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Left side of keyboard not working at all

Posted on 2001-09-02
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Last Modified: 2008-02-01
Hi,

I've used my laptop successfully for months and months now however it has started acting quite strangely.

The other day the key "1" would only work when holding down shift then releasing it. After that it wouldn't work at all. Then the whole group of keys on the left "Tab, q,a,z,ctrl,\,shift" of the keyboard stopped working too.

Then today my mouse clicks are not doing anything. Left click or right click do nothing.

I've downloaded InnoculateIT as it seemed to be a bit virus like. It found 2 viruses (I haven't scanned for months and months aswell) but didn't solve the problem.

I have a kid brother who eats chocolate and drinks coke whilst playin gon the laptop so i've got a suspicion that he may have dropped some liquid on it and borke it but he denies it. Also, to back up his claim, the backspace key is also not working, far away from the other "troubled" keys.

I have restarted umpteen times, hit the keyboard with my fist firmly but nothing is happening.

What can I do?

TIA (sorry to have rambled on so much)
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Question by:rickblyth
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jhance earned 100 total points
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Since this is a laptop, you may need a factory/service center to help out.  

It could be the keyboard itself, it could be the keyboard/laptop connector, it could be a problem with the keyboard controller which is on the laptop motherboard.

My guess, based on the suspicion of food/liquids spilled into it, would be the keyboard itself.  They are easily replace but you don't just buy laptop parts at CompUSA or RadioShack.  You need the factory replacement part and the knowhow to replace it.  Again, seek help at a factory authorized service center.

BTW, please don't hit your laptop with your fist anymore.  It's likely to cause more damage...
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by:d_hall
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If you are lucky it is just the keyboard connector come loose.

I know Compaq provides fairly clear guides on how to dissasemble their laptops on the websire, and some othe manufacturers may do so as well.

From my (admittedly limited) laptop experience it wouldn't be too hard to check this (just a few screws and some care).  The keyboard will be connected by a thin ribbon cable with a little connector - gently pull the connector off and reattach.

BUT if it is still in warranty (or even close) take it back and get them to look at it before you poke at it (or thump it ;  ).
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by:rickblyth
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I don't hit it hard, just enough to show it who's boss. If a connection had come out somewhere wouldn't it mean all the keys wouldn't work?

It's strange that the backspace key doesn't work as well.

I was thinking about formatting to see if that cleared the trouble but this will have to be a last resort and only if it is not a hardware prob.

BTW, the laptop has recently started making funny noises to do with its fan I think. I don't know is this could relate to this problem somehow.
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by:rid
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I had a similar problem with an AST laptop. Some keys stopped working. This was, as has been suggested above, the connection at the MB. The ribbon cable from the KB goes into a slot that will pinch the end of the cable, which has a sort of contact surfaces created by omitting the covering layer. Some of the mouse leads go in this cable as well. If this is not covered by warranty, you could be helped by diconnecting this cable, polishing the surfaces and reconnecting. Use soft tissue and possibly a small amount of rubbing alcohol. To verify this idea of a bad cable connection try an external KB. If this works i think we have hit it. If it doesn't work, it may be the KB controller.
Regards
/RID
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by:pbessman
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Has it had any drinks lately?  Also, the ribbon cables underneath these things can com loose as RID has suggested already.  If it is under warranty or srvice plan, now might be a good time to use it.  There may be a lot of stuff exposed when you raise the keyboard to look beneath it.
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by:rickblyth
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its not under warranty. how easy is it to mess around under a laptop keyboard?
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by:rickblyth
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Also, this doesn't explain the mouse suddenly not being able to click on anything. This hasn't got anything to do with the keyboard connections has it. I know its not the mouse either, I use VNC viewer over my network and clicks from my PC aren't picked up on the laptop screen. However, the mouse moves round fine.
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by:rid
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To establish where the fault is you could try with external KB and mouse. Do these work, connected to the appropriate ports? You could also boot to DOS prompt only and see if/how internal KB works. If it does, you have a driver problem perhaps. Narrow it down.
Regards
/RID
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by:rickblyth
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done DOS. Same keys fail. Can't even get to the FORMAT command if I wanted to! Will try external KB and get back to you.
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by:jhance
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OK, if BOTH the internal and EXTERNAL KB fails, the problem is a BAD keyboard controller.  Bad news!!!  This means replacing the motherboard in your laptop.  Not for the faint of heart...  Not only that but a replacement motherboard will likely cost you US$1000 or more.
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by:pleasenospam
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A virus could do this.  Are you
SURE that the system is CLEAN now?

