Author Topic: Retrobrite - Solution Only Method  (Read 24389 times)

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Offline False_Dmitry_II

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Retrobrite - Solution Only Method
« on: Mon, 25 July 2011, 13:40:34 »
Okay, here we go. Pictures at the end:

First off, the recipe as it stands is completely stupid and redundant. Clearly the guy who made it is not even a little bit chemically inclined. The active ingredient in oxyclean is sodium percarbonate. If you look that chemical up anywhere, (even wikipedia) you find that it is "an anhydrous source of hydrogen peroxide". This means that it is a source of hydrogen peroxide that isn't currently in water. So clearly using both a bottle of the stuff AND oxyclean is more than a little unnecessary.



Secondly hydrogen peroxide is literally the only thing that is actually used to make the change from yellow to white again. Everything else is just to make it into a paste, which may or may not be possible using a different process. That I have no idea of, since I didn't do it that way. Depending on the concentration it may well be safe to touch, but if it's too high it may not be. I never had a problem, but I also never calculated how concentrated it would be. You could just start lower, since this isn't like doing rit, if it fails to do anything to the keys, just add more stuff or light.

Also, it may be that the reaction just likes light period, not just sunlight. I say this, because one of my original attempts before doing my own research ended with the keys upside down in the solution in my kitchen with the light source being one of those "daylight range" or whatever florescent types. It still whitened up.



Thirdly, because of all of this, the only thing that matters is how much hydrogen peroxide you can get into the water. It doesn't matter if you grab a giant bottle of the stuff and boil it until it is super concentrated, or if you start with water and dump the powder in. This brings up the question, what is the quickest way to actually get this stuff into the water?

Well, in all seriousness, by using neither hydrogen peroxide nor oxyclean.

Hydrogen peroxide in its aqueous form can obviously be a bit unstable, that's why they are in those brown bottles, to attempt to stop light getting in and making them react. It also has chemical stabilizers in there to attempt to keep it from reacting as well. The concentration is also really not all that high, and can be expensive.

Oxyclean... ugh... it only has sodium percarbonate as an active ingredient. Thing is, there is no actual problem with having nothing but sodium percarbonate as a powder. IIRC it is only 30-40% this stuff. The rest is nothing but filler. That's some expensive filler.

I recommend getting something else instead. For example:

http://www.ecogeeks.com/greenstore/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=72&products_id=201

This is a competing product of oxyclean. It easily has the highest concentration of the stuff in it. Something like 80-90%.

Either that (it's cheaper to go with that for small quantities) or just straight up going for the pure chemical:

http://www.chemistrystore.com/Chemicals_S-Z-Sodium_Percarbonate.html

This is the cheapest place I found for the pure chemical. It can also be found other places like ebay, but I think I'd probably trust them more than the ebay seller.

So anyway, that's what everyone doing this in the future should buy. If you've got the other stuff at the moment, just go apecrap by adding lots of the powder or boiling half off the aqueous form. Or both, or whatever. Point is, more is better. I'm sure someone can refine this to whatever the maximum useful is at some point, but till then this should do.



Fourth, I'm pretty sure we're down to technique now. If there's anything I've forgotten I'll try to add it later.

Anyways, at this point the biggest question is of how to soak whatever it is in this stuff. For cases and whatnot just getting some tub to stick them in would do it fairly easily.

As always, surface area is the most important for this in order to let the now in water hydrogen peroxide react with the target. However you do this great.

When I did my keys I tried to hold them in place (because otherwise they were flipping over and being upside down) by having plastic push down on them. Clear plastic, clear glass/container. The reason there are two containers was one was a mix of hydrogen peroxide and dissolved sodium percarbonate, and the other was nothing but dissolved stuff. The clear plastic or water in the top things didn't interfere with the light. The problem was that they kinda stuck to the bottom of the plastic and then didn't react anywhere near as much as they would have, so even though they are much much better, they are not as pure as they would otherwise have been.

