42 votes
Accepted

What precautions to take when powering on old computer for the first time in years

There are several simple precautions that are always worth taking when powering up a vintage microcomputer after long periods of storage or non-use. The minimum, simple steps, should include: Place ...
  • 58.8k
37 votes
Accepted

Why do older computer cases turn yellow?

In this article, it states: In nearly every case it’s flame retardants. Although plastics can yellow in the absence of flame retardant chemicals, the chemicals accelerate the process when exposed to ...
  • 2,434
33 votes

Is there some reason why "grounding your fingers" is not necessary for old video game consoles?

Your claim of "super important when you open up a computer" is a bit strong and I counter that it's not. This is not to say that it's not to be considered at all, but is part of a risk ...
  • 9,975
22 votes
Accepted

How should I clean old chemically-deteriorating (especially rubberized) sticky plastics?

Short version: use 70% IPA (isopropyl alcohol, A.K.A. rubbing alcohol) and cotton pads. Higher concentration IPA should be fine too, but isn't necessary. Gently rub the sticky mess with a cotton pad ...
  • 1,570
20 votes
Accepted

Cleaning 5¼" floppy drives

Ideally you should clean the drive read/write head(s) with a cotton swab dipped in 90+% cleaning alcohol (e.g. isopropyl). The aim is to leave nothing on the head - dirt, cotton, nor cleaner residue. ...
19 votes
Accepted

Troubleshooting and reparing an Atari 800XL with a single key not working

In the end, I decided that it had to be easier to take the keyboard apart than to de-solder the 4051's and so I carefully removed the 18 tiny screws from the back of the keyboard. It wasn't nearly as ...
  • 8,780
18 votes

Is there some reason why "grounding your fingers" is not necessary for old video game consoles?

Touching a radiator won't help a bit, unless the device under operation is also bolted to the radiator. The point is that your body and preferably the whole environment is at same potential with the ...
  • 23.3k
16 votes

Power cycling old hardware

It's safer to turn them on and off from time to time. The most problematic components are electrolytic capacitors, especially the aluminium types which have been used plentiful in old computers. ...
  • 2,098
14 votes

Why do older computer cases turn yellow?

Assuming the yellowing isn't caused by nicotine, if you're a smoker, usually it's because of UV light interacting with flame retardants (usually bromine) in the plastic of the device's case. UV ...
  • 1,701
14 votes

Original Mac capacitor inspection

You can find a list of capacitors and other analog board components here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/132RwzC8HM5ask-BdY_31txErOCwJDSkz099GY2XLpE0/edit?hl=en&hl=en#gid=0 This list is ...
14 votes

Is there something like Retr0bright but already made and trustworthy?

The 8-Bit Guy gets good results from using 40 Volume Developer (essentially 12% peroxide, either as a cream or liquid) from the beauty salon and it's apparently available in jurisdictions where you ...
  • 5,421
13 votes

How to get rid of yellowing in plastics?

Search the web for the term "Retrobrite" or "Retr0bright". You will also find numerous sources (including YouTube) for recipes and how-to's using OxyClean and other sodium percarbonate-based products ...
12 votes
Accepted

Cleaning buckling spring keyboards

As always: depends. What do you want to clean? Cleaning the outside (keys, case,...) is done like with any other keyboard (soap foam, clean rags,...). Be aware the structured paint that IBM used for ...
  • 29.9k
11 votes
Accepted

How many cards can safely be put in a IIgs?

In general, the IIgs was designed to have a full house in regards to expansion cards, just like every other member of the expansion slot Apple II family. There are guidelines for how much power a card ...
  • 15k
11 votes

When or should we expect our 8-bit motherboards to fail due to the capacitors?

As someone who owns around 70 vintage computers (8/16 bit), leaky caps are a big concern for me. In my experiences, batteries leak far more often than capacitors. Obviously, electrolytic capacitors ...
  • 8,151
11 votes
Accepted

How can I repair a sketchy video signal on a 1977 Pong unit?

The main thing is that the signal changed when you handled the board. That implies to me there’s a loose connection (or more than one). See if you can figure out which it is: wiggle each wire inspect ...
  • 2,110
10 votes
Accepted

What should I do to clean up a Power Mac G3 that's been outside for two years?

From your description, it sounds as though there is no fundamental reason why you shouldn't get this machine working again. The main risk is something somewhere causing a short circuit. So, don't ...
  • 7,904
10 votes

What to replace the belt in the cassette drive of an Epson HX-20 with?

In my experience, just about any rubber band can be used, in a pinch, to replace a belt as long as you make it snug, but not too snug. I'm talking about those centimeter or more wide rubber bands ...
10 votes

Why do older computer cases turn yellow?

As has been mentioned already, the most common reason is flame retardants. I've found that the easiest way to restore the original color is hydrogen peroxyde + UV light (either from the Sun or from ...
10 votes
Accepted

How do I replace a ZX Spectrum 48k keyboard membrane?

For the keyboard itself: Undo the screws from the bottom of the case. Lift the top of the case gently off. Disconnect the ribbon cables from the keyboard (CAREFUL fragile) Slide out the keyboard. ...
  • 7,904
10 votes

When or should we expect our 8-bit motherboards to fail due to the capacitors?

This clearly needs a "depends" answer. There are known places where I wouldn't even dare to switch on a computer without replacing caps first - The Sinclair ZX Spectrum series is such a candidate - ...
  • 29.9k
10 votes
Accepted

What, if any, routine maintenance does an old computer need?

Handling of 80s machines is not different from any modern computer: Keep 'em in average humidity and remove accumulated lint once in a while. Not smoking is also a plus. Not so much because of ...
  • 191k
9 votes
Accepted

How can I rejuvenate Game Boy contacts?

Depending on how bad the corrosion is, various techniques can work. First, just try plain old water (or better yet, isopropyl alcohol) and a cotton bud - on the cartridges and the Game Boy itself. ...
  • 612
9 votes

Is there some reason why "grounding your fingers" is not necessary for old video game consoles?

It's hard to give an answer without any of the situation (videos) you refer to provided, as there are many ways to avoid ESD damage. The most important: don't wear plastic/gummy soles and clothing and ...
  • 191k
8 votes

Troubleshooting and reparing an Atari 800XL with a single key not working

I've found that the old Atari keyboards can lose conductivity and that pressing they key repeatedly, not necessarily with a lot of pressure, can revive them. I've had Apple II keys start working again ...
  • 4,493
8 votes

How to get rid of yellowing in plastics?

I used the method outlined here by Javier Rivera on my Apple IIc Plus and it worked fine. Javier does a lot of RetroBrite projects and posts a number of results to the Apple II Enthusiasts Facebook ...
  • 181
8 votes
Accepted

How do you remove an LCD bubble on an unmodified Game Boy?

I have seen this happen on several Nintendo systems: Back in the days of the G&W games, they were putting a rather thick polarizing layer in front of the LCD screen and not gluing it. At some ...
  • 3,642
8 votes
Accepted

How to tell if glue or electrolyte leak from old capacitors?

There are basically two distinct "tell-tales" for electrolytic capacitor leakage: Bulging pressure release plates at the top of the capacitor, with possible signs of leakage emanating from there. ...
  • 58.8k
8 votes

How should I clean old chemically-deteriorating (especially rubberized) sticky plastics?

Your choice is one of sticky or ugly. There is no nice solution. The only way to make it less sticky is to remove it, which will always also attack the body below. The body is (usually) based on the ...
  • 191k

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible