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Old 26 September 2010, 17:56   #1
Peter
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Best way to clean a Motherboard

While I have one of my A1200's in bits I thought I would clean the Motherboard.

The MB has some grime, grease and build up of dust in some areas.
What is the best way to clean it?

I was looking at buying a tin of Isopropyl Alcohol from Maplins and just spraying the affected areas and tipping the board on it's side to drain it but maybe this is a bit of an expensive way of doing it...?
Could I just use a bottle of Methylated Spirit, perhaps using a soft toothbrush to brush it around the offending areas and then leave it to drain?

The Methylated Spirit is a fraction of the cost but I don't know if it is a good thing to use... would it evaporate like the Isopropyl would?

Would the Methylated Spirit damage any of the components on the MB?

Any advice welcome.
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Old 26 September 2010, 17:57   #2
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Zetr0 told me he puts them in the dishwasher Lol!
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Old 26 September 2010, 18:19   #3
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Yep, dishwasher method works well...but stop it before the drying cycle!

I suggest splashing the mobo with Iodophor first

PZ.
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Old 26 September 2010, 18:36   #4
Peter
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We don't have a dishwasher so that method is out.

Surely getting the MB wet in any way wouldn't do some of the components any good?
That's why I imagined that a spirit based cleaner might be best as it would evaporate.

I was just worried that Meths may be too strong and might eat away at things.
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Old 26 September 2010, 18:51   #5
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water and electrics tend not to mix thats why we let them dry first be fore we use them

another of Z `sfavourite cleaning solutions is cheap car screen wash, that blue liquid I can say had some good results with this cheap and cheerful solution
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Old 26 September 2010, 23:10   #6
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Having worked as a control instrumentation prototyping technician at one time, I can tell you that the standard method of cleaning circuit boards of all unwanted deposits is to use isopropyl alcohol (IPA) and a 12mm paint brush with the bristles cut short (~10cm).

Pour some IPA into a screw-top jar to a depth of 6mm or so, dip the brush in it, hold the circuit board nearly vertical with the less cluttered area of the board on the bench (which should be protected with an old towel or similar) and use the wetted brush to clean the affected areas and let the excess liquid drain onto the towel.

Keep this up until the board is gleaming like new!

This works great for removing solder flux residue after carrying out repairs to the board.

Methylated spirit can be used instread, but take care not to damage any silk-screened legends on the board with this stronger solvent.

And never be tempted to use carbon tetrachloride, acetone or Genklene, which may damage components.
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Old 26 September 2010, 23:20   #7
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IPA and a Tooth Brush all the way.
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Old 26 September 2010, 23:26   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie View Post
FWIW:
My usual method:

-Remove everything from the mobo that will come off / out inc socketed chips, etc.

Pot + Add:
-Goodly splash of isopropyl alcohol
-A smidge of detergent (hand-wash)
-A squirt of lemon (as in the fruit)

Mix it all up and apply fairly carefully with a tooth-brush. Either an old one or the wife's when she's not looking.
Don't rinse...

Set dishwasher to it's least savage (warm / quick) setting and DON'T put in any dishwasher detergent.

Bang in your frothy mobo and wait for the glurp, glurp, glurp noise to finish.

Out with the mobo...

[Optional]
Flap it about like a loon to get the excess water off
[End Optional]

...and stand it up somewhere warm but safe (ie cat / daughter free) for at least 24 hours.

Put it all together and marvel that it still works having been through all that - I've not lost one yet.

Now let us talk about putting mobo's in the oven...
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Old 26 September 2010, 23:39   #9
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@Pete

dont use Meths my friend as it will damage the laqure on the PCB.

IPA can be expensive but it is the shiz-niz as the hip kids are saying - without a dish washer and on a budget -

1. nip into pound land
2. pick up a pack of AA batteries (£1)
3. pick up an electric toothbrush (£1)
4. pick up 2.5 liters of pre-diluted car-screen wash (£1)

for the sum of £3 you have a very cheap solution - the car screenwash is mainly water and IPA - its not as quick as non-diluted IPA - but its still good =)

*remember to allow a good 24 hours to allow the board to completely dry - I find a nice top shelf in a warm airing cupboard is a good place - also place the PCB component side down =)
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Old 27 September 2010, 01:35   #10
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Great tips guys... thank you all for your advice.

Zetr0 - the Pound Shop is my first port of call in the morning!

I'm glad I didn't get the Meths in Homebase today!!
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Old 27 September 2010, 01:38   #11
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Use only liquids with know consistency - avoid any screen car washing mambo jumbo liquids - use liquids that leave no remains after drying - test liquid before - put on some glass plate a little of liquid - wait until it not dry - if there is some remains this liquid is not for PCB.
Water can be used but only demineralized one - cheap and easily available. You may use use methyl alcohol instead IPA - methyl alcohol is more toxic so avoid fumes.
Don't use tooth brush - follow prowler advice and use ordinary paint brush (synthetic not natural is preferred)
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Old 27 September 2010, 02:24   #12
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For industrial cleaning, not so many years ago, circuit boards used to be cleaned in a heated Freon vapour tank, the vapour was only allowed to rise so far as it had a refrigerating unit to cool the mist when it reached that level and turned the vapour into droplets which then returned back to the bottom to heat up again. It was quite effective while the Freon was fresh but when it had been used for a good while the boards would come out sticky from flux residue.

