Cleaning circuit boards

Have questions on how to fix your machine or what products to use? This is the place to ask for help.
Post Reply
Sparky
MAACA OG
Posts: 22951
Joined: Tue May 21, 2013 5:33 pm
Location: Saint-Lazare, west of MTL

Cleaning circuit boards

Post by Sparky »

Greetings to all,

I thought I would get a discussion going on circuit board cleaning. I believe many can use the info, even myself. I have 150+ boards to go through and I wanted to know what your cleaning technique was.

Some say dishwasher, some say no dishwasher. Some with soap and hot water in a sink, some say spray cleaner.

What is your take on it? What would you use?

Ian
Patron saint of lost pinball causes.

Stage 5B. All except for NIB crap.

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=4742&p=40349&hilit=stages#p40349

User avatar
mdeslaur
MAACA Buck
Posts: 151
Joined: Mon Jun 06, 2016 9:33 am
Location: Levis, Quebec

Re: Cleaning circuit boards

Post by mdeslaur »

I personally don't usually wash them unless they are really filthy. A dry paintbrush does wonders to get dust off.

If you do wash them, put tape over the dip switches, they're always flaky afterwards if you don't.

eh97ac
MAACA Half-ling
Posts: 519
Joined: Sun Dec 05, 2010 11:41 am
Location: Mississauga

Re: Cleaning circuit boards

Post by eh97ac »

Here is my go to method
Spray with hot water
Spray on a cleaner and let soak for a couple of minutes
Agitate with a soft brush
Rinse with hot water
Spray with alcohol
Air Dry

User avatar
tinyrodent
MAACA Chatterbox
Posts: 1682
Joined: Thu Sep 16, 2010 11:23 am
Location: West of Ottawa

Re: Cleaning circuit boards

Post by tinyrodent »

I'm about ready to buy an ultrasonic cleaner, will post results.
Playing: Recel Lady Luck, Stern Seawitch
Fixing: Bally Skateball
Arriving soon: ????? ;)
http://www.pinballowners.com/tinyrodent

User avatar
ballyhoo
MAACA Buck
Posts: 225
Joined: Sun Sep 19, 2010 9:09 am
Location: St-Romuald, Quebec, Canada, Terre
Contact:

Re: Cleaning circuit boards

Post by ballyhoo »

I personally do this for more than 40 years without any problems.

-Everything that is on socket need to be removed.
-Boards with relays or dip switchs need to be wash with care around that section.

I use Hertel in spray with a paint brush and warm water for 2 mins. Rince the board carefully with tap water. If you want to do the extra mile you can do a final rinse with distilled water to take of all mineral from tap water away.

Now be sure to take all water off with compressed air. If you dont have access to compressed air... not sure I would wash them. Insist in sockets to remove trap water and avoid oxydation.

I saw a post on the use of ultrasonic bath. I would avoid this. I have one and I use it once with a small board. It went dead. After that I read that in IC's chips, they use small gold wires to tie the die to the legs. They use electric current to weld that small wire (more smaller than a hair), with ultrasounds you can break that jonction.

When your board is clean it much more easier to see any cold jonctions. You can also spot any defects or details with ease. Its also much more easy to weld. In general, its a good practice with 30+ years boards that are contaminated with cigaret tar and dust.

If the board is filled with more recent electronics like PLCC or SMT... I would think twice before washing it. A system 11 board is quite easy to do but I would hesitate in front of more recent and sofisticated Namco stuff. In those cases, I would use distilled water for sure to make sure that if water get forget inbetween those very narrow chip legs no minerals will create problems of contamination. You can also just use a paint brush and compressed air on those more recent boards. They are usually less contaminated so you can go dry on them.
Cyclone - Heavy Metal Meltdown - Nitro Ground Shaker - Pinbot - Close Encounters - Pinball Pool - Bride of Pinbot - NARC(mame) - Sega Mini Turbo - Sega Mini Monaco GP - Warlords (cocktail)

"L'ennui en ce monde est que les imbéciles sont sûr d'eux et les gens sensés pleins de doutes"

Sparky
MAACA OG
Posts: 22951
Joined: Tue May 21, 2013 5:33 pm
Location: Saint-Lazare, west of MTL

Re: Cleaning circuit boards

Post by Sparky »

Great advice, guys. So dishwasher is a no-no. I like the Hertel spray method.

I am also considering a rubbing alcohol bath in order to get all moisture out after cleaning.

So,
1- Hertel spray and soft brush
2- rinse with warm water
3- dry with compressed air
4- rubbing alcohol bath for a few secs
5- dry again with compressed air

Sounds like a sound plan. I know that soaking in water is ok but most boardsets have dip switches. Any enclosed mechanical parts like that would just retain water.

Keep the advice coming!!
Patron saint of lost pinball causes.

Stage 5B. All except for NIB crap.

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=4742&p=40349&hilit=stages#p40349

User avatar
ballyhoo
MAACA Buck
Posts: 225
Joined: Sun Sep 19, 2010 9:09 am
Location: St-Romuald, Quebec, Canada, Terre
Contact:

Re: Cleaning circuit boards

Post by ballyhoo »

Last detail, dont go directly with pure hertel spray on the pcb. Just dilute it first with water on the side then place your painbrush in that diluted solution and make it foam on your board. For some reasons very old pcb's can get whitish if you get the stuff directly on them. Nothing harmfull. Just unplesant esthetically.
Cyclone - Heavy Metal Meltdown - Nitro Ground Shaker - Pinbot - Close Encounters - Pinball Pool - Bride of Pinbot - NARC(mame) - Sega Mini Turbo - Sega Mini Monaco GP - Warlords (cocktail)

"L'ennui en ce monde est que les imbéciles sont sûr d'eux et les gens sensés pleins de doutes"

eh97ac
MAACA Half-ling
Posts: 519
Joined: Sun Dec 05, 2010 11:41 am
Location: Mississauga

Re: Cleaning circuit boards

Post by eh97ac »

And like harnesses, dry the board out in the sun while sipping on a beer
Last edited by eh97ac on Sun May 24, 2020 8:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Bally Boy
MAACA Millennial
Posts: 1091
Joined: Fri Nov 20, 2009 12:55 pm
Location: Ancaster, Ontario

Re: Cleaning circuit boards

Post by Bally Boy »

Hey, Ian.

Poolman Palmer turned me onto Castrol Super Clean a long time ago, it was easy and available just about everywhere, he swore by it...

I've since found that Scrubbing Bubbles works just as good, just spray on and use a soft tooth brush if you feel it's required, rinse with warm water and pat with a towel - air or blow dry. Squeaky clean my friend! If you not going to use the board right away I would suggest putting a dried board into an sealed anti-static bag with desiccant ( those little salt bags that come with most electronic products - takes the moisture away ).

I should also add that I had access to an ultrasonic cleaning vat at work for about 10 years, I found the results were basically the same, I feel it's over-rated but to each his own ( sorry Brett :) I would save your money )..

Post Reply

Return to “Pinball and Videogame Tech”