How to Make a Backlit Keyboard

117,688

164

41

Intro: How to Make a Backlit Keyboard


In this instructible, we will be making a backlit keyboard using a usb-enabled keyboard and some el-wire.

Step 1: Needed Parts

To do this project you’re gonna need a couple of things:

- USB powered Electro Luminescent wire or EL wire.
- A keyboard
- Hot glue Gun
- Screwdriver

Technically, you can use any keyboard, but the one I will be using has these built in USB ports to conveniently plug my el-wire into. If you’re really technically savvy, you can also put this in the keyboard of a laptop, but it will require a bit more modding because, by itself, the el-wire is too thick to fit behind the laptop keyboard.

Step 2: Disassemble the Keyboard

Begin by flipping the keyboard over and removing all of the screws that hold it together. This will allow you to remove the keyboard backing. Then remove the inside screws and the screws holding together the circuit board. This will allow you to remove the internal circuitry of the keyboard.

Step 3: Make an Entry Point

We will need the El wire to pass from the back of the keyboard to the front, so we will need to make a hole and thread the El wire through it. Find the upper right corner of the keyboard. When flipped over, it should be the corner above the tilda key (show tilda graphic). You want to use a knife or a drill to cut a hole into this corner and thread the el wire through the hole. You may need to remove the tilda key in order to thread it completely through.

Step 4: Making Room for the Transformer

Now comes the tricky part. We need to find a way to fit the transformer into the keyboard. For some of you, your keyboard may already have enough extra room for it. For me, I was able to remove one of the “extra” shortcut keys from the keyboard using a dremel, but you’ll just have to see what extra room your keyboard has for this to fit. After hot gluing it into place, I reassembled the keyboard and flipped it back over.

Step 5: Running the El Wire

Using a flat-head screw driver, start removing the keyboard keys. When taking them out, remember to place them in order somewhere else so that you don’t forget where they go. Either that are snap a picture of the keyboard before continuing. Once you have all the keys removed, start zig-zagging the El wire around the keys. You can hold the El wire in place by putting down dabs of hot glue every couple keys.

Step 6: Finished Product

After you’ve got it the way you want it, you can replace the keys and plug in the keyboard to see how it looks.

EL wire contest

Finalist in the
EL wire contest

Share

Recommendations

  • Metalworking Contest

    Metalworking Contest
  • Furniture Contest 2018

    Furniture Contest 2018
  • Fix It! Contest

    Fix It! Contest

41 Discussions

0
None
KalebW7

2 months ago

It depends on how big your keyboard is. Given that, buy around 50 feet of it, and multiple transformers; you'll have enough to make some projects with this.

0
None
PaulL196

2 years ago

I have a Asus G73 HJ ROG running OSX Mountain Lion. the backlite keyboard has of course lost its software control. Im going to solve with hard wiring. Then Im going to paint it white. Has anyone got a spare MacBook Pro label?

0
None
PaulL196

2 years ago

this is all far too complicated. Most people only ever succeed in replacing 98% of removed from a keyboard, or 25% if they own a mac. Don't do it. Fly to Canada, dig up a few gallons of radium paint and take it from there. Personally, I prefer LED panels fitted to the laptop bezel and powered by a cable which runs down the inside of the screen housing, and soldered to the terninals of the speakers via a couple of diodes. Really helps me type when listening to heavy metal. (the radium paint thing is a joke. Dont go to Canada, you'll die. )

0
None
JesusG33kJustModIt

Reply 3 years ago

I've taken apart many keyboards in my time, and a laptop is far to fragile and compact to be modified unless you are a PROFESSIONAL, which also requires access to special tools to safely open it. If you open a laptop, it's pretty much done for, which is why I take advantage of broken laptops and start smashing them since they are inevitably doomed.
Don't take it apart unless you want to doom your laptop.

0
None
NuruJustModIt

Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

He does state in his video it can be done, but it requires more effort and time to make it fit....

0
None
Tkdwn

5 years ago on Introduction

Tnx for the instructions!
https://www.instructables.com/id/El-wire-keyboard-backlight/

1 reply
0
None

The MacBooks are nice, but the PowerBook G4s started it! :P Oh, Dell has a few laptops with backlit keys, I think Acer does too..

0
None
Kalibar07Kasm279

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

actually it was Alien Ware who started the back lit keyboards NOT a MAC....though a nice try at promoting a obsolete system in my opinion .. lol and before you throw out that MAC's very seldom if ever get Viruses.. that is due to the simple fact that they arent worth the time to try and damage or hack into lol

0
None
Kasm279Kalibar07

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

I was talking about stating it in the Apple line. Also, why the hell are you talking about media access control? I didn't even know those had keyboards.

0
None

To be off topic, is that a cultural/regional thing of the length of time before one switches from months to years in describing lengths of time? I've heard someone refer to a four yr old as their 52 month old child and was curious.

With children it is very common, especially when talking about developmental issues, at least to the age of 4, maybe 5. For something like a keyboard it seems strange to say 42 months rather than 3-1/2 years.

0
None

Sorry. I have an app called Coconut Battery that reports Current Amt of charge, Current Battery Capacity, and Age of Mac in Months. So I just related that. Wait a minute I'll get out the calculator. That comes to 3.5 years. Thanks for the clarifying question.

0
None
timweaver17

8 years ago on Step 5

how did you get it into the parts not the main keyboard like the home and end and then the number pad...