Unbricking a Logitech Keyboard

  By Shamus   Jul 31, 2008   40 comments

Remember that a while back I had a wireless keyboard go bad on me. In the comments of that post, Andrew made the following suggestion:

I had a Logitech keyboard that would crash on occasion. The solution communicated from technical support was to remove the batteries and bang on the keys for a while to discharge the capacitors in order to completely power-cycle it. Then, re-install the batteries and re-synch.

I was this close to throwing the thing out when I read his comment. It tried it. It worked. Keyboard fixed.

Now you know.

EDIT: Gah. A few hours after writing this post and the keyboard died on me again. I’m sure I can restore it again using the method above, but it seems sort of pointless now. A wireless keyboard which “crashes” every couple of days and needs a couple of hours off to recover is pretty useless. I have to run a wire to get the conventional keyboard into place and then pull the wire again when the logitech cheers up. Defeats the whole point of having a wireless, really.

Still, maybe this will be useful to someone. I am sort of surprised at how short-lived this keyboard was. I don’t expect that from Logitech. And while I’m at it, since when do keyboards need to be so complex that they can crash?

And perhaps I do more blogging about keyboards than seems reasonable, but I spend an incredible amount of time with these things which leads to this odd fixation.


202040 comments. (Forty is the only number whose letters are in alphabetical order.)


  1. Ingvar says:

    What’s your view on buckle-spring keyboards? Nice? Horrible? Too loud, perhaps?

    Personally, I love them. They’re the only keyboards I can reliably type on for more than 2-3 hours without break and that is a definite hand- and arm-saver when I get “into the zone”.

  2. McNutcase says:

    Your keyboard is your primary interface. It’s only sane to care about it.

    What really amazes me is how many people whose job is to type will put up with bad keyboards. If your job was to drive, would you really put up with a car that had incredibly unreliable response to the pedals and steering? If your job was to cut meat, would you willingly do so using a knife which has the blade connected to the hilt by a floppy block of rubber?

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Thats an interesting thing to know.My keyboard never crashed,but at least I know what to do if it ever does.It is lasting me very long now(a year and a half+),so even if it does,it served its purpose.

  4. Z!re says:

    I never really liked wireless stuff.

    If my mouse/keyboard doesn’t work I know it’s because it’s either broken or lacking drivers.

    Not because it might have its signal blocked, maybe something is interfering, or maybe it’s just running low on batteries…
    Not to mention the CPU (That can crash!) required to process the infrared signal.

  5. Drew says:

    A wireless mouse makes a lot of sense to me, since it’s something you’ll move around, and the wire could, say, knock over your beer. On the other hand, a wireless keyboard seems odd to me, given that it’s generally in the proximity of the computer case, and doesn’t move while you use it (hopefully). Anyhow, I’ve exclusively bought microsoft hardware for the past 5-10 years, and a devastating soda spill was the only thing that caused something to break on me (keyboard mostly still worked, but one or 2 keys were just dead). I don’t know who they get to make their hardware, but the MS stuff sure seems to stand up.

  6. Kevin says:

    Never had a wireless, but I am kinda in love with my mac keyboard. It’s very low-profile which I did not expect to care for at all, but having used it a while now, I’d say it was just about perfect. (For me!)

  7. wintermute says:

    What really amazes me is how many people whose job is to type will put up with bad keyboards. If your job was to drive, would you really put up with a car that had incredibly unreliable response to the pedals and steering? If your job was to cut meat, would you willingly do so using a knife which has the blade connected to the hilt by a floppy block of rubber?

    Unlike both of those examples, typing on an inferior keyboard is highly unlikely to result in death or dismemberment.

  8. Pete Zaitcev says:

    Wireless has to be complex these days in order to enable coexistence of many wireless devices. In the days past keyboard would just beep extended DTMF over the RC car radio band. Now it usually has a real medium access protocol which coexists with your wireless phone, wireless network, wireless game controllers, and even RF remotes for TiVo, TV, and receiver. Not to mention the wireless printer. At least your cellphone uses a different band, thank heavens (unless it has a Bluetooth earpiece, in which case it still competes with your keyboard).

  9. Dacendaran says:

    I never use anything wireless from Logitec ever since the last 3 wireless mice i got from them worked for a grand total of 2 hours (give or take a few hours) then died horribly never to work right again.

    Ironically i currently use a Wired logitec mouse and its the best i have ever had.

    *edit* ok just noticed you say Logictech, might be a different brand.

  10. Stark says:

    The major issue with wirless keyboards going bad is a simple one.

    Cheap capacitors.

