Introduction: Dell SK-8135 Keyboard USB Upgrade Mod.

Ok this is my first indestructibles project. The project is to modify my keyboard to upgrade the USB 1 ports on the back to faster USB for two reasons:

1 stop the annoying popup warning me the device can perform faster in windows

2 speed up the transfer rate when my USB 2 pen drives are plugged in.

I really like the SK 8135, they keys are great, its got multi media buttons, a volume dial, 2 extra USB ports to save your PC usb ports and reaching over to your PC.

I've not found a better keyboard but the USB 1 ports annoy me for the reasons mentioned here is my mod.

Step 1: Find a Suitable Faster USB Hub Replacement.

Find and order one of the cheap USB 2 hubs off a well known online auction website and fingers crossed the internals are small enough to fit inside the keyboard to reroute the USB ports at the back of the keyboard to use the new hub instead of the keyboards internal USB 1 hub.

I realize I could upgrade to a USB 3 hub but I chose not to:

1. I don't know if this projects plausible yet , I've not opened the keyboard to see.

2. USB 3 is still pricey but USB 2 hubs are cheap and abundant and the speed is good enough.

3. I couldn't find any cheap small USB 3 hubs but can mod again in a few years.

Make sure the new hub splits to at least 3 USB ports. I bought the one in the photo for about £3

Step 2: Tools for the Project

You will need

Scissors - cutting wires
Small cross head Screwdriver - taking the keyboard apart & circuit boards off.
Soldering iron and solder - rerouting the USB wires.
A knife for cutting away plastic keyboard cover to fit the new USB Hub inside.
Pliers - manipulating the wires.
Plastic sheeting - insulation between circuit boards.

Step 3: Remove Keyboard Cover

Theres about 8 screws on the back. Remove all those and pull the cover off.

Step 4: First Look Inside the Keyboard & Plan.

Inside we can see the usb cable goes in to the main board on the left.

The main board has two sets of USB cable going to the USB port board on the right.

Examining the USB port board theres on capacitors so smooth the electric flow. This will be simple.

The plan.

For the wiring all we need to do is:

1 disconnect the USB cable In, from the main board and route to the new USB 2 HUB,

2 wire one USB 2 HUB cable out to they main keyboard board where the original cable In went to.

3 take the USB port board cables off the main keyboard board and solder them to the new USB 2 HUB,

(see diagram to understand this)

Step 5: Transplanting the USB 2 HUB Circuit in to the Keyboard.

Remove the unneeded usb 2 hub parts. (see photo)

Now transplant the USB 2 Hub in to the keyboard wiring up as previously mentioned, its very simple wiring.

Each USB has 4 wires, a ground (black), a volt (red) then data lines + - (green and white). The colours slightly differ on the USB port board but its easy to work out the circuit lanes, one of the ports pinout is labelled on the other side.

We can see the new hub circuit is pretty small and will fit in nicely! Good choice!

Step 6: Insulate the New Circuit Board

We don't want any short circuits, so I cut a piece of clear plastic to place between the new USB HUB circuit board and the keyboard back.

Step 7: Putting the Keyboard Back Together

Now lets look at how this all fits together with the new board inside.

When we put the keyboard back cover on we find the plastic spacing on the back cover prevents closing nice and tight.

So carve out the plastic supports where the new hub circuit board will live.

And finally screw it all back together.

Step 8: Testing

If its all gone well we can now plug it in to the PC and test those upgraded USB 2 ports on the back!

The results.

I have no annoying pop up from USB 2 pen insertions warning it can go faster, and testing the transfer speed we see its well above USB 1!

From a quick information search USB 2 can go theoretically up to 60MB/s, although I recorded 20MB/s which maxed out my USB 2 pen drive write rate. The original USB 1 port would of capped at 1.5 MB/s.

Finally using Windiff to compare the files written for a final sanity check. Both USB ports should be tested.

I'm happy with the final result, I've kept my nice Dell keyboard and have the luxury of no annoying popups and "High-Speed USB 2" when ever I use USB transfer from the back USB ports.

A good project.