NES:72 Pin Connector Refurbishment
|Some sources online encourage the use of Brasso, sandpaper, or magic eraser on metal pins. This can potentially remove a layer of the metal (or the gold plaiting altogether) and permanently damage the pins, so it is not covered here.
|The common practice of blowing into games only works because the constant reseating of pulling the game out and replacing it eventually creates a solid connection. The side effect of this is if spit gets onto the connectors it will cause corrosion and worsen the problem. This all being said please don't blow in your games
The frontloading NES's 72 pin connector is well known for being worn out over the years. Many people assume that their NES is "broken" but it very commonly just a worn out 72 pin connector. There are two things that happen to a 72 pin connector over time. The first is the same as what happens to every cartridge based console and that's corrosion and dirt covering the pins. The second issue is a bit of a design flaw with the design of the front loading NES. When the games are pushed down in the console over time this will permanently bend the spring loaded connectors down out of position. Once this happens they no longer make a solid connection with an inserted game cartridge. There are replacement 72 pin connectors and alternate designs (such as the "Blinking Light Win") but they are either hard to find or of very low quality and will have the same or worse issues than a worn OEM connector. If you aren't willing to refurb your own connector there are OEM ones sold that are already refurbished. This guide will detail how to refurbish your OEM 72 pin. A refurbished 72 pin (if refurbished correctly) will allow for a much more consistent experience (clean games will boot first try) than replacement connectors. This being said the front loading NES still has the same design flaw that causes these pins to be bent down so after a time the connector will have to be refurbished again.
The NES must be disassembled in order for the 72 pin connector to be accessed.
TODO: Add steps for NES disassembly and 72 pin removal.
Re-Bending the connector pins
Once the 72 Pin connector has been removed the pins will need to be re-bent to their original position.
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This method utilizes a property of shape memory (see example of this in action below) where a material will return to it's original position after being heated. This method will attempt to return the pins to their original position through heat. This method will also potentially remove dirt and grime from your connector.
- Small pot
- Fill pot with enough water to submerge your 72 pin connector.
- Place the 72 pin connector front side down in the boiling water. Don't worry about the plastic, it won't melt.
- Bring water to a boil.
- Let boil for a half hour.
- Remove pot from heat and allow to cool.
- Allow to dry completely before reinstalling (safest bet is to let it dry for a full 24 hours)
Due to the nature of shape memory allowing the 72 pin connector to cool and heating again may be beneficial to particularly stubborn 72 pin connectors. The manual method (below) can also be used in conjunction with this method with great results.
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|Be very gentle when using this method. If the pins are pulled too far out they can pop out of the connector and break off
The manual method is simply using a tool to bend the pins on the connector back into place. This method can be very tedious and time consuming as it requires all the pins to be bent to a consistent point, but if done correctly will provide great results.
- Tool for bending the pins back into place. Any of the following will work: large safety pin, needle, narrow tweezers
- Gently wiggle the tool under a pin and pry it upward. Don't pull too far upward you don't want it contacting the top of the connector.
- Continue to all the other pins making sure to lift each pin to a consistent level.
- When all pins are bent take a good look at the pins and verify they are all bent to a very consistent level as this is important for the operation of the 72 pin.
Once your pins are back in place you can clean the pins of rust and grime to ensure a solid connection.
Credit Card Method
- Old credit card
- Clean cloth (preferably microfiber)
- 91% or greater isopropyl alcohol
- Soak the cloth in some isopropyl alcohol.
- Wrap the cloth halfway around the credit card.
- Repeatedly insert the credit card (cloth side) in between the pins of the 72 pin connector.
After completing these steps your clean games should boot first try. If you're still having issues open your games and clean the connectors.