Friday, June 22, 2007

A clean start

So, here it is now, my shiny new blog space. But how to start ? What to blog about first ? Sometimes the small things are the hardest ... But slashdot to the rescue. This post gave me a good idea for a good start.

How does YOUR keyboard look like ?

Those of you having a cleaning woman wiping the keyboard once per week can stop reading now. All the others, wanting to get rid of THIS sight read on ! I will show you how to make your keyboard shiny-and-almost-new by putting it into the dishwasher.

Using the dishwasher for keyboard cleaning

The following description is for simple Cherry keyboards, other brands might need a different approach. With the right tools and technique, this should work for any kind of keyboard. Here's a picture of the dirty keyboard I'm going to disassemble.
Putting the complete keyboard into the dishwasher might work, but after all its just the keys which need cleaning, not the electronics, cable or key mechanics. To start disassembly, turn it around to get access to the notches holding the case together. The upper and the lower case of the keyboard are held together with a number of L shaped notches (see picture below for a close-up), which have to be bend aside. (Is notch the right word for this ? Maybe a native speaker can come up with a better word.) Go and grab your toolbox and find a flat screwdriver or use a simple scissors, as I do. Be careful not to break it. The Cherry keyboard has four notches on the upper and five on the lower side. There are also three small ones in the middle, but these usually pop open without the need for a tool. Now the upperside of the keyboard can be lifted to open the case. As you can see, the upperside holds all the keycaps, the underside contains the mechanics and electronics. A lot of dirt usually accumulates on the black rubber mat which is used instead of coil springs you'll find in older (or more expensive) keyboards. Just take the rubber map out and clean it with a damp cloth. Below the rubber map, two plastic sheets with a metal layers (forming a capacitor) appear. The plastic sheets are wedged by the small circuit board in the upper right corner. Further disassembly needs a T8 Torx screwdriver. Removing the plastic sheets reveals a metal plate. This simply gives the keyboard some weight and keeps the downside from breaking if keys are pushed too hard. The metal plate is not fixed to the case and can easily been taken out. Ready for the dishwasher. Better use the economy setting, this should keep the washing temperature low enough to prevent the plastic from melting. Although normal dishes get dried to 'cupboard ready', water will still be hidden in the keycaps. Simply put the keyboard to a dry place for a couple of hours to let the remaining water evaporate. Reassembling is easy. Put the metal plate in, the plastic sheets, screw the electronics back in (ensure that the plastic sheet is below the circuit board), and put the rubber mat on top. Be careful and don't force it. All pieces have holes and guidance support from the underside of the keyboard case. As the last step, put both sides of the keyboard back together and press gently. You should hear a noticable 'click' as the notches snap back it. Thats it, now enjoy your shiny-and-almost-new keyboard !

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