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Equalizer700
July 5th, 2009, 06:26 AM
As a part of restarting my old Altair, I'm cleaning off 30 years of dust, grime, packing material debris, etc. The chassis is disassembled and it cleaned up nicely. I've cleaned the motherboard, except where all the wires to the front panel attach. As you may or may not know, the motherboard has about 75 or 100 20+ gauge wires that attach to the front panel (didn't they have ribbon cable back then?).

The wires are all noticeably dirty. The dirt comes off with a household cleaner (similar to 409) with some rubbing with a rag. It also comes off with the Radio Shack spray chassis cleaner (the expensive one) but with more rubbing than with the 409. The problem is that the wires were all braided together in a loose braid and I'm afraid to use the cleaner and a rag to clean the braid very much for fear of breaking one of the wires off. Does anyone have any suggestions for cleaning this up, except to be gentle and careful with a Q-tip?

Chuck(G)
July 5th, 2009, 09:12 AM
Look out for those cheap white wires that MITS used in their Altair kits--they're pretty fragile after they've been flexed a few times. When cleaning electronics, I shy away from water-based cleaners and use isopropyl alcohol. It seems to cut greasy dirt about as fast as anything and evaporates quickly. To apply, I use a small (1") pure hog bristle paint brush. (If it was really delicate, you could use a sable brush).

Worst case on those wires is that you have to resolder them. A bother, but not a catastrophe--and you could use a better quality of wire (molex pins are easily obtained for the other end).

RichCini
July 5th, 2009, 09:55 AM
Look out for those cheap white wires that MITS used in their Altair kits--they're pretty fragile after they've been flexed a few times. When cleaning electronics, I shy away from water-based cleaners and use isopropyl alcohol. It seems to cut greasy dirt about as fast as anything and evaporates quickly. To apply, I use a small (1") pure hog bristle paint brush. (If it was really delicate, you could use a sable brush).

Worst case on those wires is that you have to resolder them. A bother, but not a catastrophe--and you could use a better quality of wire (molex pins are easily obtained for the other end).

Usually I'm not too concerned about gunk on the wire insulation but I've used rags saturated with a cleaner or just plain dusting with a 1" rounded artists brush (I'm not that much of an artist anyway...) and a can of air.

My favorite cleaner for this kind of stuff is diluted Simple Green on a rag. For cases with yellowing, I use OxyClean spray or Goo Gone. I'll wipe them with a dry rag afterward. For Oxy or Goo Gone, I'll re-wash the area with soap and water on a rag.

Chuck(G)
July 5th, 2009, 02:18 PM
(didn't they have ribbon cable back then?).

Yes they did, and is why some folks opted to buy from IMS, rather than MITS. I remember soldering those stupid wires (it probably took as long to do as assembling the front panel). All white, no color code whatsoever--and very few strands in the conductor itself. I could have saved myself a lot of grief by buying some real wire.

Equalizer700
July 6th, 2009, 01:03 PM
Yes, they are certainly not quality wires!

One of the wires already broke, just taking the front panel and motherboard out of the chassis. When I built it at least I made little tags for each wire, so they are identified. I don't think I'm up to replacing them all, though...I remember putting them on the first time too vividly! But the soldering nightmare I remember the most was the 16K memory kit. 3200+ pins to solder.

I'll try the alcohol and simple green and see what works best for me. Thanks for the suggestions!