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Eschew

A Guide to Custom Mechanical Keyboards

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Posted · Original PosterOP

A Guide to Custom Mechanical Keyboards

 

[0.0] Table of Contents (Navigation: CTRL-F)

[1.0] Introduction -- Purpose

         [1.1] Frequently Asked/Anticipated Questions

         [1.2] Proof-Reading, Fact-Checking, and Contributions

[2.0] Keyboard Sizes, Profiles, and Layouts

         [2.1] Sizes

         [2.2] Profiles

         [2.3] Mechanical/Physical Layouts

         [2.4] Functional Layouts

[3.0] Pre-Built Mechanical Keyboards

[4.0] Custom Mechanical Keyboards

         [4.1] Parts

         [4.2] Tools

         [4.3] Assembly

         [4.4] Firmware and Software

         [4.5] Maintenance and Cleaning

[5.0] Switches

         [5.1] Clicky, Tactile, and Linear

         [5.2] Parts

         [5.3] Tools

         [5.4] Flavors

         [5.5] Preferences and Opinion Pieces

[6.0] Online Vendors and Marketplaces

[7.0] All Finished!

         [7.1] Special Thanks!

         [7.2] Related Reading & Other Material

         [7.3] Auto-Rejected Suggestions

         [7.4] Bibliography

         [7.5] Revision History

 


 

[1.0] Introduction -- Purpose

To consolidate the basics of building custom mechanical keyboards into one place on the forums, and to explain the topic in layman’s terms. The emphasis here is on custom mechanical keyboards, although some sections may also be applicable to other keyboards.

 

What does this guide cover?

Section 1.0 serves an introductory role and aims to provide a bird’s eye view of the entire guide.

Section 2.0 provides some background info applicable to keyboards in general.

Section 3.0 presents some justifications for both pre-built and custom mechanical keyboards.

Section 4.0 covers the basics needed to build, set up, and care for a custom mechanical keyboard.

Section 5.0 covers the basics related to choosing and customizing mechanical keyboard switches.

Section 6.0 lists some legitimate sites to purchase custom keyboards and keyboard parts from.

Section 7.0 contains some closing notes and the standard logistical things that go into a guide.

 

[1.1] Frequently Asked/Anticipated Questions

What custom keyboard build or parts would you recommend for me?

Difficult to say. The name of the game is custom, and every person’s tastes and preferences are different. If you’d like some personalized advice, I’d suggest starting a new thread in the Peripherals sub-forum and detailing out your expectations for your imagined build.

 

As a friendly notice, I will read but will not respond to these sorts of comments in this thread. This is a guide, not a recommendations thread, and the goal here is to equip readers new to custom mechanical keyboards with the knowledge to make their own informed purchasing decisions. I have tried to remain neutral towards product recommendations where possible, while providing relevant advice.

 

What are your preferences for custom mechanical keyboards?

The TKL keyboard size feels the most natural for my typing habits. I frequently rely on the navigation and special/editing keys, and can’t live without the full set of alphanumeric and modifier keys. The numpad, however, isn’t essential to me. If I absolutely needed it, I’d probably get a standalone tenkey and would prefer to have it to the left of the board.

 

Linears are my go-to switches. I love the smooth keystrokes and muted clacks, and the heavier the actuation, the better. For keycaps, I’m very partial towards PBT blanks -- Minimalism™. Also, I prefer textured, matte surfaces. Um, my fingers tend to leave a lot of oils and smudges on smoother surfaces...

 

[1.2] Proof-Reading, Fact-Checking, and Contributions

I’m humbly requesting aid from mechanical keyboard enthusiasts for help with proof-reading, fact-checking, and contributing to this guide. While I’ve posted a gross amount of research here, I am admittedly very new to the custom keeb scene and do not have any long-time experience or formal education in hobby electronics. All I have is my enthusiasm and Google secondary sources. 😅

 

  • Proof-Readers: Please let me know which section(s) you've checked. 👍
  • Fact-Checkers: I’d really appreciate it if you could attach clear-cut evidence or a link to sources. Please and thank you! 😁
  • Contributors: I'm looking for guides or reviews you've written that are relevant to custom mechanical keyboards or mechanical switches. 🥰
  • If I've reacted to your reply, that means I've read it and approved of your suggestion. Depending on what you've suggested, making additions or changes to the thread might take between 30 min - 24 hours. You may or may not receive a notification when I tag you in the thread. 😶
  • If I reject your suggestion, I'll do my best to explain my reasons rationally and politely.

 

All proof-readers, fact-checkers, and any contributors will be tagged and acknowledged in the Special Thanks (Section 7.1)!

