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Retrofit Backlit Keyboard

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by periopdoc, Nov 2, 2010.

  1. macrumors newbie

    First, please don't tell me about how I don't need it etc. I am an excellent touch typist, but there are times when I like my backlit keyboard. 90% of the time I have it turned off, but when I want it, I really want it. Since the new MBA came out, I tried going sans backlight on my current MBP and I really miss it, so I don't think that no backlight is really an option for me.

    So I got to thinking. Would it be possible to retrofit the keyboard from a previous version of the MBA to the current version. Anyone looked into this?

    Looking at the teardowns, I haven't seen the keyboard removed. Also, when you look to buy a replacement keyboard, it seems that you have to buy the upper case with keyboard. I don't know if this is because the keyboard is permanently affixed to the case or if it is because of the trackpad issues.

    Anyone know if the backlit keyboard connector is significantly different from a regular keyboard connector?

    Thinking about giving this a try with my Rev A MBA keyboard and I will let you know how it goes if I do decide to give it a go.

    - pod
  2. macrumors 68000



    The issues that i see regarding doing that could be drivers, connector compatability and the fact that the keyboard is different
  3. macrumors Core


    It's a different form factor. Good luck.
  4. macrumors 65816


    Doubt this could be accomplished. The keyboard is attached to the upper case and there doesn't seem to be a connector for the backlight on the logic board. Also there would be an issue with drivers etc. Another issue you would run into is there is no ambient light sensor in this model so you would have to put one of those in as well for it to be auto. Needless to say a extremely hard task that probably has a success of <2%
  5. macrumors newbie

    I don't care about the ambient light sensor, I always manually adjust anyway. I suppose the biggest obstacle that I can see is what could be used for the rheostat to control the backlight, but I am wondering if that is built into the keyboard itself rather than elsewhere. Beyond that it is a question of getting power to the keyboard, although that may be a non-issue as well depending on how the connector is wired.

    Leaving the form factor... I don't see that the keyboard portion has changed significantly. Keyspacing etc seems to be the same. Thickness appears to be the same.

    Guess I will just have to tear a couple apart to see.

    - pod
  6. macrumors 6502a


    I don't think you should mess around trying to get the backlight keyboard on the new MacBook Air.

    Not worth it unless you are absolutely sure you are not going to mess up the MacBook Air
  7. macrumors regular

    Go for it..
    I'm rooting for you as this is a feature i'd like to have on my Air!
  8. Moderator


    Staff Member

    Before undertaking this operation, you need to be be sure that
    the keyboards are exactly the same size
    The connectors are the same type, length
    The retaining clips/screws are in the same place.

    Personally, given that apple redesigned the enclosure to a more wedge like form factor, I'm not too optimistic that it will be possible unless you're ready for some serious surgery. I've seen some amazing work by hobbyists modding their computers so I'll not say its impossible, but it all depends on how close the old keyboard is to the new one, and your skill level with modding

    btw, you can kiss your warranty good buy, and given reports of wonky displays,you may want to keep your warranty intact
  9. macrumors Core


    You should probably also make sure that the connection(s) between the keyboard and logic board are in the same place. There's not a lot of room to jury-rig a cable in an unintended way through the new MBAs.
  10. Moderator


    Staff Member

    That's a good point, like any manufacturer, apple will only make the connector lengths as short as they can to keep costs in check.

    I suspect that the OP will need to be handy with a dremel, and a soldering iron, along with knowing his way around a logic board to make this possible.

    Like I said, I've seen some amazing mods in my day, so I'm not going to say its impossible, but it all depends on a number of factors. For the weekend warrior who likes to dabble in computers and such, I think it will be an uphill battle, risking his computer.
  11. macrumors 6502a

  12. macrumors regular

    man this would be sick if you did it.

    if you, from now on i will call you jesus.
  13. macrumors 6502


  14. macrumors 6502a

    Keyboard glow stickers?

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