So if you are trying keys, try and figure a way to keep them in place from the bottom of the key. Perhaps some kind of weak enough adhesive, double sided tape (or duct tape in a loop), or whatever else. Maybe you have extra stems that you can superglue (or better) for whatever kind of key it is to a sacrificial container. Or, try using a container like the ones in the pictures, and just let the keys float upside down; then put that container on top of a mirror - I'd like to see this tried to see if it works. If you can get the solution to simply be around and above what you're trying to whiten, the better they will be and the faster. Especially if you fill alot of it with concentrated solution. Also it will have the advantage of being more even, you can see that some of mine are slightly different shades.


I hope all this was helpful to people.


Before:
http://geekhack.org/showthread.php?17076-The-quot-What-keyboard-is-this-quot

http://i.imgur.com/RAqUH.jpg

After:

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Offline Input Nirvana

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« Reply #1 on: Mon, 25 July 2011, 14:03:55 »
Thanks for the helpful information and pics.

Let me throw out a few reasons why I think Oxy Clean (or no-name equal) might be a good way to go, rather than the online links of the more pure chemicals you posted:

1) The cost of the cheapest link you give is about 2.5 times more expensive, and the product is about 2.5 times more concentrated, which balances out, but you still have shipping cost of a 6 pound item.
2) Registering, ordering online and waiting.
3) You can get Oxy Clean at almost any store that you normally go to for food or other household items (grocery store, Target, Walmart, etc.)

It just seems easier, cheaper, and less hassle to buy at a store, with no downside. Thanks to your help, several of us have been doing this with a lot of success.
« Last Edit: Mon, 25 July 2011, 14:12:16 by input nirvana »
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Offline False_Dmitry_II

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« Reply #2 on: Tue, 26 July 2011, 03:00:14 »
If you use the stuff for other things around the house, like you would oxyclean, I think it's worth it for the oxyboost. Though most of what you said was really just brick-n-mortar vs online and what your preferences are on that. Mine is almost always online, since if you know you'll need something ahead of time you just go ahead and do it and then it's at your house instead of driving to a store and looking for it.

I attempted the jar thing, but I think that failed due to not enough light getting where it needed to be. I suppose a bigger jar or fewer keys in the jar would have helped. I'd really like to see someone try the mirror thing though.
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Offline REVENGE

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« Reply #3 on: Tue, 26 July 2011, 03:15:13 »
The oxyclean isn't there to supply hydrogen peroxide, it's there because it contains TAED (Tetra-Acetyl-Ethylene-Diamine). You have shown nothing without a controlled test to determine whether or not the presence of TAED in solution will speed up the process.

Also, why do you assume that a clear plastic container will not absorb UV? Transparency in the visible spectrum != transparency in the UV spectrum.

Finally, the white balancing of your pictures can be misleading. ripster used a white balance reference card in his shots, but if you don't have access to one try using something else as a reliable color reference.
« Last Edit: Tue, 26 July 2011, 03:21:10 by REVENGE »
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Offline JustCallMeCrash

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« Reply #4 on: Tue, 26 July 2011, 10:24:24 »
Quote from: REVENGE;387317
The oxyclean isn't there to supply hydrogen peroxide, it's there because it contains TAED (Tetra-Acetyl-Ethylene-Diamine). You have shown nothing without a controlled test to determine whether or not the presence of TAED in solution will speed up the process.

Also, why do you assume that a clear plastic container will not absorb UV? Transparency in the visible spectrum != transparency in the UV spectrum.

Finally, the white balancing of your pictures can be misleading. ripster used a white balance reference card in his shots, but if you don't have access to one try using something else as a reliable color reference.
Because you can clearly see from the background that the color is not accurately represented.  A white balance ref card would be very handy... otherwise your "dirty" shot with no flash and your "clean" shot with flash make it look like you're cheating.

Offline litster

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« Reply #5 on: Tue, 26 July 2011, 11:04:16 »
Quote from: REVENGE;387317
Also, why do you assume that a clear plastic container will not absorb UV? Transparency in the visible spectrum != transparency in the UV spectrum.


