How to replace the keyboard in a Panasonic Toughbook CF-18 or CF-19

Replacing the keyboard is a common repair. Luckily, it's also an easy one. The process is exactly the same for both the CF-18 and CF-19 Toughbooks, varying only slightly depending on whether you are installing a standard keyboard or a backlit rubber keyboard. The only tools you'll need are a Phillips-head screwdriver and a flat-head screwdriver (or something else to use as a wedge).

Step one: power down!

If you've read any of our other tutorials, you are probably sick of reading this. Always turn of your computer, unplug it, then remove the battery before working on its hardware. To remove the battery, simply locate the latch on the right side of the computer near the front-right corner, slide the latch to the right, then push it down to pop open the cover. Pull the battery pack out by the tab.

Step two: remove the old keyboard.

Above your keyboard their are right and left brackets (CF-18 brackets: right, left), secured by two screws each. Remove all four screws with your Phillips-head and pop off the brackets using your flat-head.

Using your flat-head screwdriver to get under the top edge, lift your keyboard out of its bezel and carefully turn it over like a book cover. The keyboard will still be attached by its ribbon cable, so don't yank it.

Underneath the keyboard you will find a metal panel attached by three screws. Unscrew them and lift out the panel. If you are removing a backlit keyboard, there will be two ribbons--one wide one and another smaller one that snakes around it (the smaller one connects the backlight). To remove the wide ribbon, gently lift the fastener with your flat-heat screwdriver so it is loose enough to pull the ribbon out (you only want to loosen the fastener, not pull it out). The smaller ribbon (if there is one), can simply be pulled out. These are delicate parts, so handle them gingerly.

Once the ribbon cables are disconnected, the keyboard should be detached. You can now put it aside, scrap it, or whatever. We're now ready to install your new keyboard.

Step three: install the new keyboard.

This is basically a reverse process of what you've just done. Lay the keyboard face-down on the palm rest and plug the ribbon cable(s) into the connector(s). If you are installing a backlit rubber keyboard, it will be easiest to plug in the smaller cable first. Just make sure that you don't twist it, as it will not work if it is plugged in backwards. Here's an image of what it should look like:

keyboard ribbon cables cuddling

Insert the wide ribbon into its slot and press down the fastener to secure it in place.

Replace the plate such that the ribbon(s) lies flat and straight under it, then screw it back in to hold the ribbon(s) in place. Turn the keyboard over (like closing a book), make sure it sits properly in the bezel, then reattach the brackets to hold it in place. Pop the battery pack back in and you're done.