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Are flaky NES power switches common?


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I replaced the aftermarket 72-pin connectors in a couple of my spare front-loaders with well-used OEM ones today, and on one of them, I noticed the power switch was acting up. When I powered it on, there was a brief flash of purple on the screen, then a brief delay, and then it booted the game correctly. I played SMB for a few minutes, and when I went to turn it off, just touching the power switch interrupted the power and reset the game. Normally you can press the switch all the way in with the game running and it won't affect anything until you release it.

 

There was a power/reset switch assembly on eBay with a BIN of $7.49, free shipping, and I was about to order it, but I decided to have a look at the switch first. After straightening two metal prongs, the plastic cover of the switch snaps right off, and surprisingly, the switch has a very simple, robust design. I should have taken a picture, but I didn't think of it. There are two metal prongs which are soldered to the PCB, and the button that you push has a flat piece of metal attached to it. When you push the button, the flat piece of metal shorts those two metal prongs. The click mechanism that holds the button in and then releases when you push it again it is the exact same design as the cartridge tray's click mechanism; just a smaller version of it. The design appears to be bulletproof; I don't see how it could ever fail, aside from the contacts getting dirty, which was the case here.

 

So I cleaned the contacts with Bar Keepers Friend, which quickly made them shine like new, and for good measure, since I had it all apart anyway, I desoldered and resoldered all the joints on the power/reset switch assembly's PCB, even though they all looked fine to begin with. The switch works perfectly now.

 

So this can be added to the list of things which are easily fixable on an NES front-loader. Other things I've easily fixed include "dead" AC adapters (which in the case of the NES is actually just a 120V to 9V step-down transformer), flaky or non-working RF switches, and OEM 72-pin connectors. Unlike the myth perpetuated by e.g., Wikipedia ...

 

The newly designed connector worked quite well when both the connector and the cartridges were clean and the pins on the connector were new. Unfortunately, the ZIF connector was not truly zero insertion force. When a user inserted the cartridge into the NES, the force of pressing the cartridge down and into place bent the contact pins slightly, as well as pressing the cartridge’s ROM board back into the cartridge itself. Frequent insertion and removal of cartridges caused the pins to wear out from repeated usage over the years

 

... in reality, the OEM 72-pin connectors never "wear out" (though they can be ruined by being vandalized, i.e., someone bending the pins upward in a misguided effort to fix them; I ruined a couple of them myself that way about 15 years ago before I figured out how to properly clean them). The three of them I got in the mail today were from a guy who had removed them from "blinking NESs" to replace them with aftermarket ones (which are junk in my experience), and they were so well-used that several of the thin plastic vanes between each pin had long since broken off. They have next to no grip on the cartridge pins when you slide the cartridge in, which is exactly how they're supposed to be. They are now installed in my spare front-loaders and working perfectly, first time, every time (the aftermarket ones worked on the first try maybe 80% of the time, and applied a death grip to the cartridges).

Edited by MaximRecoil
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Have handled dozens of systems throughout the years and have yet to run across a bad NES power switch myself. Probably the most reliable component on the system!

 

I had never encountered one either before today. I haven't tested that particular NES for many years, so either the switch wasn't flaky then, or I didn't notice it.

 

Have you ever looked at the inside of the switch? It's an excellent, and very simple design. I don't see how it could ever wear out. In my case, a simple cleaning of the contacts made it work like new again. The reset switch is the same design, except it doesn't have the click mechanism.

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Nah, would never waste my time that way. IF there are any access points (usually a hole, slits or ends exposed), would simply douche it out with DeOxit and call it good. :lol:

 

There aren't any access points, though you could unhook the clasps of the cover and bend it up a little to spray something in there. But there's nothing to removing the cover completely (you just have to straighten two metal tabs in addition to unhooking the plastic clasps), at which point you have full access to the simple switch mechanism.

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Would the lockout chip happen to be enabled ?

