Monday, January 10, 2011

Replacing a Laptop keyboard: Gateway Model MC7801U

Have a laptop with missing keys and need to replace it for one that works? You have a few choices. Send it back to the manufacturer and wait, try to find a local repair shop that will tackle it, attach an external keyboard through USB, or find some courage and take on a little risk and replace the keyboard yourself.

The tools you will need for this job are a tiny screwdriver to remove a few screws, a steady hand, some nimble fingers, aforementioned courage, and the replacement keyboard.

A static strap for your wrist is recommended especially in the winter. Static will fry many components of computers. Take care not to touch any part of the computer until you are discharged of any possible static.   

Here's what you do:

  1. Shut down the computer, unplug the electrical adapter, turn over and remove the battery.
  2. Remove the yellowed screws shown in this picture and remove the central cover that comes off with the screws:
  3. Under the cover just removed there maybe one additional screw to remove. If so it will be under the cover where the words "remove the cover" appear in the picture.  
  4. Carefully turn the computer over. The bezel over the keyboard should now appear loose. There are ribbon connections on each side of the bezel that allow for the email, camera and sound controls; be mindful of these connections as you take the next step. With your fingers ever so gently pop the bezel from around the shiny metallic edge of the computer. Take care around the on switch and on the left and right sides. Gently pry the bezel up along the bottom (middle of the computer) My bezel was particularly obstinent on the right bottom corner. With additional patience I was able to slip my fingers in and loosen it. 
  5. The keyboard is held in place by 3 screws as shown. Remove them.
  6. Underneath the keyboard are two tiny ribbon connections that are held in by minature connectors that are smaller versions of those you would find in any desktop. The connectors simply slide up and down to hold the ribbons in place. Remove the ribbons of the old keyboard and remove the keyboard.
  7. Slide the replacement keyboard's ribbons into the connectors and move the connector bar down to lock in place. (This requires some patience; they are tiny.) 
  8. Tilt the keyboard and ensure that the tabs on the bottom are tucked into the appropriate slots. Keyboard should be in place over screw holes.
  9. Prior to screwing in place power up the laptop and make sure your keyboard is functional. Power down and unplug then check connections on the ribbons if you experience malfunctions. When all is working, power down and unplug.  
  10. Replace the three keyboard screws.
  11. Check the bezel connections to ensure they are still well connected then replace bezel. Simply snap in place. 
  12. Carefully turn computer over and replace all remaining screws. Keep in mind the three shortest screws belong in the battery compartment.
  13. Replace battery and pat yourself on the back. 

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