27 October 2005, 21:20 by mark hoekstra

ibook keyboard blues

or: How I ended up with a blank keyboard…

Well, I had some issues with my ibook-keyboard before, it just was in a bad shape when I bought the ibook (but the thing was cheap! (not as cheap as in Henrico County but still…)). And if you haven’t seen it before, yes, I painted it too ;-)

Anyways, after cleaning it and fixing a crack in the filmlayer I thought it was allright. It did survive WhatTheHack but the last few weeks the crack in the filmlayer started acting up again… So, time to find a solution.

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I could get my hands on this Azerty-ibook-keyboard for a G4 14” ibook (while mine is a 12”) for only 10 euro (azerty is totally useless here in Holland)

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My idea was roughly to make a hybrid keyboard of my G3-ibook-keyboard and G4-ibook-keyboard, which seemed like a nice idea… or, if that wouldn’t work out for some reason, to exchange the filmlayers and keep using the G3-keyboard… It all didn’t go exactly according to plan…

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It was a wild guess this keyboard would fit, but for 10 euros I’ll take my chances :-) At first sight you can see there’s a difference in the length of the film, but that’s about it, the keyboard itself fits perfectly… (in the mean time I also tested if everything gets recognized/mapped the same way as a 12” and indeed it does, so no strange keymapping-problems here…)

BTW, getting such a keyboard for 10 euros maybe a hard bargain, but maybe you could try an Apple-store for already worn-off models, as there seems to be quite some trouble with these keyboards…

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Time to get the first key off!

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...and a little while later, I got all the keys off my keyboard… (remember, I did this before ;-))

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Here you can see both keyboards sans keys…

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...and the filmlayer of the G4-keyboard…

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Here it’s ibook-keyboard-deassembly-extravaganza! All parts of both the keyboards deassembled… time to make up my mind how I want to do this (and exactly what I want to do…)

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...it seemed, to my surprise, that the joints which are under the keys, are totally different between these two models… and you can’t fit a G3-key to a G4-joint or vice versa either…

Then it also seemed I couldn’t fit the G4-filmlayer on the G3-metal plate… I checked if I could fix it easily, but no way, there are connections running over parts where the G3-metal plate has holes… so… no G3/G4-keyswapping & no filmlayer-swapping

Hmmmz… what to do?

After a while I decided I should assemble the G4-keyboard again and then it all fell into place, of course! Make it a Das Keyboard but then for my ibook!

so… this little story now becomes:

How-To: DIY Das iBook Keyboard

Yeah yeah, this has been done before, and indeed, I’ve been Googlin’ for this one:

DIY Das Keyboard

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So, back to the starting point… an ibook-keyboard without keys (forget the rest, really, you don’t want to deassemble 2 ibook-keyboards to the fullest)

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And indeed, the DIY Das Keyboard-article is right… alcohol and white spirit (called terpentine overhere) don’t work… :-)

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This however (sanding paper), does work…

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So I made a cylindrical object with sanding paper around it, because the keys are curved and this way the whole process goes a lot quicker.

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Time to get the print of the first key…

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...and done!

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...only about 30 minutes later, I got all the normal keys done. The little keys (like the F-keys and the cursor-keys) were a little harder to grind, but when you first blank out the normal keys I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to do those too… :-)

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Assembly was a breeze on this keyboard it’s just a matter of clicking the keys into place, so here it is, a finished Das Ibook Keyboard!

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Here you can see what it takes to place a 14” keyboard onto(into) a 12”... I decided to take out the piece of metal in there, normally used for holding an airport-card, but I don’t have one and I need this space anyway for a future project, getting USB-bluetooth and my USB-Belkin-stick in there… (so I have wireless on linux/BSD too)

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...and the keyboard in place…

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Happy Hacking!
(as a matter of fact, happy hacking do have a blank keyboard also…)

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DIY trackback


  1. Matt @ 28 October 2005, 18:29 :

    Buddy, you are my personal hero. What a great idea!
    Just out of interest, what country has AZERTY keyboards—is it France?
    (This message typed on a QWERTZ keyboard—nothing beats that.)

  2. Dougal.s @ 28 October 2005, 18:56 :

    That is sweet dude! Might be trying this when i have a bit of time to kill. Should get round to ordering a keyboard with what remains of my warranty…


  3. Bob @ 29 October 2005, 15:40 :

    Yes Matt, in France we use AZERTY keyboard :)

  4. Steve Nordquist @ 30 October 2005, 03:42 :

    Using forms to sand is a neat method.
    I won’t be trying it with my QWKP; keyboard from touchstream.com (which doubles as a mouse) but it seems just now like a lot less effort than repainting with nail enamels (and sometimes metallic ink Sharpies.)

    Even reestablishing the lumps on a home row key to provide some orientation, this is still some kinds of crime against ergonomics, though; better to select a glove controller for anonymous input.