It depends on the plastic, I suppose.  The plastic container with a lid worked for me.

Offline Input Nirvana

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« Reply #6 on: Tue, 26 July 2011, 12:40:48 »
There are a lot of variables (chemical, technique, environment, product, etc.) I'm imagining that we are mostly trying to isolate more than one reasonable, verifiable, "standardized" guideline of de-yellowing plastics. Since the Retrobrite process is all of these things, the only purpose might be to meet/beat the costs, simplification, safety, collateral damage, results.

Using the Retrobrite process as the starting point, you have:
-hydrogen peroxide (40 vol)
-Oxy Clean
-xanthan gum
-glycerin
-sun/uv source

If you don't add the xanthan gum and glycerin which creates the pastiness, all that's left is hydrogen peroxide (40 vol) and Oxy Clean mixed as a liquid. Hydrogen peroxide with Oxy has been done by Ripster in a jar with good results. The only real issue is that it's kinda caustic, and that sucks, it's best to avoid that if possible. The only thing we are looking at now and that anyone has done here, is used Oxy Clean (or equal) with water replacing the strong hydrogen peroxide and put in the sun. We know plastics de-yellow with Oxy Clean (between 1x-4x strengths) in water in the sun. That process seems to meet the cost, simplification, safety, collateral damage and results concerns. The only questions that are left is the verification (the how and whys), establishing a guideline (do you use more Oxy if the plastic is more yellow, etc), how much of a role does the hydrogen peroxide play (is it really necessary, does it improve the results?),

If we can do a few more keyboards, with controls/pics, there should easily be enough information to post as a stripped down method of Retrobrite.

[/HR]
These are the options:
1 -Oxy Clean in water and what light source
2 -Hydrogen peroxide gel brushed on with what light source?

Do the above 2 options and determine: minimum mix requirements, times, light sources, cautions, compare actual results with Retrobrite, document with grey card, control item, good pics.

I can do some of the above in the next month or two. Anyone else that wants to add to this, please try to answer and build on what we have here. Again, the idea is to have a guideline.

[/HR]

Don't want to beat a dead horse too much.
« Last Edit: Tue, 26 July 2011, 12:50:33 by input nirvana »
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Offline litster

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« Reply #7 on: Tue, 26 July 2011, 13:31:15 »
Copying my findings from the off topic thread to here for reference:

Did more experiment today.  I have a set of Dolch keycaps with yellow white letters.  Bought a new can of OxyClean from Target.  Used 2 scoops OxyClean in about 8 Oz of water.  

ScrollLock and letter G before OxyClean.  NumLock and 8 are controls.


Numpad * and numpad 3 before OxyClean.  NumLock and 8 are controls.


After 5 hours of direct sun in OxyClean solution.  ScrollLock and letter G were in OxyClean *under* the sun for 5 hours.  Numpad * and numpad 3 after 5 hours indoor (no sun) in OxyClean solution.  


It is not dramatic, but you can see ScrollLock and the letter G getting whiter.  Numpad * and Numpad 3, although in the same OxyClean solution but without sun, didn't not get whiter.

Notice the light grey color of the G key also got a whitening treatment.  The grey got lighter.

This is what is on my can of OxyClean, and the size of the scoop that comes with my small can.





1 scoop == 2 tbsp

I used the pre-treat recommendation as a base.  The pre-soak formula outside the OxyClean can says 1 scoop to 16 oz. I did 2 scoops to 8 oz. That is 4x the recommended ratio of the pre-treat recommendation.

Offline False_Dmitry_II

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« Reply #8 on: Tue, 26 July 2011, 17:13:46 »
My off brand powder that I mentioned only has the anhydrous hydrogen peroxide and soda ash. As such, automatically all of my stuff that I did is nothing but pure hydrogen peroxide. QED. Speed is not an issue, because everyone who does this simply wants it to work. I've gotten plenty of PM's about what I did to show that.

