Microelectronics | Topre Realforce 104US Keyboard


I just bought this keyboard after 20 years away from mechanical keyboards. I parted with my last mechanical keyboard somewhere in early 2000s. It was a BTC 53 series with capacitive switches. But let's come back to the Realforce. One thing that stroke me is the presence of blue indicator LEDs for modifier keys. As much as I like the keyboard, I hate these blue LEDs. They violate my retina.


So I decided to replace all of them with more common green ones. Thus as soon as I received the package from Japan, I plugged in the keyboard and used it for a couple of minutes or so. Then I opened it up and started the replacement procedure. I have used quality green translucent (clear, tinted) 5 mm LEDs, made by ROHM Semiconductor. They are GaP (gallium phosphide) formulation and emit a yellowish-green light with a wavelength of about 563 nm. I find yellow-green light very relaxing for my eyes.

Just to mention, the original blue LEDs are 3 mm with a raster identical to that of a 5 mm LED. However they have a weird form factor which I have never seen up until now.

While here, I have noticed there are two SMD electrolytic capacitors on the PCB. As I don't have any schematic and I don't have any time or interest to reverse engineer it, I am assuming these are for supply rail filtering purposes. In my unit they appear to be made by Nichicon. Or so it seems if I'm looking at the markings. While they are certainly new and might last for a long time, I decided to preventively replace them with solid aluminum polymer capacitors of the same 33 uF / 25 V rating. I suspect even the originals would have lasted for a couple of decades. But I'm kind of afraid of possible leaks. After all, I've seen capacitors leaking in the my old Lacie 5big Network 2 Network Attached Storage. Well, those were of weird provenience anyway. I have yet to see genuine Nichicon capacitors leaking.

I'm pretty happy with the results.


Here are some pictures that I took during this operation.

That's it for now. I am expecting at least two decades of service from this keyboard.

Copyright © 2004- Alexandru Groza
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