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Thread: Cleaning NES games... Your best advice?

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    Cherry (Level 1)
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    Default Cleaning NES games... Your best advice?

    Am I correct in assuming I can use rubbing alcohol to clean the game contacts safely? I have a lot of games and I need to clean them the right way.

    Greg

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    The Knowledge Base is your friend... this is for SNES, but it works just as well on NES.

    http://www.digitpress.com/livefaq/in...101&artlang=en

    I also use a white stick eraser after the qtip.

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    No matter what anybody tells you...
    The top rack of your dishwasher is not safe!!!
    Repeat, The top rack of your dishwasher is not safe!!!

    That said, I follow what the above listed link says. I have done it for years and never had any issues.

    Or you could go old school and just blow inside them. Spit all over them like my old friend Rob used to do. Then again his stuff went to crap. DO NOT EMULATE Rob.

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    Yups, knowledge base knows best!

    An alternative is a can of "contact cleaner". Its a compressed spray that is used to clean contacts (not lenses, the PCI, AGP etc kind). I found it at maplins and is dead easy to use. Turn off anything near electricity, Spray, wait for it to dry and voila!

    Michele

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    Or you can purchase one of the many cleaning kits on ebay.

    http://search.ebay.com/search/search...kit&category0=
    #vbender

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    Alcohol and a Q-Tip

    Keeping Video Games clean since 1982

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    1. 99.99% pure anhydrous isopropyl alcohol
    2. q-tips
    3. Stabilant 22

    It is important to get alcohol with no water in it. Search these forums for other posts mentioning pure alcohol. I linked a seller. It is cheap for a lifetime's supply (under $10). Dip the q-tips in the alcohol and brush the teeth of the cartridge. The q-tip will turn a dirty color, and you should then dispose of it. Repeat this process until both sides of the cart contacts no longer turn the dipped q-tips a dirty color.

    Next rub a thin layer of Stabilant 22 on both sides of the contacts. This is the best contact enhancer and protector. It keeps them contacts from corroding, it helps improve their conductivity, and it also lubricates them so that they slide more easily in and out of a connector without wearing away the contacts.

    If you use a toaster, you will want to open it up and brush it's 72-pin contacts with a new toothbrush soaked in the pure alcohol. Do this until the pins shine. Then put Stabilant 22 on the mother board's contacts where the 72-pin connector connects. This will make the connection between the pin connector and the NES mother board more reliable, and it will also help the connector slide back on more easily. After that, put everything back together (it is easy).

    Make sure that you always keep your NES covered when not playing it. There are official toaster covers that fit nicely. Similarly, always keep your games in sleeves or some other kind of case. Try to store them in a good clean dry place.

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    Pretzel (Level 4) johno590's Avatar
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    Yep, alchohol and q-tips has worked great for me. I haven't tried the eraser too but I have heard of it.

    Back in the day I definately went the blow method because that was all I knew, and hey it worked... but now I know better

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jagasian
    3. Stabilant 22
    Now THAT is a good idea. I'll have to do that next time I clean any carts or toasters. Does that have to sit after application or can you slug the cartridge into the system right after?

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    First of all, thanks for the KB plugs, guys! Second, this has pointed out to me that we need a similar KB entry in the NES section. Third, does anyone else have any experience with this Stabilant 22 stuff? It sounds great, and if it is popularly accepted as good stuff with no harmful side effects, then I will add it to the KB entries.

    Chris

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jibbajaba
    Third, does anyone else have any experience with this Stabilant 22 stuff? It sounds great, and if it is popularly accepted as good stuff with no harmful side effects, then I will add it to the KB entries.
    I was introduced to Stabilant 22 by an earlier edition of this book. Stabliant 22 is a liquid plastic, that never dries and never evaporates, does not short circuit electronics, yet improves conductivity between two contacts that are touching eachother. It is popular amongst audiophiles, and it is a standard ingredient used in BMW cars to make sure that electrical contacts keep conducting, even after many years of use of the car. It used to be popular for PC hardware, but since Stabilant 22 is kind of expensive compared to the ever falling PC hardware prices... it is more common to simply use your PC hardware until it fails and then replace it. Game collectors, however, can't replace rare carts or game systems, so Stabilant 22's price is justified, IMO.

