Retr0bright - a cautionary tale

mr_a500

05 Aug 2019, 23:12

Nobody tried this new sun-only method? It works! All my previously hideously-yellowed items are now either original colour or tolerably creamy-coloured instead of "bright banana".

I'd never try this with a nearly perfect item or something rare/valuable, but it certainly makes ugly yellowed items more presentable. (Just make sure the plastic doesn't get too hot in the sun!)

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Muirium
µ

06 Aug 2019, 00:54

While I appreciate the fellow’s Sir Jonathan Ive-alike of a voice, the vid is waaaay too long. What’s the procedure? Just lie your gross old yellowed junk out in the yard for a spot of sunbathing?

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Polecat

06 Aug 2019, 03:35

mr_a500 wrote:
05 Aug 2019, 23:12
Nobody tried this new sun-only method? It works! All my previously hideously-yellowed items are now either original colour or tolerably creamy-coloured instead of "bright banana".

I'd never try this with a nearly perfect item or something rare/valuable, but it certainly makes ugly yellowed items more presentable. (Just make sure the plastic doesn't get too hot in the sun!)
Is this a joke? I've always been led to believe that sun/UV was the *cause* of the yellowing. No, I haven't watched the video.

mr_a500

06 Aug 2019, 04:29

Yes, I too kept my computers away from sun, like a psychotic vampire. But after seeing this video, I brought my computers out with me while tanning my bare arse and I was pleasantly surprised about the results - and not just about my arse.

It's simple - just put the computers/keyboards in the sun. That's it.

mr_a500

06 Aug 2019, 17:11

This looks close to original off-white colour, doesn't it?
Apple IIc.jpg
Apple IIc.jpg (878.49 KiB) Viewed 2625 times
This was previously my most yellowed item. Before putting it in the sun, it looked like a lemon - nearly as yellow as the yellow in the Apple logo.

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Muirium
µ

06 Aug 2019, 17:17

Oooh! Pretty!

I read up on retrobrighting years and years ago, when it was first rippling through the retro computing fetishist community. As I recall—this was long ago—this reversing effect in high intensity UV light was the original inspiration. Where the chemistry kicked in was in trying to lock it in place. A task with complications, as we’ve seen.

Keep an eye on these test subjects of yours. It’ll be informative to know how long they keep their youthful looks. It won’t be forever, of course, but it may not be so much shorter than retrobright has proven to be!

I still reckon all exposure to ultraviolet is bad news in the end. The best ABS is the stuff that’s been kept in its original coffin box since the day it was made. But bromine flame retardant ions are funny things, capable of turning so yellow it’s filthy orange, and then most the way back again. Best to never activate them in the first place. But once they’re are on the move, we should do our best to understand them!

mr_a500

06 Aug 2019, 20:51

Muirium wrote:
06 Aug 2019, 17:17
I still reckon all exposure to ultraviolet is bad news in the end. The best ABS is the stuff that’s been kept in its original coffin box since the day it was made. But bromine flame retardant ions are funny things, capable of turning so yellow it’s filthy orange, and then most the way back again. Best to never activate them in the first place. But once they’re are on the move, we should do our best to understand them!
Yes. I've got a few items that are amazingly un-yellowed original colour (including the whitest VT100 I've ever seen) - and I'll never expose them to UV. (...unless they yellow)

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User101

17 Aug 2019, 22:06

mr_a500 wrote:
06 Aug 2019, 17:11
This was previously my most yellowed item. Before putting it in the sun, it looked like a lemon - nearly as yellow as the yellow in the Apple logo.
I tried several keyboards and misc stuff outside and non show any brightening...The case of my ti terminal spend a whole week out in the sun already and I really cant tell any difference. I must be doing something wrong here there's way too much report confirming that sun bright works. How long did you leave the iic in the sun?

mr_a500

18 Aug 2019, 01:12

User101 wrote:
17 Aug 2019, 22:06
I tried several keyboards and misc stuff outside and non show any brightening...The case of my ti terminal spend a whole week out in the sun already and I really cant tell any difference. I must be doing something wrong here there's way too much report confirming that sun bright works. How long did you leave the iic in the sun?
That is very odd. I put about 15 things in the sun and all showed noticeable improvement after just a few hours. After 2-3 days of 8 hours/day (turning every hour or two), everything was nearly as white as new. I even put a few coloured items in the sun that had... yellowed (actually brown-yellowed, blue-yellowed and grey-yellowed) and they went back to nearly the original colours.

