Stop blowing up your Famicom kart!

In the 1980s, everyone who owned a Nintendo Entertainment System knew that the only way to fix a defective game was to take it out, put it in your mouth, and blow on it. If it didn’t work after that, I would repeat the process with more force until it finally worked. Not only is this wrong, it was so gross that it just sprayed Spit-him particles all over a copy of Super Mario Bros. 3.

Besides being unsanitary, the child’s saliva probably also contributes to corrosion of the contacts on the cart, and if the mouth is particularly juicy, a nasty clump of saliva can actually short out some of the contacts. , that’s bad.

But what’s the real solution to this very real problem? Well, two things immediately come to mind. One that only takes time and one that costs him like $20. Depends. Oh, it takes time. It’s $20 a second plus an hour.

But what is the real solution to this very real problem?

Let’s see how the NES can get the game out of the cart.You might think there are ghosts inside. The NES is their soul conduit. It is impossible to prove that all video game cartridges are free of ghosts. However, although there is a science behind how cartridges get codes in-game, technically it’s engineering and basically applied science, I think. But I’m neither a scientist nor an engineer. As mentioned, I know very little about the mental realm, but I’ll do my best to explain the very simple theory behind how the game moves from cart to cart. It is displayed inside the NES and on the screen.

In electrical work such as outlets and wiring, the most important requirement is that all connections are electrically and mechanically sound. In other words, even if two bare wires could be crossed over and conduct electricity, a slight breeze or the whisper of a mouse could separate them and break the circuit. Modern wiring involves twisting the wire snugly and then twisting the wire nut over the top. This makes the wires play nicely together… forever. Electrically and mechanically sound.

NES carts and almost all video game cartridges don’t require a permanent, strong connection. Actually that’s kind of the point. However, I also don’t want the cartridge flapping around in the machine, so I have to find a balance. The resilience of the NES’s 72-pin connector allows the cartridge to slide without too much force, and a light push on the pin is all it takes to create an electronic hug. The metal contacts of the connector and the contacts of the cartridge create a beautiful pairing that allows electrons to move freely from one side to the other. It’s loud enough both electrically and mechanically.

But there lies the problem. As you can see, having to rely on its “resilience” to properly connect to the cartridge contacts means that with enough use, it will wear out enough to become a real hassle. This means that the 72-pin connector must make full contact with the contacts on the cartridge to work. Rituals we used to do as children, like breathing into cartridges, sometimes worked because the 72-pin connector’s failure condition wasn’t complete. but the angle is enough to make contact.

“So why not give the 72-pin connector a firmer grip?” That’s a good question. I don’t know for sure, but I think the designers of the original NES hardware probably didn’t expect guys like me to use the product 30 years after him, but they ran into problems. It takes him less than 30 years to get started. If the 72-pin connector had a stronger grip, the tradeoff would be: Just ask anyone who has his Hyperkin Retron5 of the first generation. On top of that, every time you insert and eject a cartridge, you’re ruining it. So basically on a microscopic scale, indeed, it is nevertheless a destructive process. Remove. It’s just a tiny amount and you probably won’t even notice it in your lifetime. But if there was more force in the connector, the metal-on-metal scraping would get worse, and you could even see the contacts after a few cycles of use.

This metal-to-metal contact, combined with moving the cart in and out, removes very little metal from the contacts and connectors.

So, in summary, the NES and almost all other cartridge-based systems rely on electrically sound contact between metal strips, which in the NES’s case is through a 72-pin connector. That connector’s gripping ability weakens over time, leading to poor connections between the NES and game cartridges, leading to things like annoying red flashing lights and random characters on the screen instead of flashing or sprites. .

I want to point out right away that there are many other things that can cause NES failure. Corroded contacts on the game or 72-pin connector, problems like the annoying spring mechanism inside the NES, problems with proper alignment, corrosion on the NES or game board. There are many reasons why a system may not work, but the 72 pin connector is the number one. Thankfully, the fix is ​​pretty easy. In fact, I already made a video showing how to do it. We also show you some little tricks to get a little extra out of your old connectors. At the top of this column! And it’s a pleasure.

Other than blowing carts, were there any NES rituals you did to make them work? Let me know in the comments.

Seth Macy is the Executive Editor of IGN Commerce and would love to be your can find him hosting nintendo voice chat podcast. Stop blowing up your Famicom kart!

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