Repairing a Computer Keyboard

This instructable will guide you through diagnosing and possibly repairing of a USB keyboard.

In today's throw away society, we tend to run out and buy a cheap $15 keyboard to replace our previous high quality keyboard. This is fine as a temporary solution, but eventually we're going to want that quality feel and function back.

Most of the time, quality keyboards die because of abuse. Not necessarily intentional, but abuse nonetheless. A few drops of any beverage with acid it in will surely cause an eventual failure. This would include almost any juice (most are "vitamin fortified" which included citric acid) or soda.
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Supplies

We're going to need drivers for our specific keyboard. Most need only a small Phillips screwdriver. Some, such as this one, may also need a tiny Allen or Torx driver. I have a kit that has about every tiny driver one would ever need... It's handy to have.

We'll also need an Ohm Meter or Multimeter and a computer. I'm using a Mac here, but any Computer will do. We'll also need an On-Screen Keyboard for testing.

Lastly, we'll need about 6-8 inches of 30 guage insulated wire, commonly called wire-wrap wire and a conductive pen (available from Radio Shack).

Step 2: Prepare the Computer.

Picture of Prepare the Computer.
Picture 6.png
Picture 7.png
Picture 4.png
The first thing we need to do to is diagnose the keyboard. Find out what' wrong with it. Otherwise, we'd have no hint as to what to fix.

On a Mac, we need to enable and bring up the Keyboard Viewer. Open the International preferences pane located in System Preferences (under the Apple menu). Place a checkmark next to Keyboard Viewer. Close the preferences pane. Now, we can select the Keyboard Viewer from the Flag menu.

On a Windows machine, go to the Start menu, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to Accessibility and finally select On–Screen Keyboard. Note: A message box with a link to more information about the On–Screen Keyboard may appear. To close the box, select OK.
takitsong7 months ago
Very nice tutorial!
Learned how the keyboard works, and repaired a keyboard that lost a group of keys at some point.
Turns out it was a corroded trace!
I had no way of getting the trace pen in Greece, so I tried another avenue. I cut a small strip of aluminum foil, as wide as the trace itself, and used sticky tape to stick it to the matrix sheet, in the right place to bridge the gap. Because the strip was thin, the sticky tape held it tight against the trace, so the bridging was successful!
Don't know if it will last, but at the moment it's working great!!

I hate throwing away all this plastic, and the energy and effort that went into making it, just because there is a little gap in a conductive trace. This instructable made my day! I signed on just to say thanks, and share my joy!

I'll calm down now.....
alex278941 year ago
i have this problem... the only difference is that not a single key works... ill try this out to see if it works ._.
atma.atma1 year ago
Very good instructions.
I found apple MacBook keyboard is enclosed in a layer of thin metal.
Getting to the printed circuit is cumbersome.
Thank you
tackphoton2 years ago
Wow! Very detailed and helpful tutorial. My keyboard is misbehaving at the moment and since the warranty's expired im gonna give it a shot at repairing myself.
lemonie6 years ago
Yeah, I did this, but the thing failed again shortly afterwards. Then I bought a new cheap keyboard. L (it was beer wot did it)
the worst ones are the ones where the user doesn't know to turn off the keyboard and clean immediately, thus hopefully sparing some shorted/dissolved traces. I've cleaned a few like that, and unfortunately, the traces are usually too close to repair. ~adamvan2000
Yes the traces don't repair well, I've tried that too. (Did you notice that my comment was over 20 months old?) L
to be truthful, I keep forgetting to look at the dates on the comments, and the instructables themselves. Oh well. Maybe if they put them in big, flashing neon letters for clueless people like myself. hehe ~adamvan2000
Still got a reply though. Thanks L
invert3606 years ago
thank you
invert3606 years ago
my keyboard buttons stick is there any way to fix that? I don't know if this is relevant but the keyboard is a dell.
i washed mine but taking off the front with the keys, although my keyboard had a key protector that kept the keys in place, then hand washing it cause i dont have a dishwasher although when i did i just stuck the entire keyboard in the dishwasher...
lol, any multimeter is better than none, i have this crappy analog one that only goes up to 6 volts
iman6 years ago
The same keys died on my apple keyboard too, thats kinda weird.
LasVegas (author)  iman6 years ago
Not really... That trace is in a very vulnerable place; the lower-right corner, under the keypad.
iman LasVegas6 years ago
but what about the minus key.
LasVegas (author)  iman6 years ago
The minus key (located to the right of the Zero key) is at the end of the trace. I didn't mention it, since the others came first, identifying that I had the right trace. I didn't have to follow it any further.
josh921766 years ago
Wow, very thorough and useful guide. Now I know what to do if my keyboard ever breaks.

Get More Out of Instructables

Already have an Account?


PDF Downloads
As a Pro member, you will gain access to download any Instructable in the PDF format. You also have the ability to customize your PDF download.

Upgrade to Pro today!