08 November, 2013

A New Scribble Stick

I had to break down and get a new keyboard today. The older, free one that I got from Fred Orilla, down at Corozal Virtual Office, when I purchased the desktop PC, just couldn't cut the mustard.
Well, it might have been the sudden lack of dirt and dust that did it in. I completely disassembled it, starting with removing the keypads and washing them to get them as clean as I possibly could. Once that was done, then, flip the case over and begin disassembling the case, then the flexible circuit board, doubled over so that it could serve as a series of switches for the keypads. After that, came the silicone rubber cups that actually pressed the flex circuit board.
After that, I gave the letters and the case top and bottom a thorough scrubbing. Reassembling it was pretty much just the opposite of taking it apart. Reassembly went fairly smooth, only one screw up, which was that I inverted the order for the flexible and rigid circuits. A quick disassembly got things squared away in short order.
The spiffy keyboard now looked the part. I took it back up to my office for the acid test. It didn't do too bad for it's first time through the process. Oh sure, there were a couple of keys that either stuck or just didn't move like I thought they should. Well, a quick trip out to the dining room table and a quicker disassembly made for an uneventful project.
From this point, things with the keyboard went progressively downhill. First one key then the other malfunctioned. I disassembled and reassembled the keyboard at least six or seven times. As far as I could see, there was nothing that was broken or out of position inside the keyboard's plastic housing. There was one key that was a major headache to reassemble, that was the 'Enter' key.
What made it a pain was that there were two metal wire doohickeys on the bottom side of the key that acted as springs and as retainers. Of course they fit into the keyboard at 90°to each other. Did I mention 'underneath'? Underneath the key gave me about an eighth of an inch to maneuver each piece into position. This took about an hour to figure out how to get it done without breaking the key or the keyboard.
Finally, I got the little wires into position and the key felt like it should. One other key had a wire bit under it - the space key. But, this one was easy by comparison. It was just one piece of wire spanning the whole width of the key. I was able to get it into position with no problems whatsoever.
As it turned out, this was all for naught. The damned thing decided that now would be a good time for all of the keys to quit working. Arrrrggghh! What a lot of wasted effort.
I piddled around with it for a while more, but just couldn't see anything that I could do to fix it. So, my option... All I could think of was to go back down to Corozal Virtual Office and see if Fred had another spare keyboard he would be willing to swap out for this one.
New-to-me PC, Monitor, and Keyboard
I had a few groceries that had appeared on the shopping list, so I was able to combine trips once again. While I visited the various grocery stores, I also managed to stop at a couple of places to see if they had keyboards for sale, just to get some idea of what I was looking at if I had to purchase a replacement.
First place I stopped at was BluePC. I've had my laptop repaired there several times and felt comfortable dealing with them. The owner was gone at the time, so dealing with his wife was a little odd due to the language barrier of Cantonese (I think) and English. Once I got across that I was interested in buying a keyboard, she was able to find one in the back room still in the box. It was OK and was marked at $35.00 BZD. I told her I was going to check around a couple other places first.
I was going to check at the local A&R Store, but they were still closed from the lunch break. On to Corozal Virtual Office. I asked Fred if he had any replacements. Unfortunately, his answer was no. The pile of keyboards he had in the back were there for cannibalization only, none of them were functional and he had no new keyboards for sale. He did tell me that he had talked to Miss Carla at INK Supplies the day before and that she had just gotten in a few keyboards. I left the non-functioning keyboard with him to use as he saw fit, perhaps as a boat anchor (which he thought was funny), and I went on down to see Miss Carla.
At INK Supplies, I was surprised. Not only did Carla have keyboards, but she had three different ones. A full-sized regular IBM-style keyboard, a compact keyboard without a number pad, which really caught my eye, but was almost twice as much as the full-sized one, and, get this, a flexible keyboard, all rolled up in a plastic tube. It reminded me of the Star Trek episode where one of the characters (I think it was LCdr Data) whipped out a rolled up piano keyboard to entertain everyone. I know they're available now, but at the time (maybe -early to mid-seventies) they were quite a novel idea. I don't know how much the roll-up cost, but it was intriguing nonetheless, and to find it in a basically third-world country, well you get the idea. I settled on the full-sized keyboard for $26.00 BZD.
After getting all the groceries that were available (some things on shopping lists tend to be copied to succeeding lists for a time no matter how hard you search), I headed home and plugged in the new keyboard. What you see here is the result. Notice the crisp, clean letters,and that new keyboard smell? Just like it was still in the showroom, eh?


JRinSC said...

Have you already left XP?? Support stops in April of next year so I've gotta do something. I haven't and that is my next project. I think I'll go to Win 7 and forget 8.1 for now.

Glad all is working again. The only thing I've found more frustrating than a bad keyboard is when your mouse stops while running and you have to figure out how to get things done using only the keys to navigate. You can do it but it causes some of my "naval dialect" to reappear at times.

Have fun and be glad you're not in the Phillipines with the 170 mph wind gusts they've just had.


Dave Rider said...

Hi Julian,

I left XP quite a while ago. I did it with trepidation, but haven't regretted the move at all. I'm trying as hard as I can right now to ignore 8.1. Someday, I know I'll have to jump on the 8.1 or .2 or .3 bandwagon, but, so far I can't say I'm impressed with it enough to even slightly consider it.

I'd read this morning that they were forecast for 150 MPH steady with gust up to 235. I hope not. There's also a town there that was sheltering in tents from an earthquake a month ago. With this on top, what a miserable experience.