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Thread: DP MYTHBUSTERS : Blowing in NES Cartridges

  1. #51
    Cherry (Level 1)
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    Thirty days to show the long-term effects of blowing on a cartridge? I don't think we will see any difference in that time period. Did you happen to take any high resolution scans of the contacts of the boards, or just the slightly blurry digicam pics?

  2. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by madman77 View Post
    Thirty days to show the long-term effects of blowing on a cartridge? I don't think we will see any difference in that time period. Did you happen to take any high resolution scans of the contacts of the boards, or just the slightly blurry digicam pics?
    I can attest to the scans idea. Stick those suckers in gutted CD cases and stick them in your scanner. It's a great way to do this sort of thing. I was telling an engineer at work a few weeks ago about that when I saw him using a digital camera to take pics of PCBs, and he's still using the camera

    But I do think 30 days will be enough to get some results. I've got N64 games that are in horrible shape, and they have been around for less than half the time. It's funny how nearly every used game I ever got is in piss-poor condition as far as cart contacts go, and every single game I bought new and sealed has excellent pins. It's like everybody has poured acid on their carts.

    That's not to say I'm innocent of cart blowing. I still do it sometimes.

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    Just the slightly blurry cam pics for now ... at 1 week I'll do scans.

    I'm really glad this has people interested/talking.

    Maybe we can make it a regular feature/segment!

    Can anybody think of any other gaming myths that we could theoretically do experiments on?
    "And the book says: 'We may be through with the past, but the past ain't through with us.'"


  4. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuplayer View Post
    That's not to say I'm innocent of cart blowing. I still do it sometimes.
    Just because you blow a little cart every now and then, doesn't make you...



    Seriously though... I'm anxious to see what's gonna happen. I get some carts that are in horrible shape... but it doesn't seem to be limited to NES games, as I've found corroded carts on the SNES and N64... which are systems that I thought people didn't blow in. At least I didn't...

  5. #55
    drowning in medals Ed Oscuro's Avatar
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    Another random idea:

    Blowing on contacts vs. being kept in a damp basement (no idea how to emulate that effect, unfortunately).

    I guess the long and short of it is that NES games like to be dry, if you want to keep them for the long haul.

  6. #56
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    Are you sure electricity running through the cartridge contacts when it's plugged into a NES isn't vital to the experiment? Who knows what effect that has on how fast the metal oxidizes. And are we sure that the cartridge contacts are what's getting corroded, not the contacts within the NES itself? An average NES game might be blown on once or twice a week, but if that NES gets several spit covered NES games inserted into it on a daily basis, the wear-and-tear might be even worse inside the NES than inside the cartridge.

    Another interesting indicator to see if the spit works would be to use an ohm meter with a cartridge that's been blown on recently versus a dry one versus one that's been blown on for 30 days. Which one has more resistance, or does it make any difference at all?

    Here's how I'd test this theory after the 30 days:

    1: Take the circuit board out of a toaster NES

    2: Plug the cartridge into the NES and power it up. If the game runs, pull the cartridge out and put it back in until you get the blinking light or corrupt graphics or whatever.

    3: Once you get the blinking lights, use an ohm meter or a cable tester to check connectivity between each pin on the cartridge circuit board and the NES circuitboard.

    4: If all the pins make connection, then obviously the problem has nothing to do with how the cartridge was seated or corrosion on the contacts.

    5: If some of the pins didn't make contact, visually inspect them. Are they physically touching the connector in the NES, or is the pin bent back too far, or is the cartridge in at an odd angle?
    Last edited by blue lander; 05-28-2008 at 08:24 AM.

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    Again.

    While I appreciate all of the interest and input, all of the suggested variables are specifically why I'm running this test and only this test.

    I need it to be simple to start.

    Simple, basic, moisture-by-way-of-human-breath-on-cartridge-contacts.

    If after 30 days this yields zero results in terms of damage, then we can move on to try other things... but I reiterate, I won't be the one continuing the experiments at that point.

    I'm doing a simple environmental test. That's all.
    "And the book says: 'We may be through with the past, but the past ain't through with us.'"


