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.

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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!

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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.

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Estate Sale pan and knife

Hit a semi-disappointing sale this morning. Not too much of interest, or as pickers say, nothing had any age on it.

The two finds I did get: a great little Griswold no. 3 cast iron pan for $5. Nicely seasoned, probably perfect for a grilled cheese sandwich I’ll be making for lunch…

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The other thing I picked up is this kooky Keen Kutter pocket knife. It’s a bone handled Barlow model, made from 1940-1960. Blade marked “K288 1/2”.

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I call it kooky due to the tip. Looks like the previous owner snapped it off and then did a nice job cleaning it up into a concave dip. I probably paid too much at $10, but I like its apparent history.

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I can tell from the other knives at the estate that the previous owner really had a problem with using knives as screwdrivers/pry bars. At least this one has a nifty attempt at saving it.

Welding a Welder Holder to a Welding Cart

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I have this great little welding cart I got from a picker. The size was almost — but not quite — perfect to hold my little MIG welder underneath. I got 10′ of 1/2″ 16 gauge steel square tubing for $2.06 at Industrial Metal Supply’s remainders bin and cut two lengths down to size to fit the footprint of the welder.  I welded them to the cart and now it’s all neatly contained.

Protractor Head Square Cleanup

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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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Draughting Pencils, Robot Screws, more

Delightful little box of useful items I found at a garage sale. Pretty good value for five US dollars.

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The Eagle #314 “Chemi-Sealed” DRAUGHTING pencils are excellent, highly coveted pencils among illustrators. This style was made from 1950-1980. More info here. I gave one to my ridiculously talented friend Mark Frauenfelder, who swears by vintage Blackwing’s. We’ll see how he feels this one compares.

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Next up, some nice boxes of screws, including a gross of blued, round head steel 5/8″ #6 wood screws from National Products. Just look at that NAT the Robot logo they had! Love.

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I also found a warded lock key, a pencil protector, two heavy duty switches, and this lovely Brunswick pool cue chalk.

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