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(TechSpot)   Remember blowing into Nintendo cartridges to get them to work? Yeah, 30 years later, it turns out you were wasting your time and believing an urban legend. Here comes the retro gaming science   (techspot.com) divider line 111
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4348 clicks; posted to Geek » on 07 Jul 2014 at 1:31 PM (2 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-07-07 11:44:22 AM
Well, duh.

Blowing inside the Nintendo itself was how you fixed things.
 
2014-07-07 01:21:52 PM
I had an electronics contact cleaner that I sprayed in mine.  Granted, it was a Sears Tele-Games system and not nintendo, but the principal was the same.
 
2014-07-07 01:33:22 PM
The trick was not to put the cartridge all the way in.  If he top of the cartridge scraped the front just a little, it would work every time.
 
2014-07-07 01:33:48 PM

FirstNationalBastard: Well, duh.

Blowing inside the Nintendo itself was how you fixed things.


This.

Although my brother and I always did both the Nintendo and the game cartridges.  We were cool like that.

/also: LIES subby, pure lies with that headline!
//:p
 
2014-07-07 01:35:07 PM
I would jam something in front of the cartridge as it closed  down for maximum contact.
 
2014-07-07 01:35:52 PM

imontheinternet: The trick was not to put the cartridge all the way in.  If he top of the cartridge scraped the front just a little, it would work every time.


I used both methods.  If blowing in it didn't work, then you'd barely push it in til it scraped the front.  One or the other would always work, unless you had dropped the cart from a decent height and it was legitimately broken on the inside.
 
2014-07-07 01:37:10 PM
What if food particles or what happened to have fallen into the open part of the cartridge?
 
2014-07-07 01:37:34 PM
I still have my NES. It's hooked up to the TV in the game room. When my 9-year-old son first encountered an issue with a cartridge that wouldn't load, he simply pulled it out and blew into it.

He had never seen me do that, and I don't believe he had ever seen another NES. It was just geek instinct in action.
 
2014-07-07 01:37:57 PM
The trick was to get an eraser that fit in there. Same thing with computer hardware for years and years, although I haven't had a desktop this century.
 
2014-07-07 01:38:10 PM
Wait,

So you weren't supposed to blow R.O.B.?

Now you tell me.
 
2014-07-07 01:38:38 PM
You had to whack it on your leg a few times so that blowing would remove the most dust.
 
2014-07-07 01:39:02 PM

FirstNationalBastard: Well, duh.

Blowing inside the Nintendo itself was how you fixed things.


Blowing the Nintendo itself yielded other, stickier results.
 
2014-07-07 01:39:15 PM
I had a commodore Amiga with a finicky 3.5' drive.  I would gently pat the top of of the computer above the drive and I swear Elite and Wayne Gretzky Hockey would run much more reliably.

/loved my Amiga -- I was pumped when we got the 1MB RAM expansion for Christmas.
 
2014-07-07 01:39:33 PM
Vigorously rub the intellivison/atari cartridge on the shag carpeting seemed to work.
 
2014-07-07 01:39:48 PM
It started with blowing into the game, and if that didn't work you blew into the Nintendo itself. If that didn't work you had to try to push the game down and wedge it just right so it didn't pop back up and latch the way it normally did. If that didn't work you beat on the thing a couple times and then it would work. Then they came out with those kits where you put the solution (basically rubbing alcohol) on the contact cleaners and inserted it into the Nintendo a few times and an adapter for you to do the same to the game cartridges. When that stopped working it was time to buy a SNES.
 
2014-07-07 01:39:56 PM
I always figured it was an urban legend.

/still blew into the cartridge every time there was an issue
 
2014-07-07 01:41:11 PM
So how did we all come up with these things before the internet?

I mean, i was what, 8 or 9 when I got one. And these were discoveries and subtle touches that i discovered on my own.
 
2014-07-07 01:42:15 PM

labman: I had an electronics contact cleaner that I sprayed in mine.  Granted, it was a Sears Tele-Games system and not nintendo, but the principal was the same.


Back when Sears had the ability to get other companies to rebrand their stuff for Sears.  Atarii was black and Tele-Games was silver.  Dontcha miss those games?
 
2014-07-07 01:42:26 PM
What's funny is that the entire "spring loaded cartridge" thing was put in in place to make the NES look like a VCR. After the video game crash of 1983, Nintendo figured people (in the United States, anyway - the Famicom had top-load cartridges) wouldn't buy something that looked like a console.

It's also amusing that a Nintendo cartridge was literally about 4 times larger than it needed to be. The actual ROM and stuff is tiny - the cartridges could've been the size of cassette tapes, but "bigger is better".

Eventually, of course, Nintendo released the NES 2 in the US, and it had top-load cartridges. But, ridiculously, it also only had RF output. No composite or anything else.
 
2014-07-07 01:42:53 PM

Raug the Dwarf: imontheinternet: The trick was not to put the cartridge all the way in.  If he top of the cartridge scraped the front just a little, it would work every time.

