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Cleaning old game cartridges

#16 User is offline Toasty 

Posted 05 June 2016 - 04:59 PM

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View PostMecha Sally, on 05 June 2016 - 01:17 AM, said:

I've recently (as in today) tried to use rubbing alcohol and Q-tips to clean the contact pins on the copy of Harvest Moon 64 that I got. I plugged the game into my system and turned it on... and nothing happened. Tried a different game to make sure it wasn't the console, and it worked fine. Used three different Q-Tips on the HM64 cart and it looked like a lot of dirt had come off, but alas, still nothing when I turn the console on. I'm debating on getting stronger alcohol (91% as opposed to the 70% I used today) and/or that Brasso stuff to try, but I'm nervous... and also kinda pissed since I paid like $60 for it.

Anyone with experience cleaning N64 carts have advice to offer? Should I keep trying or return the game and get my money back (and hope to God they don't try to re-sell it to some poor soul)?


Have you opened the cartridge? I got a nasty surprise when I opened my F-Zero X cartridge up a few months ago, the chips were corroded so badly it couldn't be saved. :( It's pretty rare for that to happen, but it has happened to me a few times.
This post has been edited by Toasty: 05 June 2016 - 05:00 PM

#17 User is offline Mecha Sally 

Posted 05 June 2016 - 05:29 PM

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View PostToasty, on 05 June 2016 - 04:59 PM, said:

View PostMecha Sally, on 05 June 2016 - 01:17 AM, said:

I've recently (as in today) tried to use rubbing alcohol and Q-tips to clean the contact pins on the copy of Harvest Moon 64 that I got. I plugged the game into my system and turned it on... and nothing happened. Tried a different game to make sure it wasn't the console, and it worked fine. Used three different Q-Tips on the HM64 cart and it looked like a lot of dirt had come off, but alas, still nothing when I turn the console on. I'm debating on getting stronger alcohol (91% as opposed to the 70% I used today) and/or that Brasso stuff to try, but I'm nervous... and also kinda pissed since I paid like $60 for it.

Anyone with experience cleaning N64 carts have advice to offer? Should I keep trying or return the game and get my money back (and hope to God they don't try to re-sell it to some poor soul)?


Have you opened the cartridge? I got a nasty surprise when I opened my F-Zero X cartridge up a few months ago, the chips were corroded so badly it couldn't be saved. :(/> It's pretty rare for that to happen, but it has happened to me a few times.


That sucks. >.< I wasn't going to open it except as a last resort. I decided to do that just now though, and it seems like the board and the chips are all ok. I did notice some rather stubborn dirt (at least I *think* it's dirt...) on the inner metal plate that the game board sits on. It's a pain in the butt to rub off, I'll say that. Was going to run out and get some other things to try that might help get it off. I can see now there's still some stubborn dirt on the contact pins too.

#18 User is offline .Luke 

Posted 05 June 2016 - 05:44 PM

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It wouldn't happen to be rust, would it? I had that problem on an NES cart of Super Mario Bros once, but it didn't stop the cartridge from working as long as the pins were otherwise clean.

As a last resort, do you have a multimeter handy? If there are any capacitors on the PCB, it couldn't hurt to check those. In my experience, I could be wrong, caps are sometimes the first kinds of components to die, get damaged, or explode.

View PostBilly, on 31 May 2016 - 06:45 PM, said:

The one I got grips the carts like a sunnuvabitch, meaning I have to wiggle the shit out of them to get them out. My solution to that was to keep a game genie in at all times.


I recently had to deal with the same thing for my iBuffalo SNES controller. It's an awesome, nostalgia-inducing USB pad, but the connector is a really tight squeeze into the USB port, so I plug into a USB hub instead. Don't want to wear down my internal ports!

#19 User is offline Mecha Sally 

Posted 05 June 2016 - 08:17 PM

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View Post.Luke, on 05 June 2016 - 05:44 PM, said:

It wouldn't happen to be rust, would it? I had that problem on an NES cart of Super Mario Bros once, but it didn't stop the cartridge from working as long as the pins were otherwise clean.

As a last resort, do you have a multimeter handy? If there are any capacitors on the PCB, it couldn't hurt to check those. In my experience, I could be wrong, caps are sometimes the first kinds of components to die, get damaged, or explode.


Don't have a multimeter, and I wasn't sure if it was rust or not. It didn't have that reddish tint to it, and some of it was coming off, so I thought it was dirt. The whole outside of the cart was pretty dirty, actually, so I wasn't too surprised that the inside had some grime as well.

But that doesn't matter much now as I'm proud to say I got it working! I picked up some 91% isopropyl alcohol and used that on the dirty part of the frame (which didn't do much) and then on the contact pins (which seemed to work better than the 70%). Dried the pins with a dry Q-tip, reassembled the cart, waited a bit, plugged it in, turned the N64 on... success! Now I just need to get a box for the game, and possibly a new cart label too (the one on there now is kinda dirty and faded).

#20 User is offline .Luke 

Posted 08 June 2016 - 02:27 AM

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I'm glad everything on the PCB was okay, in that case! 91% alcohol is great stuff. I use it to clean a lot of my electronics, even used controllers.

My cousin had similar problems with his N64 carts years ago until I cleaned them, which I thought was odd. I never had as much trouble with SNES or Genesis carts a console gen before that.

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