Replacing Panasonic Toughbook CF-W4 keyboard

Photo on 2-23-13 at 10.03 PM

Disclaimer: I will be not responsible for any damage caused by following the instruction in this blog entry. You are your own.

As World Computer Exchange’s work, I had an opportunity to repair Toughbook W4’s keyboard. I eBayed a replacement.

This is how the keyboard was bad. “R” key top was coming off, and “F” was sticky. I suspect the laptop did a face plant, damaing “R” and “F” key.

As any repair, remove the laptop from power source. Unplug power adapter and battery. Then, let the fun begin. Actually, you have to remove the battery in order to remove the keyboard.

001-removalHere is the things you want to remove. A clip and 4 screws are holding down half the keyboard.

As you can see, the clip is in the battery bay. 4 screws are Phillips #00. Be sure to use a good one, since you really don’t want to damage. Now, going to the front. These two front screws in blue — NO NEED TO REMOVE, but you could. It might make shifting the keyboard at the end a little bit easier, but not by much. (Well, I removed them since I did not know better.)


At this point, the keyboard is held down by double-sided tape in 3 locations and two craws on the right side of keyboard.

So, you need to be brave to ply off the double sided tapes. It does not require a lot of force but it is rather held down pretty well. Please be carefully forceful to ply off the keyboard from the top cover.toughbook-w4-ply-off You can use a small flat head screw driver sticking into the top right side. Behind it, there is a thin strip of double side tape, about 2-3 mm x 100 mm.

There are also small piece of double side tapes under “P” key and “down arrow” key.

After plying off the upper side double site tape, you kind of need to shift the whole key toward “ESC” key, because there are two clips holding down the keyboard at the right side of toughbook-w4-clipskeyboard. After removing the keyboard, you can clearly see these two as in the picture here. So you need to slide the whole keyboard just a little to the left. It’s very difficult to do when the tapes are holding down. So, all 3 locations of tape needs to kind of come off. However, if you have no intention of saving the keyboard, you’d rather pull the keyboard in the very middle to save the clips here.

Now, the keyboard should come off. Very careful. The ribbon cable is hooked up, and you want to not break the connector.

toughbook-w4-keyboard-off toughbook-w4-connectortoughbook-w4-disengage

The keyboard connector is behind the thin metal thing that has 2 joints. You can gently move it up. When you peek in, you can see the center notch in the keyboard connector. The whole upper side slides out about 2mm or so. With a small flat head screwdriver, using the notch, you can push it out. Once it moves out a little, you can use the flat head to move them. Once the connector becomes disengaged like the picture on the above right, the cable should come out with any resistance. You are now half way home.


Obviously, I don’t have the same double side tape to replace, so I used a double-sided scrapbooking tape. I assume it is less acidic and pretty sticky, and thin. I put it on a scrap plexiglass so that I can cut precisely to the original shape. If you have a real glass, it would make things even easier. You cut it the shape with a knife. I decided to put the 3 pieces to the laptop side, not keyboard side.

Only thing left is to reverse the steps. You slide in the ribbon cable to the connector, and close the connector. You don’t need a lot of force but firm. Pushing it in the finger is just fine. No need for the screw driver.

Put in the keyboard from “ESC” side in the air, slide just a little so that the two clips on the right side catches the keyboard. Also, the bottom sides have a couple of tabs that catches the case. Take time and be patient. The left top side is all secured by the clip and 4 screws. So, use the flexibility of keyboard and push it toward right bottom, while making sure the space bar side’s tab goes in.

Once everything is in place, you press down the keyboard so that the double side tapes sticks, and then the 4 screws and the clip.

Now, you are done! Good luck.

It took me less than an hour. I first thought the right side has something mechanical thing holding down, but it turns out they are all tapes.  When you know the damaged one is going to be thrown away, you can be a little brave.

— Tai


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