  8. #58
    Peach (Level 3)
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    Okie dokie. Considering how spotty cartridges have been the bane of NES Gamer's existance for the last 20 years, I'm suprised nobody's done a meaningful version of this test already!

  9. #59
    ServBot (Level 11) TonyTheTiger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frankie_Says_Relax View Post
    Again.

    While I appreciate all of the interest and input, all of the suggested variables are specifically why I'm running this test and only this test.

    I need it to be simple to start.

    Simple, basic, moisture-by-way-of-human-breath-on-cartridge-contacts.

    If after 30 days this yields zero results in terms of damage, then we can move on to try other things... but I reiterate, I won't be the one continuing the experiments at that point.

    I'm doing a simple environmental test. That's all.
    You're doing it right. The most basic rule of any experiment is to change only one variable at a time.

  10. #60
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    Well what can i say i fell upon this forum looking for retro game info during a board half hour at work, i think what your trying to do should be commended and encouraged soooooo many forums waffle on and on about crap offering nothing original or new to the scene.

    This thread alone breaks this trend and i eagerly await the results (I still blow my carts to this day NDS) and just about every other nintendo console that has been released (I think i have an example of each nintendo console in my collection barring the virtua boy)

    I added this page to Stumble i suggest more do the same im sure it will bring some new blood to the forum with original content like this

    Regards WKD Long term video game addict

  11. #61
    drowning in medals Ed Oscuro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TonyTheTiger View Post
    You're doing it right. The most basic rule of any experiment is to change only one variable at a time.
    That doesn't preclude changing that variable in different ways.

    Example of my suggestion set up as an experiment:

    Control group: cartridge contact kept in dry conditions
    Experimental group 1: contact blown on
    Experimental group 2: contact kept in moist conditions (moist basement, under dirt, etc. - this could be helpful for finding out how bad blowing on something is compared to something else)

    What is important is having an objective way of testing the contacts. If you're testing insertions of a dry cartridge you can't pop it into a NES that's just had a wet cartridge removed.

    My guess is that some error or bias could creep into the results, or be artificially removed. An NES that has had moist cartridges inserted regularly will probably start to have a messed-up connector, and while I would carefully dry it to test the effects on only the cartridge connector, you see that this is really a change from the actual real-world situation. In the closest test to realistic you'd have to let both the system and the cartridge dry out normally.

    To make sure the cartridges are somewhat equal you'd have to find some brand-new games to test this myth out, or do it over a whole bunch of different cartridges so you can average it out and lessen the effect of wear and tear - they'd have to be the same game, and ideally they'd each be carefully tested by the start for reliability - inserted so many times each before you start testing so that obvious problem cartridges are removed from the equation.

    Doing a test with just two cartridges will prove nothing, since we can attribute all the failures to some unseen and uncontrolled variable interfering.

  12. #62
    ServBot (Level 11) TonyTheTiger's Avatar
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    You're right that the same variable can be changed in multiple ways. The thing is, I'm not sure testing the cartridges is really necessary if the experiment is just seeking to find out if regular blowing increases the rate of corrosion. The actual functionality of the cartridges becomes moot. You don't need an experiment to figure out that corrosion is probably bad even if a corroded cartridge does play flawlessly.

    If the question is that blowing in conjunction with regular use of the cartridge is what does damage and not just blowing alone, then that's a whole separate issue on the assumption that the results of the current test yield no difference.

    The fact that two cartridges with unknown histories are being used does inject some slight corruption but I think that's probably negligible provided both were cleaned as best as possible prior to beginning the experiment. Honestly, the best way to test this wouldn't be getting two new sealed games. It would be to build your own cartridge contacts with the same material but that's obviously pretty prohibitive.

  13. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by TonyTheTiger View Post
    The thing is, I'm not sure testing the cartridges is really necessary if the experiment is just seeking to find out if regular blowing increases the rate of corrosion.
    You don't say. I fear this is going to sacrifice a game or two to the evil gods of vanity and false hopes that bad game handling practices will be vindicated when they can't possibly be.

