PinePhone & PinePhone Pro Keyboard: be extremely care when removing keycaps
#1
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TL;DR: the membrane between the keycaps seems very delicate. Don't try to remove keycaps using guitar pick or similar object, even if it's not sharp. Otherwise you risk cutting or tearing it apart.

Yesterday I received the PinePhone & PinePhone Pro Keyboard and immediately noticed the same issue as many others are facing: top row is less responsive.

Trying to work that around by padding the keycaps with washers, which has been already shown by others, I needed to remove the keycaps. And also removed some from the row below it. In order to find out if there's any mechanical difference between both rows of keys and why is the top one less responsive.

First I tried to remove the caps with a fingernail, as others suggested, but they were so tightly attached that I could break a fingernail in the process. I found it much easier to remove them using a guitar pick, and it worked just fine for a couple of keys. But when I was removing the next one, I noticed some ring attached to the keycap. And it turned to be a part of membrane that's been cut off. I've no idea how that happened, since the guitar pick is very old and has been used so much to open cases of various electronics over the years, that its edges are no longer sharp.

It looks like the safer tool for that job would be a small cable tie bent to the size of keycaps and slightly filed to make it thinner. Otherwise it can't be inserted under the keycap in order to pull it.

Please find all those things shown on the picture below. The piece of the membrane is shown upside down with the keycap.

Now with the piece of membrane and the keycap are back in place, the key is not as responsive as other keys. It works, but it looks like the membrane is not as springy under that key after the damage. Any ideas how to fix it? As it looks like the membrane is made of silicone, it can be hard to glue back together.

Final thoughts:
1. It'd be great if PINE64 could provide the fix for the top row. So that users won't need to work that around themselves. From the user perspective, it's clearly a defect.
2. It'd be great if PINE64 could sell the replacement membrane. Even the manual says you can rearrange the keycaps, so there's definitely a risk of damaging the membrane.

[Image: l40Qioh.jpg]
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#2
Thanks for the warning, suggestion, and pictures.  Hard to believe I have not seen any notice from the company concerning when this might be fixed, though I have seen a post saying that a user's analysis of the problem (Yay, community!) and what seems to be the best solution (Yay, @johnnycontrario !) have been sent to the manufacturer (Yay, @tllim !). 

I found this solution so tempting that I've (gasp!) even ordered some knives and a rotary grinder and am going to risk trying it--my first tiny foray into hardware hacking.  Who knows, I may even end up getting a Pinecil and trying some other things.  Wouldn't have had the courage to do it without the kind of help one sees here and the fact that my Pinephone costs only $200. Even if I break it, I will soon be able to order a Pinephone Pro, so its all good.
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#3
(03-18-2022, 09:21 PM)vdicarlo Wrote: Thanks for the warning, suggestion, and pictures.  Hard to believe I have not seen any notice from the company concerning when this might be fixed, though I have seen a post saying that a user's analysis of the problem (Yay, community!) and what seems to be the best solution (Yay, @johnnycontrario !) have been sent to the manufacturer (Yay, @tllim !). 

I found this solution so tempting that I've (gasp!) even ordered some knives and a rotary grinder and am going to risk trying it--my first tiny foray into hardware hacking.  Who knows, I may even end up getting a Pinecil and trying some other things.  Wouldn't have had the courage to do it without the kind of help one sees here and the fact that my Pinephone costs only $200. Even if I break it, I will soon be able to order a Pinephone Pro, so its all good.

Hi vdicarlo, I haven't been on the forum for a while, so I don't know if I'm too late. I would recommend using an exacto knife to carefully scrape away the plastic. A rotary tool might be too aggressive and unforgiving, but that's just my opinion.
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#4
(04-01-2022, 11:41 AM)johnnycontrario Wrote:
(03-18-2022, 09:21 PM)vdicarlo Wrote: Thanks for the warning, suggestion, and pictures.  Hard to believe I have not seen any notice from the company concerning when this might be fixed, though I have seen a post saying that a user's analysis of the problem (Yay, community!) and what seems to be the best solution (Yay, @johnnycontrario !) have been sent to the manufacturer (Yay, @tllim !). 

I found this solution so tempting that I've (gasp!) even ordered some knives and a rotary grinder and am going to risk trying it--my first tiny foray into hardware hacking.  Who knows, I may even end up getting a Pinecil and trying some other things.  Wouldn't have had the courage to do it without the kind of help one sees here and the fact that my Pinephone costs only $200. Even if I break it, I will soon be able to order a Pinephone Pro, so its all good.

Hi vdicarlo, I haven't been on the forum for a while, so I don't know if I'm too late. I would recommend using an exacto knife to carefully scrape away the plastic. A rotary tool might be too aggressive and unforgiving, but that's just my opinion.

Thanks for the suggestion.  I plan to try the slimmed down cable tie method of removing the keys, and then the knife first, even though I'm eager to see what the recently received rotary tool.  I have been procrastinating in the hope that an update to Manjaro Phosh will fix the MMS problem and I can try using the Pinephone instead of my old LG.
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