Author Topic: WASD Keyboard LED mod guide  (Read 21239 times)

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Offline Tartar: Source

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WASD Keyboard LED mod guide
« on: Fri, 20 July 2012, 22:33:16 »
Tartar's WASD Keyboard LED mod guide

All of us who have had the chance to use a WASD Keyboard will know that the LED's are bright. Very bright. If you are like me and find this annoying, you may want to change them. Or, you might want to change the colour of the default LED's to match your colour scheme. Or both. Either way, this guide will show you how to do it.

The picture below shows the difference in brightness between the default LED's and my modded white ones.

Difference in brightness and colour of default LED's and white LED with 12,000 ohm resistor. Note: the top half of the case isn't attached in this picture; it's just resting on top, which is why it looks a little strange.

What this guide will cover:
Switching LED's
Adding resistors

Tools you will need:
Screwdriver (cross type)
Soldering iron and solder
Knife / thin flat screwdriver / something else to help you pry the casing open
Sharp knife (craft knife, utility knife, Stanley knife, Exacto knife, whatever else you want to call it)

Other things you may need:
3 mm T1 LED's (if you plan on changing the LED's of course)
Resistors (one per LED). I found 12,000 ohm to be sufficient for my needs. Anything between 4,000 and 25,000 ohm would be suitable depending on how bright you want the LED's to be. I encourage you to try a few out to see what you prefer.


Warning: Disassembly of the keyboard will void your warranty and I take no responsibility for this... blah blah blah etc.

Firstly, unplug the keyboard. There are three screws that hold the casing together. One under each of the flip-out risers and one under the white "Do not remove" sticker.

Screw locations.

Next, you will need to pry apart the two halves of the keyboard. There are 12 clips holding it together. These can be quite tricky to get unattached. Take your time and be careful. Use a knife or small flat screwdriver to try to push the clips in while pulling the two halves of the casing apart. The clips are attached to the top half of the casing. I would suggest starting at the back of the keyboard because you may damage the casing slightly where you insert your tool to push the clips in (I did) and it will be harder to knotice if it's only on the back. Once you get one or two clips unattached, the rest should come easily.

Clip location.

Close up of a clip.

Once that is done, the PCB and keyplate (the metal plate that the key switches are attached to) will still be held in to the bottom half of the case. This is because there is a connector holding the main PCB to a small PCB that is attached to the bottom half of the casing. This connector is approximately under the number lock key. Hold the PCB at each end and lift it straight up evenly and slowly and the pins will come out of the connector.

Bottom half of the case with small PCB.

Close up of small PCB.

The pins for the connector. Be careful not to bend them when removing the larger PCB.

Location of connector on main PCB. Approximately on opposite side to number lock key.

Congratulations! If you have got this far, you should now have disassembled the keyboard (hopefully without damaging anything).

I took this opportunity to add some tape to the cable to hold it in a little better (just in case I ever trip over the cable or something silly).

The LED's are held in place by small nylon (I'm not sure they are nylon, but the look and feel like nylon) holders. All you need to do to get them out is to heat up the solder on the underside of the PCB and pull the LED's (and the holders) out. If you don't know how to operate a soldering iron, look it up on YouTube.

Location of LED solder points.

LED's in their holders. Note: I had already removed one LED by the time I took the picture.

LED and holder once removed.

Close up of LED holder.

If you are just changing the colour of the LED's, all you need to do now is solder your new LED's in place. Remember, the long leg on the LED is positive and the leg nearest the flat side of the LED is ground. The solder point nearest the top of the board is positive. If you get it the wrong way around, it won't work (it won't damage it either though).

If you are dimming your LED's, you have a few more steps to follow. If you are not sure about what size resistor you want to use (I recommend 12,000 ohm), now is the time to test a few options out. I soldered a wire into each the solder points for one LED, soldered an LED to one of the wires, and held a resistor between the other wire and the other LED leg (sorry, I didn't think to take a picture of this setup). I tried various resistors between 100 and 30,000 ohm and found 12,000 ohm to give a brightness that I was comfortable with. Find what suits you best.

When you are happy with your resistor choice take the nylon holder and cut a bit out of the top and bottom of one side so that the leg of the LED can get out of the holder and one of the legs of the resistor can get in. This only needs to be done on one side. See picture below for a much better explanation.

The cuts made so that the holder can sit flat on the PCB and the LED can sit flat on the holder. Cuts need to be big enough for the LED leg to fit through the top and the resistor leg to fit through the bottom.

Now, take your LED (I used new ones as I also changed the colour) and bend the longer leg (positive leg) out at a right angle.

LED with positive leg bent to a right angle.

