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Published April 13, 2018

This guide offers step-by-step instructions on how to remove your keyboard and replace the underlying mat on your Gemini PDA.

The mat supplies the springiness to your Gemini keys, should your keyboard keys fail to spring back up this could indicate a mat issue with your Gemini and you should contact Planet Computers for support.

Prerequisites

The following will be needed to replace the keyboard mat on the Gemini

  • Your Gemini (obviously)
  • Replacement mat – most likely sourced through Planet Computer’s support
  • The Gemini cover removal tool (or perhaps a thin ruler)

Step-by-step instructions

Planet Computers recommended you take a photo of your keyboard layout before removing any keys.  The keys are actually extremely small and light once removed from the keyboard – I found it very easy to mix them up when placing them down after removal.

Step 1 – Remove most of the keys

All the keys are designed to be removed very easily by “flicking” the keys out of their contacts.  All, except the Spacebar and Enter key – these two keys have additional clips which you need to remove before the key is fully disconnected from the device.

With all but the Enter and Spacebar – take the Cover Removal Tool, and slide it gently under each key, then gently increase pressure upwards until the key pops out of the keyboard.

TIP – with the keys around the edge of the keyboard, I found it easier to flick these keys up from the opposite side to the edge.  This is purely because the key next to it will depress, so you can get under the key better.

Step 2 – Carefully remove the Enter and Spacebar keys

The Space bar has small metal clips that connect both sides of the key.  First, flick the key up gently, just enough so it disconnects from the central contact as the other keys so far have.  Then, look underneath, you’ll see the metal clips and the very small bracket on the key they are connected to.

I found the safest way of removing the clips was to use the Cover Removal Tool to slide the clip out of the bracket horizontally, rather than pulling it out vertically. To do this just hold the metal clip in place with the removal tool for support – then slide the key gently to the side until one side is free.  Then support the other end of the clip and slide the opposite way.

The Enter key is much the same, only the clips face upwards, so removal is easier once the key is removed from the contact in the centre.  See picture of clips once the keys are all removed and it should be clear which was to slide the key to remove the clip.

Step 3 – Check for damaged clips

Check the clips are not bent – if they are, contact Planet Computers for support as bent clips could be the source of any issues you may have encountered with the Enter and Spacebar keys, and won’t be fixed by simply replacing the mat.

Step 4 – Replace old mat with new mat

The mat is removed very easily – just use the Cover Removal Tool to pull up the edge of the mat and then gently remove it from the Gemini.

Add in the new mat.  I found it was easier to place the mat down first, then use the removal tool to “tuck” the edge of the mat under the edge of the Gemini keyboard area.  There are two sections on the left that will overlap the mat (above and below the Tab key), and one section on the right (below the Enter key).  Just be careful not to damage the mat when tucking it under these sections.

Step 5 – Re-attach the Enter and Spacebar keys

Before attaching any of the other keys, it’s best to attach the Enter key and Spacebar first.  This is because you need to re-attach the clips, which can be a fiddly process.

The Enter key is the easiest – simply flip the clip upright with the Cover Removal Tool and place the Enter key next to the clip.  This prevents it falling back into its recess.

Next, you can clip the Enter key back on to the clip by pressing downwards once the clip is in the correct position with the bracket.  I didn’t like that idea as I didn’t want to bend the clip.  Instead, I slid the key onto the clip in the same way I removed it from the clip.  It is really obvious when it’s in the correct place as it slides on easily – so don’t use excessive force here.

The Spacebar is more of the same, you can click it down on to the clip, or use the Cover Removal Tool to shift the clip into the bracket.  Because the clip is inverted, you need to use the Removal Tool to shift the clip, just be careful not to put too much pressure on it to bend again.

Once clips are in place, simply move the key into position over the key insert under the mat and press down gently until it clicks in place.  The key should now behave as normal.

Step 5 – Re-attach the rest of the keys

Using your picture of the keyboard layout as a guide, replace the rest of the keys by placing the key centrally over their inserts – and apply gentle pressure until they click in place.

You’ve successfully replaced the keyboard mat on the Gemini!


Laurence Firth is a software developer by trade with 15+ years in the industry.  He has worked on a wide variety of projects ranging from Machine Vision to Mass Spectrometers, to Big Data.  He is heavily into technology, and technological engineering.

3 Comments

  1. m0ntala m0ntala

    Thank you for such a comprehensive and clearly illustrated article.
    I am still waiting to receive my Gemini, so am hoping that it will not be necessary for me to replace the keyboard mat myself.
    If however this is found to be necessary, I now have some excellent instructions to guide me through the process!

  2. Paul M Paul M

    very useful thanks, this would give me the confidence if my G, when it arrives, needs a new mat.

  3. gidds gidds

    If the keyboard is as similar to the Psion Series 5 keyboard as it looks, then another way to remove the keys is with a large blob of Blu Tack (or similar putty-like adhesive): simply press it down onto a key, then pull up sharply; the key will usually come with it.

    Because it doesn’t twist the key or use anything hard or sharp, I’d expect that to have a lower risk of damage.

    (Disclaimer: I haven’t yet received my Gemini, so I haven’t tried this.  But I’ve cleaned the keyboards of several 5mxs many times this way, and it certainly works well there.)

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