We take our warranty seriously. Plenty of customers can attest that we try our best to fix problems and replace things when we’re not able to fix them. But there are some things we’re not able to cover by warranty, and we can’t offer our warranty indefinitely. That doesn’t mean we want your board to just become obsolete, though.
In fact, we encourage you to try modding and repairing your board. There’s so much out there about the newest tool or device. We’re hammered with the message that new devices are valuable and old devices aren’t, but is that always true? This ignores the value of customizing a tool to fit your specific needs, and the knowledge gained by repairing it when it breaks. You become familiar with the ins and outs of the necessary tools of your trade, becoming more self-sufficient and maybe even opening up new hobbies.
If you have a ZSA keyboard that isn’t working how you want it to, but you’re willing to do some work to get it there, you’ve come to the right place.
Please note: Certain procedures outlined here will void your warranty if you attempt them. This is noted at the top of any applicable procedures. If you are still within your warranty period and you have a problem with your keyboard email us instead. These guides are intended to deeply customize boards and keep them working for many years, not as a replacement for troubleshooting with ZSA support for issues that could be covered under warranty. If you void your warranty, we’re still happy to try to help, but we will not be able to provide any parts free of charge.
Warning: Soldering involves extremely hot components and hazardous fumes. Please do not attempt anything involving soldering unless you are set up to solder safely.
Not only can you configure the firmware of your keyboard, but you can change the hardware, too! Just remember that we can’t cover any damage that comes about while modding under warranty.
Even though our keyboards are complex systems involving both electronics and mechanical parts, many of the common problems that may come up are completely possible, and even not very difficult, to fix.
This series won’t cover every single repair you could make. Replacing the MCU of your board, for example, is extremely challenging and realistically a guide wouldn’t even help very much. This series also won’t cover the basic concepts of things like soldering. There are tons of great guides out there to start to get the hang of that. Repairing a keyboard is actually a great first “real” soldering project if you’re feeling up to it — it’s how I got started. :)
The fundamental process for any repair is very simple:
- Evaluate the symptoms of the issue you’re seeing.
- Determine the most likely cause of those symptoms.
- Fix that cause and see if the issue is resolved. If not, try the next most likely cause.
When a key stops working
This is the most common issue an older board may run into. The three main elements that can cause a key not to work are the switch, the socket, and the diode. There are certainly other reasons a key can stop working, but they will usually involve a more complicated fix. Fortunately, not only are these three components are the most common cause of problems, they are also all relatively easy to fix.
“A key isn’t working,” usually means one or some combination of these things:
- The key outputs several different characters with one press.
- The key outputs 2-3 identical characters with one press.
- The key works sometimes, but other times will miss presses or will only work when pressed very hard.
- The key does not output anything at all.
Typically, each of these symptoms corresponds to one specific cause. It’s usually a good idea to start with the corresponding fix, but if you’re seeing multiple issues or you’re not sure, you can follow these procedures in order (they get gradually more complex).
Step 0: Confirm it is not a firmware or software issue
Before attempting any other fixes, it is always a good idea to check the firmware. Even if you are really confident the firmware isn’t the problem, it is still worth trying. Custom keyboard layouts can be very complicated, and there is always a chance something expected is happening that you just didn’t intend.
An easy way to verify whether your issue could be related to the firmware is to change the function of the non-working key in Oryx to something else. The best option is a straightforward letter as a tapped action with no other extra functionality. This will eliminate any potential multi-function key issues or forgotten key remapping software running in the background. You can also flash the default layout and test with that, but depending on the key in question, you may still have to edit the default layout a little to make sure the functionality is as simple as possible.
If you still notice your issue remains the same after doing this test, then you’re good to proceed.
If all else fails…
Repairs can be tricky. You may have done everything right only to find out your issue still isn’t fixed. Frustrating! Remember, though, that by even trying to repair your old keyboard, you are taking a bold and rebellious step. You could have just clicked “Buy” on a new keyboard and never thought about your old one again. But when we try to fix things, even if we’re not successful, we learn more about how they work and gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of them.
You’re making a choice to try to work with what you have rather than add more, and we think that’s really cool.