    Logitech has been using progressively cheaper capcitors in it’s wirless products – the net result is that they are more likely to fail. The problem is that some of cheap these capacitors tend to drift out of their specified ranges – which creates trouble further down the line in the circuit and eventually just overloads (or underloads) the whole system to the point where it quits working. That’s why pulling the batteries and allowing the caps to discharge has an effect – it sets that imbalance back to zero again. The keyboard will work fine for a bit – sometimes a long while even – but eventually the faulty cap will begin to drift again and the cascade will happen. The really bad part of this is that the amount of time between failures will drop, as the faulty cap gets less and less reliable, until you eventually reach a point where it just stops working at all.

    Now, if you were excessively bored and good with a soldering iron and multimeter, you could open that bad boy up and check the output of each and every cap (probably lots of tiny little surface mounted ones) and replace any that don’t match up to what they are marked as…. but frankly you’d be nuts to do so. Assuming you value your time at more than 0$ per hour you’d be better off either buying a new one and hoping it doesn’t have the same issues after a bit or simply going back to a wired model.

  11. Shinjin says:

    Speaking of keyboard obsession, I’ve used one of these Kinesis keyboards for roughly the past 13 years. It has some minor design quibbles (and a major price quibble), but overall has been great for my programmer’s wrists. I used to drag it back and forth between work and home until I settled into my present work-from-home state.

  12. Alarion says:

    Hm, strange. I’ve got my trusty Logitech Wireless since about 2004 or so, and it’s working great. The mouse that came with it died a year ago, but the keyboard is truly unbreakable. Heck, I don’t even have to replace the batteries all that often, maybe once in 2 month.
    So maybe you just got unlucky Shamus. Logitech’s building great hardware as far as I’m concerned.

  13. Nentuaby says:

    Wintermute: It is, however, highly likely to result in crippling pain in the wrists and fingerjoints in one’s later years.

  14. Takkelmaggot says:

    Z!re-
    Exactly.
    I take it one step further- no keyboards that require drivers.

  15. pdwalker says:

    Ah, the old IBM keyboards. Don’t compute without them.

  16. Daemian Lucifer says:

    @Drew

    I thought so too,until Ive discovered the joys of having the keyboard in my lap,or in my bed.

  17. Vadimirin says:

    Personally I’ve been using a Conpaq keyboard for two or three years now without any serious issues. The only minor problem I’ve had is it sometimes kicks out if I’ve got too many wires between the keyboard and the receiver. It cost me something like 80$, but it comes with both keyboard and mouse, and the receiver is a mouse re-charger stand.

  18. McNutcase says:

    @Wintermute:

    True, you won’t die from using a bad keyboard, but you COULD lose the ability to do your job. Bad keyboards are FAR more likely to result in RSI, Carpal Tunnel, and all those bad things which preclude typing. Cheap keyboards are a false economy – you’ll pay more in medical expenses, staff turnover and so on than you “saved” by buying cheapass keyboards.

  19. Scotticus says:

    This is my favorite keyboard-related blog on the web!

  20. David says:

    This reminds me of how you can unbrick an xbox 360 that gets a red ring of doom: wrap it in a towel and run it until it overheats. Seriously. It then resets itself. The alternative is to send it in to Microsoft. And wait. For several weeks.

  21. Chris Arndt says:

    Just alternate two wireless keyboards.

    The end.

  22. Chris Arndt says:

    My Logitech Wireless mouse still works with my laptop here without issue.

    It works with any other computer I plug it into without issue, even superseding every single other mouse device…. because the other one isn’t being moved simultaneously. I could not tell you what model it is, just who built it.

    It still works since fall 2006. Although it did not get any use from Jan 2007 to August 2007.

  23. Joshua says:

    Logictech? In the article you say “Logitech,” but your title is “Unbricking a Logictech Keyboard.”

    EDIT: Wait, it’s in a quote, but I’m still pretty sure your title’s off. If not, sorry.

  24. Ed Hering says:

    On my system I’ve got both wired and wireless keyboard/mouse connected at the same time without any issues whatsoever.

    Don’t ask me why it works. I’m running Win Vista and it didn’t even ask for drivers. I plugged the wireless access thingy (USB) in and it worked fine WITH the wired keyboard and mouse still plugged in.

    So, now I can have mouse wars.

  25. Mari says:

    I’m with McNutcase et al. With the number of hours I spend at a keyboard, I can’t fathom NOT putting a great deal of thought into it. Keyboard and desk chair are the single most important tools in my life and I require that they must be supremely comfortable and function properly so as to cause no injury or discomfort to my body that would prevent me from spending even MORE time at the computer.

    Besides, why would it be weird for a programmer to blog about his computer? That would be like expecting a photographer to never blog about his camera. And on top of that, it’s YOUR blog, so why shouldn’t you blog about things of interest to YOU? That anybody else reads it is incidental, IMHO.

  26. modus0 says:

    I like my Micro Innovations wireless keyboard myself, it works fine, despite the shift keys being a bit sticky (the lubrication used on the metal underneath the keys has been cleaned off somewhat) and the paint on some of the keys (comma, right shift, S, M, and N) being partially or mostly worn off.

