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Author Topic: How to fix a keyboard with catchy keys  (Read 667 times)

BGM

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How to fix a keyboard with catchy keys
« on: June 03, 2022, 09:53 AM »
How do you fix a keyboard where the keys catch?

Please don't advise me to clean my keyboard or buy another one.  I want to fix *this* particular keyboard because I like the look and feel of it.

Okay, so, I'm not talking about a keyboard that needs cleaned.  I'm talking about keys, where, when you push on the corners of them they get caught on the way down.  It's an engineering error, but I want to fix this instead of getting another keyboard.

I have a Microsoft Natural Multimedia Keyboard 1.0A  (has a PS2 connector!)

When I type, if I don't push directly in the center of the key then it catches or jams against itself riser underneath the key cap.  This happens especially on the larger keys like the shift and return keys, and mostly with keys hit by my pinky fingers. In fact, on my right shift key, if I try and push it with any finger but I don't hit it in the center, it gets stuck and I have to push it really hard.

Now, when I remove the key cap, I see there is the keycap shaft, the metal stabilizer wire, and then there is a thin vertical piece with a straight slot in it - (you can see it in this picture, but mine is totally clean).  This vertical piece has a slot to receive a flange in the bottom of the keycap so as to keep the key straight when it is depressed.

I've tried putting some mineral oil and then some salve on the keycap shaft to make it slide better, but that didn't help.  I can still push on the corner of the key and if I push it right, it just won't go down.

I think it is this flange that is where the key gets stuck, but I'm not completely sure.
I am posting here to query whether anyone has experience fixing this.  I'd have to fix at least a half dozen keys. 
« Last Edit: June 03, 2022, 11:56 AM by BGM »

Shades

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Re: How to fix a keyboard with catchy keys
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2022, 11:47 AM »
Is it a full mechanical keyboard? Or is it one that uses a rubber mat inside to spring the key back in position?

I have bought almost 30 keyboards using the latter 17 years ago. About 20 still survived till this day, and those got really used pre-pandemic. As you can imagine, I have needed to clean and repair many of those to keep these keyboards going. Sticky keys I usually fix with graphite, the core of a pencil, but ground to a powder. I sprinkle it between the moving part of the key and the keyboard, usually on all sides that can cause friction and make the key stick.

In my case I can remove the top of the keyboard as a whole unit. Then I can turn it upside down, do the sprinkling, and use the sticky key to make sure the graphite gets distributed along the surfaces that can cause friction. I keep doing that for a while until the key drops down again by gravity. Whatever graphite is left I blow away. I can then reattach the top with the base of the keyboard again and the keyboard is operational again.

I use these keyboards (Amazon, because it has a picture). While these are not mechanical keyboards, they are great to work with. And have endurance as well.

BGM

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Re: How to fix a keyboard with catchy keys
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2022, 11:55 AM »
Thanks, Shades. Well, I'd describe it as semi-mechanical.  It has the keycaps and the shafts that press down through the base onto the membrane. 
In my original post, I linked to a photo of when the keycap is removed.
I am able to pop the keys off with no problem.

graphite, eh?  I thought about that, but didn't pursue the thought. 

I think what the problem is is that the key shafts stick inside their holes, because it happens also with the smaller keys that don't have stabilizers.  It's just worse with the larger keys.

rjbull

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Re: How to fix a keyboard with catchy keys
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2022, 05:13 PM »
Sticky keys I usually fix with graphite

Graphite is conductive, so it would worry me a bit to introduce it into anything with switches.  You evidently haven't had any problems?

Shades

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Re: How to fix a keyboard with catchy keys
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2022, 04:12 PM »
Which is why i blow away excess graphite. The graphite that 'lubricates' the key(s) practically doesn't fall down and whatever does manage to fall, lands on a rather thick rubber membrane. This membrane does have 2 holes to keep it aligned with the keys. but those are in locations that are no cause to worry.

No, there are 2 reasons why these keyboards fail. One is the age of the electronics inside. These are USB units and from several the controller simply died. And sunlight, which can be quite strong, even before it sets. And it is downright brutal in Paraguayan summer. Discolouration happens quick here. Some (minor) buckling too, if a keyboard happens to catch some rays from the early morning sun....or the setting evening sun.

BGM

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Re: How to fix a keyboard with catchy keys
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2022, 09:14 AM »
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Shades! 

I decided to order something new, this time and got this:
https://smile.amazon...dt_b_product_details

It's actually quite a nice keyboard and I like it.  That square in the middle of the rest could fit a touchpad - and there is, indeed, another model with the touchpad installed, but I didn't think I would need it. 

The keys on this keyboard are easy to push, not too noisy, and pretty snappy-feeling.  The backslash key is the proper size, too.  I just wish it had a giant delete key like the Microsoft keyboard did.  The only thing I don't like about it is that the media keys are funny to push - you have to push them *all* the way in or they might not work (think about the volume buttons here).