Looking for guidance on swapping a Switch

I’m having issues with a few switches that are starting to be inconsistent, and I’m looking to just buy some quiet click matias, and swap them out myself for ongoing repairs.

I haven’t swapped a switch, not really set up to solder, etc.

I’m looking for a tutorial, or clear cut guidance on how I could swap a switch on my board. I’d like to learn to fix this board for the coming years, not just rely on repairs.

1 Like

Have you tried cleaning the switches that are not working correctly. I am constantly blown away at how sensitive and unreliable these switches are and how fast they start working again when properly cleaned.

I’d be interested in this too. I’ve got 1 switch that definitely needs replacing, and most of the tools to do it, but don’t feel confident going in blind.

I had a broken switch. In order to avoid shipment costs from Germany to USA, I tried to solder it on my own. I am not a pro solderer, but some years ago I had to solder VGA adapters as a student.

TL;DR: Only if you are an experienced solderer with high quality equipment. Otherwise, reach out for help.

The board is astonishingly well manufactured. Anyone thinking about replacing a switch should just open the board and have a look in it. In a nutshell: everything looks robust and with quite some room between individual soldering points.

Now comes the uncool part. It seems to be damn hard to get the soldering points right. For one, it seems to me as if the coating of the circuit board melts when one moves the soldering iron next to it. It might just be flux from the tin that dropped, but the white fume/steam I saw did and the surrounding of the holes do just look worrysome.

Furthermore, it seems to be incredible hard to get the tin points good enough. First, when I flipped my circuit board upside down, it the tin just dropped through it. This resulted in a big ball of tin in between the two circuit boards (open your keyboard :-)), which made it hard to remove the switch then. Second, I managed to attach the switch somehow, sometimes even with tiny balls of tin covering the hole in the circuit board. Unfortunately, this was not enough to make the keyswitch work again. Honestly, I am a bit puzzled about how the soldering must be done in order to make electric contact to the board.

Some tips I had to learn the hard way (might seem to be obvious):

  • The LED is attached to the circuit board. Checking whether the LED glows is not a sufficient test for correct soldering.
  • One can bridge the contacts from the bottom, e.g. by using a paper clip. This might give you a feeling on how you can make electric contact.
  • I cannot manage to bridge the contacts from above. Might be some defect I introduced, might be because the circuit board is build back into the housing already, might be impossible at all. Better test before you are not sure whether you broke something.
  • Put a printable character to the key which’s switch you exchange before you start.

Two general tips:

  • A general soldering tip is to cover the contact wires (the ones coming out of the switch) with tin first. This is common practice e.g. when soldering cables and might help here as well.
  • I would recommend using a pliers for removing the switches (after removing the soldering tin, obviously). The force required to remove a switch is not to be underestimated and if you have podgy fingers (like me), that definitely will help.
  • edit: I would have found the tool third hand helpful.
4 Likes

You can learn about the outcome of my attempts to repair a key switch by soldering here.

2 Likes

I recently replaced a switch (I posted about how amazing the keyboard internals are) but I ended up getting a little help to do it.

The only issue we found was we struggled to remove the key once all the solder was heated.

This was remedied by having someone gently pull on the switch with some pliers (it was a faulty key so not too worried about damaging it) whilst the solder was removed.

After removing the key it was easier to clean up any remaining solder and reattach a new key.

A video of someone doing the switch, with maybe an amazon link to an appropriately good iron + sucker + flux would be a good thing to have on the site somewhere.

I know I’m pretty late responding to my own thread, but thank you for this. :slight_smile:

My keys kind of started working on their own. And ironically, I’m only back here after another key is definitely dead.

I’m confident I’m gonna have to swap it this time haha. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Much appreciated.