NES Cleaning FAQ
Certainly one of the most frustrating things about being a NES puppy in the late 80's/early 90's was the scourge of dirty NESes.
You would put the cart you rented from Movie Madness or Video City or whatever into your unit. It wouldn't work. You'd take it out and put it back in a few times. Still nothing besides the famous flashing blue screen. You'd take out the cart, look into the contacts, and blow into the cart (you learned this "hot tip" from Todd Shevlin down the street - you know, the video master who had, like, forty games). OK, now the game's coming up, but the graphics are a complete mess. Time to screw with it a little more. Obviously the problem is that the cart is not in far enough. So you'd wedge a book or something (I used an old copy of The Hobbit just for this purpose) into the deck and try again. Oh, now the game's running! You play for a few minutes, but then something happens - you nudged the unit while reaching for your Coke, your dog ambled by, a butterfly in Korea flapped its wings - and the game would crash spectacularly. After you finish throwing your NES against the wall, you realize that it's time to start the whole process again.
The problem lies in the NES's architecture, which is extremely sensitive to things like dust on the contacts. These contacts also get slightly bent over as the unit gets used over the years, so that eventually the NES is useless no matter what happens. As a public service to pissed-off gamers across the continent, I offer to you The NES Cleaning Guide, written by Jay McGavren. Best of luck.
-------------------------- The NES Cleaning Guide Version 1.0 By Jay McGavren E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org -------------------------- Disclaimer: I cannot be responsible for damages, monetary or otherwise, incurred by the use of these procedures. Anyone who attempts them does so solely at their own risk. When to attempt this fix It's a good idea to clean all your games and systems regularly as preventive maintenance, even if you're not experiencing problems. But if you are having trouble, cleaning will clear up the following symptoms: 1.Blank screens 2.Scrambled game graphics 3.Games that crash in the middle of play 4.Flashing screens and power lights What you'll need 1.Q-Tips 2.Windex or a solution of 50% isopropyl alcohol, 50% water 3.Phillips-head screwdriver What to do To clean a cartridge: 1.Dip a Q-Tip in the cleaning solution and rub firmly across the metal contacts on the dirty cartridge. Repeat until the Q-Tip comes out clean. 2.Use a dry Q-Tip to wipe off the excess solution. 3.Once the game is dry, plug it in to test it. You may want to remove and reinsert the game a couple times more to make sure the contacts are completely clean. 4.If the cartridge is completely clean and it still won't work, your system may need cleaning. See below. To clean a system by hand: 1.Remove the screws on the underside of the system. 2.Turn the system over and lift off the plastic top. 3.Remove the screws holding down the metal RF shield and remove the shield. 4.Remove the screws holding down the black plastic cartridge holder. Note how the small plastic tab on the front of the holder slides underneath the motherboard. Slide the holder forward and remove (it's all right if the motherboard bends slightly). 5.Lift the back of the motherboard up and pull off the set of contacts in the black plastic housing. (They will resist a bit but just rock them back and forth to slide them off.) 6.Dip a toothbrush (preferably not yours; use a loved one's) in the cleaning solution and scrub contacts off. 7.Rinse contacts off with water and allow to dry. 8.Lift up the back of the motherboard and slide the contacts back into place. 9.Lift up front the front of the motherboard and slide the cartridge holder onto the contacts. Be sure the tab on the front of the holder clips underneath the motherboard. 10.Reattach the cartridge holder's screws. (The long ones go in the second set of holes from the back.) 11.Plug in the system and test with clean cartridges. (It's perfectly safe to do so with the top off.) 12.If the games still won't work the contacts may be bad. Replacements can be taken from another defective system or purchased from some electronics dealers, however. 13.If the system is working properly, replace the cover (you can leave the RF shield off if you like, I won't tell the FCC) and reattach the screws on the bottom. If you have problems or questions about any of the above info feel free to E-mail me. I'd also love to hear about your own game repair exploits. You can find guides for simple repairs on other systems on my Web site: http://www.novia.net/~thespook/Other special features