I used both methods.  If blowing in it didn't work, then you'd barely push it in til it scraped the front.  One or the other would always work, unless you had dropped the cart from a decent height and it was legitimately broken on the inside.


I did something like this.  Push the cart in until the end is barely sitting on the ledge of the port, and then slam it down in at an angle.  Seemed to work 75% of the time.  Only used it on games that were having real difficulty running, kind of a last resort.  After that, the game was tossed into the closet to never be seen again.

Also, blowing into the cartridge did work some (actually, I would say majority) of the time I used the method.
 
2014-07-07 01:44:06 PM
What a bunch of hot air.
 
2014-07-07 01:47:56 PM
Blowing worked most of the time.  For some you also had to wedge it usually by placing another cartridge on top of the one you wanted to play to help get it into proper position.
 
2014-07-07 01:48:05 PM

Raug the Dwarf: imontheinternet: The trick was not to put the cartridge all the way in.  If he top of the cartridge scraped the front just a little, it would work every time.

I used both methods.  If blowing in it didn't work, then you'd barely push it in til it scraped the front.  One or the other would always work, unless you had dropped the cart from a decent height and it was legitimately broken on the inside.


My idiot friend would break games on purpose then try to get store credit for a new game.  He was annoying enough that they usually gave it to him.
 
2014-07-07 01:49:29 PM

smd31: FirstNationalBastard: Well, duh.

Blowing inside the Nintendo itself was how you fixed things.

This.

Although my brother and I always did both the Nintendo and the game cartridges.  We were cool like that.

/also: LIES subby, pure lies with that headline!
//:p


my trick related to the loading tray.  lots and lots of time and experimentation went into the proper way to load the game (especially once the loading tray broke, and you needed to stuff other game cartridges and thinly folded pieces of paper just to keep the game you want to play properly depressed).

oh yeah, and blowing on it worked.  there's no science proving that it didn't, just some doofus scientist who decided that it was illogical.  i say, frog in cream fight, make butter, fark the rationalist and let 'em drown.
 
2014-07-07 01:49:40 PM
had that issue with a pair of my old 2600 carts.  I ended up just pulling the boards from the cartridge casing and  that solved the issue, as it was normally that the contacts weren't seating correctly. just had to be careful to turn the power off before inserting or pulling the board.
 
2014-07-07 01:51:28 PM
I feel old. The words in the article are Nintendo but I was reading Atari. And then I was reminded how fast I would break the Atari joysticks because they were cheap pieces of shiat.

Heh. The game isn't working so give the cartridge a blow job and see if that sorts out the problem.
 
2014-07-07 01:52:28 PM

Dingleberry Dickwad: It started with blowing into the game, and if that didn't work you blew into the Nintendo itself. If that didn't work you had to try to push the game down and wedge it just right so it didn't pop back up and latch the way it normally did.


I used to use another cartridge to hold down the main cartridge when my NES was on it's last legs.
 
2014-07-07 01:56:49 PM
Put me in the camp of jamming another cartridge in there.
 
2014-07-07 02:03:16 PM
I would fold a piece of paper several times and put it on top of the game inside the system.  It would keep the game firmly pressed and it would play.
 
2014-07-07 02:03:30 PM
I just sacrificed a neighbor's cat to get things working again. Never failed.
 
2014-07-07 02:03:31 PM
I didn't blow in them. I did clean and polish the contacts with an eraser though. And that usually did help.
 
2014-07-07 02:03:47 PM
I remember trying to get my girlfriend to blow me while we played Nintendo.  Ah, to be 15 again.
 
2014-07-07 02:04:53 PM
If my NES doesn't want to work right, taping the right side of it tends to make it work if blowing doesn't work or barely putting the game in.

/That's what she said.
 
2014-07-07 02:05:38 PM
A friend of mine worked at a Nintendo repair place.  He made tons of money fixing them, because "blowing" was the kids' way of "fixing" them.  Actually what they were doing was spitting into the cartridges.  Eventually the connector got corroded and corroded more games. It was like a virus.  Friends would bring games over and put them into the console, and start the corrosion onto their games.

You needed "special" tools to open the cartridges and game consoles.  Nintendo sold them to 3rd party repair centers.
 
2014-07-07 02:06:21 PM
Nintendo sold a "cleaning kit" for cartridges. It was a "cleaning wand" (fancy Q-Tip) and a bottle of "cleaning fluid" (rubbing alcohol). Charged the then price of $9.99 for it.
 
2014-07-07 02:08:15 PM
I will say that my brother and I also did the whole "put another cartridge in there just enough to keep the actual game down" trick as well.


Also Game Genie surprisingly worked well when a game wouldn't work on its own.

/good times
 
2014-07-07 02:10:07 PM

realmolo: What's funny is that the entire "spring loaded cartridge" thing was put in in place to make the NES look like a VCR. After the video game crash of 1983, Nintendo figured people (in the United States, anyway - the Famicom had top-load cartridges) wouldn't buy something that looked like a console.