I noticed you're in Southern California - and it's summer, so it must be damn hot in the sun! How did you keep it in the sun without it getting too hot? I did say that it shouldn't get too hot. The theory is that UV and/or heat is what causes yellowing.

I'm in Canada. The air was cool and the plastics didn't get too hot while spending hours in high-UV sun. (also, ozone layer is thinner up here)

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JP!

18 Aug 2019, 21:11

What about UV light only with the keyboard being in a sealed vacuum? No oxygen and minimal heat. Just a theory.

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User101

19 Aug 2019, 00:46

mr_a500 wrote:
18 Aug 2019, 01:12
User101 wrote:
17 Aug 2019, 22:06
I tried several keyboards and misc stuff outside and non show any brightening...The case of my ti terminal spend a whole week out in the sun already and I really cant tell any difference. I must be doing something wrong here there's way too much report confirming that sun bright works. How long did you leave the iic in the sun?
That is very odd. I put about 15 things in the sun and all showed noticeable improvement after just a few hours. After 2-3 days of 8 hours/day (turning every hour or two), everything was nearly as white as new. I even put a few coloured items in the sun that had... yellowed (actually brown-yellowed, blue-yellowed and grey-yellowed) and they went back to nearly the original colours.

I noticed you're in Southern California - and it's summer, so it must be damn hot in the sun! How did you keep it in the sun without it getting too hot? I did say that it shouldn't get too hot. The theory is that UV and/or heat is what causes yellowing.

I'm in Canada. The air was cool and the plastics didn't get too hot while spending hours in high-UV sun. (also, ozone layer is thinner up here)
Sorry for the late reply. Temperature is not bad, but the sun is really strong here. I think the stuff that's out there got about 5 hours of direct sunlight every day. To keep things cool, I spray water on them every couple of hours. Well, I already took the M0110 inside, for now, the TI case will be out there until it gets white lol.

mr_a500

19 Aug 2019, 02:06

I still think it's strange that you haven't had any results. Even my wife - who doesn't give a shit about computers or keyboards and is generally unobservant - keeps going on about how white they are now. Months later, she says, "I can't believe how yellow these used to be." She says it so many times, I'm about to say, "Yeah, yeah. OK, get over it."

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User101

19 Aug 2019, 08:21

mr_a500 wrote:
19 Aug 2019, 02:06
I still think it's strange that you haven't had any results. Even my wife - who doesn't give a shit about computers or keyboards and is generally unobservant - keeps going on about how white they are now. Months later, she says, "I can't believe how yellow these used to be." She says it so many times, I'm about to say, "Yeah, yeah. OK, get over it."
It is indeed strange. Maybe SoCal need a new sun or something... anyhow I'll leave the ti case outside for observation.

mr_a500

19 Aug 2019, 12:48

Well just look at how white this seagull turned out:
Seagull checking out keyboard.JPG
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He used to be totally yellow. OK, not really... it's a real seagull who came to check out my keyboards in the sun. But you can see the Apple IIc, about 3/4 of the way to becoming as white as in the previously posted photo.

Maybe you just need a seagull.

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XMIT
[ XMIT ]

20 Aug 2019, 02:54

Hmm. The UV here in Texas is oppressive. Maybe I'll pick a particularly banana colored board from storage and see what happens. AEKs and AEK IIs get super yellow...

