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Thread: DP MYTHBUSTERS : Blowing in NES Cartridges

  1. #151
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    Sorry about dragging my feet on weekly results.

    While I have been performing the blowing on a daily basis, I haven't had time to really sit and get the chips on the scanner. (See my various above excuses, and add producing a new commercial for this weekend's Starcade to the mix.)

    Rest assured, the results are interesting from what I can see, and I will post them when I find a moment of free time.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frankie_Says_Relax View Post
    Sorry about dragging my feet on weekly results.

    While I have been performing the blowing on a daily basis, I haven't had time to really sit and get the chips on the scanner. (See my various above excuses, and add producing a new commercial for this weekend's Starcade to the mix.)

    Rest assured, the results are interesting from what I can see, and I will post them when I find a moment of free time.
    looking forward to them ;p

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    Interested to see the results thus far.

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    did this project die I was pretty interested in it :S

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    Not dead.

    In fact, I'll update it with results in a little bit. Promise!
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    Final Results are up!
    "And the book says: 'We may be through with the past, but the past ain't through with us.'"


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    Interesting results, and nice work!
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    I have a few problems with your theory...

    You suggest that blowing on the cart adds moisture which increases conductivity. Sounds reasonable, yet why then does the game continue to keep working long after, even days and possibly weeks after the moisture has had to have evaporated completely?

    The moisture in human breath would leave very little, a barely measurable layer of moisture. Were talking microns here... This evaporates in very little time and is hardly thick enough to increase any connection or conductivity. Your theory hinges on the idea that a impossible connection is made and mysteriously remains for hours, days, probably weeks long after the fact. This doesn't add up. You are imo, creating more NES myths...

    Also you keep mentioning green mold... Have you ever considered this is most likely a patina?... This is after all a copper alloy right? You even brought up old coins somewhere...

    Im gonna go with placebo. The original NES simply had too many design flaws. It is most likely the act of removing and reinserting that solved the issue be it dust, a weak pin connection or comm between the lockouts.

    I do however agree, blowing on the carts isn't a good idea. But come on, Ive revived old carts that were Blockbuster rentals. Were not kids anymore and blowing on the carts is far less "abuse" than what we did to these things when we were kids. The fact that these things still work some 20 years later...

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    Quote Originally Posted by nate1001 View Post
    You suggest that blowing on the cart adds moisture which increases conductivity. Sounds reasonable, yet why then does the game continue to keep working long after, even days and possibly weeks after the moisture has had to have evaporated completely?

    The moisture in human breath would leave very little, a barely measurable layer of moisture. Were talking microns here... This evaporates in very little time and is hardly thick enough to increase any connection or conductivity. Your theory hinges on the idea that a impossible connection is made and mysteriously remains for hours, days, probably weeks long after the fact. This doesn't add up. You are imo, creating more NES myths...
    Back in my group, some carts needed to be blown into every time we tried to use them, so that'd lend some evidence to the 'moisture conductor' theory.. It's not like just one blow would keep Ghostbusters II working for days.

    In any case, it takes barely any moisture to create a contact, and barely detectable amounts can remain on an object for a decent amount of time, especially if it's not aired out.

    That said, I'm not saying that the breath moisture theory is correct, in fact I'm rather on the fence.. But it seems like it could be within the realm of possibility.

    I suppose one could say that my opinion is that it could be either cartridge blowing came about as an unlikely quick fix for bad connections(which in reality probably only actually worked rarely, with cart re-posistioning and luck as the main culprit helping spread the legend), or as an epically misunderstood urban legend with zero basis in reality. (It wouldn't be the first basis-less urban gaming legend if so, anyone remember holding up and B to catch Pokemon?)

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    Quote Originally Posted by nate1001 View Post
    I have a few problems with your theory...

    You suggest that blowing on the cart adds moisture which increases conductivity. Sounds reasonable, yet why then does the game continue to keep working long after, even days and possibly weeks after the moisture has had to have evaporated completely?