    The thing I like the most about it is that I haven’t changed batteries in about a year, despite having an almost daily, hours long use. Not just in typing (which I do a fair amount of), but also with FPS games like Quake III Arena.

    It did come with a wireless mouse, but I wasn’t interested in that because my previous one had experienced the coating on the buttons wearing off, and needing new batteries monthly (AA start getting expensive then). Not to mention that when I tried it this one felt like a brick weight-wise. My wired optical Logitech mouse is about half the weight of the Micro Innovations wireless mouse.

  27. Miral says:

    Yeah, what Ed said. You can have as many keyboards and mice attached to your computer as you have physical ports for (which usually works out to be one each on PS2 and everything else on USB), which is great for two-players-on-one-PC games and for fallback in case of wireless keyboard/mouse failure.

    You just need to be careful not to put junk on top of the “spare” keyboard, since it’ll still be live :)

  28. I want a laptop with an ergonometric keyboard. So far, the only one I’ve found was the Ferrari laptop by Acer. But does anyone else make them?

  29. Bryan says:

    Ah yes, Das Keyboard. Now, if only I actually *had* one… ;-)

    (The only possible problem is that it’s USB. Not a problem if your OS’s HID driver never fails, but it might. Still, probably a much lower chance of failing than a wireless keyboard, plus it has real mechanical switches under the keys; none of this pansy silent membrane switch nonsense. :-P )

  30. K says:

    I have also made bad experience with Logitech (you spelt taht rwong!). Not with keyboards, but with mouses. Two of them stopped working correctly and would always shudder around the screen. Horrible to play games with. Now I have a Razor and am as happy as can be. Keyboards? Microsoft Natural Keyboard, because of the shape.

  31. Mrs. Peel says:

    Ah, ergonomic keyboards. Those are no good to me because I hunt and peck, at a good 50 wpm.

    Oh, I’m sorry. That’s how fast I type one-handed. With both hands, I hunt and peck at 95 wpm.

    Anyway, I stopped by to comment that Shamus is indeed spicier than usual lately, but it’s very entertaining. Shamus, I had to stifle giggles at your description of Geralt (I was in the office). Brilliant.

  32. AlphabetFish says:

    “…discharge the capacitors in order to completely power-cycle it.”

    I thought for sure this was made-up jargon, a parody. I felt like I stepped into “Back to the Future” for a moment. And here you are all taking it seriously!!

  33. Alvin Brinson says:

    Hmm… I have a Logitech S510 Media Desktop Remote, and the wireless keyboard has never given me a lick of trouble. I’ve used it for 18 months or so, and I haven’t ever even had to reconnect it, even after a bettery change. It just stays sync’d all the time. Using it with an LX7 mouse rather than the LX5 that came with it. The remote loses connection rarely, but that may have something to do with using it from much farther away.

    I think perhaps RF interference causes some people to have more issues with wireless devices than others, perhaps?

  34. Fritha says:

    My mother had a Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse. They would regularly stop working. Taking out and placing the batteries back in would help, but it got very frustrating. I had a similar problem with a Logitech wireless mouse. Replaced them both with one of the Microsoft wireless setups, and haven’t had another problem. I’m unlikely to ever buy anything more from Logitech.

  35. Andrew says:

    I’m glad the story was able to help.

    More than anything, I blame buying from eBay for the issue. There were a handful of sellers regularly listing keyboards, mice, etc., and my best guess was that one or more were operating as a clearinghouse for returned or refurbished merchandise. I’d expect that they went through quality control, but testing the final product can’t be as comprehensive as testing all the parts along the way.

    Due to repeated frustrations with the issue, I rolled back to a slightly older Logitech wireless keyboard that was less fancy but more reliable. Thankfully, all the hardware I have from them is of a similar generation and is interchangeable as far as the receiver units go.

    As an aside, the older keyboard I returned to (I’m using it now) had the synchronization button ripped off the circuit board in a moving accident. Shorting across the remaining contacts with a screwdriver seems to work just as well when needed.

  36. Illiterate says:

    While we’re on keyboards, I was linked to this earlier today:

    http://i236.photobucket.com/albums/ff127/tetrabinary/Two/Three/keyboard_smoke.jpg

  37. ryanlb says:

    I’m not sure why, but that picture disturbs beyond belief.

  38. potemkin.hr says:

    The same thing happened with my keyboard (Logitech cordless desktop EX110), only I reinserted the batteries only. Now the multimedia keys gone dead (luckily the guarantee is still valid), i won’t buy anything more from Logitech. There goes another unsatisfied customer…

  39. Hrtoin says:

    This morning, I switched on my PC, my Logitech keyboard can’t funtion.I checked it s that it is connected, changed batteries same condition. All day I use on-screen keyboard, what should I do?
    the ‘F’ and’ ‘1’ buttons are lighted. Still can’t use.

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