Bad Keyboard
April 29, 2004 12:59 PM   Subscribe

Th 'e' ky on my laptop is misbehaving a lot. I took it off, but there is just a rubberisd nobble undr there. What should I do? Can i fix th thing by taking th laptop apart? shall I just typ funny? Hlp?
posted by twine42 to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
You're gonig to end up replacing the whole keyboard.

The light plastic and tiny metal bits used in laptop keybaords break at the slightest resistance, making it almost impossible to do any sort of replacement/repair unless you have an extremely delicate touch. When my users break their laptop keys, the manufacturers just send an entire keyboard as a replacement.

If you're under warranty, just call your manufacturer. If not, you might be able to dig through their website and buy the keyboard as a replacement part. I know IBM and Dell both do this, and I presume most of the other makers do, too.
posted by briank at 1:14 PM on April 29, 2004

If it's a Dell Latitude -- you don't say -- tighten the screws on the bottom of the laptop. Latitude keyboards are notorious for this kind of problem.

If it's some other kind of machine, well, you should have said so.
posted by majick at 1:15 PM on April 29, 2004

Response by poster: its a laptop from a company calld - good stuff but own labl.

but it's probably a pattern part

in the man time i'll just talk lik i us aol. ;) chers guys.

posted by twine42 at 1:33 PM on April 29, 2004

Who needs the letter 'e'? Ernest Vincent Wright wrote Gadsby, a 50,000 novel that never used the letter once.
posted by waxpancake at 2:30 PM on April 29, 2004

bst wrdd qustion vr.
posted by taz at 2:50 PM on April 29, 2004

There may be a foreign object beneath the key. A crumb, that sort of thing.

Most laptops have the keycap, a little plastic scissors kind of chassis thing for the keycap to keep it horizontal and travelling vertically, and then the rubber nipple.

usually you have to remove the scissor-lift looking thing to remove and if not, to reinsert the nipple. (you could probably remove the nipple without removing the scissors, but you'll probably have a hard time reinserting it correctly.)

Most of these parts are usually pretty durable, but shouldn't require force to reassemble or disassemble.

If you remove the nipple, inside it there's a black nub of conductive rubber. Down inside the well where the nipple sits there's a corresponding pad. Clean both with some rubbing alcohol or other mild non-conducting solvent or component cleaner and reassemble carefully. (warning, some solvents like acetone or paint thinner will melt the plastics to goo. Beware.) A q-tip will do, but non-fiber foam or nonwoven cloth is less prone to leaving stuff behind.

Tools that will help during the reassmble and disassemble are: fine needlenose pliers, medium jeweler's screwdrivers in flathead and phillips, and hemostats. except for prying the keycap off these should just be used to gently prod parts around and holding them to align them for assembly, as they're quite tiny and fiddly.

If a throrough cleaning doesn't help and there's nothing physically blocking the keystroke, the keyboard may have problems with the onboard circuits that control the keyboard and may need to be replaced. (If there's ever been any amount conductive liquid spilled into it, this is likely.)

FYI, this type of keyboard is called a membrane keyboard or membrane switch.
posted by loquacious at 3:22 PM on April 29, 2004

err, correction: the nipple-ly bit and corresponding pad *inside* the key is a membrane switch. They're used in various forms in almost everything electronic these days.

Ever take apart a cellphone or calculator and peel out the rubber keypad bit? or take out the "hard" plastic keys?

membrane switch or button.

some people hate 'em 'cause the response is inaccurate and mushy. most of these people are coder/hackers and gamers.

someone should make an IBM thinkpad with a thinner version of the model M clicky-key keyboard.
posted by loquacious at 3:42 PM on April 29, 2004

How to Clean a Laptop Keyboard
posted by calwatch at 1:39 AM on April 30, 2004

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