    The moisture in human breath would leave very little, a barely measurable layer of moisture. Were talking microns here... This evaporates in very little time and is hardly thick enough to increase any connection or conductivity. Your theory hinges on the idea that a impossible connection is made and mysteriously remains for hours, days, probably weeks long after the fact. This doesn't add up. You are imo, creating more NES myths...

    Also you keep mentioning green mold... Have you ever considered this is most likely a patina?... This is after all a copper alloy right? You even brought up old coins somewhere...

    Im gonna go with placebo. The original NES simply had too many design flaws. It is most likely the act of removing and reinserting that solved the issue be it dust, a weak pin connection or comm between the lockouts.

    I do however agree, blowing on the carts isn't a good idea. But come on, Ive revived old carts that were Blockbuster rentals. Were not kids anymore and blowing on the carts is far less "abuse" than what we did to these things when we were kids. The fact that these things still work some 20 years later...
    Heh, wow. A blast from the recent past.

    While the findings here were STRICTLY theoretical and not empirical by any stretch of the imagination, I think they also produced some visual evidence that could not be denied.

    There was a build up of CRAP on the cartridge that was blown on every day that was NOT on the cart that was left as-is.

    Pile that on top of the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of NES (and other system) carts in the wild that have visible corrosion type damage on the contacts. Moisture + oxygen + (most types of) metal = damage/corrosion, and it doesn't take a stress test like this to prove that.

    Have any pennies in your pocket that look like this?



    No. Most of them probably look like this.



    While blowing in NES cartridges may very well be a placebo effect, as a collector I see absolutely no value in perpetuating a a theory that it does no damage whatsoever. (And I've never ever heard the assessment that you can keep a cart working for days/weeks after a single blow.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frankie_Says_Relax View Post
    Heh, wow. A blast from the recent past.

    While the findings here were STRICTLY theoretical and not empirical by any stretch of the imagination, I think they also produced some visual evidence that could not be denied.

    There was a build up of CRAP on the cartridge that was blown on every day that was NOT on the cart that was left as-is.

    Pile that on top of the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of NES (and other system) carts in the wild that have visible corrosion type damage on the contacts. Moisture + oxygen + (most types of) metal = damage/corrosion, and it doesn't take a stress test like this to prove that.

    Have any pennies in your pocket that look like this?



    No. Most of them probably look like this.



    While blowing in NES cartridges may very well be a placebo effect, as a collector I see absolutely no value in perpetuating a a theory that it does no damage whatsoever. (And I've never ever heard the assessment that you can keep a cart working for days/weeks after a single blow.)
    Well, you didn't really address anything I brought up. Ive been examining the green on a few carts and it appears to me your "green mold" is most likely a patina forming. I wouldn't really say you're doing anything more than speeding up the inevitable by blowing on the cart. Whether you blow or not, 20 years its going to happen unless kept in very controlled conditions.
    A patina is actually a valuable asset, in fact the most valuable asset of almost any collectible/antique. Not that this applies to electronics... It does however, in many environments protect from further damage. For all we know this could be the reason some carts still work after a good cleaning

    OK
    I blow on the cart after trying everything else and it magically works. I play for a couple hours, turn off the system and the game still works the next day. I just did this bucko... Id be very sure in saying if I turn it off for longer and let it sit for a week it will still work. Now tell me how does this minuscule film of moisture keep for 24 hours? Even one hour?... All Im saying is that you turned one possible myth about dust, into an even more improbable myth about moisture being responsible for the phenomenon...

    Id like to try compressed air... But there is moisture in it... and I believe a can o air most likely condenses moisture in the air a bit as the gas expands.

    I did however order an original NES cleaning kit after discovering your thread. Even tho 90% of my carts work in my very clean system sometimes blowing still does the trick. Im hoping the NES kit will work.

    BTW I never said it wasn't doing any damage, I am simply addressing the obvious flaws in your moisture and green mold theories. You keep bring up green mold, mildew and "growth" in various threads. You do realize that fungi have very specific environmental conditions right? They require very high humidity, the right temp, and more... notice that they only grow in certain places in your home? Unless there is mold growing on the walls in your living room or where ever you're keeping you collection, most likely the conditions required will never be met inside a NES cart.