Later there was a citrus cleaner (smelled nice), these were multi-station wash plants ie the Citrus part, a water part then the heated air part to dry the boards. Another wash plant was used for boards that were to be conformal coated, that had 4 stages, heated Zestron (the cleaner), water rinse, deionised water wash and then the heated air drier. We also used a compressed air line to blast off excess water before putting the boards into the drier.

But for home use I used isopropyl alcohol (IPA) or lately just plain old surgical spirits and a brush to remove sticky residue and flux, I would also add a drop of washing up liquid if really bad and then a rinse under the tap. Most of the time its just the surgical spirits and the brush and then a trickle of surgical spirits to wash the residue off the board, I then stand the board on end on some paper kitchen roll and leave it to dry.

Zetr0's method sounds brilliant and I will use that myself in the future although I think I would still clear up the heavy bits first with alcohol etc then follow on with that method.
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Old 27 September 2010, 03:07   #13
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@Allen1

WOW.... the last time I remember being in the presence of a Freon vapour tank I was a snip of a boy at 18 years old... which is almost as many years ago!!!

LOL... I still remember a little further back when I was about 10, and my father got some kinda sauce in one of the cushions on the sofa - since they where new and obvioulsy didn't want to get caught by my mother - he cleaned it with a bit-too-much spirit...

When my mother was vacuming the sofa the very next morning (thanks to my younger sisters left over nibbles) the cusion was placed on the floor.... alas next to the gas fire... and up it went like a rocket!!!!!!!

you have never seen anything as a funny as a grown woman beating the crap out of a flaming cusion with the hose/pipe end of a vacume cleaner!!! - the more she beat the cusion - the more the fire spread on it lol!!!

ahhh good days!!!
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Old 27 September 2010, 05:36   #14
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I don't believe using the dishwasher is a good idea! What about the capacitors?

I'm using the hipster "IPA n' Toothie Brush" method
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Old 27 September 2010, 08:27   #15
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The capacitors come out nice and clean after a run in the dishwasher
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Old 27 September 2010, 09:32   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zetr0 View Post
dont use Meths my friend as it will damage the laqure on the PCB.

IPA can be expensive but it is the shiz-niz as the hip kids are saying - without a dish washer and on a budget -
oh sadly this is very much true. I used alcohol (can't remember if it was IPA or rubbing). PCB turned white in some areas and after using toothbrush, pcb looked clean but 'dull'. it lost the lacquer
So don't forget to dilute.
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Old 27 September 2010, 13:46   #17
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@Zetr0,

my wife used to hand solder IBM keyboard controller cards and the freon wash was basically the only method available at the time for cleaning off the flux in production runs. I used to think that Freon was inflammable because it sure smelled like it should be, one of the lads I worked with said it wasn't and actually poured some on his hand and used his lighter......... I was expecting all hell to break out but the freon actually extinguished the flame. I also found out that it was rubbish at getting biro ink off your overall when your pen bursts


@orange,

I agree with the use of diluted IPA, but if there is either a heavy deposit of flux or sticky residue (off a label for example), I would use neat IPA or surgical spirits to remove it with either a cut down 1/2 inch paintbrush or a piece of kitchen roll before going any further. Too much scrubbing can remove the sheen from the lacquer when using anything especially neat stuff like IPA and surgical spirits and a light pressure on the brush is much better than pressing too hard when cleaning the board.

We actually used scrubbing brushed on all the wash plants, soft to firm 1/2 inch bristles. As long as you don't go overboard, most processes are fine with a bit of scrubbing but any active product that remains should be flushed off the board and then the board should be dried as soon as possible.

Not everyone will have on hand IPA so its a case of using what you have at times, Zetr0's screen wash is something I never thought of but it is something that we all can use and its cheap. I dare say that for bad areas, you could let the board soak for a while instead of over scrubbing, but that's something to try when I buy some screen wash (my electric bike hasn't got a screen ).
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Old 27 September 2010, 13:56   #18
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On a related note to cleaning boards and related equipment - what the views on using an air line/compressed air? I now a compressor which could blow a brick wall down (well not really, but it has some oomph!)

I have read about potential moisture problems taking such an approach but would be interested in an expert view here.
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Old 27 September 2010, 14:00   #19
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On a related note to cleaning boards and related equipment - what the views on using an air line/compressed air? I now a compressor which could blow a brick wall down (well not really, but it has some oomph!)

I have read about potential moisture problems taking such an approach but would be interested in an expert view here.
The only thing I've heard that can be detrimental is that with the air racing over the board it generates a nasty level of static. Most air compressors have a valve at the bottom of the tank to release water and a second valve the hose plugs in to remove the rest. Frankly if you're concerned after you've done it just put the board over an air vent if you have central heating for a few hours.
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Old 27 September 2010, 14:34   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrooksterMax View Post
On a related note to cleaning boards and related equipment - what the views on using an air line/compressed air? I now a compressor which could blow a brick wall down (well not really, but it has some oomph!)

I have read about potential moisture problems taking such an approach but would be interested in an expert view here.
That method was employed where I used to work, mind you the floors were static dissipative and we had to wear heel straps to ground ourselves. The air line from the compressors were steel pipes that were grounded and the air itself went through a moisture trap and drier before coming into the factory (still got the odd water spray now and then though).

A lot of the boards that the air line was essential for were backplane boards where there were many connectors (like ISA slots), these boards would take far too long to dry in the hot air dryer otherwise even with its very powerful air flow.

Realistically a bit of common sense and practice will give you something to work on, remember that its a legal requirement that the the air pressure is regulated on an air line, especially one that is used for blowing as in this case (health and safety etc).
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