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Thread: DP MYTHBUSTERS : Blowing in NES Cartridges

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sweater Fish Deluxe View Post
    The metal would have to be exposed to both moisture and oxygen in order to corrode, so your container of spit wasn't doing much but waterlogging the circuit board. However, I'm still fairly skeptical that there will be any noticeable corrosion in Frankie's experiment after 30 days. If there's anything visible it would probably just be some dried salts left behind by Mr. Says_Relax's breath, which could be wiped away easily (those same salts would surely contribute the oxidization of the metal in the long run however). Maybe i'm wrong, though, and the oxidization will happen faster.

    Where are you performing this experiment, Frankie? If you're somewhere dry like Nevada, you're probably wasting your time. Unless the air is relatively humid, the moisture in your breath will evaporate too quickly. And if you're really at the bottom of Suda Trench, you'll have the same problem as NES_Rules and his bucket of spit.


    Have you ever seen 100% alcohol for sale before? We use it at my work and we have to order it from a laboratory equipment distributor. The highest I've ever seen for sale in a store is 85%. The remaining percentage is made up of water, though, which is indeed more likely to be left behind and cause oxidization after the alcohol evaporates, so I guess pure grain alcohol would be better in theory. I doubt it's anything much to worry about in reality, though, since you're not using it very often.


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    I see isopropyl 91% all th time does that count ;S?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dao2 View Post
    I see isopropyl 91% all th time does that count ;S?
    I use 99% isopropyl alcohol produced by Swan all the time to clean cart contacts/whatever else needs cleaning. I have always assumed the 99% is better since it evaporates in seconds but I wonder if its rougher on the contacts?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frankie_Says_Relax View Post




    I have been wondering whether the same principle applies to people as to Nintendo cartridges and, in the interests of science, I humbly submit myself as subject B in the corresponding experiment to determine whether a month of 'no abuse' compared to a daily blow will result in long term harm.

    I nominate Kamino for the month of 'no abuse'.
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    Not to derail your thread but has anyone seen the ... uhmmm ... images floating around of Adam? I'm not going to say anything more about this but mannnn.... very gross stuff.

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    Sounds good. I am curious though if constant insertion and removal of games from the various systems also helped to corrode contacts. The 72 pin dilemma happened from inserting and removing cartridges since insertion and removal of games caused the contacts to wear.

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    Quote Originally Posted by debian4life View Post
    Sounds good. I am curious though if constant insertion and removal of games from the various systems also helped to corrode contacts. The 72 pin dilemma happened from inserting and removing cartridges since insertion and removal of games caused the contacts to wear.
    It could be.

    In the case of damaged cartridge contacts that don't have a random pattern of corrosion, but oxidation in the shape of the uniform markings of the 72 pin connectors ... that could be something we'll have to look into.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gum_drops View Post
    I use 99% isopropyl alcohol produced by Swan all the time to clean cart contacts/whatever else needs cleaning. I have always assumed the 99% is better since it evaporates in seconds but I wonder if its rougher on the contacts?
    It's not 'rougher on the contacts.' 99% should be used all the time if possible. Lower percentages contain (obviously) more water and that's the enemy of electronic contacts, not the alcohol.

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    I'm surprised by all the "negative" comments here. I think its a good idea, especially since a good portion of us live in not so dry areas. It should be interesting how bad those pins start to look.
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    Quote Originally Posted by c0ldb33r View Post
    Not to derail your thread but has anyone seen the ... uhmmm ... images floating around of Adam? I'm not going to say anything more about this but mannnn.... very gross stuff.
    uuhm, what have i missed?
    GET YOUR HANDS OFF MY NINTENDO!

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    Quote Originally Posted by s1lence View Post
    I'm surprised by all the "negative" comments here. I think its a good idea, especially since a good portion of us live in not so dry areas. It should be interesting how bad those pins start to look.
    I haven't seen any negatives really ... just people with their own theories, which I absolutely welcome, and it's totally cool with me.

    I enjoy provoking thought/discussion over this kind of thing.

