Cleaning your (yucky) WASD CODE keyboard, reassembling it and jonesing for a IBM Model M Keyboard
OK that’s a lot about keyboards once again. So this is all about cleaning your gunky keyboard. I’ve had a WASD CODE v2 mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Blue keys forever. Ok, well since 2015. And both the shift key and the period key have been sticking.
And, I confess, I’ve never actually cleaned the thing. But fortunately, with this keyboard, you just get a keyboard puller from Amazon for a few bucks or maybe your mechanical keyboard folks gave you one.
When you pull it off, you are likely to see like me an amazing amount of gunk and (ugh!) hair underneath. Looks like someone (not me!) spilled something down there and now there is all kinds of stuff down there.
When you pull the key, you should see a small cross and the key goes right on top. Try blowing a little air. In my case, I could press the little X and could actually see it stick.
Cleaning your WASD keyboard
While there are lots of different guides on this on Reddit, I went to the WASD site for their cleaning guide and didn’t bother with lubing the keyboard, although I will probably do it, but here are the directions:
- Take some rubbing alcohol and dilute to 30% with water. I just used the cap of the alcohol bottle to add two caps of alcohol to six caps of water in a leftover plastic container.
- Then unplug the keyboard get some Q-tips and just get all that gunk and hair out. I found I started with the stick “.” period key and then kept on going until I cleaned it all.
- I actually have these things called keyboard dampers which are little rubber donuts that reduce the travel and make my keyboard really responsive.
- Now the tricky part is there are some keys like the spacebar which have stabilizers, so when you pull it off, don’t lose the two little plastic thingies.
- I found that most of the gunk was not surprising in the last two rows of the keyboard, things seem to drift down there including all that hair. The very bottom is hard to get, so a cloth is great for wiping and lots more Q-tips.
- Let it dry and now get ready to assemble.
The main trick with reassembly is first, if you are like me, you forgot to layout the keys correctly. Having the keyboard guide
- Get online and figure out what the keys are supposed to be. For instance, This 1971 WASD guide helped me out. The main issue is the order of the CTRL-Black-ALT keys are the bottom.
- This is pretty easy except for the spacebar which has those stabilizers, but YouTube comes to the rescue to show you how to first install the stabilizers, then slip them over the stabilizer bar before pushing down on the key. Pretty easy and even without lube, I can now type easily.
Jonesing for a Model M
Now this let my mind wander to the keyboard that I really want. The Cherry MX is awesome, but somehow it isn’t anything like the three keyboards I remember dimly as awesome:
- The original IBM PC Model M Keyboard. This had a kind of clack that was great. It turns out the Unicomp bought the molds and license from IBM/Lexmark (they were made in Lexington Kentucky it turns out) and brought them back. So you can actually get a Model M keyboard for your Mac. These use the so called bucking spring. The main issue is that these things are *huge* and are not of course Bluetooth. The new Model M is slightly smaller and is $104 and there is a Mac specific version called the Spacesaver Model M and they having coming which is 10-keyless as that keypad so with an 87 key design, it’s something to look at.
- IBM Selectric Keyboard. I don’t know if there are any of these anymore, but that keyboard was also super awesome. Unfortunately, no one seems to be able to make a clone of this.
- Sun Microsystems Type 6 Keyboard. Out of production, but I can remember the first time I used it, super tight and clicky. You can still get them on ebay.
Here’s a lousy image, but you can hear the hard-core click: