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TOHKBDv2: How to fix less responsive keys

asked 2015-07-26 17:29:17 +0300

00prometheus gravatar image

updated 2015-07-26 18:16:56 +0300

I thought we could use a thread here to group some ideas, since the thread over at TMO has gotten long and unwieldy.

I am very happy with my great new TOHKBDv2, however even if all the keys work, I do have some keys that require pressing quite hard for them to respond (in my case, the 'l', 'p' and 'o' keys). There was some improvement with time, but after several hundred key presses they still do not register even when the key has "clicked", unless I press quite heavily.

So does anyone have any ideas on how to fix this? For starters, how do you open the keyboard-part without breaking it?

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I'm just curious: How can you be 'very happy' with a keyboard that has keys that don't work well? Isn't pressing keys the whole point of a keyboard?

nodevel ( 2015-07-26 18:07:18 +0300 )edit

Oh, it's still fabulously much better than the on-screen keyboard! With this, I can actually do some proper hacking which really isn't possible in fingerterm with only the on-screen keyboard.

00prometheus ( 2015-07-26 18:14:02 +0300 )edit

@00prometheus I assume all the hacking you do is using the terminal? If so, why not just use putty, as described here?

Aashish ( 2015-07-26 18:46:28 +0300 )edit

Because my desktop machine, dual-monitor setup, keyboard and mouse are just too clumsy to bring with me everywhere! The whole point of the Jolla is always having with you a proper Linux system, allowing you to hack directly on the phone. I sometimes use the Jolla to log in to the ssh-server on my desktop system and hack there. And when I am at home, I do ssh to my phone from my desktop, it's just that the keyboard lets me hack from my sofa, or in bed, or... Well, you get the picture :-)

00prometheus ( 2015-07-26 22:20:08 +0300 )edit

Ah, I see :) Makes sense then.

Aashish ( 2015-07-26 22:29:28 +0300 )edit

6 Answers

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answered 2015-07-26 19:31:22 +0300

updated 2016-08-09 15:31:31 +0300

I had a few stuck/hard keys and I decided that I did not like the 'factory-finish' of the the 3D printed plastic. I didn't like its roughness, it collected dust very quickly in my pocket.

So I decided to spray paint it to create a smoother finish.

Turns out that by taking it apart your TOHKBD you can re-align the keypad on the underlying circuit board, making the key 'cushions' align better with the actuators on the circuitboard.

That did the trick to me: all keys are now working great.

To take the TOHKBD apart you need to remove/unsticky the glued backplate - in my case a wooden plate. If you do this with an hair dryer the glue becomes easier to detach. Once you've removed the backplate it is a matter of pushing the 'jaws' through that keep the circuitboard in the 3D plastic print.

(when you see it uncovered it is fairly easy to figure out, Dirk and his team made designed this very well IMO)

If you put it back together make sure you test if your keyboard now works better before re-attaching the backplate.

Some pictures of my TOHKBD after its paint job:

image description click for XL

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image description click for XL

(updated to fix broken images)

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That's cool looking! But I doubt it'll last, since the pads are scratching the backplate all the time.

May I ask, what kind of spray paint did you use? How many layers?

alcalinebattery ( 2015-07-26 19:41:09 +0300 )edit

I used "Motip Carat decoration & art extra fine paint" in the color "True Blue" that seemed to match the blue text on the keyboard.

I used very fine sanding paper before I applied each paint layer, effectively smoothing the structure of the plastic. First I used a slightly rougher sanding paper, P240, later I used 3M P600 extra fine sanding paper.

I did about 5 very thin paint layers before I decided it was good enough (the Motip paint spray dries quickly).

