Cleaning N64 games is a controversial topic. It doesn’t have to be. There are some techniques floating around that can be harmful. But I also bristle when I see people say there’s one and only one right way. Here are some techniques for cleaning N64 games, based on my decades of experience fixing computers and game systems.
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If you want to fix a Lionel train, what you probably really need to do is repair a Lionel train motor. There isn’t much to the rest of the train.
The motors tend to be pretty rugged and they’ve held up over the years. Most “repairs” are really more of a clean and service job, not unlike taking your car in for an oil change. Here are some general principles to follow when you clean and service a Lionel motor.
For some people, the only enjoyable part of cleaning Lionel track is arguing about how to do it. The rest of us don’t even enjoy that part. Recently I unearthed a decades-old secret that mostly eliminates the need to clean track. Sound too good to be true?
When I was 19 or 20, I paid a visit to my old grade school to do some computer repair. My fifth-grade teacher dropped in, saw me cleaning up the contacts on a circuit board, and asked why I wasn’t using Everclear. Cleaning electrical contacts with Everclear is, at least, a practice people talk about a lot.
Well, I couldn’t legally buy Everclear yet, for one thing. But let’s talk about why Everclear is good for cleaning electrical contacts but there are other things that can be better.
If you have issues with your trains slowing down on the far reaches of your layout–and judging from my website hits, many people do–there are a couple of things to do about it. The first thing is to run additional feeder wires. Going by the book, you should go every third track section. Do I push it a little? Sure. Sometimes I can get away with a little less than that, and sometimes every three sections isn’t quite enough.
But over time, the conductivity between track sections can wane a bit, as moisture and oxidation creep in. Coating track pins with copper anti-seize lubricant keeps the moisture out, which keeps oxidation out, which makes the layout more reliable, especially if the layout is outdoors, in the garage, or in the basement.Read More »Fight voltage drop with copper anti-seize lubricant
I saw a question about a Fastrack layout getting hot at a track joint. That’s a conductivity issue causing voltage drop, which in turn causes the heat. While not likely to be dangerous, it’s a sign of inefficiency and can lead to other problems, such as the train slowing down at some parts of the layout. Poor conductivity also causes motors to run hotter than they should, which can eventually damage the armature.
I can think of two fixes, none of them especially expensive or time-consuming. And although this question was about Lionel Fastrack, it can happen with other makes of track too, and even other scales.
Read More »Fixing track that gets hot at the track joints
I’m ashamed to say I own one Monster cable. Hopefully if I tell you I bought it at a garage sale for $2, I’ll regain your respect. But there’s an easier way to save money on cables than buying at garage sales.
Unless you need it immediately, there’s no reason whatsoever to buy Monster and other overpriced cables at big-box consumer electronics stores. Profit margins are really thin on most electronics, even the big-ticket items, and they use the cables to make up for that. That’s the reason nobody includes cables in the box.
I unboxed Dad’s old Lionel train Monday night. They don’t make them like that anymore.
Dad’s train led a rough life. My investigative reporting skills tell me he got the train sometime between 1949 and 1952, and then sometime after 1953 he got a new locomotive and cars. And then sometime in the 1960s, the trains ended up in a box. I remember him telling me it came out a few times in the 1970s for Christmas, but most of my memories of Dad’s train are four big pieces of plywood with rusty track mounted on it, sitting in the garage next to a stack of repurposed liquor boxes containing train parts.
I might finally have reliable DSL. Gatermann and I spent a good part of the day cleaning up my phone wiring. The wiring appeared to have been done by someone who couldn’t make up his mind how he wanted to do it. Seeing as I had two jacks that didn’t work anyway, and I own exactly three telephones plus an answering machine, we pulled out a number of the runs altogether (the wires are still there, just not hooked up at the box). And we cleaned up some oxidation that had shown up on some of the lines that were there.
My DSL connection does seem to be more reliable as a result. We’ll see in time how it turns out, but I know the brief storm we had tonight would normally knock me off the ‘net, and I haven’t fallen off yet since we did the work.
We also rebuilt a system. I’ve been intending to rebuild this one for some time (I pulled the case out of storage months ago) but never got around to it. Anymore, it seems like it’s a lot more fun to mess with other people’s computer projects than with my own. Anyway, we pulled out the system that served up this web site up until about a year or so ago (a Celeron on one of the last of the AT motherboards, a socket 370 job from Soyo), removed it from the old Micron case I’d put it in, and we put it in a monster server case, a former Everex 486/33. It’s a really good-looking case–battleship gray with black drives. And it’s built like a battleship too–very heavy gauge steel. It was pretty funny when we pulled out the full AT motherboard that had been in there and installed the Soyo, which is even smaller than what we used to call baby AT. We installed my CD-RW and DVD-ROM drives and a few other bits and pieces, and… an ISA video card. Yes, I’m sick. I was out of PCI slots and I loaned the AGP video card for the system (a Radeon 7000) to Steve last week and won’t be able to meet up with him to get it back until Wednesday at the earliest. I am half tempted to go ISA for either the sound or network card for the time being in order to free a PCI slot for an Nvidia Riva 128 card I have kicking around. It would be a big improvement. The screen writes remind me of BBSing; the text comes onto the screen at a rate somewhere between what I remember 300 bps and 1200 bps looking like.
But then again, what I want this system for (primarily) is to do things like burn CDs, and I don’t need superfast video for that. And I don’t know that I’m going to be burning anything between now and then.
Yes, I know, catch-up days are terribly exciting to read about.
But somewhere around here I think I have some stuff I wrote last week and never posted. I’ll have to see if I can find it to post tomorrow.
The other night, the talk turned to first cars. And I sure remember mine.
“You miss it?”
No hesitation. “Oh yeah.”
I don’t remember writing any poetry about girls when I was in high school, but I remember writing a poem about my ’71 Plymouth Duster. You bet I miss it.
My mom and sister hated it. It was that gold color that was popular in the ’70s that didn’t take to oxidation very well, so by the time 1990 rolled around, it looked a lot less gold and a lot more like… something else. I saw beyond that, into this car’s soul. And believe me, it had soul.
It had manual brakes and manual steering. I hated power brakes and steering. With manual brakes and steering, I felt more in control. Plus it meant I got a workout driving to school. Real cars make you buff when you drive them.
Air conditioning? Yeah, it had that 2-55 kind. Two windows down, 55 miles per hour on I-255.
It had a Slant-6 in it. A Slant-6 is the perfect engine for a 16-year-old because it usually didn’t come off the line very quickly and it didn’t have a high top speed. That Duster’s top speed was probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 MPH. Slant-6s were known for being good truck engines that didn’t break, not high performers. The classic Mopar muscle cars people remember had other engines in them.
But I still remember a Chevelle pulling up to me at a stoplight one day at the intersection of Gravois and I-270. He looked over at me, grinned, nodded, and revved his engine. I shot him a “whatever” look. The light turned green. He gunned it. I gunned it. And blew him away. I looked back and saw him pounding his steering wheel. I’ll bet money he had a lighter car, and we both knew he had the bigger engine. My Slant-6 just wanted to surprise me that day, I guess.
But that was its last hurrah. I didn’t have the Duster very long. It reached a point where it wouldn’t idle right so it was dying at stoplights and it developed steering problems to go along with it. The ’81 Plymouth Reliant that replaced it didn’t have half the character the Duster did. It may have replaced the Duster in my driveway, but it never replaced it in my heart, soul, or mind.
If I were ever out driving around and spotted a Duster for sale, I’d probably stop and buy it. You know, for old time’s sake.
What was your first car?