How to Solder a Keyboard

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Updated July 27, 2022

An exciting project for keyboard enthusiasts to undertake is a switch replacement. Some of the best keyboards come with easily swappable switches, while others are soldered. If your device is the latter, and you need to figure out how to solder a keyboard, then you’ve found the right article.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Soldering keyboard switches is a quick job but requires safety precautions and a properly ventilated space.
  • Once the mechanical switches are placed into the PCB and switchboard, the solder is applied to secure each switch.
  • After soldering the switches, plug them into a computer and run a switch test.

How to Solder Keyboard Switches

There are many types of keyboards, but before starting any custom mechanical switch job, you must check and double-check whether your switches are swappable or soldered. If your mechanical keyboard switches are soldered, you should first read up on how to remove switches from a keyboard. Once they are removed, you should be all set up to begin.

Insider Tip

It’s okay if your solder isn’t in a perfectly shaped mound around the switch joint. Even if the solder looks ugly, it will still make a connection.

Remember that before attempting the soldering process, you should be comfortable and have experience with soldering and the best safety practices.

Lastly, for Apple users, we have an article explaining how to replace a MacBook Air keyboard, given that Apple products are different regarding parts replacement.

  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Time Required: 30 Minutes
  • Total Steps: 9
  • Tools Needed: Soldering Iron, Soldering Wire, Solder Sucker

STEP 1

Find a well-ventilated area to set up your soldering station. Also, it’s wise to have a fan positioned to blow the solder smoke away from you.

STEP 2

Put on eye protection to prevent smoke or liquid solder from splashing into your eyes.

STEP 3

Check your printed circuit board (PCB) to ensure that the switch stabilizers are in place before beginning the soldering.

STEP 4

Snap the keyboard switches into the switch plate and make sure that the bottoms of the keys are coming out of the back of the printed circuit board. To check this, look at the bottom of the PCB to ensure all the switch pins are sticking through.

STEP 5

Heat the soldering iron to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

STEP 6

Take the soldering wire in one hand and the hot soldering iron in the other. Place the iron against the switch pin and then place the wire against the iron’s tip until it melts. As the solder melts, continue pushing it into the iron at a steady pace and fill the switch pinhole until a mound of solder is built around the pin.

STEP 7

Repeat these steps until each mechanical keyboard switch is soldered.

STEP 8

If any pins have excess solder, you can remelt it, remove it with the solder sucker, and redo the solder job.

Warning

Solder fumes are hazardous to the human body. Ensure that the room you’re soldering in is well-ventilated; never directly breathe in the smoke.

STEP 9

Plug the keyboard PCB into the computer, and run a key switch tester to ensure every connection works properly.

STAT: 60/40 solder indicates that the wire is 60% tin and 40% lead. (source)

How to Solder a Keyboard FAQs

What is the best type of solder to use?

Experts recommend solder with a high percentage of lead, like a 60/40Pb.

What is a hot-swap keyboard?

Unlike soldered key switches, hot-swappable keyboards can be removed and replaced by hand.

Why are good soldering techniques important?

Practicing caution when soldering is essential because there are physical hazards from the hot iron, and lead smoke can cause illness. Proper technique is also necessary to protect your equipment.
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