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Possible integration techniques for laptop keyboards

  1. Aug 2, 2014 #1
    Hello there! I am attempting to use a laptop keyboard I just salvaged from a spare. I noticed the laptop keyboard has a ribbon connection. Further research has told me that the ribbon cable essentially just sents signals to a processor attached to the motherboard. In other words, I cannot use it conventionally. Or can I? I was thinking I could use a microprocessor such as the Raspberry Pi in order to act as the processor. I made a desk that houses my computer inside about a 15" gap between the plexiglass and edge. So if I cut it out and ream it a smidge, I could set the keyboard inside in order to use it with the keyboard. Thus making a keyboard that is integrated into my desk along with a computer. With that being said, am I wrong in my assumptions of this? If so, how does a laptop keyboard work? I attached a picture which makes it seem like it operates as a matrix. So is there any way to do that of which I am trying to do?

    Attached Files:

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 2, 2014 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    as a hobbyist project it would be interesting but the PI can handle usb keyboards and if you're really interested in playing with the PI then just get one and save yourself the grief. They can usually be had for $10 to $20 dollars or equivalent and used ones may be even cheaper.

    Others have investigated this:

  4. Aug 2, 2014 #3


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    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    You are right, the key switches are wired as a matrix. In desktop computer keyboards, a standard keyboard controller chip is usually part of the keyboard, to interface the key switches to either the (almost obsolete) PS2 connector, or to a USB connector.

    In a laptop, the keyboard controller chip is probably on the motherboard rather than on the keyboard (and the functionality may be part of a bigger chip, to save space).

    As post #2 said, if you just want a keyboard that works, buy one with a USB interface. If you want an interesting project, build your own interface.
  5. Aug 7, 2014 #4
    Cool! Thanks guys. Yeah for the most part, I do realize that it would be easier to just use a USB. But I would like to do this as a learning experience as well as...why not!? I know it is not going to be easy....But I would rather do this because I have yet to find a regular keyboard with USB that is as thin as a USB keyboard. The USB ones are so...bulky....
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