Indeed it is very uncertain how this will last near the pogopins on the backplate. But in case it wears of I'll be able to paint it again. :-)

Make sure you prevent your paint from filling up spaces that are precisely measured to fit the other parts of the keyboard. I used some tape and a sharp knife to get rid of unwanted paint.

willemlaurentz ( 2015-07-26 21:03:25 +0300 )edit

answered 2015-07-26 20:56:04 +0300

ssahla gravatar image

My O key was really annoying, requiring a real squeeze to be registered. Several hundred keypresses on the key didn't make it any better. After reading @willemlaurentz's answer about aligning the keypad better I decided to try if just slightly moving the keypad around (without opening the casing) could improve the situation. So I pushed the whole keypad with my thumbs, left and right, up and down, kind of rubbing it in all directions. I repeated this a few times, and what do you know, the O key is much better now. Still requires a bit more pressure than the other keys, but definitely better. :)

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Thanks so much for this tip! The U-Key on my TOHKBD needed quite a bit of force to register. After doing as described by you, it now registers just as easy as the other keys!! So thanks again, your tip just made my TOHKBD perfect :)

seiichiro0185 ( 2015-07-26 21:01:35 +0300 )edit

Thanks! Incredibly, this seems to have solved it for me too! Even after having mashed on the bad keys for ages, I apparently didn't push them around enough before doing it on purpose!

00prometheus ( 2015-07-26 22:26:05 +0300 )edit

After this operation my CTRL key gets jammed. I need to press CTRL to be able to type properly. The KBD does not show that the CTRL is active but it is since ie. pressing A selects all text.

rooster13 ( 2015-07-28 09:11:19 +0300 )edit

@rooster13: I see the same behaviour, but I had this effect before trying this method. It started with the last driver update (0.4.0) I believe, so it seems to be a software issue. Also reboot fixes it for a while, which shouldn't be the case if it was a hardware problem (like a physically stuck key)

seiichiro0185 ( 2015-07-28 18:08:28 +0300 )edit

@seiichiro0185, thanks. I suspect SW issue too. I have asked @kimmoli in TMO and he sent some poïnters but haven't had the time to check it yet.

rooster13 ( 2015-07-28 19:08:01 +0300 )edit

answered 2015-07-26 22:58:42 +0300

00prometheus gravatar image

updated 2015-07-26 23:19:43 +0300

OK, building on @ssahla's answer, rubbing individual keys around, and not just the whole keyboard, helps even more! I have now walked through all the keys on my keyboard, one at a time, and for each key that wasn't immediately responsive, I detached the keyboard and rubbed the key around (up, down, left and right) a few times. It seems a bit rough; when you rub around the number keys you can see the thin plastic divider bend, but it fixes the problem! Now every key on my keyboard is perfectly responsive, making the whole thing much faster to type on!

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Hmmm, almost :-) I still have one key, '5', that is a little bit off from perfect, but it is so little that I didn't even notice it before since the others were so much worse! Let's keep experimenting! Perhaps we can get the last key perfect too!

00prometheus ( 2015-07-27 16:55:46 +0300 )edit

This suggestion worked for me.

I had a semi-responsive 'q' and 'w' key, and repeatedly pressing 'q' seemed to fix it 'on its own.'

'w' wasn't improving, but I noticed that if I pushed it upwards slightly, it'd register. So I repeatedly pushed it slightly upwards, then depressed it, then pushed it downwards, then released it, hoping to realign the sensor. For now, seems to have worked.

MikeHG ( 2015-08-03 03:08:28 +0300 )edit

answered 2015-08-27 14:09:15 +0300

00prometheus gravatar image

updated 2015-08-27 15:39:35 +0300

I am adding an answer from oenone over on the TOHKBDv2 thread at TMO, to make sure we have a full collection of the various keyboard remedies people come up with.

oenone wrote:

Note that this method is not endorsed by Dirk or Andrew or Kimmoli as far as I know.

Use completely at your own risk!!!!

You can take the backplate off the keyboard either by gently heating it with a hair dryer or by magnetising it to the bottom of a pot of boiled water, and holding the pot up so as to not press the backplate into the keyboard for a stronger bond. Do not apply direct heat to the pot or the keyboard, just let the heat from the water warm up the keyboard.

