High Tech Reviews

How to solder mechanical keyboard switches?

How to solder mechanical keyboard switches?

The mechanical keyboard switches may wobble and are often trickier than their electronic counterparts. Here’s how to swap it out while keeping your keyboard. Although it requires some tools and knowledge, you can accomplish it.

You must be able to open the keypad itself in order to access the circuit board, solder the broken switch with a soldering iron and a pump, remove the old switch, reinstall the new switch, and then solder everything back together.

Don’t worry if you have never soldered anything before. Although some soldering knowledge is helpful, the soldering you’ll be doing here is rather simple.

What you’ll require

You will need the following components and tools before you start:

  • Iron for soldering
  • Welding nozzle
  • Solder of electronic grade
  • Keycap extractor tool
  • Compatible alternate switch for a mechanical keyboard
  • Lever or a little screwdriver to open the keyboard case
  • Pliers, either small or large
  • Compatible wire cutters and leds (if keyboard is on)

If you don’t already have access to soldering equipment, you can get a soldering iron kit for under $20 that comes with the iron, pump, stand/case, tweezers, and a variety of tips.

Soldering irons work at temperatures that can cause serious burns to skin as well as start fires. Always use caution when using them, and keep soldering irons in their cases at all times. You do so at your own peril if you follow this guide any further.

This manual requires a familiarity with fundamental welding procedures. If you’ve dealt with electronics before, it’s not particularly challenging, but if you’re not up to it, look at this article for some advice.

How to choose the right replacement switch

You must first locate a replacement switch for the broken key before you can start. You underestimate how complicated it is. You just need to get another Cherry MX Blue switch if your board supports them, right?

In essence, yes. The primary factor in a good switch’s feel is matching the manufacturer and the switch’s “color.”

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However, you must also match the precise switch to the precise card. The mounting method is the next important decision.

This process of installing switches directly into the keyboard’s circuit board or onto a metal or plastic plate that sits atop the board to protect it is known as PCB or plate mounting.

Last but not least, you should purchase replacement switches made of clear plastic if your keyboard employs switches with clear plastic housings for the LEDs positioned at the bottom.

Otherwise, the opaque switch will block the light. Even though the switches themselves don’t have LED lights, these varieties of switches are frequently referred to as “RGB.”

1. Disassemble the keyboard case

Remove your keyboard from your computer and set it down in a spotless location to begin this process. In order to access the circuit board, you will now need to remove the exterior case.

2. Write down the specific switch you wish to change as you work

The second stage is a more difficult and frustrating disassembly process for a Mechanical keyboard.

When the keys are deactivated, it can be challenging to distinguish between different switches because the circuit boards on some occasions are not labeled. It won’t harm to make a mark with a Sharpie on the PCB’s back.

You should have a PCB with a number of switches and, if your keyboard has one, a metal plate after removing the case and all the wires attaching it to the circuit board.

3. Get Ready to De-Solder

Now that your soldering iron is heated, prepare your pump by plugging it in. Place the PCB on your work surface so that the switches are resting on the table and the back of the board is facing up. Get ready to clean your brass or sponge.

When your iron reaches the proper temperature, wipe off any oxidized buildup to leave a clean, shining tip.

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After that, apply pressure on the tip of the tool to the electrical pin of the appropriate switch to melt the old solder. Just the solder, not the PCB’s non-conductive substance, should be touched. Your pump should be ready and primed.

Place the pump over the pin as soon as all of the solder has heated up and liquefied. In order to remove the liquid solder off the electrical contact before it cools and solidifies once again, turn on the pump.

To completely remove the old solder from the electrical contact, you will probably need to perform the aforementioned procedure two or three more times. After doing this, repeat the process for the second switch contact.

As you work, keep in mind to often clean the soldering iron’s tip. Only if the LED is located above the switch, repeat for the switch LED pins. You can keep the LED in place if it is mounted below the switch.

4. Take the Switch Out

The switch itself can now be physically removed after the solder has been removed. You should be able to remove the keyboard easily with your fingers or a small set of pliers if it employs PCB mounted switches.

To release a switch that is installed on a plastic or metal plate, you must depress a few tiny tabs on the switch.

A sticky substance that dries quickly is solder. If the switch won’t release, it can be because you didn’t completely remove the solder, which is now firmly embedded in the electrical contact.

Try again after repeating step three. This may also be necessary for the switch LEDs up top.

If you intend to reuse the LED, carefully record its orientation before removing it and set it on a table so you can remember which pin was positioned on which side. The LED won’t operate if the anode and cathode pins are switched. Set aside the old switch once it is free.

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5. Install the new switch

Make that the two electrical pins on the replacement switch are straight and parallel. Finally, lower it onto the PCB. You must “snap” your keyboard’s plate if it has one with the electrical pins precisely lined up.

To ensure that it has been properly aligned and lowered into position, compare it to the other switches.

In order to properly line up the old LED if your switch has a top-mounted LED and you’re utilizing it, gently pass it through the plastic switch casing and into the contact holes.

Use a new LED in the same way, but make sure to appropriately align the anode and cathode.

On the printed circuit board (PCB), there should be a guide designating which hole is positive (anode) and which is negative (cathode).

The anode is always made of the longest wire. Once the wires have been inserted through the hole, you can bend them slightly to hold them in place while you solder.

If you used a fresh LED, snip the wires close to the solder point after you’re finished.

6. Examine the switch

Move your circuit board with the switches attached to your computer carefully without reassembling the keyboard, and plug it in. Simply opening a web browser or word processor and repeatedly pushing the switch will test the switch.

You can start typing if the computer accurately records your keystrokes. If not, you did not solder the circuit correctly, and you will need to go back through the previous steps to figure out where you made a mistake.

7. Reassemble your keyboard

Take your computer’s keyboard out once more. Reverse the procedure you had to follow for your individual keyboard in step one, then place it back in its case and close it.

After changing the keys, go back to your computer and connect the keyboard. You’re all set to go.