John
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by:pbessman
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It's pretty easy to mess up stuff beneath a laptop keyboard.  They are not very thick and if something gets dropped on it it can break very easily.  Also, if you leave these things near humidity or high heat they can get messed up to.
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by:d_hall
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>> its not under warranty. how easy is it to mess around under a laptop keyboard?

On the Compaq Armarda I set up there were three (or so) screws that held the keyboard on from underneath.  Undo those, and it swings up like the bonnet of a car.

May differ with model or brand, but often you need to remove the keyboard to upgrade RAM, so it shouldn't be a big deal.

What brand/model do you have?  Poke around the manufacturer website and you may well find instructions designed to show techs how to maintain the laptop (those are what the docs I referred to earlier were - Compaq's technician's manual is on their website).
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by:rickblyth
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It's a Toshiba Satellite 4090x CDT.
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by:gmichels
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I'm with RID. My first troubleshooting step would be to see if an external keyboard and mouse will work. If not, you know it's more internal than just the keyboard and mouse!

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by:rickblyth
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OK, here's the update.

Mouse works fine - random problem with Windows.

External keyboard works fine as does VNC viewer typing the "lost" letters.

I think it must be the laptop keyboard. There are a few screws  around the back of the laptop but there aren't any obvious ones for just lifting the keyboard up, etc. I'm unsure as to my next move. I've contacted Toshiba and my warranty ran out 6 months ago - I think it'll cost quite a bit if I take it into them.

Don't really know where to go from here both with my laptop and with this question.
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by:d_hall
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Given that it's out of warranty, and that a Toshiba service will probalby charge you $50 to walk into the shop, I think it's worth some careful poking around.  Of course, if you are not 100% comfortable with this then by all means just take it to the shop - we are not all MacGuyver ;  ).

I've come across two ways to get at the keyboard.

The first (which was on a Compaq) was by removing a few screws (marked with a " => " symbol) from the underneath.  Once removed, the keyboard just lifted out to reveal the RAM socket, the keyboard connector etc.

The other (some no-brand) was by removing a few screws in the side, which allowed you to lift off the plastic housing which surrounded the keyboard.  There were then a couple of obvious screws holding the keyboard down.


Be particularly careful when removing the screws from underneath.  Do this on an old towel or something and with the screen closed, as if you accidently remove the wrong screw the CD or something might drop out.  But if you are slow and careful you should be OK.
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by:rid
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I don't know the Toshiba, but some machines have a sliding cover just by the hinges, on the main body. Slide this to one side and it comes off. Underneath may be screws to hold screen edge of keyboard. Unscrew these and lift screen end - the "user end" of the keyboard can then be unhooked. Carefully! Mind the cables!
Just a thought.
/RID
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by:VirusMinus
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Dear questionner/expert(s)

No comment has been added lately, so it's time to clean up this TA.
I'll leave a recommendation in the Cleanup topic area that this question is to be:

- PAQ'd and pts refunded

Please leave any comments here within the next seven days.

==> PLEASE DO NOT ACCEPT THIS COMMENT AS AN ANSWER ! <==

VirusMinus
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by:VirusMinus
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Sorry, typo... this question is recommended to be

- PAQ'd and pts removed

VirusMinus
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by:jhance
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I disagree.  I stand by my original comment and follow up by the owner of this question has further confirmed that the problem is the keyboard, which needs replacement.
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by:VirusMinus
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will make the correction..
thanks
VM
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by:Netminder
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Per recommendation, force-accepted.

Netminder
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