Monday, April 28, 2014

Logitech G510 Keyboard dismantled, it's RGB led light guide system, and a palm rest fix

About 2 years ago I built my new PC, and I wanted a led-lighted keyboard.
After a lot of searching I decided for the Logitech G510 gaming keyboard. Not that I do much gaming... but being a software developer, I like the idea of having 18 extra programmable keys :-)
And the G510 was the only keyboard (with a decent price) where I can choose the color of the keys illuminations.
I simply wanted to have white lighted keys... and the majority of lighted keyboard have all sorts of  colors but the white.

I knew, from the reviews I read, that the brightness of this keyboard isn't very high, but it still does the job. I haven't had any issue in seeing the keys.. I just think it would be esthetically nicer if the keys had a bit more brightness.

So, mainly out of curiosity, I decided to take the G510 apart, just to see how the keys are illuminated.

Here we go with some photos of my G510.

My Logitech G510

The Palm Rest Fix
While we are at it, the G510 palm rest could have been projected in a better way.
The following image (from the Logitech G510 Review of explain very well the issue you'll have with this palm rest.
Photos of palm rest from the Logitech G510 Review on
You need to use 2 hand each time you need to move, or lift, the keyboard, this is very annoying.
So I fixed it after some days of use :-)

Here is my fix: a glued piece of plastic that will keep the palm rest in line with the keyboard.
The strange shape of the piece of plastic is due to where it came from: a CD jewel case.
The plastic is glued with hot glue.
I've scratched the back of the keyboard (the back of the plastic is also scratched) to have better gluing performance.
The perimeter of the added plastic is shaved wit a cutter, so that the added thickness won't interfere with the feet of the keyboard.

 And TADAAAA!!! Here is a Logitech G510 keyboard with a fixed palm rest! :-)

Dismantling the G510

 Remove 15 screws...

Remove the logitech logo: this is required by the palm rest fix.
By removing the logitech logo the palm rest gain the mobility needed to remove the back of the keyboard

 After removing the screws, we can lift up the back of the keyboard.
 And here is a connector to detach.
After detaching the connector we can remove the back, and take a look a it... not much to see there.

 the cable of the keyboard is well fixed.

The lighting system

Here is the interesting part of the keyboard.
 And here is the keyboard with the white reflecting background removed.

This keyboard use an light guide to illumination the keys.
The back of the keyboard is composed by a transparent sheet of plastick thick about 3mm.
The back (and also the sides) of this transparent plastic are covered with a white background (removed in the above photo).
The Leds that illuminate the keys are on the bottom side of this transparent plastic.
Under each key there is a square "dotted" part of this transparent plastic that help the light to be reflect up through the key.

I think that with this kind of illumination system it will be very hard to attain high level of brightness.

The fact is that it doesn't seem to be a very efficient way to light the keys.
The leds push the light in the light guide, the light get (more or less) uniformly scattered around the light guide, a part of the light is absorbed by the white background, another part is reflected by the dotted part of the light guide, another part is lost (absorbed by anything that is not a 'hole through a key' on the front part of the light guide, or trough the side of the light guide that are not shielded with white reflecting material (the bottom side of the light guide is not covered with the white background)

So it is like having 6 leds that try to illuminate a white sheet big as all the keyboard, and then we look at this illuminated sheet through some translucent letter shaped hole on top of the keys.
Not very efficient...

Now, some more images of the G510.

I've counted 6 RGB LED that illuminate the keyboard, these led are soldered on 3 PCB, on the lower side of  the keyboard.
Here is the right PCB, with 2 leds
This PCB is interesting, because it seem to have an unused connector (you can see it in the bottom left part of the PCB, in the above image).
This could be useful for some light hacking project...

(white background removed)
Here is the central PCB, with other 2 leds

(white background removed)
  and here is the left PCB, with the last 2 leds.

(white background removed)

 A side view of the transparent plastic that work as a light guide, it's thick about 3mm.

 A side view of one of the 3 PCB with the leds

The volume knob, and it's encoder.

 The top circuit board, and the PCB behind the LCD display.

A detail of the white background that cover the back of the light guide, even the side are "shielded" with the white reflector.  (but not the bottom one... and anyway these side shielding is far from optimal, because they are not very straight)
Here is the white background placed on the light guide.

Here you can see the dotted square behind each key, they'll help the light to reflected up through each key.
Now I understand why, from some angle, the light from the G510 keys seem somewhat 'dotted'.

Here is a frontal view of some of the dotted squares.

 Another image of the keyboard

On the perimeter of the keyboard you'll find a lot of these screws, doing apparently nothing... I think they hold the gray plastic on the front of the keyboard.

