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 Post subject: Dust/spill Protection Please?
PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 7:21 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2009 6:47 am
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As sort of a follow-up to the email conversation I had with "Deck Guy Adam" I figured it may be good to get this idea out on the boards so others may weigh in on it, or modders may have ideas. Or, at least, to prod Deck into taking a look into it. :D

My beloved 82 unfortunately developed disastrous problems after just under 3 years. The board, generally, still works, and is indeed durable, but certain keys, namely -, :, /, and del, while they still do work, now require excessive force or "slamming" or "grinding" of the keys to register. Then other times it will work fine with normal pressure for a few paragraphs. I don't know why...I removed every key and inspected every trace, switch, etc. No visible damage to any part of the board was detectable, and Adam, despite his best attempts was unable to help with it. :cry: Nevertheless, try as I may, I can't get myself to love using any keyboard quite so much as my Deck 82, so I had to splurge on another one. I'm kind of addicted to it! :?

Anyway, I don't know what went wrong with it....but the exposed PCB always got me nervous. Looking at other boards, it got me thinking that a dust/splash protection layer is really in order. That may not be what killed mine, but since it was something I was nervous about anyway, it can't hurt! Adam mentioned the TG3 board's "splash guard" messes with the key feel....that's definitely not good, so I wouldn't want to see that directly implemented on the Deck boards! Police cruisers may need complete liquid sealing...desktop boards....hopefully...do not.

But I was looking at what some other industrial boards that aren't water-sealed use. The Cherry G84-2400 (compact ML laptop mechanical switches) The Cherry G81-1800 uses a hard plastic layer between the outer housing, and the PCB surface through which the switch stems protrude through little lipped openings. This plastic (black) "tray" runs effectively from end to end of the board and is effective in keeping dust OFF the PCB except for the corners, and may keep very MINOR spills off too (if you dump your soda, you're still in trouble, but if a few drops splash out of a cup, it would save it, especially with lipped rims around the holes the stems protrude through.

The Cherry G81-1800 uses something more complicated, though it's different than what I THOUGHT it was (I'll get to that in a moment.) In actuality it looks like it uses a polished aluminum or stainless steel plate BETWEEN the PCB/membrane and keyswitch bases....i.e. it looks like the mounting stems go THROUGH the metal plate and into the PCB below. so the keyswitch area is totally separated from the PCB by a metal mounting surface. This is, of course, by far, the best design, but probably beyond the scope of what we could see on a Deck board, nor could metal be used on an MX/ML switch board: the MY keys have no electrical contacts on the switch modules. It's worth noting that the G81-1800 is an industrial keyboard, albeit it uses the ugly "MY" keys (FTSC membrane board with individually mounted keyswitches that act as "prints/prods" for the rubber mat below. Unfortunately the key action is astronomically stiff on the "MY" setup....cherry should have rethought that design. The G82 is the MX version but is extremely difficult to locate outside Europe or custom batch orders (similar to TG3's industrial offerings.)

However, what I *THOUGHT* The G81 used was a clear plastic sheet similar to transparency film for overhead projectors. This is something that, if we couldn't get custom plastic trays, may be doable. Deck could create an OEM installable "dust sheet" that we could install (either mounted to the screws, or even just pop up the keycaps and overlay from the top down over the key stems, that would help keep dust and simple splashes off the board. The ends could even be tucked into the housing. Alternately, Deck or a handy modder could create a template for where to cut a regular transparency sheet to overlay and one could build their own from a simple 8.5x11 film sheet. It should fit the board well.

I'm curious what other ideas may be out there on this? Maybe it wouldn't have spared my board, but it's something I'd love to try on my new one to prevent the same ill fate, just in case!

Also, if anyone has any further ideas on what could have happened to my keys and how I may be able to fix it (soldering iron or otherwise) feel free to try me! I may just bring it into work and bang on it for a while and see what happens! :) I wanted a second Deck anyway, so if I can get the original working again, I'd definitely not complain! As it stands now, httpwww.deckkeyboards.com or even http::/www.deckkeyboards.com tends not to work so well in most browsers! ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Dust/spill Protection Please?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 9:07 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2009 6:47 am
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One bizarre addendum that may be interesting to any repair geeks interested in helping me find out what's wrong with my current board: This could just be perception, but I noticed that if a key isn't responding on normal presses (I've tried many in a row), but then I blow on the section of the board where those keys are, it will suddenly work for a few keystrokes. This works with both breath and air duster. I would say the problem is dirt, but I took off every key cap and cleaned it, even vacuumed it. It only works for a few presses. But it's an odd interesting twist, provided it's not coincidence!

My thinking would be that either somehow traces are overheating and briefly cooling them down is helping (not sure why that would be since there's a nice ambient room temp, and no other traces have a problem.) Or, somehow moving air "ionizes" the switches or traces, somehow temporarily increasing their conductivity, or shunting some damaged trace I haven't seen.

That's a bit voodoo-ish, but it's an odd thought I figured would be worth sharing. I'm still determined to get this board working again! It seems a shame to throw away the other 77 good keys since even these sort of work with enough pressure or air! :)


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 Post subject: Re: Dust/spill Protection Please?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 5:31 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jan 25, 2009 8:56 pm
Posts: 9
Very interesting about the blowing on the PCB and getting intermittent function. It made me think of a few things.

1) For my own curiosity, did you try a USB Fan pointed directly at the PCB - This may confirm its an overheating issue.
2) On the flip side; and I hate to state the obvious... but did you KISS (keep it simple stupid) it? ie: try a different computer or try another internal USB cable. I hate to ask this, but I don't know the complete back story.
3) Lastly, it could be electrical arcing: Have you tried it on a grounded surface without the metal plate attached? Are the key reactions different while the board is laying flat vs holding it upright?

-Trizzor


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