This article describes how to repair a broken motherboard keyboard clip on a laptop. Last week, a customer brought me a laptop on which the retainer clip for the keyboard connector had broken off. This problem is the fear of many of us who work on laptops because this clip is soldered to the motherboard and is not really replaceable in any practical sense – if you break it off while repairing a customer’s computer, you’re probably going to have to get a new motherboard. Until now! Using a hot glue gun and some materials I had around, I was able to fix this problem in a way that I believe is permanent.
To replace the functionality of the keyboard tab locking clip you need to create downward pressure on the tab (to ensure electrical contact between the tab and the socket) and inward pressure (to ensure the tab doesn’t slip out of the socket). The electrical connections on the keyboard tab are on the bottom side and must firmly touch the receiving contacts on the motherboard side of the clip.
To create downward pressure, I made a shim out of a piece of that hard plastic bubble-packaging they use to package stuff that hangs on the shelf and Best Buy. I measured the length of the socket and cut a piece of plastic a little over 1/4 inch or around 8mm deep. There are other materials that might work for this shim, a stiff thick piece of card stock might be a good choice too
Now, insert the keyboard tab into the socket fully, making sure that the it is seated straight and fully into the slot, wiggle it around until it’s in place, it should fit snuggly with no right/left wobble. Most keyboard tabs have tiny stubs on the left and right side about 0.25cm from the front edge, these stubs sit in tiny notches on the receiving clip on the motherboard. Once you have the tab securely in place, slide your plastic shim in the slot above the inserted tab. At this point, you want to make sure you are curling the keyboard tab in such a way that it puts constant, even, hard pressure forward on the inserted tab so that it doesn’t wobble or come out of place.
Next, holding the tab securely in place in the socket, manipulate the rest of the tab so that it sits flat against the motherboard for another 1/4in or 8mm past the end of your shim. Holding everything steady, drop a small bit of hot glue onto the edge of the tab that extends from your shim, if you can catch a bit of the shim, that’s great. Do this on both the left and right of the tab.
You’ll see in the picture above that I have a little glue “stopper” in the middle of the tab, this was to keep the shim from squeezing out prior to gluing the edges. Hold this in place for a few minutes until the glue sets.
Finally, flip the keyboard over into place, start the computer and test it. You need to test all the keys (use notepad or something) to make sure all your contacts are contacting. If you find that some of the keys don’t work, it probably means that your tab is not inserted properly and squarely into the socket. Use your fingernail to pry up your hot glue and try the procedure again. It took me 3 tries to get this all just right.
Hartland Computer, Computer Repair Lexington KY, (859) 536-4107