Take your LED, holder and resistor and fit them together on the PCB. To do this, Put the resistor in the top hole (positive hole) so that the resistor itself is on the top side of the PCB. Then put the LED in the holder (shorter leg in the side of the holder that you didn't cut) and put the holder and LED into the PCB (shorter leg should be in the lower hole). You should then bend the other leg of the resistor so that it comes up to the leg of the LED. The picture below explains this much better than I can in words (note that I have already soldered the LED to the resistor in the picture, you will do this in the next step).

NOTE: fartq suggested that it would be better to twist the legs of the LED and resistor together and then solder rather than just soldering. This will create a better mechanical connection between the two components. Full credit to fartq for this  :D

LED, holder and resistor assembly. The red line marks where it would fit into the PCB. The arrows mark the spots to cut the excess leg length. Note: I had already soldered the resistor to the LED when I took the picture.

Now, pinch the LED leg and the resistor leg together and remove them both from the PCB. Solder the LED leg to the resistor leg as it is in the picture above. (Yes I am aware that my soldering is not great, but it works and you can't see it in the final product anyway) Once this is done, trim the excess length on the legs near where you just soldered them (it is easier to trim now rather than after you put it onto the PCB). I forgot to take a picture of a trimmed one sorry :( Next, put the whole thing onto the PCB as you had it before. Make sure the bottom of the LED holder is sitting in the middle of the circle marked on the PCB and solder the legs in. Now trim the excess off the legs on the underside of the PCB.

Do the same thing with the other two LED's.

Once you are done, you should end up with something like this:

All three modded LED's in place. There is more than enough room under the top casing for the LED and resistor legs to sit as shown.

Another view of modded LED's.

Now it is time to test it. Put the PCB back into the bottom half of the case, being careful to not bend any of the pins of the connector. Plug the keyboard in and test each of the LED's. If they are all working, well done! If one isn't working, check that you have the LED the right way around and that your soldered joints are all as they should be.

If you are happy with your handy work, carefully fit the top half of the case back on. Start at the end with the LED's and work towards the opposite end, pushing in each of the clips along the way. Once that is done, replace the screws and get your self a well deserved drink. Take a few pictures and post them below so we all know how it turned out.

The finished product.

If you have any hints, tips or suggestions on how to improve this guide, please post below. I would love your feedback as this is my first mod guide :D

I hope this guide was helpful. If you like it and want to post it on your own website or forums, feel free to do so. Just give credit where it is due :D
« Last Edit: Sat, 11 August 2012, 23:43:52 by Tartar: Source »


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Re: WASD Keyboard LED mod guide
« Reply #1 on: Fri, 20 July 2012, 22:57:49 »
a minor point, but solder joints are only for electrical connection and should not be relied on for mechanical connection. to get a good mechanical connection i usually trim the leads then twist them together. then, i flow just enough solder to guarantee an electrical joint.

otherwise, great first post! welcome to geekhack!

Offline Tartar: Source

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Re: WASD Keyboard LED mod guide
« Reply #2 on: Fri, 20 July 2012, 23:07:28 »
Thanks a lot for the tip. I will update the guide  ;D

Also, thanks for the warm welcome.
« Last Edit: Fri, 20 July 2012, 23:16:20 by Tartar: Source »

Offline tmk1207

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Re: WASD Keyboard LED mod guide
« Reply #3 on: Fri, 20 July 2012, 23:40:35 »
look great . thanks a alot :p

Offline The_Beast

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Re: WASD Keyboard LED mod guide
« Reply #4 on: Sat, 21 July 2012, 00:41:53 »
Looks really nice :D
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Offline Tartar: Source

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Re: WASD Keyboard LED mod guide
« Reply #5 on: Sat, 21 July 2012, 00:43:56 »
Thank you very much  :)

Offline HappyRainbows

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Re: WASD Keyboard LED mod guide
« Reply #6 on: Sat, 21 July 2012, 06:34:04 »

Offline nomad

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Re: WASD Keyboard LED mod guide
« Reply #7 on: Sat, 21 July 2012, 21:50:02 »
Thanks!  This has been bothering me for a while.  I swear those lights can light up my entire room when the main lights are off.

Offline Tartar: Source

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Re: WASD Keyboard LED mod guide
« Reply #8 on: Sun, 22 July 2012, 00:38:26 »
Yea they are bright. Before I modded them I had bright blue circles on the ceiling when the lights were off  :-\

Offline Sifo

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Re: WASD Keyboard LED mod guide
« Reply #9 on: Sun, 22 July 2012, 00:42:02 »
I must thank you for showing how to take the WASD case apart. Did not know about the screws under the feet LOL
I love Elzy

Offline Tartar: Source

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Re: WASD Keyboard LED mod guide
« Reply #10 on: Sun, 22 July 2012, 17:03:27 »
No problem. I found the hardest part was the clips. They can be quite difficult to get off. Take your time with them.

Offline Zykos

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Re: WASD Keyboard LED mod guide
« Reply #11 on: Fri, 27 July 2012, 06:02:41 »