The mysterious ferrite
And now a tiny mystery: inside the keyboard I found this tiny piece of ferrite.
Where does it came from? I don't know.

I thought it was plastic... but after reassembling the keyboard, I found that it was attached to my tiny magnets (I use these tiny neodymium magnet to hold the screws when I dismantle somethings).
I've looked to all the photos, and I didn't see ferrite anywhere.

SCOOP: The mysterious ferrite origins unveiled! :-)
As suggested from an anonymous reader in the comments, the ferrite come from the curly part of the internal usb cable.
In fact, zooming-in in one of the photos, you can see the other piece of ferrite near the cable:
Thanks again to the anonymous commenter who suggested where to look for the ferrite :-)


  1. There used to be a ferrite bead in the curly part of the internal usb cable. I guess it broke and that's a piece you found. It was there on my board at least and didn't see it on your pictures.
    Mystery solved! ;)

    1. Yes! You are right!
      In fact, now that I know where I need to look, I can see the other piece of ferrite behind the cables :-)
      Thanks you very much for the comment :-)

  2. Hi thanks for showing the guts of this keyboard. I have owned one since they came out and never loved it, what I do like about the Logitech keyboards is the screen which gives me useful stats in game, as far as the keyboard portion I think there are better out there even when this was first released. One thing that has always bothered me is how dim the lighting is. The reflection of light from my monitors all but washes out the lighting of the keyboard unless I am in total darkness. So for daytime use, I find myself often having to search for keys. I was wondering if covering that white reflector with something more reflective like aluminum foil, or even painting it with chrome paint would be something feasible and or effective? Does the reflector also act as an electrical insulator for anything?

    1. Hi Richard, like you I think the light of this keyboard is pretty dim...
      I thought many time about making a better reflector, in fact I think the best would be use (like you suggested) aluminum foil on both side of the light guide (and also along the border), substantially everywhere BUT not under the keys, where I would leave a withe patch (because I'm not sure if , when looking at a key, you see the light coming out of the key... or if you just see the white reflector through the transparent key (I mean, looking at a white illuminated wall through a window is different from looking at a torch pointed at you through the same window))

      During my dismantling I just touched the bottom side of the light guide, and this seem to be just plastics, but there are many pcb and cables around the light guide, so maybe that something like a plasticized aluminum foil could be better.
      I don't know much about the other side of the light guide. The keyboard circuits seem to be on the other side, so making a better reflector for the other side could be more complicated...

      I thought about making a better reflector... but in fact I never tried, because I mainly use this keyboard at night, so it would be a not-so-easy job, for a small return...

      But if you try, please, show us some pics :-)

  3. I might try using highly reflective chrome paint. It should help a bit and be easier to deal with than aluminum foil. I will open mine up and see if the chrome paint (which is conductive due to the suspended metal pigment) will pose any shorting problems before I take this on. My keyboard now is old enough that if I ruin it I won't by crying....but I am not ready yet to buy a new one so I will be cautious.

  4. I have the same keyboard but unfortunately the usb cable is broken/torn. After I saw your images I opened and removed the white usb connector (5 pin to 5 pin). Do you know whether this is a standard connector? Or should I try to solder the cables?

    1. I don't know for sure if it's a standard connector, but I believe it's not.
      You should try to understand how cable was connected in the original cable, then take an existing usb cable, cut it, and solder/clamp it to a compatible connector.

  5. Hello, does anybody know if this keyboard has a fuse anywhere? A friend of mine blew up his keyboard and is dead, I'm trying to repair it right now. Any suggestion is welcome!

    1. I didn't see any fuse on my G510.
      USB device, usually, doesn't have fuse.

      Anyway, what did you fried do to blew up the keyboard?

  6. Hello everybody, did anyone know the specification for the volume potentiometer?
    I looks like mine is defective and i want to repair it ...

    1. Hi, I don't know the specification, but I think it's not a potentiometer.
      I think it's an optical encoder.
      Potentiometer usually have a start/stop position, but the volume on the G510 is just a knob that you can spin forever.
      I don't know for sure, but my opinion is that's it could works like the old mouse with the ball: they used 2 optical encoder to track X and Y movement, each encoder was a spinning wheel and the movement was detected by some led.
      But to work like this it should have 4 wires, when it seem to have only 3... so I don't really know.
      If it's already broken, maybe you can tray to take it apart, or look for some serial code somewhere on the housing of the encoder.

      Maybe you can also try to just spray it with some compressed air to see if there is some dust stuck somewhere. If it's an optical sensor, this could help.

  7. i parted out a laptop and have a 2 port usb port left that is very small i want to add to my keyboard i love this thing best keyboard ive ever owned.