The two different containers that you can see in the different pictures, one had a mix between my powder and hydrogen peroxide in a bottle and the other was just the powder. Both performed the same.

Not only that, I mentioned that one of my early attempts resulted in the keys flipping upside down and floating that way. The bottoms went to pure white since they weren't riding a part of any surface. They used nothing but a fluorescent light to do this. It would be a terrible fluorescent light that puts off UV, so UV is unimportant as well. Like I said, I'm pretty sure this is just a light reaction. If I did this again with the mirror below the container and let them float I think that'd be good enough to get light everywhere it needs to be, and nothing would stand in the way. Like I *also* said before, I think they were stuck to the bottom of that stuff too much which is the only reason they are varying in color at all. When I lifted them out, many of them acted like they were literally stuck to it even though they should have all come free as soon as there was nothing holding them down. Which is also why I said that you should find some way of holding them in place that does not impede movement of the solution around them.

Also like I've said before, those before shots were taken in a different country than I am in, and by not me. So different location, different camera and everything possible. I never had that entire rubber dome these alps caps came from. All of my actual after shots are taken on a paper towel, both with flash and without. Believe you me, those things were as yellow as yellow could be, even on the underside before I started. I don't have any reference cards for color, nor will I ever bother to keep something back, because I will always do these things in a batch. I will say that in the future I will simply take pictures outside with a relatively unencumbered sun. If the sun isn't good enough to satisfy getting the colors accurate, then my pictures will never please you.
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Offline greyhounds

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Retrobrite - Solution Only Method
« Reply #9 on: Thu, 28 July 2011, 11:47:43 »
For $1.99 + shipping you can buy 40 vol hydrogen peroxide already in a gel/cream form. Mix in the Oxyclean if you like and go to town.

http://www.amazon.com/Jerome-Russell-Cream-Peroxide-Vol/dp/B004XJFG0I
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Offline Input Nirvana

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« Reply #10 on: Thu, 28 July 2011, 11:54:51 »
Thanks for that link. One of the "official" thread examples with before/after photos needs to be with get hydrogen peroxide. I'll do half a case with it within a month, maybe someone else can do it as well for a nice comparison.
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Offline Input Nirvana

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« Reply #11 on: Fri, 29 July 2011, 00:36:05 »
You haven't lived until you've fired up a 1.000 watter version, you have to wear eye protection, and can actually hear the electric meter spinning.
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Offline litster

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« Reply #12 on: Sat, 30 July 2011, 17:11:33 »
This is the final result.  I OxyCleaned all the remaining keys, including the numpad keys that were controls.  This time I had some patchy problem.  I think it is because I didn't stir them the second day.  The last time I did this I stir them a bit every couple hours.  



Also, mirror lock makes macro pictures sharper.  I just learned that :-)

Offline Input Nirvana

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« Reply #13 on: Sat, 30 July 2011, 18:26:32 »
DOH!!! I was afraid of that! One set of my dark home row keys got patchy and the other set got so patchy they got uniformly light, which is fine. That was at 10x. Oqsy did the recommended and did not get the patchiness/lightening, just the desired de-yellowing. This is potentially a huge caution for a vintage keyboard. I strongly believe that 1x-2x is the way to go, especially after Oqsy posted his results. When I do it again, I'll do a batch at the recommended, another batch with get hair hydrogen peroxide, and a Retrobrite batch.

I'm tempted to consider Rit dye on the white doubleshots, but I have no idea what color to do. I must be bulletproof, I don't want some puke color crap :(
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Offline lowpoly

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« Reply #14 on: Thu, 04 August 2011, 07:23:41 »
I just used 10% H2O2 (just H2O2 and water) on my Apple M0110 and it worked fine.

The gel has been invented for computer cases that have a large volume. In that case it would be expensive to use the solution. As keyboard cases are mostly flat using the original solution shouldn't be a problem.

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Offline Input Nirvana

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« Reply #15 on: Thu, 04 August 2011, 11:18:31 »
Good point. I guess it's obvious, but I didn't see it that way. Another fine example of your fine German insight.