    And even MY theory, while I base it on years of first-hand visual evidence may in fact turn out to be "busted" (at least in the short term of one-month worth of mouth spit moisture exposure).
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    Frankie, if the contacts don't show any visible corrosion after the month is up, are you open to extending your experiment?

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    Quote Originally Posted by punkoffgirl View Post
    Frankie, if the contacts don't show any visible corrosion after the month is up, are you open to extending your experiment?
    If people want me to keep going until something happens, I don't see why not. If I don't net any results, I could even modify the conditions...but I don't want to "force" it to happen. That's not very scientific.

    The whole reason that I believe that blowing in games is a direct correlation to them having increased oxidation comes from my years at Funcoland:

    Every time there was a batch of awful looking, heavily oxidized games, I'd ask the owner if they blew in their games to get them to work, and the answer was always "yes". And in each batch of games, the ones that were popular and likely heavily played often had the worst of it (and probably got blown in the most frequently).

    I don't believe that heavy oxidation (especially to the point of damaging the contacts) is a spontaneously occurring phenomenon ... it has to come from somewhere, and most people didn't keep their games next to a humidifier. I really think it's directly linked to "blowing".

    In any case, we'll take a look at the results at 30 days and go from there.
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    Then, like others, the only condition I'd suggest modifiying if that ends up being the case would be actually putting it into a system. That, and the system being powered for a length of time, are about the only two "missing" factors I can think of.

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    Quote Originally Posted by punkoffgirl View Post
    Then, like others, the only condition I'd suggest modifiying if that ends up being the case would be actually putting it into a system. That, and the system being powered for a length of time, are about the only two "missing" factors I can think of.
    Well, I don't own a toaster NES ... SO, if at the end of this, somebody would like to take up the mantle of continuing this under the varied condition of -

    Blowing into a game and then inserting it into a working NES which is then powered on and used for an extended period (which I would imagine would "stimulate growth" like a heated incubator) for 30 days (or longer)

    they're more than welcome to. I'll send them the two Gyromite carts if they pay for shipping.

    I just wanted to cover the straight-up environmental / moisture / spit side of things.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frankie_Says_Relax View Post
    Well, I don't own a toaster NES ... SO, if at the end of this, somebody would like to take up the mantle of continuing this under the varied condition of -

    Blowing into a game and then inserting it into a working NES which is then powered on and used for an extended period (which I would imagine would "stimulate growth" like a heated incubator) for 30 days (or longer)

    they're more than welcome to. I'll send them the two Gyromite carts if they pay for shipping.

    I just wanted to cover the straight-up environmental / moisture / spit side of things.
    I am willing to continue the experiment after 30 days if you want me to, and I am willing to pay for shipping. Let me know. I'd be interested in seeing the results of this experiment, both after 30 days, and after longer periods of time. I also do have NES front loaders and top loaders to try the carts on.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frankie_Says_Relax View Post
    While most people who do this believe that they're "blowing dust" off of the cartridge contacts, what they're actually doing is increasing conductivity on the cartridge contacts by lining them with a thin (on in some cases a thick) layer of moisture by way of human breath (spit, bacteria, and whatever else is in the person's mouth doing the blowing ... yuck).
    I like the experiment, but I'm curious to hear how you reached this conclusion. Increasing the conductivity and, therefore, rendering the game playable seems pretty far-fetched; the magic, I would argue, is simply reseating the game (which one has to do after blowing on the cartridge each time).

    Sounds like a second science experiment that could be done...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Goracke View Post
    I like the experiment, but I'm curious to hear how you reached this conclusion. Increasing the conductivity and, therefore, rendering the game playable seems pretty far-fetched; the magic, I would argue, is simply reseating the game (which one has to do after blowing on the cartridge each time).

    Sounds like a second science experiment that could be done...
    I reached that theoretical conclusion, because moisture inarguably increases conductivity.

    And while I agree that repeatedly re-seating a cartridge in a toaster NES could probably yield an above average level of success in getting it to boot ... I believe that the act of "blowing" (moisture) into games likely yields a level of success above and beyond JUST re-seating them repeatedly, or else this phenomenon wouldn't have become the practice of hundreds of thousands of Nintendo users during the life of the system.

    Here's a diagram of exactly what I'm describing ...



