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Old 05-20-2013, 12:55 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Cleaning NES cartridge contacts

Today I went to a flea market and bought a bunch of NES games.

One of them was Super Mario Bros. and it doesn't work very well.
To my surprise, the screws on the cartridge are flatheads as opposed to the wierd screws on all the other carts I got. At first I thought it meant it was a bootleg but judging from the insides I'm 100% sure it's legit.

( Click to show/hide )

From the left: lockout, CHR ROM (graphics), PRG ROM (game code)


Close up of the PCB
( Click to show/hide )


Now look at this...
( Click to show/hide )


Really nasty gunk on the contacts.
There is so, so much advice on the internet about cleaning these things that I don't know where to start.
I was wondering if anyone has a proven, preferred method (supplies + procedure) for clearing them off?

As it stands right now I get this for a title screen:


The rest of the game is an equally garbled mess.
I really want to play it properly - any help is appreciated!

Last edited by Seahawk; 05-01-2016 at 06:35 PM..
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Old 05-20-2013, 02:44 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Cleaning NES cartridge contacts

I'm no expert, but it looks to me that some of the contacts are pretty much completely gone... is that just the picture? Anyway, rubbing alchohol and a q-tip always worked wonders for me. Some people on the site suggest that is a horrible idea, so take it with a grain of salt. Also heard of using one of those soft white erasers. We talked about this a few months ago, somewhere. At least it's just Mario, you can probably get 40 of them for a dollar on Ebay.
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Old 05-20-2013, 03:28 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Cleaning NES cartridge contacts

For real? The lowest price at the flea market was 5$, which is what I paid for.
Every other vendor was asking 15$ for it, and a "special" deal of 50$ for SMB 1, 2, 3. There were 40 million SMB1 cartridges sold packed in with the NES, and 17 million SMB3 sold standalone. I thought those prices were crazy.
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Old 05-20-2013, 03:41 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Cleaning NES cartridge contacts

I could go down to some swap meet right now and pick up 5 copies of SMB1, 10 copies of SMB1 + Duck Hunt, and about 8 copies of SMB1 + Duck Hunt + Track & Field for about five bucks.

Some common stuff right thar.
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Old 05-20-2013, 03:53 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Cleaning NES cartridge contacts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seahawk View Post
For real? The lowest price at the flea market was 5$, which is what I paid for.
Every other vendor was asking 15$ for it, and a "special" deal of 50$ for SMB 1, 2, 3. There were 40 million SMB1 cartridges sold packed in with the NES, and 17 million SMB3 sold standalone. I thought those prices were crazy.
They are crazy... ish. There seems to be this new trend than any video game for any outdated system is super valuable. I just checked Ebay and there are lots of SMB's going for a dollar or two though. I remember going into second hand shops several years back and no joke seeing, 30 or so copies of SMB/Duck Hunt just stacked up. The game is so common.
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Old 05-20-2013, 05:18 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Cleaning NES cartridge contacts

Soft vinyl eraser.
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Old 05-20-2013, 05:57 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Cleaning NES cartridge contacts

Quote:
Originally Posted by stevencassidy13 View Post
rubbing alchohol and a q-tip
Rubbing alcohol (it's also called isopropyl alcohol yeah?) and a couple of Q tips should do the trick. Maybe put the cart in and out of the NES a few times to help clean your NES too.

I like using WD40 also. It's smelly but it reminds me of my dad and his cars, and nowadays it also reminds me of new cartridges waiting to be played.
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Old 05-20-2013, 10:48 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Cleaning NES cartridge contacts

Quote:
Originally Posted by RevJ View Post
I like using WD40 also. It's smelly..
smelly? whatchu talkin' bout' willis? i love the smell of wd-40
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Old 05-20-2013, 11:54 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Cleaning NES cartridge contacts

Apparently isopropanol slowly degrades the contacts. Not sure how true this is though.
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Old 05-20-2013, 01:11 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Cleaning NES cartridge contacts

People use windex I don't ALCOHOL 70%-90 is fine I soaked games in them to remove DEET once, and today all of them still work and the LABELS are ok too.....

