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Some years ago, there were issues with capacitors on microchips. I have a few old computer motherboards where it is quite clearly marked 'All Japanese capacitors' because these were good. I recall we had a couple of VCR machines fail due to failed capacitors in the past too.

On a more serious scale, we had a main power capacitor in a dishwasher blow up and the dish washer caught fire in our kitchen. Fortunately, I was there when it happened (heard a big 'pop' sound) and I am a 'Ninja' for having fire extinguishers around so I put the fire out pretty quick.

Could DCC decoders have been afflicted with the same capacitor quality problems, hence the strange behaviour being observed ?
 
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