacement was 1000uf 25v that I had laying around. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this write-up.
  38. Replyjk
    Exact same thing happened to me at 10:30am. Saw this post at 12pm and bought a 1000uF 35V from RadioShack at 5:30pm. Got my 3 yrs old router up and running at 7:30pm. THANKS!!!!! Ordered the exact 680uF 16V online and will replace it next week.
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  40. ReplyBen
    I used a 480uF and the wrap-around method also. Thanks, worked great!
  41. ReplyWetCoastDave
    Step one when something doesn't work, search the internet. Found this page and it describes EXACTLY the condition of my RT-N16 router. Exact same capacitor is not only bulged but is split open. Gonna change it and try as you have described! Thank you.