Once you have pealed the backplate off, likely by wedging it off the keyboard by using a bank card, you need to gently get the top edge of the circuit board out from the grove in the casing that it sits in. Once you have done that, you can gently push the three Y-shaped structural elements from the casing (quite an ingenious design, I would say!) into the keyboard to free the circuit board up and out of the casing. The keys of the keyboard are held in place with some tabs, and will carefully slide out if you press the keys gently into the keyboard (like 0.5 of a milimeter or so, just so that it clears the edges of the casing), and then gently slide it up (away from you if you were to be holding the keyboard and typing on it), under the casing.

The keys that are not reactive enough will correspond to silver-colours buttons on the circuit board. If you place a small piece of clear packing tape (about 2 mm x 2 mm) onto the button, you can increase the length of your key press, and thus the key should be more reactive. You may find you might need two layers of tape in some cases. It is recommended that after each piece of tape is placed, the keyboard be reassembled (without the backplate, of course), and the key sensitivity tested for all keys. Type something like "the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog" a few times to test all of the letter keys if you find it boring to type out the alphabet in order.

When you are happy with your results, reassemble the keyboard, glue the backplate back on by reheating the glue and pressing it back onto the keyboard, and your typing experience should be improved.

Again, this method is completely at your own risk!

On an unrelated note, does anyone know what glue was initially used for gluing the backplate onto the board?

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Nice! I can up-vote my own answer!

oenone ( 2015-08-27 17:20:37 +0300 )edit

A small correction: The quick brown fox "jumps", not "jumped" - otherwise the sentence doesn't have an S. Also, you can make it "a fox" instead of "the fox" to make it shorter. :)

ssahla ( 2015-08-27 21:23:51 +0300 )edit

ssahla, yes, you are correct. I have remedied the TMO post to reflect the corrected pangram. Maybe 00prometheus can fix this quote.

oenone ( 2015-08-28 13:38:33 +0300 )edit

answered 2015-07-28 16:38:32 +0300

With my keyboard, the 'r' wasn't responding at all when pressed as normal. If I pushed it to one of the sides, it did respond. After a little bit of fiddling I took the keyboard apart, but I couldn't fix it there either. Then I found out that it just didn't work correctly because the key itself was a bit loose. I took the key off of the keyboard and the rubber key beneath it worked. I just glued the key back on the keyboard and now it is perfectly fine!

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answered 2016-05-06 23:32:16 +0300

Camil B gravatar image

If you've done all of the alignments suggested in the other answers, but you still have a key which requires force to register, here's one last thing you can do, which worked perfectly for me.

  1. Remove the plastic keys, exposing the PCB with the silver discs (domes), which are the actual contacts.

  2. Connect the keyboard to the phone, then identify which dome is the one under the key you're having problems with.

  3. Try to press the dome until it clicks, repeatedly, and see if it registers (use the Notes app for that, for example). If it clicks, but doesn't always register, then this solution will work for you!

  4. You need to flatten the rim of the dome a little. Really, just a little, don't overdo it! If you overdo it, there's a solution, but it's a bit messy. See below.

  5. To flatten the rim of the dome a little, you need some small tool, which has a round / spherical surface, and it needs to be hard. A metal teaspoon should work. Disconnect the keyboard. Rub the bottom of the teaspoon along the rim of the dome, pressing firmly (but not exceedingly hard), and go around the dome a few times.

  6. Test the dome again, as described at step 3. The dome should be a bit more sensitive. Repeat step 5 if you think you should. Try to avoid flattening the rim too much.

When you're happy with all the keys, reassemble the keyboard. Enjoy!

If you need photos, I'll add them. Please request in comments.

If you somehow overdo the flattening and the dome gets stuck (won't pop back), you need to take it out. To do this, you need to peel off the film that holds the domes to the PCB. Be very careful with this! Start peeling from a corner until you get to the stuck dome. Take the dome away, then gently rub it with your tool on both sides. It should pop back again. Test it a few times before you put it back on the PCB. Anyway, somehow you'll be able to make it pop back. After that, carefully align it back on its contact, then roll the film back, ensuring that other domes land on their proper places.

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Asked: 2015-07-26 17:29:17 +0300

Seen: 5,280 times

Last updated: Aug 09 '16