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    Whatever the case may be, my years of experience as a Nintendo owner since 1985, years as a gamer/collector, and five years as manager of a Funcoland during the absolute height of their NES, SNES, Genesis, GameBoy, etc. trade-in business, I've seen hundreds if not thousands of game cartridges that were clearly in some type of "environmental conditions" that produced corrosion and damage, and every time I took a trade in with cartridges in that condition I would ask "did you blow on these to get them to work?" the answer would always be a resounding "yes".

    Admittedly, I'm no scientist, I don't know the difference between a patina and green mold on a molecular level, but if you review my theories with the understanding that I'm just looking for evidence of damage (or the potential to cause damage) based on moisture from human breath, then you should have a clear understanding of what I was getting at.

    I Don't know what else I can add.

    I don't care if I'm perpetuating an incorrect scientific theory ... if I stop just a few people from blowing in NES cartridges I think that future collectors will benefit from it.
    "And the book says: 'We may be through with the past, but the past ain't through with us.'"


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    God, I hate being "that guy" who's bumping a 4 year old thread after it's already been bumped-back-from-the-dead once before, but I can most definitely provide evidence that the ol' blow the cartridge trick can seriously damage you cartridge-based games over a period of time, and not just leave a pretty patina.

    No matter what "science" one may provide as evidence in order to disprove or discredit the efficacy of this technique, in both the long and short term, it seems absurd to do so when there's an incalculable amount of evidence to the contrary, collected over the last ~3 decades by countless gamers that says "it works" (no matter what the actual reason is for its ability to do so). Simply put, people wouldn't do so if it didn't work.

    Back on topic, I have an ex-grilfriend who's little brother would literally lick the contacts on his N64 carts. That's right, not a gentle 'phwwwww', but a full-on French kiss. At one point, knowing how much of a game nerd that I was, she asked if I could help him with a few of his games that were no longer working*. I fiddled with them a bit, grabbed some Q-tips from her bathroom along with an alcohol solution in order to give them the gentle cleaning that I'm sure you're all familiar with. I didn't have much luck, and asked if I could take them home to pop 'em open and have a look (I'm not so nerdy that I carry Nintendo security drivers on my person, but I most definitely have a set at home). When I did get them home and pop them open, HOLY SHIT, the contacts (and in some instances, a good chunk of the boards) were coated in mountains of buildup! Repulsive as this sounds (and it was), I saw bringing 'em back to life as a small challenge, on top of the fact that it would most likely score me some reward nookie for helping out**

    I performed every trick that I knew with regards to reviving carts in this state. I used an entire bag of 000 steel wool, then a bag of 00, THEN a bag of 0. When I finally cut through all the buildup (think blistered paint on a 93 Honda's rear quarter), all I found were completely severed traces and holes (not pits) in the contacts (sorta like trying to find the actual metal surface under said blistered paint on said early 90's Honda). These things were fucked. And remember, these are N64 carts, not NES or SNES. Also, this was in 1999, when the 64 was still available at your local TRU, not 9 months ago or anything like that.

    Of course I understand that this is a pretty extreme example, but if that sort of corrosion can occur in such a short amount of time, with that level of abuse, then it seems fairly safe to surmise that a more moderate level of abuse over a much longer period of time could provide a similar result.



    *As a little footnote, before the question is asked, the games were kept in a finished/waterproofed basement inside a lidded plastic container when not in use (all sloppy-like, but still in a closed, air-tight container).

    **I received no reward nookie.

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    Well, since it's here I'll drop a couple of comments.

    When you blow into a cartridge you impart moisture on the contacts. And it's not moisture from your breath. Because the steam from your breath will evaporate within a couple of seconds. When you blow on a cartridge, with that expelled carbon dioxide there is small amount of saliva. Saliva contains a lot of bacteria, minerals, and is also a mild solvent. It is not something you want sitting on electrical contacts, or any part of an electronic device for that matter. It will slowly eat at the electrical contacts through corrosion.

    Oh, and patina is just a fancy word for corrosion.
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    Use canned air instead, problem solved...
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    Quote Originally Posted by wiggyx View Post
    Simply put, people wouldn't do so if it didn't work.
    That, my friends, is an example of staggeringly faulty logic.