    Also, my personal reaction to the thought of somebody blowing on a NES cartridge over and over is this: Gross.

  14. #64
    ServBot (Level 11) TonyTheTiger's Avatar
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    Perhaps a better change would be to also have a cartridge that regularly gets a shot of canned air or something. That would isolate the "blowing" from the extra crap that could come out of someone's mouth.
    Last edited by TonyTheTiger; 05-30-2008 at 04:44 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TonyTheTiger View Post
    Perhaps a better change would be to also have a cartridge that regularly gets a shot of canned air or something. That would isolate the "blowing" from the extra crap that could come out of someone's mouth.
    Hmmm... this sounds good.

    Also, is there any way to quantify the results? I'm not sure if I can think of any way myself, I'm just throwing the idea out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TonyTheTiger View Post
    Perhaps a better change would be to also have a cartridge that regularly gets a shot of canned air or something. That would isolate the "blowing" from the extra crap that could come out of someone's mouth.
    The point of this is really that people who "blow" in their games UNAVOIDABLY get crap on the cartridge contacts, no matter what they do.
    "And the book says: 'We may be through with the past, but the past ain't through with us.'"


  17. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frankie_Says_Relax View Post
    The point of this is really that people who "blow" in their games UNAVOIDABLY get crap on the cartridge contacts, no matter what they do.
    Agreed. Most people who did this with their NES games didn'tuse compressed air, they just opened their mouths and blew. Doing it any other way would not be accurate.
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  18. #68
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    Neat idea, but I don't expect you to see anything after 30 days. If you don't, you haven't proven that blowing on carts doesn't cause damage -- only that blowing in carts doesn't cause visual damage within 30 days. I suppose if you wanted to get a bit more scientific you could use a multimeter or something and measure the conductivity before/after the spit batch and/or 30 day waiting period.

    We all know that salting the roads during winter causes cars to rust, but not in 30 days.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flack View Post
    Neat idea, but I don't expect you to see anything after 30 days. If you don't, you haven't proven that blowing on carts doesn't cause damage -- only that blowing in carts doesn't cause visual damage within 30 days. I suppose if you wanted to get a bit more scientific you could use a multimeter or something and measure the conductivity before/after the spit batch and/or 30 day waiting period.

    We all know that salting the roads during winter causes cars to rust, but not in 30 days.
    I dunno, not many games were blown in daily for several years (or even 30 days), so I kind of think Frankie's method is a pretty good "accelerated" test, unless one thinks that it takes a couple days of 'rest' for the full amount of damage to occur. I think that any and all damage/corrosion would occur within a few minutes; as soon as it dries no more corrosion (than in the control group) occurs. I guess how, umm, moist your 'blow' factors in here as well. To what degree it is accelerated is definitely debatable.

    p.s./non-sequitur - my wife hates the word moist.

  20. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by TonyTheTiger View Post
    Perhaps a better change would be to also have a cartridge that regularly gets a shot of canned air or something. That would isolate the "blowing" from the extra crap that could come out of someone's mouth.
    Oh, I want to get in on this too!

    Anyhow, unless somebody here swears by compressed air on the cartridge, I don't really see the utility of this step. Nobody that I know of uses compressed air on a NES cartridge, and it's not really appropriate for your control group...

    As usual, Flack writes what I was thinking but more elegantly. I really just don't see the point of attempting to prove what we all know must happen in an expensive and painful test process.

    I think Frankie should do what his handle says: sit back, crack open a cold one, and stop worrying about NES carts. If somebody wanted to prove that blowing on NES games isn't harmful or even beneficial, they'd be abusing science to attempt to justify a bad habit.

    p.s. Guys, in other news I am going to smoke a whole pack of cigarettes right now to prove that it won't hurt my lungs years from now.
    Last edited by Ed Oscuro; 05-30-2008 at 08:40 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Oscuro View Post
    I really just don't see the point of attempting to prove what we all know must happen in an expensive and painful test process.
    Actually, I think he is trying to prove to a number of people that it is indeed more harmful than they think. I count myself among the 'it isn't a big deal' crowd. I imagine, though, that like most things it is somewhere in between: people that manage to blow in their games without spitting don't cause significantly more corrosion, people that hock loogies in there do have more in addition to 'green mold' and everything/anything else you can think of.

