Author Topic: Leopold keyboard surgery  (Read 3187 times)

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Offline HungerMechanic

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Leopold keyboard surgery
« on: Thu, 14 November 2019, 20:51:17 »
*Updated* - I added the name of the assembly service (at the bottom of this first post).



This series of posts details improvements to a stock Leopold FC900R PD by a custom shop. I was dissatisfied with the MX Brown switches, and an issue with the stabilizer inserts prompted me to send it in for upgrades.

This post is a sequel of sorts to my review of the Leopold FC900R PD:

https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=101809.0



Fixing Leopold stabilizers, upgrading board

So it turns out that Leopold stabilizer inserts are shorter than Cherry. This makes it easy to pull out your stabilizer inserts by mistake.




Backspace missing stabilizer insert





Spacebar missing stabilizer insert.




Leopold stabilizer insert


My other keyboards did not have this issue. I was planning to have the switches desoldered anyway, so I sent the board to an assembly service.

The assembly / disassembly service was kbdlife. kbdlife is a very professional service that completely succeeded at transforming the board.

http://kbdlife.com/

The customization work begins...
« Last Edit: Thu, 21 November 2019, 18:37:18 by HungerMechanic »

Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: Leopold keyboard surgery
« Reply #1 on: Thu, 14 November 2019, 20:51:56 »

Improving the Leopold


STEP 1

Keyboard is fully disassembled. Cherry MX Brown switches are desoldered.


STEP 2
Leopold stabilizer inserts compared with Cherry. The Cherry inserts are longer, and replace the Leopold inserts.

Also, the LEDs are replaced with a modular system that allows different colours to be installed. [In this case, white]. Stabilizers clipped and lubed.

STEP 3

104 Brand-new Aqua Zilents directly from ZealPC are soldered into the board.


You can see the new white LEDs illuminating surrounding switches. The light-blue Aqua Zilents housings give the LED a slight blue tint.


Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: Leopold keyboard surgery
« Reply #2 on: Thu, 14 November 2019, 20:53:26 »
Final assembly


Opening the NIB Honeywell set





New Improved Leopold

« Last Edit: Thu, 14 November 2019, 21:13:32 by HungerMechanic »

Offline Rob27shred

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Re: Leopold keyboard surgery
« Reply #3 on: Thu, 14 November 2019, 21:46:25 »
Leopolds have always been my fav OEM MKBs, well worth modding up like this IME/O. I swapped some lubed V1 Zealios with Outemu Sky 2.2 stems into my 660M & lubed the stabs while I was in there, TBH it turned out to one of best feeling & sounding boards. If only I could program it I would use it much more, need to get a Hasu USB to USB thing for that soon. Anyways awesome job OP, enjoy the board!

Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: Leopold keyboard surgery
« Reply #4 on: Thu, 14 November 2019, 21:48:44 »
Yup. I would have loved to use V1 Zealios or Zilents, had then been available.

Leopold is already well-optimized for a silent board. It's already got the dampening material and tight construction. Lubing the stabs and installing Zilents makes this about as quiet as an office rubber-dome, if not quieter. The bottom-out reminds me of Topre, and the spacebar now is much quieter than stock Leopold.

Offline Gampela

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Re: Leopold keyboard surgery
« Reply #5 on: Fri, 15 November 2019, 05:49:41 »
Hey, nice write up. The previous review as well. Would you say, if I wanted to do something similar to the stabilizers, that I could manage with only de-soldering the stabilized switches not the whole board. My spacebar actually does a little pre-travel rattle.
« Last Edit: Fri, 15 November 2019, 05:52:09 by Gampela »

Offline Sintpinty

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Re: Leopold keyboard surgery
« Reply #6 on: Fri, 15 November 2019, 12:08:37 »
Final assembly

Show Image

Opening the NIB Honeywell set

Show Image


Show Image


New Improved Leopold

Show Image


Congratulations to your keyboard for making it out! Hope it recovers well

Offline Henrythewound

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Re: Leopold keyboard surgery
« Reply #7 on: Fri, 15 November 2019, 12:30:03 »
I have been toying around with buying a FC980M and swapping switches. You sent yours out to be desoldered? I was planning on trying it out myself but not sure how much of a pain that would be without a fancy desoldering gun. I have never desoldered before either although I do have a wick I bought with all my other soldering gear. Yours turned out great.

Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: Leopold keyboard surgery
« Reply #8 on: Fri, 15 November 2019, 14:52:35 »
Hey, nice write up. The previous review as well. Would you say, if I wanted to do something similar to the stabilizers, that I could manage with only de-soldering the stabilized switches not the whole board. My spacebar actually does a little pre-travel rattle.

Yes. The desoldering service told me that it would be possible to do work on the stabilizers by only desoldering the stabilizers and the switches around the stabilizers, instead of the entire board. That is a cheaper and less time-consuming operation.

Is your keyboard a Leopold?

Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: Leopold keyboard surgery
« Reply #9 on: Fri, 15 November 2019, 14:57:14 »

Congratulations to your keyboard for making it out! Hope it recovers well

Thanks!

I have been toying around with buying a FC980M and swapping switches. You sent yours out to be desoldered? I was planning on trying it out myself but not sure how much of a pain that would be without a fancy desoldering gun. I have never desoldered before either although I do have a wick I bought with all my other soldering gear. Yours turned out great.

Yes, I used an assembly service. It is a good idea to use those services if you aren't set up for fancy operations. Leopolds are especially a pain to desolder, I hear. They have a double-sided PCB, I think, which makes it harder to desolder. It would certainly not be the best candidate for one's first desoldering experience.

On the plus side, Leopolds seem to be resilient enough to handle this operation.

Offline Gampela

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Re: Leopold keyboard surgery
« Reply #10 on: Sat, 16 November 2019, 03:54:21 »
Hey, nice write up. The previous review as well. Would you say, if I wanted to do something similar to the stabilizers, that I could manage with only de-soldering the stabilized switches not the whole board. My spacebar actually does a little pre-travel rattle.

Yes. The desoldering service told me that it would be possible to do work on the stabilizers by only desoldering the stabilizers and the switches around the stabilizers, instead of the entire board. That is a cheaper and less time-consuming operation.

Is your keyboard a Leopold?

Oh yes, forgot to mention. It's a Leopold fc980m pd.

Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: Leopold keyboard surgery
« Reply #11 on: Sat, 16 November 2019, 14:10:46 »
Okay. The only thing to keep in mind is that Leopold's are reputedly more difficult to desolder than many other boards. So it should be entirely possible to desolder the stabilizer areas, modify the stabs, and then resolder. But desoldering might be more of a pain than expected.

Offline Sintpinty

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Re: Leopold keyboard surgery
« Reply #12 on: Sun, 17 November 2019, 20:14:53 »
Okay. The only thing to keep in mind is that Leopold's are reputedly more difficult to desolder than many other boards. So it should be entirely possible to desolder the stabilizer areas, modify the stabs, and then resolder. But desoldering might be more of a pain than expected.

Sounds like a helpful tip i should keep in mind if i plan to purchase a Leopold board

Offline nappis

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Re: Leopold keyboard surgery
« Reply #13 on: Sun, 17 November 2019, 23:36:12 »
Leopold FC750R PD was my first board to desolder the switches. I replaced Cherry MX Clears with lubed NK Creams.

Leopold boards sound quite nice out of the box and with lubed switches they sound even better. PCB and plate rest on the sound absorbing pad - they are not mounted onto anything really. Three poles go through the PCB and plate so the PCB does not slide around inside the case.

About desoldering: The hardest part for me was the two LEDs. My solder wick was probably 20years old and didn't work. Desoldering pump didn't suck enough solder from the joints so I basically ripped the switches off with LEDs still in place.

Offline Dreamre

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Re: Leopold keyboard surgery
« Reply #14 on: Wed, 20 November 2019, 15:45:38 »
Hey, nice write up. The previous review as well. Would you say, if I wanted to do something similar to the stabilizers, that I could manage with only de-soldering the stabilized switches not the whole board. My spacebar actually does a little pre-travel rattle.

Yes. The desoldering service told me that it would be possible to do work on the stabilizers by only desoldering the stabilizers and the switches around the stabilizers, instead of the entire board. That is a cheaper and less time-consuming operation.

Is your keyboard a Leopold?

Oh yes, forgot to mention. It's a Leopold fc980m pd.

Looks great OP! I'm the one who performed the desoldering and assembly service. In terms of the stabilizers, you only need to desolder the key in the middle - however, I recommend swapping the stabilizers to genuine Cherry ones. OP was complaining about how the inserts would pop out and that's because of the smaller tolerance of the Leopold stabilizer inserts.

In terms of the two LEDs, I agree, it was a bit more difficult to replace, but I helped OP add SIP sockets so they're now hotswap and can be replaced without desoldering.