    There is a catch. You should never apply Stabilant 22 to dirty contacts, so always clean the contacts really good before applying Stabilant 22. Also, Stabilant looks and feels something like K-Y lube, but it never dries. So you should make sure to never leave Stabilant covered contacts uncovered because it will pick up dust faster. Back when we were care free and younger, we'd just throw our NES carts anywhere, but since today we keep them sleeved or encased when not in use, dust shouldn't be an issue. However, if it does become an issue, you can always use a pure alcohol dipped q-tip to whipe away the Stabilant, and then apply a fresh coating. But again, if you keep your cart's contacts covered at all times, one cleaning and then coating with Stabilant should last for years.

    Stabilant 22 and 99.99% pure anhydrous alcohol are the reason why the toaster NES that is still hooked up to my TV, has never had to be refurbished, and yet still plays games without any blinking. I've also used the method listed above on my very first toaster, which was in pieces, literally, and I've brought it back to working, non-blinking status. Though it is missing its top half and its controller ports... those got lost sometime back.

    Here is where I bought my Stabilant 22. Note that most people mix it with 99.99% pure anhydrous alcohol to make a solution known as Stabilant 22A, which is nothing more than a dilluted Stabilant 22.

    I dug up my post on 99.99% pure anhydrous isopropyl alcohol. You can't get the truely pure stuff at the drug store, as they only sell stuff with %10 or more water in it, and water is bad for contacts in the long run. I link a few online retailers for the pure stuff, again, you get a large bottle and the stuff is cheap:
    http://www.digitpress.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=62318

    What you can buy at the drug store is a big box of white ended q-tips.

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    Never ever use abrasive things on your contacts. They are typically gold plated copper or tin. So, if your'e using an eraser/fine grit sandpaper/screwdriver (I swear I think some folks have done that on some N-64 carts I have) you will take out some of the gold plating that you want to leave in place. The most abrasive thing you should ever use is a Q-tip.

    I do my carts in stages, so I'll cover that and move on. First pass is either windex or rubbing alcohol on a Q-tip. This will break up most of the crud. Sometimes it's tough to get good leverage on the contacts, so a stiff q-tip stick helps a bit here.

    Then I take a dry end to the contacts and give em' a good polishing. Not only does this pick up the windex/alchohol on the contacts, but it'll take a bit more of the crud up with it too. I'll repeat this process until they are looking pretty clean.

    Then I deck out the 'good stuff' the contact cleaner. It's about $10/can which makes it prohibitive to use from start to end, but is a great way to take off that last layer of crud before you call the contacts clean. I'll also preclean other carts if I have a bunch to do (do I? ) just to avoid totally wasting the chemical. I don't wipe this stuff off.

    In the event of something exceptionally filthy, I have a can of contact cleaner from the 1970's that my dad used on old TV tuners, the stuff reeks like WD-40 and cleans rather well. I secretly fear the caustic toxins in this can of mightiness. So I don't use this stuff often, but it'll break up corrosion something fierce.

    I've not heard of this stabilant stuff before. I'll have to do a bit more research on that to satisfy my curiosity. My impression is that it's geared more towards a connector/contact set that my be subject to vibration and contamination, BUT doesn't normally experience regular insertion and removal (IE: cartridges). So in a PC or automotive environment, that would be ideal. Normal people don't shuffle their PCI cards around multiple times a day, and the same with audio jacks, It's mostly a plug in and leave it application. This may not make it the best solution for carts. If you do regular insertion and removal and youre bound to get contamination (dust) in the cart slot from how you describe its rather sticky nature. You can keep dust out of our carts, but some of that stuff is going to remain on the deck contacts and in reaility. Since your'e focused on keeping the cart ends covered, things aren't too bad there, but the deck has it's dust cover and that's it. Dirt still gets in there, regardless. So now youv'e got stabilant and dust in your deck.

    I'll look at it a bit more closely, but this seems like a bad idea on first impression.

    Hex.
    [ Drinker of vodka, owner of a coffeepot. ]

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    Quote Originally Posted by hex65000
    Never ever use abrasive things on your contacts. They are typically gold plated copper or tin. So, if your'e using an eraser/fine grit sandpaper/screwdriver (I swear I think some folks have done that on some N-64 carts I have) you will take out some of the gold plating that you want to leave in place. The most abrasive thing you should ever use is a Q-tip.
    White plastic erasers are not nearly abrasive enough to damage the unoxidixed metal. I would be wary of using a pink rubber or grey eraser, as they are much more abrasive, but someone would have to really go buck wild with a white plastic eraser before it would do any damage.

