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Hardware, Uncategorized

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Mechanical Keyboard Adventures

A while back I bought a mechanical keyboard from over at WASD. I opted for the cherry mx blue keys, for the typing experience. The delivery was quick and the final product looked gorgeous.

Some nizxcvm/*

gahhH! About 4 days into ownership I spillled nearly a full bottle of ginger beer on it and am now plagued with random, phantom key presses. These phantom presses seem to come and go, varying in infuriating-ness. Sometimes a single keystroke will be missed or a single random letter inserted. More recently, on hotter days, the keyboard will behave as if a control key is being held down, or as if special keys are being endlessly pressed. Both of these last scenarios will bring a session to it’s knees. Disconnect and power off is the only option…

In addition, some of the keys don’t ‘click’ like they should. I tore one out as part to investigate and noted a sugary/gingery film inside the key, gumming up the spring and contact. The result?

I bought a 30 pack of cherry mx blue’s from aliexpress.com for about $20AUD. Lets have a crack at fixing it.

Step one is to open the keyboard case. I’ve had a few goes at this now and have totally ruined the case and the tabs… Helpful tip: remove all three case screws before trying to pry open the case!

Remove the feet first. Do this by lifting them up, and pulling to the left. A little force is required.

Underneath each of the feet is a screw. Undo this and put in a sensible place. The third screw is in the center of the backplate under a sticker; the sticker asks politely not to be removed. Disobey.

With all THREE screws off, locate the tabs holding the front plate to the back plate. I used a small flat head screwdriver to poke the tabs open. Be warned, this is a great way to ruin the case. Also be warned, UNDO ALL THREE SCREWS. I forgot to do this and ruined 4 of the tabs…

Ok, now we’re cooking. There’s a fourth screw just below the F4 key. Remove.

Now the PCB can come off; there is a small connector on the backside that needs to be removed.

Marvel at your progress.

I’m going to remove the following keys:
z x v b
These keys are sticky and gummy, they’ve lost their ‘click’. Take off the plastic key cover and a few around it to give space to work.

Flip the keyboard over. The WASD PCB conveniently has the keys labelled, which makes it easy to identify keys from the back.

Your soldering iron should be heated by now (you did switch your soldering iron on right? I didn’t…). Use your soldering iron and solder sucker to remove the solder holding the cherry mx key in place.

We want to make this as clean as possible, if all of the solder doesn’t remove the first time, add some fresh solder to the pad and try again.

There are two good methods to remove the key:

  • The correct method: there are two tabs on the top of the key. Press these simultaneously and gently lift the key out
  • The brute force method: use a screwdriver on the black seat on the rear of the key. Push down firmly until the key pops out

Method two will damage the PCB, pads and the key you’re removing. I opted for this.

With the keys out, plonk in the new ones and solder them up. Reassemble.

Here’s a picture of everything back together and running normally.

Way to gzxcvm/*/*///////*/*///////*/*///////*/*//////

The adventure continues…

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