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Can you fix a dead game?


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#1 DistantStar001 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 14, 2018 12:58 AM

So I've been collecting for the 2600 for the past few years, and recently acquired a heavy sixer.  The console came with a bonus of several games, including "Laser Blast".  A game that I've been trying to get for years, but every time I try, I get out bid.  Unfortunately this cartridge does not work.  All I get is black screen (sometimes vertical lines), and no sound.  This isn't the first time that I've run into a cartridge like this, I had similar issues with a copy of "Donkey Kong", "Venture", and "Fast Food".  The difference is that I have working duplicates of those.  I know that this isn't a particularly difficult game to get, I've just had some trouble acquiring it.

 

I've cleaned the contacts with rubbing alcohol, and opened the cart to inspect the board (given the condition of the table, I know that I was not the first to do it), but everything seems fine.  I'm guessing that the ROM chip's just bad, but maybe someone a way to resurrect it?



#2 larryleffaovell OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 14, 2018 1:30 AM

Same for me at https://atariage.com...lenge-of-nexar/ but no solution 'til now.



#3 lokidchser OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 14, 2018 6:40 AM

So I've been collecting for the 2600 for the past few years, and recently acquired a heavy sixer.  The console came with a bonus of several games, including "Laser Blast".  A game that I've been trying to get for years, but every time I try, I get out bid.  Unfortunately this cartridge does not work.  All I get is black screen (sometimes vertical lines), and no sound.  This isn't the first time that I've run into a cartridge like this, I had similar issues with a copy of "Donkey Kong", "Venture", and "Fast Food".  The difference is that I have working duplicates of those.  I know that this isn't a particularly difficult game to get, I've just had some trouble acquiring it.

 

I've cleaned the contacts with rubbing alcohol, and opened the cart to inspect the board (given the condition of the table, I know that I was not the first to do it), but everything seems fine.  I'm guessing that the ROM chip's just bad, but maybe someone a way to resurrect it?

If you cant get it working, I have a few Laser Blast dupes, I can offer you one.



#4 atari181 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 14, 2018 7:05 AM

If you have tried cleaning the contacts multiple times, you can use very fine grit sandpaper and clean the contacts with it. This is kind of a last ditch effort. If it doesn't work then your cart is probably trash.

#5 DrVenkman ONLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 14, 2018 7:33 AM

Ugh, please don't use sandpaper or any abrasives on gold or tin-plated contacts! The metal is a few thousands of an inch thick at most, and that will just make the issue worse.

 

The reality is, there's very little to go wrong with a ROM cart but sometimes they do have physical problems - very rarely ROM chips go bad due age, imperfections in the silicon, whatever. Sometimes there's a cold solder joint on the board inside the cartridge shell, a broken trace, or  (in the case of one Tele-Games Speedway II cart I have, a contact pad completely missing off the PCB edge connector! I guarantee you that pad went missing off my cart because someone used some kind of abrasive to try "cleaning" those contacts and physically broke that pad right of the surface of the PCB.

 

Anyway, when you say you cleaned with "rubbing alcohol," make sure you use pure isopropyl (70% pure will work, 90%+ is better). You can buy it any pharmacy or large store like Target, Wal-Mart, whatever … Clean the pads thoroughly with a Q-tip and then wipe them one once more, leaving them dripping wet. Insert and remove the cart vigorously into the Atari 6 or 8 times while the contacts are wet - this will not only clean the cart better one last time, it will also clean the contacts inside the console. Remove the cart and give things 5 minutes for the remaining alcohol to evaporate and then try the cart again. Even better, use this same procedure with a good electrical contact cleaner like CRC or Deoxit. 

 

If those techniques don't work with 90% iso or Deoxit, then your cart has physical issues bigger than dirty edge contacts.



#6 atari181 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 14, 2018 7:49 AM

Ugh, please don't use sandpaper or any abrasives on gold or tin-plated contacts! The metal is a few thousands of an inch thick at most, and that will just make the issue worse.


As I said before this is the last ditch effort. I have done this hundreds of times to revive carts.

We are not talking about a rare cart here. Going out of the way and spending more money than necessary on a common cart is kind of counter-productive.

If the OP can't revive the cart, I have many of them, just shoot me a message.