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User101

20 Aug 2019, 16:41

mr_a500 wrote:
19 Aug 2019, 12:48
Well just look at how white this seagull turned out:

Seagull checking out keyboard.JPG


He used to be totally yellow. OK, not really... it's a real seagull who came to check out my keyboards in the sun. But you can see the Apple IIc, about 3/4 of the way to becoming as white as in the previously posted photo.

Maybe you just need a seagull.

I'll be sure to grab a seagull lol.

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Muirium
µ

20 Aug 2019, 17:46

We have bloody loads of them here, too. In various shades of sun bleaching. A500’s is a herring gull. He’s probably overcooked. The darker grey backed gulls are more what you’re looking for from a first exposure.

The best way to get them is to try to eat fast food outside. They love a chippy as much as we do!

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kbdfr
The Tiproman

20 Aug 2019, 18:17

Muirium wrote:
20 Aug 2019, 17:46
[…] They love a chippy as much as we do!
You probably mean British seagulls :lol:

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XMIT
[ XMIT ]

20 Aug 2019, 21:42

The UV index [1] here in Central Texas [2] is 11.

I have three keyboards out for whitening out right now: an Apple M0110, a Northgate OmniKey 102, and a Sun Cherry keyboard. They were real bananas, the most yellow keyboards I could quickly find. I set them out at 10:20 local time, in a garden cart, in a place with no shade.
DSCF6120.jpg
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It is now 14:34 local time and the whitening results are noticeable.
DSCF6130.jpg
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As you can see the cases and in particular the key caps on the OmniKey are notably lighter. This is also super easy to do, with almost no prep other than putting the wagon out. I see a lot of keyboards getting whitened in this way soon...

Sunset is at 20:10 local time so I have at least five more hours of whitening to go!

According to [3] if you happen to live in Nairobi, or Darwin, or Singapore, this should work great for you. :mrgreen:

My biggest concern is brittling of the plastic from all the added UV exposure. I'll crack these boards open and pull key caps at some point to see what has changed.

[1] https://www.who.int/uv/intersunprogramm ... _index/en/
[2] https://www.wunderground.com/health/us/ ... alwx_moduv
[3] https://www.who.int/uv/intersunprogramm ... ndex3.html

mr_a500

20 Aug 2019, 22:46

But the big question is... what kind of seagull did you use?

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User101

21 Aug 2019, 02:25

Damn my ti case still shows no changes whatsoever. I'm feeling little down... I will throw something else out tomorrow.

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XMIT
[ XMIT ]

25 Aug 2019, 14:48

I left the keyboards out for a second day. They got a little brighter.
DSCF6160 (3).jpg
Solar bleaching, day two.
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I don't fully understand the processes at work here but I expect that this follows a logarithmic curve, meaning, you'll see the most pronounced results in a few hours, and steady but increasingly slow progress as time continues. Perhaps another week could get things lighter?

Here's a detail shot of the OmniKey/102. The keyboard had a legend card over the function key area that protected part of the case from yellowing damage. So you can clearly see, there is some difference between the bleached result, and the original, which is lighter still.
DSCF6160.jpg
OmniKey/102 after day two.
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There are two concerns that I have about this process:

1. UV damage causing the plastics to be more brittle. To test this I would need to take two plastic samples, expose one to UV and measure the difference on a test rig. It's a minor concern.

2. Leaving keyboards outside means remembering to bring them inside overnight. Otherwise, dew will form on the internal surfaces in the morning, possibly causing damage.

These are fairly minor concerns.

mr_a500, no seagulls here, but here are two visitors we've had recently: the Great Egret and the Crested Caracara.
D7K_1590.JPG
Great Egret soaring over our house.
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DSC_1005.JPG
Crested Caracara. Looks like an eagle, acts like a vulture.
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User101, can you post some before and after shots of your experiments here? Where are you located? For this to work you do need UV, the more the better. Here in the Austin, TX area, at 30 degrees north latitude, and it being the middle of the summer, we have plenty of UV. It is so strong that we have advisories to stay inside between 10am and 2pm.

mr_a500

25 Aug 2019, 15:41

Wow, that Crested Caracara is a weird looking guy.

