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Thread: re-capping and other restorative measures

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    Strawberry (Level 2)
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    Default re-capping and other restorative measures

    I have replaced capacitors on the NES and Genesis with varying degrees of success. On one of my Gen model 2s (don't know what revision) I recapped it and went from a working Genesis to a non-working Genesis. I was pretty certain I had the polarities going the right way, so I wonder if I didn't add enough solder to some of them. Nothing else got shifted around. I recapped an NES which is much easier because there are so fewer of them on the board. The only one that's somewhat hard to do is the monster in the metal box in the corner. It went from a system that I had constant issues with to a system that had much fewer issues.

    So with that said, I have a few questions for anyone with an electronics background or someone who's worked on consoles-

    1) Is there a specific type of solder I should use? I used leaded solder with flux core in the past which I like because it has the lower melting point and seems to flow better. I also have some that has silver in it but I don't know if that is good or bad.

    2) What are some other things to replace to get the system working as close to 100% as possible? I know the voltage regulator is one thing people replace but I don't understand how it affects anything. I know that people replace the 72-pin which I am adament against because every time I installed a new one, it had a death grip on it. I heard Blinking Light Win is good but I do have concerns about the death grip thing.

    3) Best cleaning methods? I usually just swab the PCB of the carts with rubbing alcohol and it's really just a temporary fix. I think all it's doing is creating better conductivity. I shouldn't have to clean a cart every time it's removed from the system. I like the official cleaner from Nintendo for the system but again it seems like a temporary solution and I feel like it's dumb to keep inserting the dirty pad in and out of it since I don't have replacement pads.

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    ServBot (Level 11) jb143's Avatar
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    1) Unless you've got some heavy duty solder, it doesn't really matter too much. Like acid core solder. Don't use that. That's used for soldering metal pipes and such together. Not electronics. Lead free solder is a bit harder to work with and the solder joints don't look the same. I like to use thin silver-bearing rosin core solder, but usually just use whatever I have on hand/in reach. But like I said, it doesn't really matter as long as you get a good joint. Just look up some pictures of good solder joints (and for lead-free as well) to make sure.

    2) I would only replace the regulator if it actually needed replaced. And the only time I've ever seen one needing replaced is when reverse polarity was applied. If anything, you could remove the heat sink if it has one, clean both surfaces, and but some more thermal paste on it. I can't comment on new pin connectors since I've never done that before.I have cleaned and bent back into place before and that seemed to do the trick for me. Other than that, replacing the batteries in carts is something that'll need done at some point.

    3) Do you mean you cleaned the contacts or the whole PCB? Really the contacts are all that *should* ever need to be cleaned. All but the most suborn of my carts have ever needed anything other Q-tips and isopropyl alcohol. I point out isopropyl because in some parts of the country/world "rubbing alcohol" is something completely different. Some places it's ethanol, and you don't want to be using that. Also, you want to % of alcohol to be on the high side. Try to use at least 90%. Electronics grade is probably overkill but you can get it %99.9 if you really wanted but just a warning, it will find and cut or scrape on your hand that you didn't even know was there. And be sure to clean the contacts on the system as well.

    But I've never re-capped any system, I just keep the contacts clean and never had any problems. Not that they won't need new caps eventually, but so far I haven't needed to. Something else to keep in mind, keeping systems stored in extreme temperatures like an attic or garage can cause premature death in caps.

    Though, now that I think about it, I do have a couple Game Gears that DO need re-capped, but that's a common problem due to them using poor quality caps. One of these days I'll get around to that.
    "Game programmers are generally lazy individuals. That's right. It's true. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Since the dawn of computer games, game programmers have looked for shortcuts to coolness." Kurt Arnlund - Game programmer for Activision, Accolade...

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    2) BLW: I have the original, and it is quite tight. They offered free replacement to their revised version that they said isn't so tight, but I hadn't installed mine then and didn't ever get around to it. I suspect what they currently sell is pretty decent.

    3) In my experience, dirty cartridges are a bigger problem than system contacts. I've rubbed carts with alcohol and a q-tip, and it is okay, but I'm a firm believer in an occasional (every 20 years?) use of metal polishing compound. I have a tube of Maas (I think) that will easily last me another 15 years. It takes way more off than alcohol ever did. You have to open the cart, put a dab on some paper towel, then rub the contacts till they are shiny and no more black crap comes off on the towel. For system contacts that really are dirty, I've had good luck with wrapping very fine grit sandpaper (like 2000) around a credit card and inserting that a few times, followed by thick paper with iso alcohol on it. I've also more recently boiled 72-pin connectors out of curiosity, and it really does seem to work.

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    ServBot (Level 11) Niku-Sama's Avatar
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    I use a fine silver bearing solder, it was cheap when I got it (radio shack closing) and I had used it before to good results. is all personal preference, really. just don't use the stuff for plumbing.



    as for the genesis, toss it in a box to scavenge parts off of it in the future and just go get a working one. i'm sure you could find a bare working system for pretty cheap

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