It's also amusing that a Nintendo cartridge was literally about 4 times larger than it needed to be. The actual ROM and stuff is tiny - the cartridges could've been the size of cassette tapes, but "bigger is better".

Eventually, of course, Nintendo released the NES 2 in the US, and it had top-load cartridges. But, ridiculously, it also only had RF output. No composite or anything else.


There was actually a later revision of the NES 2 that did AV output; it had the multi-out port that was on the SNES.
 
2014-07-07 02:10:07 PM

szyska: Nintendo sold a "cleaning kit" for cartridges. It was a "cleaning wand" (fancy Q-Tip) and a bottle of "cleaning fluid" (rubbing alcohol). Charged the then price of $9.99 for it.


Which is better then your spit.
 
2014-07-07 02:10:55 PM
The secret was to use the Game Genie cartridge to act as the buffer between the cartridge and the system.

Also was I the only one who lucked out occasionally and got games to load glitchy yet still playable on the SNES?
 
2014-07-07 02:21:30 PM

imontheinternet: The trick was not to put the cartridge all the way in.  If he top of the cartridge scraped the front just a little, it would work every time.


This.  That's how I did it.  But I also did the blowing thing.  Been doing it since using Atari cartridges
 
2014-07-07 02:24:40 PM

danknerd: What if food particles or what happened to have fallen into the open part of the cartridge?


Do you want ants, danknerd? Because that's how you get ants!
 
2014-07-07 02:27:11 PM
I had one of those pink deals:

thumbs4.ebaystatic.com
 
2014-07-07 02:27:49 PM
of course blowing in them worked. It put moisure from your breath on the contacts which helped make a better load. It stopped working when it dried up, and in turn lead to corrosion of the pins inside the system which decreased performance further.

The modern fix is to replace the stock 72 pin "C" with a stronger one which resisted corrosion and gave better contact with the cartridge. The replacement takes minutes and lasts for a good long time.
 
2014-07-07 02:30:25 PM

smd31: FirstNationalBastard: Well, duh.

Blowing inside the Nintendo itself was how you fixed things.

This.

Although my brother and I always did both the Nintendo and the game cartridges.  We were cool like that.

/also: LIES subby, pure lies with that headline!
//:p


Hell sometimes I would take the little clip piece of the the bottom of the NES and blow in those holes too.
/nostalgia
.
 
2014-07-07 02:31:04 PM
Back in my early days of doing tech support, I heard a story from one of my cow orkers about how he got
a panicked call from a user whose hard drive would not boot and they needed something off it that they had
not backed up.  He told them to lift the front of the CPU (this was an early 90s vintage PC clone brand) by
about an inch with the power on and drop it.  The user did that, and sure enough it booted.  The particular
brand of hard drive used in that brand of PC had issues where the motors were weak and sometimes the
heads of the drives would get stuck in the parking zone.

A couple of weeks later, I tried the same trick with someone who had a similar problem, and sure enough, it worked for me, too.
 
2014-07-07 02:34:53 PM
My conclusion as a kid was that blowing totally worked, but not with a hard jet of air made with your lips in an "o" shape. That did nothing, except blow out any clumps of dust/hair/whatever that might be present. What you had to do was open your mouth and breathe hot air from your throat onto the contacts -- the kind of breathing you wouldn't want someone with halitosis doing in your face. Worked great. I don't know the exact reason, but I guess it had to do with warming the contacts, perhaps causing them to expand slightly? I'm willing to admit I could be totally wrong, but I really recall comparing different methods and having the best success rate this way. Being the little science geek I was, I was definitely aware that I may have just been making an extra attempt, but I may have even kept numbers.

I'll have to dig up my old NES and games, and run an experiment myself. They haven't been touched in at least 17-18 years, so either they'll be perfect test subjects, or they won't work at all.
 
2014-07-07 02:35:14 PM

Jim from Saint Paul: szyska: Nintendo sold a "cleaning kit" for cartridges. It was a "cleaning wand" (fancy Q-Tip) and a bottle of "cleaning fluid" (rubbing alcohol). Charged the then price of $9.99 for it.

Which is better then your spit.


Bought a box of Q-Tips and a bottle of rubbing alcohol for about $2.50. The 20 oz bottle I got lasted much longer that the 2 oz bottle in the kit. Not saying it was worse, just more expensive....
 
2014-07-07 02:37:23 PM
I read books when I was younger. Simple design and I never had a operating issues.
 
2014-07-07 02:40:14 PM
Didn't have NES because i hated mario games and zelda. But you better believe i bought  a play station when the first Grand Tourismo came out.
 
2014-07-07 02:42:15 PM
Breathing on the contacts work because increased humidity makes for a better connection.

a 7 year olds spit is a great conductor.

It's no good for the unit in the long term, but it works.
 
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