The only default ive seen on a switch is the pins for the LEDs bridging through corrosion.

Ive messed with at least 50 nes consoles by now.

 

I disabled the lockout chip on all my NESs many years ago. There's no way for me to know whether the problem was the dirty switch contacts or a bad solder joint on the switch's PCB, because I cleaned the contacts and resoldered all of the joints without testing in between, i.e., the shotgun approach. Whatever the problem was, it works perfectly now.

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I disabled the lockout chip on all my NESs many years ago. There's no way for me to know whether the problem was the dirty switch contacts or a bad solder joint on the switch's PCB, because I cleaned the contacts and resoldered all of the joints without testing in between, i.e., the shotgun approach. Whatever the problem was, it works perfectly now.

Shotgun approach I hear that. I do the same on any coleco/nes toploader controller input issues.

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Any mechanical switch is prone to dirt and oxidization

 

They are typically very easy to pop apart and clean, couple things though

 

You can only bend those metal tabs so many times, and if you see green stuff in it, it will probably come back unless you soak it in some light acid for a while (like vinegar)

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Any mechanical switch is prone to dirt and oxidization

 

Yeah, and some switch designs are more affected by it than others. The NES power switch seems to be quite resistant to it, since it's the first flaky one I've seen, and judging by the replies in this thread. So I don't know if that was the problem with mine or not. The problem could have been one of the solder joints that I resoldered just for good measure. Sometimes you can't tell a bad solder joint just by looking at it. It's even possible that it had a flaky power switch from the factory. It did work, and as long as you didn't touch the power switch until you were ready to turn the game off you wouldn't have any problems.

 

You can only bend those metal tabs so many times, and if you see green stuff in it, it will probably come back unless you soak it in some light acid for a while (like vinegar)

 

There was no green stuff, though the contacts were dark/dirty looking. I cleaned them with Bar Keepers Friend, active ingredient = oxalic acid.

 

The two metal prongs aren't part of the switch housing and they are only bent down at about a 45 degree angle. They are on a little piece of steel that's stamped into the shape of channel iron, which is the part that screws to the lower half of the plastic shell. They clamp down on the front of the switch cover, but even if they weren't there the switch would still work (I tried the switch before bending those prongs back down):

 

98mHjyC.jpg

 

While looking for that picture I came across this picture too:

 

http://wolfsoft.de/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/nes_blue_1.jpg

 

The power switch on that one is much narrower; I wonder if it's as good. I'm guessing that's a newer one than what I have.

 

ETA: It looks like they eventually went with the narrow switch for the reset button too:

 

http://i.ebayimg.com/images/a/(KGrHqUOKpYE5c1DIrczBOd!UZkIOQ~~/s-l1600.jpg

Edited by MaximRecoil
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There was no green stuff, though the contacts were dark/dirty looking. I cleaned them with Bar Keepers Friend, active ingredient = oxalic acid.

 

yea BK-friend is good, little bit stronger is brasso

 

vinegar is 3-9% acetic acid, and depending on the material can give different results, brass, copper and other similar metals, add a dash of salt and hydrogen peroxide it will (slowly) eat the metal, which makes good "poor mans" pcb etchent if you have half a day to wait on it

 

steel, within hours will start to disolve rust while leaving the base metal alone ... though it may take days in a bucket to restore one's car parts

 

nickle, chrome etc shiny silver plating in electronics it wont do too much with, leave it long enough it will dull the finish, but its super great for eating the green metal salts generated from various sources (most noteworthy alkaline batteries)

 

its great stuff to have in the garage and cost a dollar(ish) a gallon lol

 

and if it leaks or spills the worst thing that happens is you have some metal oxides disolved in pickle juice

 

They are on a little piece of steel that's stamped into the shape of channel iron

 

 

yea but steel still fatigues, its something you want to do every 30 years not 30 times messing with it, it was a general warning to future noob's not specificly directed at you :)

