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Thread: Best way to clean card connectors / sockets

  1. #11
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    Completely agree.. Not a routine maintenance type of thing, However picking up an old 4 year old card and "cleaning the contacts" might be a twice in a lifetime thing at best.

  2. #12
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    A lot depends on the boards and connectors used. I grabbed an old system off the shelf that hasn't had its cards out in over 30 years. Powered right up--even the hard drive (a Rodime 203--not 203E) came right up. One of the floppy drives has a problem--I think the index sensor is fouled--the drives in these are MPI 102 units--I don't think I've ever run across any others.

  3. #13

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    I like to hit 'em with an air compressor. If that doesn't blow everything out, then I hose everything out with aerosol brake cleaner.

    I agree with Chuck. Those connector fingers are probably gold plated. Gold is very non-reactive (it won't corrode), but the plating is pretty thin, especially if it already has some wear. That makes me hesitant to use abrasives. I don't claim to be any kind of expert, but once you get the dirt off the contacts will scrape any remaining bit of oxidation off of each other when they rub together. If it's too corroded for the brake cleaner to clean up, then it's probably time to replace the connector.

    The classic NES cartridge connection problems are, according to Ben Heck, usually caused by the fingers in the connector being bent/weak rather than corrosion. I think he pulls them down with a dental pick, if I am recalling the video correctly. But I have no direct experience with that stuff, being not-really much of a console video game guy.
    -- Lee
    If you get super-bored, try muh crappy YouTube channel: Old Computer Fun!
    Looking to Buy/Trade For (non-working is fine): Tandy 1000 EX/HX power supply, Mac IIci hard drive sled and one bottom rubber foot, Multisync VGA CRTs, Decent NuBus video card, PC-era Tandy stuff, Weird Old Unix Stuff, Aesthetic Old Serial Terminals (HP and Data General in particular)

  4. #14

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    The front loading NES has a ridiculously bad edge connector design to accommodate the "push down" action of the carts. It is just trash engineering. The top loader doesn't have any problems.

    If you want to use a front loader, get the "blinking light win" edge connector conversion kit
    Last edited by maxtherabbit; November 24th, 2020 at 05:32 PM.

  5. #15
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    I first use compressed air for sockets and female connectors. Dish soap and water on gold male contacts to remove dirt, grime and oils from the contact fingers. Then a contact cleaner or Deoxit to reduce oxidation on both male and female contacts. For real bad contacts Stabilant 22 which cost a fortune works best. TV tuner cleaner can also be used for hard to fit connectors, but while the lubricant helps things mate, I think it also collects dust and dirt. Not so much of a problem on an old style TV tuner where it was in near constant "tuning" by the youth of the house. Watch out using brake cleaner since some brands eats plastics.

    Never tried boiling. Nor putting boards into a dish washer as I have heard some people have tried.

    Old TI chip sockets are best just replaced since they cause all kinds of problems and even if you can get them to work today they might not tomorrow. If you use abrasives you are taking short cuts, IMHO.

    Worse connectors I've run across where the bifurcated, not male/female, connectors with soft contacts (lots of 24K gold?) that bend causing intermittent contact. One brand of laptop used them on several laptop models back in the '80's and what a PITA bending two sets of connector contacts back into correct contact hoping that the problem won't return and bite you in the butt. They really screwed the pooch with one model where the one half of the pair was soldered to the motherboard which was firmly mounted to the base and the other half was attached to the top case that flexed when the LCD lid was opened and closed. Bent contacts plus cracked solder joints. I had had other experiences with bifurcated connectors used by a aerospace company I had worked for that also used them on some machine controls. Fly half way across the country to bend contacts together was not good for customer relations when they got our service bill.
    Crazy old guy with a basement full of Pentium 1 laptops and parts

  6. #16

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    Gold can acquire a transparent insulating film, but it is not normally a problem with sliding contacts, only touch contacts seen in some switch designs and in some DIP switches. On a card's edge connector it normally doesn't cause too much trouble as the sliding forces keep the gold surface devoid of it.

    You certainly do not require to put anything abrasive on the gold pcb fingers, not sandpaper and not any kind of rubber. Also avoid multiple plug ins & outs without lubrication (This advice also applies to IC's in sockets)

    You can simply clean the gold pcb fingers with a smooth lint free cloth (the type used to clean glasses are good) soaked in CRC's CO contact cleaner. Also spray the socket with the CRC contact cleaner and before the contact cleaner evaporates, while it is still wet, plug the card in & out a few times. Then, when the contact cleaner has evaporated spray Inox mx-3 into the the socket and coat the gold fingers on the card with it. This prevents corrosion of the metallic parts on the socket and lubricates it to prevent wear when you plug it in and out. Mx-3 leaves a very high purity long lasting oil on the surface. I did a number of experiments concerning the corrosive effects on metals with different products to determine that this is the better product for the task, I tested Deoxit, Inox mx-3 Inox Lanox, RP-7 and WD-40.

    Therefore you need to buy two products, both are on ebay:

    1) Inox's mx-3, get the one in the aerosol can where you can attach a tube to the nozzle.

    2) CRC, CO Contact Cleaner.

  7. #17

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    ...... further to the above post, if you have those two products in your workshop, the sequence of cleaning with the CO contact cleaner then lubricating with MX-3 works better than any of the combined cleaner-lubricant products I have tried for treating noisy potentiometers. In addition CO contact cleaner has other uses, it is perfect for dissolving flux off pcb's and for removing oily deposits, all most as good as the unobtainium Carbontetrachloride, which was the "Bees Knees" for cleaning oil from rubber drive belts and tape deck capstan pinch rollers and has a peculiarly wonderful restorative effect on aged rubber.

    I have attached a photo of Will Robinson from Lost in Space (episode Return from Outer Space) with a bottle of the now unobtainium Carbon-Tet.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  8. #18
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    I used to use carbon tet to clean noisy pots; after that was banned, I moved to Freon TF. Then that became verboten. If it's not plastic, I'll use tetrachloroethylene. Otherwise, whatever comes in a spray can and is advertised as a cleaner. GC stuff is okay...

    For restoring rubber, I use methyl salicylate in a solvent, such as toluol. Restores the flex very nicely and smells nice.

  9. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck(G) View Post
    I used to use carbon tet to clean noisy pots; after that was banned, I moved to Freon TF. Then that became verboten. If it's not plastic, I'll use tetrachloroethylene. Otherwise, whatever comes in a spray can and is advertised as a cleaner. GC stuff is okay...

    For restoring rubber, I use methyl salicylate in a solvent, such as toluol. Restores the flex very nicely and smells nice.
    Wintergreen oil (yeah, the same stuff used for making candy) is really great for restoring rubber, too. Back when I was restoring and riding vintage motorcycles, I used to put the hard-to-find rubber parts (like carburetor boots, etc) in a waterbath with wintergreen oil and it pretty much made them as good as new. It's pretty amazing. :O
    -- Lee
    If you get super-bored, try muh crappy YouTube channel: Old Computer Fun!
    Looking to Buy/Trade For (non-working is fine): Tandy 1000 EX/HX power supply, Mac IIci hard drive sled and one bottom rubber foot, Multisync VGA CRTs, Decent NuBus video card, PC-era Tandy stuff, Weird Old Unix Stuff, Aesthetic Old Serial Terminals (HP and Data General in particular)

  10. #20
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