    Figure A. No moisture, no contact being made.



    Figure B. Moisture, contact being bridged.
    Last edited by Frankie_Says_Relax; 05-27-2008 at 08:37 AM.
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    Awesome! Love the diagrams.

    I'd just like to add that it isn't necessarily spit that is on those contacts, and I think it rather unlikely one would be able to disperse their spit evenly enough onto the contacts to have a reliably positive impact on performance. Much more likely is that it is simply condensation from the person's hot humid breath onto cold metal contacts, which would mean it is pretty clean water. Granted, if you are coughing into your games or otherwise incapable of blowing without adding a bunch of phlegm, then a little something extra is being added to the mix!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frankie_Says_Relax View Post
    I'm not looking to discover the "cause" ... I just want to see what type of external visible damage that blowing into cartridges causes.
    It wouldn't be a difficult extra step to have NESes set up (using the dry cartridge first, if you only have one NES) and test how often they work, as well.

    You're already doing one step, why not the other?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cornelius View Post
    Awesome! Love the diagrams.

    I'd just like to add that it isn't necessarily spit that is on those contacts, and I think it rather unlikely one would be able to disperse their spit evenly enough onto the contacts to have a reliably positive impact on performance. Much more likely is that it is simply condensation from the person's hot humid breath onto cold metal contacts, which would mean it is pretty clean water. Granted, if you are coughing into your games or otherwise incapable of blowing without adding a bunch of phlegm, then a little something extra is being added to the mix!

    My cousins condensation was anything but clean... All his carts smelt like that stale saliva smell when kids suck on their toys haha.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krook View Post
    uuhm, what have i missed?
    Nothing. Just move along and close your eyes. I've seen them. Once you see it...


    But in much less scarring news, this is all news to me. Growing up, everyone always assumed that blowing on a cartridge was to get dirt or dust off, but considering how often they were used, dust never really had much time to accumulate. Hindsights 20/20 I suppose.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Oscuro View Post
    It wouldn't be a difficult extra step to have NESes set up (using the dry cartridge first, if you only have one NES) and test how often they work, as well.

    You're already doing one step, why not the other?
    As I said, for starters I don't have a toaster NES.

    What I really want do to is simply see if moisture via blowing causes surface damage.

    Once we figure that out, there have already been volunteers to continue the experiment/test with actual NES systems, and measure the functionality of both games.
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    Cool experiment. I'm curious to see the outcome. A quick thought:

    When a child turned on a game and got a blinking screen, how often do you think that was because of the lockout chip being out of sync with the game and not because of dirty contacts or bent pins? Then, when the child removed the cartridge, blew on it, put it back in, and turned it on again, maybe by coincidence sometimes the lockout chip was now in sync with the game, making it boot up just fine.

    How big of a problem/coincidence do you think the lockout chip was vs. dirty contacts/bent pins?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob2600 View Post
    How big of a problem/coincidence do you think the lockout chip was vs. dirty contacts/bent pins?
    You weren't exactly asking me, but the answer is very little. Back in the day I remember we'd turn it on and off a few times, take it out and put it back in and have very little success. One quick blow, and bam, it would work. Pretty much anyone that played/plays it a lot will tell you that blowing definitely works well, though like someone said, we used to all think it was dust.

    As an adult trying to get these games playing it is even clearer that corroded contacts are the main problem, since taking them apart and cleaning them thoroughly is the single most important way to get them going.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frankie_Says_Relax View Post
    And while I agree that repeatedly re-seating a cartridge in a toaster NES could probably yield an above average level of success in getting it to boot ... I believe that the act of "blowing" (moisture) into games likely yields a level of success above and beyond JUST re-seating them repeatedly, or else this phenomenon wouldn't have become the practice of hundreds of thousands of Nintendo users during the life of the system.
    Placebo effect. Take the cartridge out, blow in it (no effect, but you saw some other kid do it so...), reseat it, watch it work, conclude that the "blowing" was the difference...

    Also, you would need the contacts to stay moist for hours... or you would start to see games "glitch" during play.

    It'd be an interesting experiment, none-the-less. Not saying your theory is impossible, but it certainly needs some data to back it up.

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