Acer Aspire Switch 10 (SW5-012) Keyboard

There were two high density circuit boards in the base of an Acer Aspire Switch 10 (SW5-012) tablet/laptop convertible. One handled general connectivity to the main display unit of the computer, and another purely focused on touchpad input. The third, while technically a circuit board as well, is less dense and is the array of switches that implement the keyboard of this machine.

Typing on this keyboard has been a good experience, at least as far as membrane keyboards go. Key travel felt good, and the scissor mechanism sturdily held actions crisp. Even though this is a thin and light (very much so for its day, and still respectably so today) convertible, it never felt flimsy. As I dig inside, I could see what gave it such a solid feel: metal structural plates and lots of mounting points.

The sheer number of mounting points make it rigid, but they are not held with removable fasteners. They are held with plastic rivets probably for cost of manufacturing, but this also meant there’s no way to nondestructively replace the keyboard module. I start by peeling the keyboard surround from the metal chassis plate. Pop, pop, pop, went those rivets as I pulled.

Once the keyboard surround was removed, I could see a magnet that I can harvest (below where the right arrow key used to be) and the remainder will become plastic landfill. The keyboard itself is held to the metal plate by even more plastic rivets, and once I pop them off to remove the keyboard the metal plate should be clean enough for general scrap metal.

Here is a closeup of the control key in the lower left corner, and the numerous gray plastic rivets holding the keyboard module in place.

I popped off the control keycap to take a closer look at the scissor mechanism on this keyboard. I imagine there are only a few major suppliers/styles for this mechanism, unless there’s a product differentiation I’m ignorant about motivating keyboard makers to custom design their own. In any case, my interest was seeing if I can cannibalize the scissor mechanism to repair a missing key on the HP Mini (110-1134CL) netbook from NUCC.

Sadly while the two scissors mechanisms are very similar to each other, they are not identical. Perhaps someone skilled with modifying watchmaker–level mechanisms can hack the pieces to fit, but that is beyond my skill level today. I’ll leave this keyboard alone for now and switch focus to this computer’s robust hinge mechanism.

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