    I'd never claim that even the most careful blowing doesn't cause more corrosion than not, I just don't think it is enough more over about 20 years to cause a significant difference. The only question I'm then left with in regard to this test, is How good a blow does Frankie give?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flack View Post
    Neat idea,...
    It is your idea!!! I was just reading the thread I linked to in the above post, and you proposed this experiment way back then.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Oscuro View Post
    Oh, I want to get in on this too!

    Anyhow, unless somebody here swears by compressed air on the cartridge, I don't really see the utility of this step. Nobody that I know of uses compressed air on a NES cartridge, and it's not really appropriate for your control group...

    As usual, Flack writes what I was thinking but more elegantly. I really just don't see the point of attempting to prove what we all know must happen in an expensive and painful test process.

    I think Frankie should do what his handle says: sit back, crack open a cold one, and stop worrying about NES carts. If somebody wanted to prove that blowing on NES games isn't harmful or even beneficial, they'd be abusing science to attempt to justify a bad habit.

    p.s. Guys, in other news I am going to smoke a whole pack of cigarettes right now to prove that it won't hurt my lungs years from now.
    Painful?

    Expensive?

    You're kidding right?

    It's neither of the above ... it's mostly good clean (and by clean I mean potentially gross and moldy) fun!!

    And as far as me relaxing ... I pose this question ... who is over-reacting more :

    me doing a neat little analog science experiment to see if a near-legendary toaster NES quick-fix is as damaging as I suspect it is ...

    ... OR ...

    ... people taking the time to bust my chops over it?

    Seriously guys. This is just a bit o' fun. Let's all enjoy it, no?

    I'm even SURE that the Gyro Robo carts will be rescuable even if they do get a bit on the messy side.
    "And the book says: 'We may be through with the past, but the past ain't through with us.'"


  24. #74
    drowning in medals Ed Oscuro's Avatar
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    The real problem here is that this sort of experiment is what the Mythbusters team WOULD NOT attempt.

    Mythbusters tends to attempt spectacular failures where you can measure success or failure in terms of something flying into pieces.

    For example, trying to destroy a car's engine by throwing it into reverse - that was a myth that supposedly had instant results.

    The experiment at hand is completely counter to that philosophy. You can't excite an audience by blowing on a cartridge over and over, and you could need months before you see any progress.

    Finally: Once again, it's gross and unnecessary.

    I'll leave out the issue of sample size because, again, we know what's going to happen to a NES cartridge contact when it gets moist. It's going to corrode. If by some miracle it doesn't, you've goofed up your process somehow, like somehow obtaining a game that has a different type of contact pins, or not running the experiment long enough.

    The only thing related to NES contacts that could be tested is how many blow/dry (hah) cycles you'd need to see degradation. But that's pointless for obvious reasons. Should I keep lighting up cigarettes until I die? I know I shouldn't start in the first place.
    Last edited by Ed Oscuro; 05-31-2008 at 07:16 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Oscuro View Post
    ... we know what's going to happen to a NES cartridge contact when it gets moist. It's going to corrode ...
    The thing is, and it's been supported by other members in this thread and elsewhere, is that there was, and still are a very large faction of NES users out there that DON'T KNOW/DON'T BELIEVE that's what happens when you blow onto an NES cartridge. (I'll go out on a limb and say that it's a much larger number than those who DO know.)

    Yes, WE believe it to be true ... but some people that I meet don't.

    I'm sorry if I'm not properly representing the quality/integrity of the Mythbusters brand via my scientific method...I thought that it was pretty obvious that I was just trying to be cute/clever with that association.

    Again, this is just for fun. I'm really not sure what the big deal is.
    Last edited by Frankie_Says_Relax; 05-31-2008 at 09:57 AM.
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