Gareth's Tips

Cleaning PCB “Golden Fingers” on Game Cartridges

Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales - Issue #138

Cleaning PCB “Golden Fingers” on Game Cartridges
In this TronicsFix videoSteve buys 7 broken NES game cartridges, priced from $5 – $30, to see how hard it is to fix them. Most of the repairs come down to cleaning the “golden finger” contacts on the edge of the circuit boards and Steve finds that a combo of pink eraserIPA on a Q-tip, and a metal polishing cloth does the trick. One game had badly corroded pins on a chip and was therefore DOA, another had a short in one of the chips (same), a few required jumping wires to repair broken copper traces. But, in the end, only a couple of the games were beyond basic repairs.
Awesome Woodworking Tips from Lloyd Khan
When I was a teen, I was obsessed with the Whole Earth Catalogs and completely enamored with the work of often-featured designer-builders like Jay BaldwinGreg BaerMalcolm Wells, and Lloyd Khan. Khan was responsible for the very WEC-like outsized Shelter publications, featuring crazy, cool, and arty owner-built dwellings. Lloyd is still around, still doing his thing. His Instagram is worth a follow. This particular post is loaded with a number of high-quality construction tips.
Getting to Know the 555 Timer Chip
In this DroneBot Workshop they provide a clear and concise 42-minute introduction to the ubiquitous and versatile 555 timer chip. They discuss how the 555 works, its various modes, and some of the basic projects you can use it in.
A Chemist Explains How Super Glue Works
Brent, of the excellent game crafting and miniature painting channel, Goobertown Hobbies, also has a Ph.D. in chemistry. In this video on his channel, he explains the chemistry behind cyanoacrylate (aka Super Glue) and how the glue actually works.
Electroplating 3D Prints
Via Donald Bell’s Maker Update comes a recommendation for this article on Makezine about how to create faux chrome finishes on 3D prints. The process involves lots of sanding and smoothing of the print, a spray with a copper conductive paint, then an electroplating bath. The results are pretty spectacular.
Testing and Ranking Heavy-Duty Staplers
In this Project Farm videoTodd tests out 14 different brands of heavy-duty staplers. He looks at units from Makita, Milwaukee, Ryobi, Arrow, DeWalt, WorkPro, Bauer, Neu Master, Ework, Bielmeier, Stanley, and Citadel. The staplers were compared for resistance to jams, stapling speed, capability to drive staples into spruce, oak, and composite decking. Bottom line? The Ryobi performed very well and offers the best value, at $84 (at time of testing). The stapler that tested best overall was the Makita, at a whopping $210 at time of testing.
Shop Talk
Newsletter reader Paul Cryan asks:“How do you know if a tip you’ve come across is original enough to report?”Good question, Paul. A lot of it comes down to experience and intuition. I’ve been writing in the DIY space for over 30 years, so I have some sense of the saturation of tips and techniques that are shared. But ultimately, I don’t sweat “originality” as much as I do practicality. If it’s a great tip, even if it’s been around for a while, even a very long while, it’s worth sharing with those for whom it’s new and as a reminder to those who may already know it. I see tips all the time that serve as a reminder for me to finally break down and try it out (or bring it back into my work flow).
I got a lot of responses to my “Shop Talk” post about areas of DIY where you say “Hell, no, get me a pro.” Everyone seemed to be on the same page. Reader Craig best summarized the responses I received:“My dad did almost no home or auto repairs. Not because he didn’t know how, but because he freakin’ hated doing them. Mom, however, might have been able to build a house with a pocketknife and a pair of vise grips. She just had skills…lots of them.”I have done a wide spectrum of things but as I’ve gotten older, I triage everything:If I want to try something, I do.If I don’t want to, I don’t.If it absolutely must be done and I don’t want to do it, I hire it out.No guilt, just a depleted treasury.”

-- Gareth Branwyn 11/10/22

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