  5. Colin D. Devroe @ 30 October 2005, 18:52 :

    I did most of mine:

  6. Ferret Simpson @ 7 November 2005, 00:35 :

    Needless to say, I’m not going to try this on a 40 euro Sun Microsystems keyboard, I like it as it damn well is, and it’s too expensive to replace. . . However, I have a whole bunch of cheap “Buy a base unit and we give you a crud keyboard free because we’re retard computer manufacturers” Packard Bell keyboards around, which could do with a rethink. . . Something like the Half-Life PC mod, for stargate? Ah. . If Only I had a low profile keyboard, (You know, the ones with no numeric keypad and laptop keys) I could spray it black, and put matrik encoded keys on. Only problem is, I’d have to make a completely new keymap to deal with the fact that in the matrix, the Control key is “Execute”, and has a mathematical Algebraec X symbol You know )( kinda thing, that glows green.

  7. Robert @ 9 November 2005, 07:32 :

    What program are you using to ghost windows in this picture? I’ve been looking for something like that for a while now, as I miss Glass2K from Windows, but I can’t seem to find it.

  8. mark @ 9 November 2005, 10:28 :

    Robert, that’s my command shell (or terminal). It’s just the one provided from within OS X (Applications->Utilities->Terminal) and I just changed some of the preferences, that’s all :-)

  9. Stacey Agard @ 16 November 2005, 16:02 :

    Great man!!! I am impressed mate!!!
    Maybe you can help me. I am tryin to replace the motherboard battery on my G3. I can’t get at it. I have been tryin to open it from the bottom. Is it via, the keyboard?


  10. Paxswill @ 29 November 2005, 13:23 :

    www.pbfixit.com has great guides for disassembling Powerbooks and iBooks. I swapped out my screen on my PB G3 with their instructions.

  11. Justin @ 15 December 2005, 21:48 :

    Quick note just for the record, if terpentine is (as I think it is) mineral turpentine, then it’s not the same as white spirits, though both are often sold for the same purposes. (White spirit evaporates quicker among other things. It feels kind of half way between turps and acetone.

    I’ve had success with using brasso and cloth to remove printed ink from plastic without affecting the plastic, but it probably takes the same amount of elbow grease as sanding them off.

  12. davmo @ 24 January 2006, 03:44 :

    You mentioned higher up on this page about the iBooks in “Henrico County”. I live in Virginia and I was going to go to that auction when I saw it being advertised. I am glad that I didn’t. They had a virtual riot and many people got hurt! I might have been able to score a cheap iBook but maybe it was better that I didn’t see that ugly incident personally.

    BTW, I look at your site often and I really enjoy it. You always have some really cool stuff on here!

    Take care,


  13. domestic @ 2 February 2006, 12:42 :

    So, the G4 has longer keyboard cable than the G3? I’ve been wondering whether I can use my excellent G3 keyboard with new G4 and haven’t quite get to buing the G4 because of not knowing will my old keyboard work with it… And now it seems that the intel ibooks will come sometime this spring and I want one of those now :)

  14. markie @ 2 February 2006, 15:34 :

    >So, the G4 has longer keyboard cable than the G3?

    Uhm, no.. the 14” model has a longer cable than the 12” model. The keyboards themselves are the same between these models.

  15. bubba @ 9 April 2006, 03:19 :

    hello! im sure by now u hate me! but a guy like you has way to much time on his hands to figure something like that out! yes.. it may be awesome.. but thats not the point.. u are surley an all time nerd.

  16. james @ 13 June 2006, 15:34 :

    hi, that means i can fix g3 keyboard on my g4 ibook right ? .. both is 12 ”

  17. marieke @ 15 June 2006, 03:18 :

    hahaha, mijn ibooktoetsenbord was na 2 maanden al een DAS-keyboard, alle inkt van de toetsen af, zonder alcohol :)

  18. james @ 15 June 2006, 09:41 :

    sorry ..i don understand wat ur talking about ..i only understand english thanks

  19. mark @ 15 June 2006, 10:43 :

    Hi James,

    Euhm, that comment wasn’t really answering your question.

    Anyways, it doesn’t matter if you mix up keyboards from 12” and 14”... the 14” has a longer cable but as you can see on my pics, that fits. I used a G4-keyboard on a G3, so that works also. I guess a G3-keyboard will work on a G4, but I didn’t try that…

    good luck,

  20. james @ 18 June 2006, 09:36 :

    ya i see , but u took out the piece of metal .. cause the cable its too long ?

    i want to buy a g3 12 inch keyboard for my g4 12 inch …

    wonder who can sure it works ??


  21. mark @ 18 June 2006, 13:40 :

    >wonder who can sure it works ??

    no one can, cause it’s not something ‘meant to be’, in doing stuff out of the ordinary, most of the time, you’re on your own. In your case I would’ve bought the G3-keyboard already a long time ago cause I can't see a problem, but I'm not gonna guarantee it to you either. If you still have doubts, buy a G4-keyboard instead.

  22. pascal @ 10 August 2007, 04:36 :

    that’s so cool… just doing mine too (75%).
    what type of sand paper do you use? (mine is 600 and I use it wet, creating disgusting gray slime).
    as I forgot about the little sign on the F-key, I just scrubbed it away (went surprisingly well…) — this will make things one level harder (left the J-mark, though. not pro enough for this yet :)

  23. battery @ 4 September 2010, 09:21 :

    I look at your site often and I really enjoy it. You always have some really cool stuff on here!

  24. moncler enfant @ 18 December 2010, 12:28 :

    Vraiment super boulot! Parfait!

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