Edited by Osgeld
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yea BK-friend is good, little bit stronger is brasso

 

vinegar is 3-9% acetic acid, and depending on the material can give different results, brass, copper and other similar metals, add a dash of salt and hydrogen peroxide it will (slowly) eat the metal, which makes good "poor mans" pcb etchent if you have half a day to wait on it

 

steel, within hours will start to disolve rust while leaving the base metal alone ... though it may take days in a bucket to restore one's car parts

 

nickle, chrome etc shiny silver plating in electronics it wont do too much with, leave it long enough it will dull the finish, but its super great for eating the green metal salts generated from various sources (most noteworthy alkaline batteries)

 

its great stuff to have in the garage and cost a dollar(ish) a gallon lol

 

and if it leaks or spills the worst thing that happens is you have some metal oxides disolved in pickle juice

 

I've used plain white vinegar (5% acetic acid) on the terminals of a flashlight that AA alkaline batteries had leaked on. It dissolved the leakage instantly. I've also used vinegar to clean car battery terminals and posts.

 

For soaking things for hours or days to remove rust, I use pure oxalic acid (also known as wood bleach) mixed in water.

 

For most metal cleaning I use a BKF/water mixture and a toothbrush; it's dirt cheap (something like $2 for a can of the powder, which lasts a long time) and very effective. That's how I make OEM 72-pin connectors work like new again. A minute of scrubbing down in the contacts groove with a toothbrush dipped in BKF has never failed me, no matter how old / well-used the connector is.

 

 

 

yea but steel still fatigues, its something you want to do every 30 years not 30 times messing with it, it was a general warning to future noob's not specificly directed at you :)

 

Yeah, the prongs will definitely break if you flex them too many times. Them being bent at only a ~45-degree angle instead of 90 helps somewhat though.

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While looking for that picture I came across this picture too:

 

http://wolfsoft.de/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/nes_blue_1.jpg

 

The power switch on that one is much narrower; I wonder if it's as good. I'm guessing that's a newer one than what I have.

 

ETA: It looks like they eventually went with the narrow switch for the reset button too:

 

http://i.ebayimg.com/images/a/(KGrHqUOKpYE5c1DIrczBOd!UZkIOQ~~/s-l1600.jpg

 

I currently have an NES power switch I've been messing with that's narrow just like the first link there. It's actually faulty, which led me to this thread. The console was in VERY bad shape overall, and the switches were covered in dirt and rust. So I cleaned it all up, but the power switch intermittently would not click in so I took it apart completely. It was somehow dirty on the inside, so I cleaned it up and put it back together. Now it will not click-in and stay at all :( I think the little path/groove that the clip/hook goes into is worn as there were little white pieces when it came apart. On the hunt for a cheap replacement since reset works find etc. Anyone know where to get the Mitsumi switch only?

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I currently have an NES power switch I've been messing with that's narrow just like the first link there. It's actually faulty, which led me to this thread. The console was in VERY bad shape overall, and the switches were covered in dirt and rust. So I cleaned it all up, but the power switch intermittently would not click in so I took it apart completely. It was somehow dirty on the inside, so I cleaned it up and put it back together. Now it will not click-in and stay at all :( I think the little path/groove that the clip/hook goes into is worn as there were little white pieces when it came apart. On the hunt for a cheap replacement since reset works find etc. Anyone know where to get the Mitsumi switch only?

 

You have to put the switch cover back on in a certain way so that the little wire catch engages the groove properly. When I first put the cover back on my switch, the button wouldn't click in and stay either, so I took the cover back off and made sure that wire was engaging the groove correctly, and it worked.

 

And make sure that groove/path is completely clean. I used a toothbrush and soapy water on mine.

 

That second picture I linked to, with a whole pile of NES power/reset switch assemblies, was from eBay; he had 93 of them, all NOS, but that auction is sold out. There are usually a few used assemblies on eBay too.

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