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    Quote Originally Posted by VertigoProcess View Post
    Use canned air instead, problem solved...
    That doesn't really solve any problem.

    The answer is to clean the contacts properly. If your contacts on the game are clean and not corroded to shit and you're still having issues it's the connector in the NES. Try cleaning it first, next there are ways to try and repair the connector. If all else fails, get a new one.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Polygon View Post
    That doesn't really solve any problem.

    The answer is to clean the contacts properly. If your contacts on the game are clean and not corroded to shit and you're still having issues it's the connector in the NES. Try cleaning it first, next there are ways to try and repair the connector. If all else fails, get a new one.
    Even with properly cleaned contacts, sometimes minor dust can prevent a reading, in which case canned air is a perfect solution.

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    Quote Originally Posted by o.pwuaioc View Post
    Even with properly cleaned contacts, sometimes minor dust can prevent a reading, in which case canned air is a perfect solution.
    Wow, you you beat me to saying the exact same thing by like a second. Thank you for saving me the trouble. Haha
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    Quote Originally Posted by o.pwuaioc View Post
    Even with properly cleaned contacts, sometimes minor dust can prevent a reading, in which case canned air is a perfect solution.
    Since cleaning my games and replacing my connector, not once has it failed to start right up the first time. However, I can see your point but that would take a lot more than "minor" dust to cause an issue. But if you honestly believe that then by all mean, canned air is a great solution as long as you don't hold it down or turn it upside down.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gameboy Color View Post
    That, my friends, is an example of staggeringly faulty logic.
    Why on Earth would people go out of their way to blow on cartridge contacts if it didn't produce a result?

    Care to explain?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Polygon View Post
    Well, since it's here I'll drop a couple of comments.

    When you blow into a cartridge you impart moisture on the contacts. And it's not moisture from your breath. Because the steam from your breath will evaporate within a couple of seconds. When you blow on a cartridge, with that expelled carbon dioxide there is small amount of saliva. Saliva contains a lot of bacteria, minerals, and is also a mild solvent. It is not something you want sitting on electrical contacts, or any part of an electronic device for that matter. It will slowly eat at the electrical contacts through corrosion.
    You expell far more N2 and O2 than you do CO2, just so you know.

    It's far more likely that the exhaled air, which has a relative humidity level of 100%, would evenly coat the contacts than a random spattering of saliva. Blow on a price of glass and let me know how much saliva is still there after the water evaporates. That small amount of moisture need only be present for a seconds. How long do you think it takes to insert the cart after blowing on it? That moisture will have a hard time escaping from two contacts pressed against each other, and as someone else already said, it only takes a very, VERY small amount to promote conductivity.

    Water + O2 = corrosion. Sure, saliva will hasten the process (as evidenced by my story), but is NOT a requirement for corrosion by any means.

    Quote Originally Posted by Polygon View Post
    Oh, and patina is just a fancy word for corrosion.
    No shit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Polygon View Post
    Since cleaning my games and replacing my connector, not once has it failed to start right up the first time. However, I can see your point but that would take a lot more than "minor" dust to cause an issue. But if you honestly believe that then by all mean, canned air is a great solution as long as you don't hold it down or turn it upside down.
    If it isn't a dust issue then why do you think blowing on the cart works at all? Not to mention I remember doing this when my nes and games were still new to make them work. There's no way that corrosion or a bad connector in my then brand new nes was the cause of it not working the first time. Seriously man wtf?
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    Quote Originally Posted by VertigoProcess View Post
    If it isn't a dust issue then why do you think blowing on the cart works at all? Not to mention I remember doing this when my nes and games were still new to make them work. There's no way that corrosion or a bad connector in my then brand new nes was the cause of it not working the first time. Seriously man wtf?
    That's probably has a lot to do with the crummy design of the front load NES :/

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    Quote Originally Posted by wiggyx View Post
    Why on Earth would people go out of their way to blow on cartridge contacts if it didn't produce a result?

    Care to explain?
    Monkey see, monkey do.





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