My hinkPadhas aproblem with i's keyboard.
March 1, 2011 12:43 PM   Subscribe

I just bought a used Thinkpad T61 and the e,t, and space bar keys work intermittently. The keyboard is reasonably clean and nothing is obstructing the keycaps underneath. I have taken out the keyboard and reseated the keyboard connector. Is this just a bad keyboard or should i be worried about something else? (os is linux/ubuntu)
posted by to Technology (11 answers total)
Sounds very much like some of those keys have been used rather a lot and now they're showing it. It happens. There shouldn't be anything else to worry about. If you can't live with it, you could try fitting a replacement keyboard, or just using an external one.
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 12:53 PM on March 1, 2011

I have the same computer. (Among a number of problems due to its age) my right arrow key started to work only intermittently recently. I took the keyboard out, used duster to get everything all clean around it, and put it back in. I also popped off the key cover itself and cleaned gingerly around the area with a q-tip and rubbing alcohol.

It's working good as new now.

(I had to do the same thing when the computer was brand new and I got iced tea all over the keyboard due to a poorly-timed drink/laugh combination. D'oh. But the rubbing alcohol on a q-tip seems to work.)
posted by phunniemee at 1:11 PM on March 1, 2011

There are replacement keyboards for the T61 all over eBay at reasonable prices.
posted by zsazsa at 1:13 PM on March 1, 2011

Yeah, try popping the keycaps off and clean everything up underneath. They may just be full of gunge.
posted by pharm at 1:34 PM on March 1, 2011

Sounds very much like some of those keys have been used rather a lot and now they're showing it.

I would go with this. It would be an odd coincidence if the two most common letters in English (ETAOIN SHRDLU) were the two that stopped working by sheer happenstance.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:55 PM on March 1, 2011

I had a Thinkpad keyboard get wonky due to abuse (being banged on). In that case cleaning the keys wouldn't fix it as there was some physical damage. A replacement keyboard got it sorted.
posted by exogenous at 2:38 PM on March 1, 2011

Best answer: It's probably just warn out. I have a very similar laptop - the R61 - that I use A LOT. In the 3.5 years I've had it, I've gone through three keyboards with the same issue--the circuitry or something else not visible to my naked eye conks out on me and a key or two stops working. (In one case, it was actually the on/off button that died, so the computer wouldn't boot.) See my question about this here.

I've generally been able to find used (salvaged) replacement keyboards on ebay for around $20, and replaced them myself with no problem.
posted by needs more cowbell at 3:01 PM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have a T61 also running Ubuntu. Occasionally after waking up from sleep, the touchpad and keyboard don't respond for a bit, but in those cases, it's the whole keyboard, not specific keys. I think you can safely rule out software on this one. As others have said, hardware is your culprit. Try popping the keys off with your fingernail and cleaning out crumbs, hairs, etc. with tweezers. If that doesn't fix it, like zsazsa says, eBay is your friend.
posted by wondercow at 4:57 PM on March 1, 2011

Response by poster: thanks all, i guess i was looking for anecdata to confirm what i thought anyway...
posted by at 3:57 AM on March 2, 2011

As an added data point: the "n" key in the question I linked to eventually stopped working altogether, which reinforces my idea that it was something wearing out.

FYI, as a tip when you're trying to buy a replacement: I've found that there are multiple model numbers for identical (or at least interchangeable) Thinkpad keyboards. [I've noticed that there are two different styles of scaffolding under the keycaps, and other little differences.]

The four keyboards I have gone through look and function the same, but the model numbers on the back are different. Some googling can help you figure out which ones are equivalent and then you can broaden your eBay search terms to find good prices.
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:13 AM on March 2, 2011

Response by poster: ebay'd a new to me keyboard and it works perfectly.... thanks.
posted by at 3:54 PM on March 8, 2011

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