Monday, July 6, 2015

How to bathe a PET

This last weekend was crazy busy, with almost no time to do much of anything fun.

However, I was able to squeeze in a task that's been on my whiteboard for way too long -- giving my beautiful PET 2001-8 a good cleaning and retr0brighting (de-yellowing) the datasette keys. As you can see in the picture below, those keys really need it.

Once it was on the bench I opened it up, compress-air cleaned the board and case a little, cleaned the edge connector contacts with an eraser (yes, I keep unsharped pencils around JUST for this purpose), and removed the datasette for the final step.

The datasette in the original PET computers is a strange beast.  It's obviously some sort of OEM tape player that has been hacked in order to attach the custom cable.

Retr0bright is the greatest discovery of the 21st century for owners of older plastic electronics parts.  Far from being a simple "bleaching", Retr0bright actually de-yellows plastic surfaces, returning them to white if they were white, cream-colored if they were cream-colored, grey if they were grey, etc.

Although the theory behind it is a bit convoluted, and the recipes numerous and hotly disputed, I've found that Salon Care 40 Creme does everything those complex recipes do, and comes ready off the shelf.  All I do is paint the cream onto the yellowed surface, wrap the surface in cellophane to prevent drying, and put it under a pair of powerful UV-A-B lamps.  And while I'm not entirely certain even the lamps are necessary, I've never had the occasion to test it.

After the retr0brighting for 3-4 days, I reassemble the computer and smile.  Back to the PETting Zoo with you -- we'll play later.

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