At the risk of turning this into a bird thread... here are regular visitors in front of my house:
Spoiler:
heron.jpg
eagles.jpg
...along with falcons, black hawks, blue jays, chickadees, hummingbirds and various sea birds. I assume most of them help with the de-yellowing process.
Last edited by mr_a500 on 27 Aug 2019, 14:56, edited 1 time in total.

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User101

25 Aug 2019, 22:26

XMIT wrote:
25 Aug 2019, 14:48
User101, can you post some before and after shots of your experiments here? Where are you located? For this to work you do need UV, the more the better. Here in the Austin, TX area, at 30 degrees north latitude, and it being the middle of the summer, we have plenty of UV. It is so strong that we have advisories to stay inside between 10am and 2pm.
So I live in socal, its not that hot but the sun is strong. I think theres plenty of UV here.

So last weekend I threw an Macintosh case out. This is the result:
20190816_180331.jpg
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So heres before
20190825_132036.jpg
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Bear in mind that these two photos were taken in different times of a day so take them with a grain of salt. From my eyes theres definitely a little bit of brightening but nothing significant enough...

I know exactly why I dont have the results. I figured it out. It's the lack of birds.

mr_a500

27 Aug 2019, 05:12

User101 wrote:
25 Aug 2019, 22:26
So last weekend I threw an Macintosh case out. This is the result:
20190816_180331.jpg
That's beyond yellow. Maybe it's too far gone to be recovered. I've seen badly yellowed plastic before, but this looks like hardened orange. I've got an Amiga 500 that's the yellowest I've ever seen, but it never went past yellow to dark orange.

Back to birds for a minute... OK, I promise these are the last birds I will post here. Some of my friends:
Spoiler:
evil blue jay.JPG
chickadee closeup.JPG
blue jay.jpg
These guys are around my house year round - even when it's -25 degrees Celsius. In winter, those little chickadees fly over and land on my hand. They're very friendly little guys.
Last edited by mr_a500 on 27 Aug 2019, 15:05, edited 2 times in total.

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User101

27 Aug 2019, 05:38

mr_a500 wrote:
27 Aug 2019, 05:12
Back to birds for a minute... OK, I promise these are the last birds I will post here.
No. Post more birds. Need to see. :mrgreen:

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phinix

27 Aug 2019, 13:20

I thought I'll share my experience with this process.

I did it two times already with success, so here's what I've done.

I live in Scotland, where sun is a bit...well.. is not available most of the year.
I simply purchased H2O2, food grade - 12% and threw my doubleshot caps (OG Cherry) in a glass bowl, then put it in the sun in my garden for 5 hours. That was it. No UV lights, Retrobright liquids etc

Result of latest one: https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=10 ... msg2786753

4sStylZ

27 Aug 2019, 14:18

Just a tips, better mask or remove temporary the apple logo and others thing like that. You can destroy it with retr0brighting.

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jani80k

06 Sep 2019, 15:19

On doubleshot caps, just use very fine sandpaper or sandblasting. Not a fan of retrobright due to inconsistent results.
The keycaps in my example were not yellow, they were brown before I used sandpaper 600 --> sandpaper 1500 --> microfiber cloth on them. In my opinion there is no easier way to bring back the original color.
Sandpaper_2.jpg
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Sandpaper.jpg
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The caps have a satin finish to them now which I like a lot. If you need the original grainy texture, you can sandblast with glass beads.
From my point of view, Retrobright makes only sense on cases but not on keycaps, especially not doubleshot ones.
BTW: Thanks for sharing the story. It helped me a lot.

4sStylZ

09 Sep 2019, 13:12

> From my point of view, Retrobright makes only sense on cases but not on keycaps, especially not doubleshot ones.

For me it’s the complete opposite. I don’t have inconsistant result on keycaps. I get a very nice result, not burned, very close to
a new product because that’s small parts.I have some strange issue with big parts like a computer mouse. I get some very strange dark spots on big parts.

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