#7 Oldschool80skid OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 14, 2018 9:09 AM

So I've been collecting for the 2600 for the past few years, and recently acquired a heavy sixer.  The console came with a bonus of several games, including "Laser Blast".  A game that I've been trying to get for years, but every time I try, I get out bid.  Unfortunately this cartridge does not work.  All I get is black screen (sometimes vertical lines), and no sound.  This isn't the first time that I've run into a cartridge like this, I had similar issues with a copy of "Donkey Kong", "Venture", and "Fast Food".  The difference is that I have working duplicates of those.  I know that this isn't a particularly difficult game to get, I've just had some trouble acquiring it.
 
I've cleaned the contacts with rubbing alcohol, and opened the cart to inspect the board (given the condition of the table, I know that I was not the first to do it), but everything seems fine.  I'm guessing that the ROM chip's just bad, but maybe someone a way to resurrect it?


Read post #4.

http://atariage.com/...-1#entry3320900

#8 DrVenkman ONLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 14, 2018 10:41 AM

As I said before this is the last ditch effort. I have done this hundreds of times to revive carts.

We are not talking about a rare cart here. Going out of the way and spending more money than necessary on a common cart is kind of counter-productive.

 

And potentially destroying a salvageable cart with abrasives is further counter-productive. These destructive techniques are how common items turn rare. Especially when the issue might be internal to the cart. I've found plenty of carts that someone claimed wasn't working and "fixed" them with a thorough and PROPER cleaning with the right stuff, designed to the do the job (e.g., solvents like isopropyl alcohol and electrical contact cleaners). 


Edited by DrVenkman, Sat Jul 14, 2018 10:42 AM.


#9 DistantStar001 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 14, 2018 12:46 PM

I already cleaned the contacts with 90% isopropyl alcohol, and checked the board for cold solder, or bad contacts, everything looks good.  I may be relatively new to electronics, but I've had more than 15 years as metal smith, so I'm not too keen on using sandpaper, or abrasives.  In any (finished) metal work, the only time you resort to such methods is when you're confronted with something that a much milder solvent can't cut through.  The reason being that every time you use an abrasive (sandpaper, steel wool, etc) you remove some of the metal, potentially ruining the piece.  On a circuit board the metal is very thin, and you run the risk of sanding through it completely.  Further, many boards use copper as their principle conductor, the exposed parts are then plated in a non oxidizing (or oxygen resisting) metal, like gold, silver, or tin.  Sanding, or using any kind of abrasive (or even polishing compounds if you're not careful) on plate will easily remove it, exposing the copper underneath, which is extremely prone to oxidation.  I'm not saying that there aren't cases when such methods are necessary.  I actually did have to use this method to repair the PCB to a Coleco Gemini controller that had fallen victim to what looked like a nasty Coke-a-cola spill.  But in these cases, there is usually some visual sign that a solvent won't work, like thick greenish, or blue corrosion, or a dark discoloration on the exposed metal.  That's not the case here.  The actual board looks shiny, and new.


Edited by DistantStar001, Sat Jul 14, 2018 12:55 PM.


#10 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 14, 2018 12:59 PM

Generally the most abrasive thing I use on cartridges and contacts is paper, in conjunction with some fluid. Or light pink/soft eraser.

Keeping the gold/tin coating intact is a key point.

#11 Kokovec69 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 14, 2018 2:14 PM

You can also buy contact cleaner but be careful not spray it on plastic as it will fade and discolor.

Usually when one of my carts starts to have issues I'll clean it with isopropyl using an old toothbrush.

I'll also do the same to the console cart connector.

If that doesn't work then I'll re-solder all of the PROM pins.

 

I would stay away from abrasives although I wouldn't place Bar Keepers Friend in that category.

Bar Keepers Friend uses oxalic acid and they warn not to use it on gold or silver.

It also mitigates stainless steel corrosion through passivation but I'm not sure how that would affect nickel-gold or tin plated surfaces.

It certainly leaves extremely light scratches on my cookware.



#12 atari181 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 14, 2018 3:36 PM

And potentially destroying a salvageable cart with abrasives is further counter-productive. These destructive techniques are how common items turn rare.


Lol yeah

#13 sixersfan105 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jul 15, 2018 8:07 PM

The 91% isopropyl almost always works for me on Atari games (outside of M Network, which I can rarely get to work), but Brasso or Weiman's Brass Cleaner often works quite well on finicky carts, ESPECIALLY NES games, which almost never work for me with just isopropyl.




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