10% hydrogen peroxide and water only.

That keyboard case is beige, and the keys beige-re or gray? So no whitening of the plastic, and you think the results are 95% or better? Was there any sunlight or UV?
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Offline Input Nirvana

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« Reply #16 on: Thu, 04 August 2011, 12:49:24 »
   I posted this in the "Dang, peroxide does burn" but it seems appropriate here:

Here is a link, can't read a single word. It appears he is (oxyclean???) his Kinesis Conoured indoors, I think with 160 degree water, need confirmation of that.

If you click the thumbnails about a dozen pics to the right you can see part of the process. Go another 10 pics and you can see a cool all black reclining (gaming?) computing setup he's got. From the original starting point of the link, if you go about 10 pics to the left, he has a super-rad office chair. I've seen before, but don't remember what it is. It's very notable, I think it's about $1,000+

http://ameblo.jp/martin777/image-107...883991805.html



« Last Edit: Thu, 04 August 2011, 12:51:37 by input nirvana »
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Offline Input Nirvana

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« Reply #17 on: Thu, 04 August 2011, 12:57:46 »
* I posted this in the "DANG, peroxide DOES burn" thread, but it seems more appropriate here, especially if someone can translate :)

Here is a link, can't read a single word. It appears he is (oxyclean???) his Kinesis Conoured indoors, I think with 160 degree water, need confirmation of that.

If you click the thumbnails about a dozen pics to the right you can see part of the process. Go another 10 pics and you can see a cool all black reclining (gaming?) computing setup he's got. From the original starting point of the link, if you go about 10 pics to the left, he has a super-rad office chair. I've seen before, but don't remember what it is. It's very notable, I think it's about $1,000+


http://ameblo.jp/martin777/image-10719620844-10883991805.html
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Offline lowpoly

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« Reply #18 on: Thu, 04 August 2011, 16:46:15 »
Quote from: input nirvana;392901
That keyboard case is beige, and the keys beige-re or gray? So no whitening of the plastic, and you think the results are 95% or better? Was there any sunlight or UV?
Case is beige and the keys are a brownish gray, hard to describe. It wasn't that yellowed from the start and I failed to take a good before pic together with the other case I have. :Cry:


I let the case and keys sit for 6 hours and the space bar for 12. This was during daytime and indoors. No UV lighting and TAED although I had bought those. I had seen ripster's M0110 and wanted to go slowly in case parts would get mottled. Bubbles develop on the parts, which I removed from time to time by stirring stuff around. I let the space bar sit longer until it had the same color as the other keys.

I think both of my boards had a similar state of yellowing before I started. Now there is a very visible difference. The treated one looks like a new 'board.

I'll post pics when I finish programming (right now it doesn't work at all).

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Offline lowpoly

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« Reply #19 on: Sun, 07 August 2011, 11:25:01 »
Most - if not all - of what I said in post #17 is already mentioned in Ripster's Retr0brite thread, lol. I hope I didn't see it there.

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Offline didjamatic

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« Reply #20 on: Sun, 07 August 2011, 13:15:05 »
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Offline Input Nirvana

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« Reply #21 on: Sun, 07 August 2011, 14:02:18 »
Quote from: didjamatic;394719
(Attachment Link) 23490[/ATTACH]

You get about 10 gold stars for that!!!  :)
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Offline litster

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« Reply #22 on: Sun, 07 August 2011, 17:15:34 »
One thing I found is that if you are doing keycaps, and if the keycaps are floating to the top, try flipping the keycaps under water to release bubbles that are hiding under the caps.  Once the air bubbles are gone, the keycaps should sink to the bottom, allowing them fully emerge in water.  This should work with Cherry keycaps that are thick and heavy.

Offline lowpoly

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Retrobrite - Solution Only Method
« Reply #23 on: Mon, 08 August 2011, 04:49:18 »
^^^ Yepp, I had that too. Keycaps would sink down initially. Then bubbles develop, lifting the keys to the top. Regular checking is required.

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