How to Fix a Sluggish Trackball

If you know anything about me it is that I know the solution to every problem, more specifically, I know the solvent to every problem: Isopropyl Alcohol. Yes, it is the universal fix. I sometimes like to think I was the inspiration for the old guy in My Big Fat Greek Wedding who sprayed Windex on everything… as that is exactly what I do with isopropanol. Commonly mis?referred to as ‘Rubbing Alcohol’, this gem does it all:

  • cleans windows
  • de-stinks armpits
  • de-stinks feet
  • … basically takes the stink out of anything that has a stinking problem
  • cleans a freshly shaven face (causing a festive Macaulay impression)
  • gets some stickers off of objects
  • cleans vinyl records
  • slows flying bugs down so you can swat them
  • disinfects anything that you think needs disinfecting (who needs lysol)
  • burns when lit on fire
  • fixes bad connections between your power cord and electronic device
  • fixes bad connections between your headphones and mp3 player
  • … basically fixes any electrical connections that require you to move the cable around until a good connection is found
  • fixes the trackball on your IOGear GKM561R keyboard

Yes, your IOGear keyboard with the trackball that doesn’t respond very well, you know the one. You have a nifty Home Theater PC and you want to click to open your media and your trackball responds with the precision of a blunderbuss, …yes, a blunderbuss. That almost perfect keyboard just got more almost perfect now that I found a solution to the trackball response.

After reading enough reviews about how much everyone loves this keyboard but how the trackball will fail after about a year (then seeing IOGear reply saying that they will take care of it)… I knew there must be a better way than sending it back for a replacement. I am happy to announce that there is a better way and the answer is rubbing alcohol (if you didn’t see that coming, you should go now). Here are the steps involved:

  1. Do not throw your keyboard at the floor or break it over your knee
  2. Put keyboard on a flat surface
  3. Spray a small amount of isopropanol on the trackball and let it seep down a bit
  4. Rotate the trackball in multiple directions for several seconds (don’t worry if it seems to stick a little when you are doing this, it will pass)
  5. Tip the keyboard upside-down and rotate the trackball some more
  6. Take a piece of paper towel and rotate the trackball with the paper towel between your finger and the trackball to remove any excess isopropanol and gunk that was stuck on the trackball or bearings
  7. Check to see if it works better, if not, your probably didn’t use enough isopropyl alcohol, try again
  8. Repeat this process as needed
  9. If it was really gunked up before, sometimes I find that this loosens so much crud (that then falls on the optical sensor below) I have to take the dozen or so tiny screws out of the bottom, take the top panel off, and clean the stuff away from trackball area to get it working like new again.

You are welcome.

For the record, I use 70% isopropanol. It kills bacteria better than higher concentrations because the water content tricks them into opening their hearts to the alcohol and the alcohol breaks their hearts… that is about the extent of my biology knowledge.

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