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Restoring a yellowed SNES (small project)

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Sure I can play retro games via emulators or on the NES or SNES classics or via the VirtualConsole on the Switch, but nothing beats using the original hardware.
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This is the system which I started with. Dirty, some yellowing. Needs a little TLC.

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A view of the underside. Usually you don't get much yellowing of the plastic on the bottom as it's not in UV light.

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Cracking the console open, we see a very simple motherboard. Nothing fancy (I also took this to ensure that the right screws and stuff went in the right spots.

And the
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underside of the top of the console. Again, pretty simple stuff.

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All the parts get a bath in hot soapy water. This is also good for 2nd hand systems as it just cleans all the gunk, crumbs and crap that gets on these systems.

It's very important to
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dry the parts very well before we apply the de-yellowing gel (aka Retr0bright).

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It's time to SCIENCE!! I'll be making Retr0bright (Gel). Why a gel and not just submerge everything in to H2O2? Well because if I were to submerge everything, I'd need over 4L of the stuff, plus a large clear bin and lots more UV lights. What this will allow me to do is spread the gel over the parts, and then place them in the container to lighten. This means less mess and less product used.

WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! The high concentration of Hydrogen Peroxide you use for this CAN cause chemical burns or blindness if you get it into your eyes. When making the mixture, be sure to wear safely glasses and latex or similar gloves. Avoid touching your eyes, face and any exposed skin until your hands are clean. This can also "bleach" or damage clothing, so wear something you don't care about in case something bad happens.

The formula for Retr0bright that I followed is:

  • 500ML Hydrogen Peroxide (Get at a Hydroponics Store)
  • 2 heaped tablespoonfuls of Xanthan Gum (Get at the grocery store)
  • 1 level teaspoonful of Glycerine (Get at the drugstore)
  • 1/4 teaspoonful Oxy cleaner (get at the grocery store)

Pour the H2O2 into a metal or glass bowl, and then add the Xantham Gum. Using a blender or liquidizer mix on high for at least 5s. It's going to get REALLY thick and gummy.

Add the Glycerine and mix for another 5s on high.

Let the mixture rest for about 1min and then mix on high again for 5s.

You should now have a smooth gel.

Once you are ready to use it, take a small glass bowl and add 1 teaspoon of hot (not boiling) water and mix in 1/4 teaspoon of Oxy powder and stir, then add it to your gel and mix it up some more. Once you are satisfied with how much it's mixed, you can apply it to the plastic.

As I was wearing gloves, I just took some of the gel in my hands and spread it all over the parts. Was much easier than using a spatula or wooden stick.

Forbidden… I dunno.
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This is the Retr0bright mixture before the Oxy powder has been added (you'll see why). Once I made this, I placed it in to a blackened jar for safe keeping until the parts dried.

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a 4L glass jar covered in black duct tape and sealed until ready to use.

Forbidden Meringue!
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This is why you wait until you're ready to use it to put in the Oxy. After about 10min or so, it really foams up! If I were to have mixed this in before I was ready, the gel would have foamed up and become useless.

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The first batch of parts are coated in the Retr0bright and in an aluminum baking tin.

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The small parts covered in Retr0bright and put in to Ziplock bags. This will help prevent them from drying out as well as make it easier to move around. The clear plastic bags don't block UV light either.

I covered the larger parts with plastic wrap to help prevent the Retr0bright from drying out. T
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hey now sit under my Blacklight for at least 24hrs.

After 24hrs, the parts come out, get another wash and dry.
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Looks almost new (aside from a few scuffs).

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The bottom of the console has more yellowing on it than the top. Mostly the edges were yellowed.

It's hard to tell in this picture, but
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the controller is quite yellowed, more so than the bottom of the console.

Since I was dealing with smaller parts,
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it all fit in the baking tin. You may notice that the bezel which surrounds the controller ports is back in. There was still some yellowing to it, so I felt another 12hrs under the UV light would help. Everything is covered with plastic wrap to help prevent it from drying out.

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The yellowed plastic glows much brighter than the grey plastic as evident by the controller on the left side of the tin. When I checked this 24hrs later, the glowing had almost all gone. I kept these parts under the UV light for 36hrs because they were more yellowed. The controller port bezel I removed after 12hrs as it had already spent 24hrs under the light.

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The top of the console assembled. I'm really pleased with how it turned out.

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The front of the console fully assembled. You can tell there is still a LITTLE bit of yellowing on the bottom half of the console, but it's not as bad as it was before.

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A before and after shot of the console. I think a combination of a good scrub plus the Retr0bright helped return the console to a like-new state.

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Pictures don't do this transformation justice. The difference of the controller before and after the Retr0bright treatment was very noticeable. Aside from some wear on the controller, colour wise it looks brand new.

And the power test. Console and controller work wonderfully! I'll be getting a couple of 8bitdo SNES BT adapters and using 8bitdo SNES controllers so I'm not stuck with a wire, and most likely getting an FXPak PRO (SD2SNES) for the games. Only cartridge I currently own is a copy of Earthworm Jim, signed by Doug TenNapel.

Note: I am not sponsored in any way, shape or form by 8bitdo. I just find they're the best 3rd party retro controller manufacturers.


Next will be purchasing an NES and going through the same process.

In case anyone is wondering, I'm using a RetroTink 2X to connect the console up to my TV. Gives me a nice 480p HDMI image and it even offers a bit of smoothing if I want. There's no noticeable lag either. If you want to play a classic console (anything w/o HDMI) on a modern TV, something like this is the way to go!

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