    To see what I mean, draw two lines on a piece of paper, and erase one of them with a pink eraser, and the other with a white eraser. The pink eraser will remove some of the paper, while the white eraser will not.

    Chris

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    Quote Originally Posted by hex65000
    I do my carts in stages, so I'll cover that and move on. First pass is either windex or rubbing alcohol on a Q-tip.

    Hex.
    [ Drinker of vodka, owner of a coffeepot. ]
    As I have been informed on this forum, Windex has water. Water is bad. Stick with the 99.9% alcohol. It has bonus features like being flammable. And inflammable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jibbajaba
    Quote Originally Posted by hex65000
    Never ever use abrasive things on your contacts. They are typically gold plated copper or tin. So, if your'e using an eraser/fine grit sandpaper/screwdriver (I swear I think some folks have done that on some N-64 carts I have) you will take out some of the gold plating that you want to leave in place. The most abrasive thing you should ever use is a Q-tip.
    White plastic erasers are not nearly abrasive enough to damage the unoxidixed metal. I would be wary of using a pink rubber or grey eraser, as they are much more abrasive, but someone would have to really go buck wild with a white plastic eraser before it would do any damage.

    To see what I mean, draw two lines on a piece of paper, and erase one of them with a pink eraser, and the other with a white eraser. The pink eraser will remove some of the paper, while the white eraser will not.

    Chris
    I quite disagree with that. A "friend" of mine gave me a pretty nasty carpet burn with a white erase... i still have the scar 4 years after. They can be quite abbrasive, its just that you don't notice it until its too late...
    Michele

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    Quote Originally Posted by tylerwillis
    It has bonus features like being flammable. And inflammable.
    In either case, it's gonna burn.

    Also, I don't see any mention of Goof-Off, which I assume is going to work as a cleaner, as I used that to take fingerprints off the back of my Athlon 64 before applying thermal paste and the heatsink...

    I'll have to look into this stabilant 22 stuff. Sounds helpful, but I can't see myself going crazy spraying down carts.

    And yeah, advising ANY abrasive method of cleaning contacts is bad. It doesn't matter if the eraser is less abrasive - it's still abrasive by nature; that's eventually going to leave you with a stripped cartridge, and that's not what anybody wants.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spinal
    I quite disagree with that. A "friend" of mine gave me a pretty nasty carpet burn with a white erase... i still have the scar 4 years after. They can be quite abbrasive, its just that you don't notice it until its too late...
    Michele
    You cannot rightly compare these two. Human skin and PCB materials vary greatly in their frictional characteristics, as well as their mutal response to heat. Could you tolerate the molten solder bath that the typical PCB is manufactured in?

    I'm sure that given the time, determination, and an endless supply of white erasers you could inflict damage to a cartridge, but you'd have to be really really determined. You could repeat the same experiement with qtips and alcohol; they would eventually wear the contacts away as well.

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    Default Re: Cleaning NES games... Your best advice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scream And Fly
    Am I correct in assuming I can use rubbing alcohol to clean the game contacts safely? I have a lot of games and I need to clean them the right way.

    Greg
    WD-40
    "Never fall in love with your videogames"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jibbajaba
    Quote Originally Posted by hex65000
    Never ever use abrasive things on your contacts. They are typically gold plated copper or tin. So, if your'e using an eraser/fine grit sandpaper/screwdriver (I swear I think some folks have done that on some N-64 carts I have) you will take out some of the gold plating that you want to leave in place. The most abrasive thing you should ever use is a Q-tip.
    White plastic erasers are not nearly abrasive enough to damage the unoxidixed metal. I would be wary of using a pink rubber or grey eraser, as they are much more abrasive, but someone would have to really go buck wild with a white plastic eraser before it would do any damage.

    To see what I mean, draw two lines on a piece of paper, and erase one of them with a pink eraser, and the other with a white eraser. The pink eraser will remove some of the paper, while the white eraser will not.

    Chris
    \


    WD-40 not only cleans the contacts, it protects them after.
    A guy that worked at PRATT AND WITNEY opened up a game shop and told me that was the best way to protect the contacts on pcb boards and whatnot.
    "Never fall in love with your videogames"

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    Well, I gots alchohol, Q-tips, AND an NES cleaning kit (with box/instructions, non-mario edition), so I'm always set to go! as far as erasers go, they work good, but you should still rely on the good ol' bottle-and-kleenex

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