Hey I was typing on my Westinghouse Laptop then all of a sudden the keyboard just stopped working. Can you help me?
Did you try re-booting the machine ?
If that did not solve the problem, you may have a bad keyboard,
but let's check a few other things first.
1) Make sure that you have not somehow locked the machine,
with a key combination --> check your manual if your
laptop has such capability.
2) Make sure the Numlock key is not activated, this
causes the alpha keys to put out number on most
3) Also check the scroll lock key.
4) If you are in Windows, open up notepad using the mouse
from the Start --> Accesories --> Notepad menu, and
check every single key on the keyboard for signs of
Sometimes only certain rows or columns will not work,
indicating a bad connection on the (internal) ribbon
If you get zip, re-boot windows using the power key.
press and hold it until the computer powers off,
then turn it back on.
5) When the machine is re-booting, try to hit any (all) of the
function keys, esc or del to see if you can enter the
Also try the CAP's lock and NumLock keys and watch
the corresponding LED's
If the keyboard responds during boot, you have a windows
problem. If not, the hardware is bad.
6) Try connecting an external key-board into a USB port,
to see if you can regain control of the computer.
7) If windows is the problem, and you can get in with an
external keyboard, then you may be able to fix it. If not
then you would have to re-install windows, either form
the factory CD's or from the backup recovery partition
(see the user manual or manufacturer tech support)
8) If the hardware is at fault, which is most likely, unfortunately,
and if the rest of the laptop works, than the most likely culprit
is the internal keyboard cable.
Unlike a desktop PC, which connects the keyboard to the
computer using a thin serial cable (or wireless), the laptop
directly scans the built-in keyboard by treating it as a matrix
containing rows and columns of keys. Each row and column
has a dedicated wire connected to it.
The computer outputs an active rotating bit pattern on the
rows of this array (or columns) and senses the input pattern
on the columns (or rows). The row and column combination
as a function of time uniquely identifies each key.
The keyboard is connected to the main circuit board using
a paper thin ribbon cable, which looks like an ultra-thin,
semi-transparent flexible printed circuit board. This cable
is extremely fragile so you have to be careful. The ends
of this ribbon slide into special edge connectors, which
are extremely tight on most PC's that I have taken apart.
Pulling them out is hard, putting them back in is harder.
(I wrote another article on FixYa regarding this topic)
9) The biggest challenge is to find out how to lift the laptop
cover, without damaging anything.
a) Use another computer to search the WEB for your
model's disassembly manual. Download and print it
Shut of the laptop, unplug it, and remove the battery
(Removing the battery is very important to prevent
b) Try to turn the laptop back on, to drain any residual
power from internal capacitors and wait at least
c) Disassemble the laptop to get access to the top cover.
You may have to remove the CD player, the internal
hard drive and other modules to get access to screws
beneath them. You should NOT have to remove the
LCD hinge assembly. There may be hidden clips and
access points in the top of the PC or where the top
and bottom are sandwiched together.
Be very gentle. You can also slide a small exacto-knife
into the cracks in the chassis assembly to see where
the anchor points are hidden, but do NOT force anything.
This is why a disassembly manual is so important,
every laptop is different, and the a'oleis that make them
spend millions trying to find ways to keep guys like you
and me out.
10) Once you do get the bas'd open, look for the ribbon
cable and gently wiggle it. This may fix the problem.
You can also plug all the modules back in, as well as the
battery, and operate the unit with the top cover removed,
while you poke around.
11) If the keyboard is bad you can often get a cheap
replacement on eBay.
12) To replace the keyboard, you need to very carefully
pull out the printed ribbon cable. The best way to do
this is with a long hooked pair of electronic needle-nose
pliers or tweezers, but wrap some soft tape around them
to make sure that you don't scratch or cut the
conductors, which would be game over.
Plastic surgical clamps also work, but down over-
In the short term you can also try to run the laptop with
and external USB keyboard, which will allow you to
narrow down the problem between hardware vs software,
as a mentioned above.
Good luck, hope this works for you.
Jun 13, 2008 |