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I have an old Dell SK-8135 keyboard. I love it because it has a volume knob instead of buttons. I've used it so many years that it's the only keyboard I can touch type on without tons of errors. But one key I ALWAYS hit by accident on this keyboard is the CAPS LOCK key. So I had the brilliant idea to remove it.

CAPS LOCK gone

I'm thinking I'd like to replace it with something with a smaller profile so maybe I won't accidentally hit it so often.

Question 1: Anyone know what to call this type of key? Each key has two little clips that hold them in.

Underside of key

And the socket has a channel for the clips:

Socket

The key works by pressing the white spongy layer below. I can activate it with a pencil.

Question 2: Any ideas for replacing this with something with a smaller profile? I don't think I can do anything to the existing key without destroying it. I put a little dowel in place, but it keeps falling out. I was thinking about trying to mold something with sugru, but I have never worked with it and I'm not sure how I'll keep that from falling out too. Whatever I do, I think it will either need something like the clips or just fit more snug.

I don't have a 3D printer or know anyone with one, so please don't suggest that! I doubt I can have a professional do anything under $20, which is all I'd be willing to spend on this. Otherwise, I'm sticking with a pencil for the next time I need CAPS LOCK!

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If you can activate the key via pencil, consider the equivalent in a shorter form. You could likely tolerate something as simple as a wooden dowel of equivalent diameter and a length to match the current keycap, minus a millimeter or two to prevent the accidental activation.

Sugru is a product similar to rapid curing RTV silicone, often available in colors and in my opinion, rather excessively priced for the quantity received. There are recipes involving common RTV silicone and cornstarch, which I've used with good results. As such, the price of experimentation is reduced.

You could use the substitute to model something to attach to the dowel, or consider it prototyping to get the desired result and then use the pricey Sugru for the final build.

Regarding the channels, which are designed to prevent rotation, one could create a circular cap and ignore rotation, or slice grooves in the dowel on the diagonals of the keyboard and insert or glue toothpicks or similar in place.

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  • Thanks for the silicone and cornstarch idea. I'm not sure I want to use that here, but it looks much more practical than sugru.
    – TheRizza
    Dec 18, 2022 at 3:27
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Update from the original poster:

This was attempt 1. It worked as a key just fine, but the dowel would jump out more than you'd think.

Dowel

I was stewing about something a little more permanent. After watching too many sugru and oogoo videos, I somehow decided to prototype something with what I had on hand.

I thought a wood shim would be about the right size and thickness to try. It turns out I didn't have any wood shims, just this composite shim:

Composite shim

So I used a box cutter to cut the end down to a 32x18mm piece (it's about 2mm thick at the end), and then cut the stem from the other end, roughly 8x8mm (I think it was about 6mm thick at that end).

Corner cut from shim

Then it's not a proper life hack without hot glue! I glued the stem on to the key. 6mm was a little too short, so I cut down a rubber bumper to add another 3mm to the stem.

Backside of finished key

There's a little too much angle to it, and it's a little higher than I'd like, but the bumper is just wide enough to get caught on the lip and not come out unless I want it to. I'll see next week if it passes the all-day typing test, but so far so good.

Final key in keyboard

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