Thursday, July 24, 2014

Replacing The Keyboard On An Asus K55N Laptop

This Asus K55N laptop has been my blogging buddy for about the last year and a half. And it definitely shows by looking at the keyboard. Some of the commonly used copy and paste keys are completely worn off, and some of the mechanisms on some of the keys have given out and the keys barely work.

Years ago, a friend who went with me to work remarked that as a computer programmer, I basically just copied and pasted stuff for a living. I guess being a blogger isn't too much different--maybe worse. I've since moved to a desktop because desktop keyboards are cheap and easy to replace.

It also turns out that the keyboard for the Asus is cheap and easy to replace. Well, not so much if you buy the wrong one, which I did the first time. It turns out that my keyboard has little plastic tabs which hold it in place.

So be aware that there are two different types of keyboards out there: those without the tabs, and those with the tabs. It was the second one with the tabs that ended up working for me.


The Tools


The only real tool needed for this job is a flat bladed screwdriver, or even better, a small, flat blade. All I used was my Victorinox Executive, which is almost always in my pocket.

Step 1: Take the Battery Out


Start the project by flipping the laptop over and taking out the battery. Better safe than sorry. The battery on mine is a little stubborn, and I had to use my trusty Swiss army knife to get the battery loose.

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Step 2: Take the Old Keyboard Out


My K55N has a keyboard which simply pops out. No real tools required: just something to gently pry it out along the handful of pry points at the top. I would start at the left and work your way right, gently popping out each pry point on the old keyboard.

Once the top is free, raise it and push it away from you, which will free up the bottom tabs. At that point the keyboard is free, though still attached to the ribbon cable connector. You want to very gently lift up the little lever on the connector as shown in the animation below. Once the connector is up, the cable should come free, and the keyboard with it.

As you can see in the photo below, my keyboard was thrashed.

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 Notice the "pry points" in the photo below. Start on the left, gently prying them up one at a time.

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The keyboard should pop out easily. If it doesn't you're doing something wrong.

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Notice below that the original keyboard came with a lot of slack in the cable.

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Step 3: Put the New Keyboard In


Putting the new one in is easy. Just very gently insert the ribbon cable on the new keyboard into the connector leads-up, and lower the little lever on the connector. Make sure you go with the existing fold in the cable. Also, my replacement keyboard came with a very short cable, so it was a little awkward putting it back in.

Note in the animation below how the keyboard connector opens and closes.

Replacing The Keyboard On An Asus K55N: Animated Connector


To remount the new keyboard, insert the bottom of the keyboard first so that all the tabs go into the slots on the bottom of the case. It should be a tilting motion. Then all you need to do is snap the top into place. Start in the center and snap the top of the keyboard outward into place until you reach the edges.

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Below you can see that the cable on the new keyboard is much shorter
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     The blue part of the cable should be facing up

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After the bottom is snapped in, snap the top in, starting in the center and working your way outward
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Below the new one is snapped into place and works perfectly. One less thing on my to do list!
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That's it--you're good to go!

Step 4: Put the Battery Back In


Now flip over the laptop and put the battery back in. Remember to slide the lever that locks it into place so that it doesn't fall out.

Step 5: Test the New Keyboard


I actually bench tested it before I snapped it back in, just to make sure it had the right mappings. I've seen people complain about some of these aftermarket keyboards not having the right key mappings. If you put the battery in before the new one is completely mounted, then be very careful. Otherwise, it doesn't take much effort to take it back off again if you need to.

My keyboard works perfectly, and it's nice to have my laptop back in service again, since I really like the Asus K55N model. It's cheap and powerful.

Conclusions


The keyboard on my particular K55N just snaps out with no tools necessary. I've seen in YouTube videos where the poster tells you to take off the back panels, and even take out the hard drive first, but that's not the case with mine at least. It just pops right out. However, my first attempt failed because I bought the wrong keyboard that didn't have the little tabs needed to hold it the keyboard in. Other than that, it's a very easy job.