Safety Q-tips are best.....

Shit I immersed them in water before DON'T do it but it never harmed it

Erasers are good but messy

Brasso works well any metal polish is pretty good..

But I say 70-90% percent rub alc is the safest

---------- Post added at 12:11 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:10 PM ----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by RevJ View Post
Rubbing alcohol (it's also called isopropyl alcohol yeah?) and a couple of Q tips should do the trick. Maybe put the cart in and out of the NES a few times to help clean your NES too.

I like using WD40 also. It's smelly but it reminds me of my dad and his cars, and nowadays it also reminds me of new cartridges waiting to be played.
WD40 don't harm anything
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Old 05-20-2013, 01:47 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Cleaning NES cartridge contacts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Barra View Post
Apparently isopropanol slowly degrades the contacts. Not sure how true this is though.
Dunno about that. That's what I've used on my NES carts for years and years and they're still fine.
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Old 05-20-2013, 02:09 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Cleaning NES cartridge contacts

I had a friend would run his games under the tap and then put them back in the system without allowing them to dry. I still remember the pretty colors that game 720 used to make instead of working.
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Old 05-20-2013, 03:34 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Cleaning NES cartridge contacts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dudebro View Post
I had a friend would run his games under the tap and then put them back in the system without allowing them to dry. I still remember the pretty colors that game 720 used to make instead of working.
That's dumber then the time I jammed my SNES bare wires directly into the socket with no AC adapter and made my SNES produce green smoke.
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Old 05-20-2013, 04:20 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Cleaning NES cartridge contacts

Well he wasn't known for his stunning intellect. I'm pretty sure his NES also had no top part to the case, you could see all the guts. That might've contributed to his games not working.
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Old 05-20-2013, 05:36 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Cleaning NES cartridge contacts

Just for anyone else (I'll assume Seahawks has already taken my advice).

Any type of cleaning, be it alcohol or eraser will very, very slightly wear away at the contacts. This being the case you should actually avoid cleaning the contacts on your carts if at all possible. If your NES is blinking 95% of the time this is caused by the 72-pin connector in the actual NES and not particulate building up on the contacts.

A light alcohol rub will only remove residual oils and dust from the contacts. A soft, white, vinyl eraser will remove all the nasty particulate that will form from normal metal on metal wear. It will also make them nice and shiny.

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Old 05-20-2013, 09:56 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Cleaning NES cartridge contacts

How do you fix the 72 pin connector tender? Ps nice post
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Old 05-21-2013, 05:21 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Cleaning NES cartridge contacts

When you push a cart down on the NES its forcing the cart contacts to press against the pins of the connector.



As the life of the connector ages through use the pins will slowly bend causing them to lose their connection with the contacts. You can try to bend each pin back into shape using a pin or small screwdriver. Be careful as they can break easily.



While you're in there you may want to wipe down the pins as well using alcohol.



If you do happen to break a pin a 72 pin connector or it needs replacement for whatever reason, they go for about $8 on ebay. Easy stuff to replace.
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Old 05-21-2013, 05:45 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Cleaning NES cartridge contacts

Every NES Ive had has been fixed by doing this.
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Old 05-23-2013, 03:42 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Cleaning NES cartridge contacts

How do you pull that connector off? It is really attached to the mainboard, are the contacts between the board and the connector soldered together? Heat gun required to loosen?

Unrelated, but I love tech porn. Mainboard pic of the little console that could.
( Click to show/hide )

Last edited by Seahawk; 05-01-2016 at 06:35 PM..
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Old 05-23-2013, 05:25 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Cleaning NES cartridge contacts

They are not soldered. The connector should just slide straight off of the pcb.

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Old 05-23-2013, 03:05 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Cleaning NES cartridge contacts

I like the PIN fixes but I know a guy on EBAy who haS FULLY BRAND NEW compatible 72 pin connectors with warranty
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Old 05-25-2013, 10:05 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Cleaning NES cartridge contacts

Thanks for all the help guys.

Have a demo of the results:
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Old 06-11-2013, 12:00 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Cleaning NES cartridge contacts

Looks a bit better than it was
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