How to troubleshoot a keyboard


23 Oct 2019, 16:00

Good afternoon,
Im in search for tooling and method to troubelshoot mechanical keyboards.

I currently own several of them, and two of them are currently suffering issue:
- a gh60 satan version stopped to work, not unable to be detected on the computer when usb plugged. I guess the microcontroller is burned, after 4 years of heavy daily use.
- an olkb plank, where my 'w' key is malfunctionning, i need to really press it hard to get a double w printed on screen, and if i press like usual, it doesnt print anything. I guess the switch is in bad state. But how to confirm that ?
- i have an original gh60 from massdrop with the far left column not functionning, every other keys are ok but 'esc-tab-shift...' of the far left row. How can i troubleshoot this with a voltmeter ? any short somewwehere ?

My question is not only about those particular issues, but more widely, what is a good process to troubleshoot a malfunctionning mechanical keyboard ?

Any advice welcome.

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23 Oct 2019, 16:23

Generally you can use the continuity tester mode of a multimeter to diagnose physical problems.

So for your W key, you would connect the multimeter leads to both pins of the switch, and then press the switch. You can do this while it's still soldered in, but it might be tricky to hold everything in place.

If you press the switch lightly and the tester doesn't beep, or cuts in/out instead of a steady tone, then you know the switch has a physical problem. If you get a steady tone, your problem might be elsewhere on the board.

For your board with the left-column problem, same idea applies. Check if there is continuity between the bottom left Ctrl key and the Esc key, keeping in mind that you have to be on the proper side of the diodes. Then figure out which pin on the controller should be connected to that column, and check continuity between those points. There is probably a damaged trace or solder point somewhere in there, which you may be able to bypass by soldering a jumper wire. This video shows the same idea but for a membrane keyboard

For the board that doesn't respond at all -- the controller might be damaged, or it could just be the usb port. Micro usb is notorious for being fragile. Mini and USB-C ports hold up better but can still be damaged.


24 Oct 2019, 13:58

Thank you very much for thoses hints, i will try it at home asap.

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