Restoring an original Gameboy

I got this launch edition 1989 Nintendo Gameboy at a yard sale for $1 and decided to restore it and clean it up. First, I needed to re-solder the battery connectors to the PCB so it would start up. Then, I cleaned out the cartridge slot so it would actually load games. The yellowing on the case was pretty gnarly, so I took it fully apart and used the hydrogen peroxide + UV light method to reverse the ageing. It worked great!

The basic chemistry of it, as detailed in the retr0bright project page, is that there was bromine added to the ABS plastic to act as a fire retardant. Over time and exposure to UV light, the bromine finds its way to the surface, lending the yellow cast. Hydrogen Peroxide, and activator, and more UV light finish the job and allow the bromine to fly free, leaving the surface of the ABS entirely.

Here you can see the front of the case after ageing for 29 years next to the back of the case after the hydrogen peroxide + sunlight for six hours treatment.



You can search for the exact method and different recipes online, but you essentially need a high-ish concentration hydrogen peroxide — here I’ve got 20 volume which is 6% concentration — and an activator such as Oxy and something to thicken it. People call this Retr0brite. It turns out that salon-grade hair “bleach” has all of the necessary ingredients rolled into one bottle.IMG_1171

Paint it on (after cleaning the case with water and rubbing alcohol and more water), seal it up in cling wrap, and put it in the sun for six hours.IMG_1173IMG_1174IMG_1175IMG_1200IMG_1202

What a difference!


Here, I’ve gotten the top half going. I didn’t leave it in the sun for as long and may give it another shot to further remove the yellowing.

Protractor Head Square Cleanup


I just picked up an excellent vintage Brown & Sharpe No. 4 combination square protractor head and blade for $20. It was in good shape, just needed some cleaning and surface rust removal. Made in Rhode Island, it’s a high-quality, forged and hardened precision measurement tool. Not sure of the vintage.

These are great for transferring angles, measuring and marking at non-square (or square) angles along the length of the blade, and using the bubble level not just to check square, but determine the exact angle of out-of-square surfaces. The blade can flip to both edges on both sides, giving four different graduation sets.

Here’s a photo essay of my cleanup process.

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Keyboard battery travel guard


The Apple bluetooth keyboard is pretty good for travel when you want to type on an iDevice. Problem I’ve run into is that if it’s in my bag, every time a key is accidentally pressed the iPad it’s paired with wakes up. There is no on/off switch on the keyboard to prevent this — the power button serves more as a pairing button. In the past I’ve solved this by putting a little piece of electrical tape on the inside of the battery compartment cap. It worked pretty well, but that evil electrical tape adhesive got all over things when I pulled it off to use the keyboard. So, I’ve upgraded to a negative contact end cover made from the battery packaging itself.

Mesh strainer repair

Here’s another in my ongoing series: John Repairs Stuff With Sugru.

I bought this colander over twenty years ago, and I am fond of it. The mesh developed a couple of tears in it, so I patched them up. My one regret on this fix is my color choice — out of the corner of my eye it looks like some egg noodles are stuck in there. I may cover them over with a thin layer of red at some point.

Note: Sugru isn’t officially qualified as food safe; please don’t poison yourself and then yell at me.