A few individuals have asked questions direct, and I wish to clarify some items. It is best when you post on the blog that way it can also answer several hundred other readers questions.
How do you check the (brown) ceramic caps.
Simple, I use a standard Ohm meter in the Resistance mode. Since the biggest problems with caps when they fail is the become either a direct short, or they will never store capacitance (open). The meter reads in the ohm mode by sending a small amount of electricity through resistors and report the difference in Ohms. Test with leads RED on one side and Black on the other. One direction will give you a high resistance ~2000Ω and then reverse the leads on the meter and the other direction should give you Infinity. This is an OK capacitor. If you have a very low resistance or 0 (zero) Ohms, the cap is shorted.
Why?: I started small just repairing for friends and family, after a number of common repairs I saw the need for a shop, so when I opened the shop I was looking at the prices of equipment (oscilloscopes, digital probes, professional hot air guns, and all the high tech test hardware) and the prices were too high for the amount of work I was doing. So as I grew, I got comfortable with what I had, and never changed. If it works why change it?. The success rate would could not be improved enough to justify the high dollar purchases.
Question 2: What are the soldering tools you use.Answer: Ordinary hobby tools for the most part. The soldering pencil is a 40w medium tip Weller type with base.
Then there is a soldering station that was purchased from Radio Shack with a small pencil tip, for the very small parts.
The key to a good solder joint is heat management, and flux. When you are soldering large items, you should have a larger tip. Flux also assists in distributing heat as well as removing oxidation from the solder pads.
The desoldering iron is a simple Radio Shack that cost about $12. Though it should be cleaned often, unplugged when not used. (the tips don't last long)
A scope would be nice (any donations?) just kidding.
Other Tools do include a combination Hot Air and Soldering station (collecting dust) I just use it when I get into tight situations or the need for speed or controlled heat arises.