The Acquisition of the Keyboard Connectors

The first, and probably the most difficult part of this project, is to acquire a connector that fits with the connector on the keyboard cable. Without it, the keyboard encoder is useless. Without the keyboard encoder, the keyboard is useless. So if I only manage to solve this problem, the rest of the project will be a piece of cake, sort of.

ThinkPad X201 Motherboard and Keyboard Connector (JAE AA01B-S040VA1-R3000)

While searching the Internet, I discovered the struggle that others have had before me in the task of finding the connector. They are hard to find, special made, and expensive. However, I learned the part number (JAE AA01B-S040VA1-R3000) so I could try my own luck. Armed with the part number, I began my hunt. I found several sellers on that offered the part I needed, but that doesn’t mean that they actually have the product in stock. However, I submitted a couple of inquires regarding a quantity of 20 items and got a response from a company called Shenzhen Quanyuantong Electronics Co., Ltd. The offered price was $2.2 each plus $25 for shipping, a total of $64. I thought that it was worth it, so I took the offer.

AA01B-S040VA1-R3000 on top of a ThinkPad X201

Three of the 20 connectors

A week later, I received the connectors. And they do actually fit, perfectly. It wasn’t total hassle free though. The seller shipped the order quickly, but the DHL tracking information stayed in the state Shipping information received for several days without changing. I contacted the seller and got the answer that it was shipped and currently stuck in customs in Hong Kong. However, when I asked DHL where it was, they told me that the package haven’t been picked up yet. So I got a little bit worried, because the connectors are very rare and without them I cannot continue this project. But a day later, the package was on it way to Sweden.

Now it is time to get to work and start designing a breakout board for the connectors.

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Comments (5)

  1. Neat project! I know its not _quite_ the same, but there is the IBM Model M4-1. Its basically a thinkpad keyboard mass manufactured. They made several variants, in white-greyish and black. There’s later versions/model numbers with better trackpoint/trackpads.

    one example:

    1. Nice, thank you 🙂 I didn’t know that. They look more like the old classic IBM keyboards but with a TrackPoint 🙂

    1. Yes, it looks different from mine (x200/x201). I know that the T61 keyboard should use the same connector as the x200, but I am not sure about the older models :-/

      1. Yup, mine’s got less pins. 🙁

        I’m taking the motherboard to a TV/VCR repair shop and asking them to give me a breakout board. Hopefully they’ll be interested in the challenge!

        I ordered a Arduino Due (, which has 54 digital pins, more than enough for the keyboard mapping.

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