ColecoVision Cart Rises From Ashes

We felt bad for [Mark] of Mark Fixes Stuff. Apparently, his house burned down and took virtually everything, including his retrocomputer collection. He did manage to pull out a few things from the remains including a ColecoVision cartridge that was — honestly — melted. We probably would have written it off, but [Mark] was determined to recover something.

He was fortunate that the PCB was not burned, but it was covered in soot and possibly other things. However, the case looked like a chocolate bar left on a dashboard for a few summer days in the tropics.

Cleaning the board was straightforward with alcohol and a contact cleaner that looked suspiciously like an eraser. He 3D printed a case and made a very professional-looking label using a color printer and an automated paper cutter.

The good news is that the restored cartridge worked. The bad news is he has a pile of other carts that look at least as bad. Still, we were very happy to hear he had recovered something. We hope you never have to do something similar, but if you do, here’s your inspiration.

We don’t know what caused [Mark’s] fire, but it is a good reminder that even seemingly innocuous gadgets can start a life-changing or even ending fire. In that case, it was a commercial thermostat, but since most of us solder, burn things, and heat up exotic chemicals, it pays to review your safety plans.

8 thoughts on “ColecoVision Cart Rises From Ashes

    1. Cause wasn’t specified at all, it could have been a dodgy lipo charger like the hoverboard or cheap charger for the smartphone causing battery to go boom. And there’s the usual non-electronic causes like pot left on stove, unattended lit candle, or fell asleep while smoking

  1. I’ve used a (blue) coarse eraser for cleaning contacts for decades. How do you not know this? Much better tham the glass fibre pen I was originally given for the job!

    1. I was always partial to the red drafting erasers that were like a long pencil eraser in a plastic pencil case. We had a rude name for them but I think the proper name is “stick eraser.” We also used to use “orange sticks” to clean relay contacts. They weren’t orange in color but I assume they were made from orange trees? The wood was very hard, non-conductive, and didn’t splinter. They were pointy and you could scrape a contact without leaving a mark or bits of something behind.

  2. Back when CBS was into even organs, Gulbransen and Rodgers.
    Erasers can have gummy components that remain as a film, clean steel wool extra fine (0000) works well on aged copper finger traces and leaves no trace.

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