 


 

[2.0] Keyboard Sizes and Layouts

Here follows a visual introduction to keyboard sizes, profiles, and layouts, along with some key generalizations (teehee).

 

[2.1] Sizes

Keyboard size is based on the length of the keyboard compared to a full-sized one. The most common sizes are full-sized (100%), tenkeyless/TKL (80%), and compact (60%). The number and types of keys available for each size varies between keyboards, with generalizations being less applicable once you dip into the compact zone.

 

Full-Sized (100%)

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  • 104 Keys (ANSI), 105 Keys (ISO)
  • Alphanumeric Keys: Yes
  • Modifier Keys: Yes
  • System Keys: Yes
  • Function Keys: Yes
  • Special/Edit Keys: Yes
  • Navigation Keys: Yes
  • Numeric Keypad: Yes

 

1800-Compact

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  • 104-81 Keys (ANSI), 105-82 Keys (ISO)
  • Alphanumeric Keys: Yes
  • Modifier Keys: Most
  • System Keys: Yes
  • Function Keys: Perhaps
  • Special/Edit Keys: Perhaps
  • Navigation Keys: Yes
  • Numeric Keypad: Yes

 

Tenkeyless/TKL (87%, 85%, or 80%)

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  • 87 Keys (ANSI), 88 Keys (ISO)
  • Alphanumeric Keys: Yes
  • Modifier Keys: Yes
  • System Keys: Yes
  • Function Keys: Yes
  • Special/Edit Keys: Yes
  • Navigation Keys: Yes
  • Numeric Keypad: No

 

Compact (75%)

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  • 82/83/84 Keys (ANSI), 84/85 Keys (ISO)
  • Alphanumeric Keys: Yes
  • Modifier Keys: Yes
  • System Keys: Yes
  • Function Keys: Yes
  • Special/Edit Keys: Yes
  • Navigation Keys: Yes
  • Numeric Keypad: No

 

Compact (65%)

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  • 65-70 Keys (ANSI), 65-70 Keys (ISO)
  • Alphanumeric Keys: Yes
  • Modifier Keys: Yes
  • System Keys: Yes
  • Function Keys: No (Accessible w/FN Key)
  • Special/Edit Keys: Some
  • Navigation Keys: Yes
  • Numeric Keypad: No

 

Compact (60%)

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  • 61 Keys (ANSI), 62 Keys (ISO)
  • Alphanumeric Keys: Yes
  • Modifier Keys: Yes
  • System Keys: Yes
  • Function Keys: No (Accessible w/FN Key)
  • Special/Edit Keys: No (Accessible w/FN Key)
  • Navigation Keys: No
  • Numeric Keypad: No

 

Compact (40%)

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  • 40-50 Keys (ANSI), 40-50 Keys (ISO)
  • Alphanumeric Keys: Yes (No Number Row, Some Typographical Symbols)
  • Modifier Keys: Some
  • System Keys: Perhaps
  • Function Keys: No (Accessible w/FN Key)
  • Special/Edit Keys: No (Accessible w/FN Key)
  • Navigation Keys: No
  • Numeric Keypad: No

 

[2.2] Profiles

Keyboard profile is the vertical shape of the keyboard, as in, the heights of each row of keys relative to one another. Note the angle of the backplane, as well as the heights and shape (sculpted/angular or uniform/flat) of each key row.

 

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  • Curved: Backplane is curved, keycaps are sculpted and at the same height.
  • Contoured/Sculpted: Backplane is angled, keycaps are sculpted and at different heights.
  • Staircase: Backplane is angled, keycaps are slightly sculpted and at the same height.
  • Flat: Backplane is level, keycaps are level and at the same height.

 

[2.3] Mechanical/Physical Layouts

Mechanical layout is the physical arrangement of keys on the keyboard, and is different from functional layout (Section [2.3]). The most common layouts are ANSI, ISO, and JIS (JIS won’t be covered here). Variants and other layouts do exist besides the ones listed below.

 

Note: U refers to an arbitrary unit of measurement. For instance, if 1U is the length of a standard key, 2U will be roughly double that length.

 

ANSI (American National Standards Institute)

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  • 2U Backspace Key
  • 1.5U Tab Key
  • 1.75U Caps Lock Key
  • 2.25U Enter/Return Key
  • 2.25U Left Shift Key, 2.75U Right Shift Key
  • 1.25U Alt Keys
  • Backtick/Tilde Key: Below Esc Key, Beside 1 Key
  • Hashtag Key: Between 2 and 4 Key
  • At Symbol Key: Between 1 and 3 Keys
  • Backslash/Pipe Key: Above Enter/Return Key

 

ISO (International Organization for Standardization)

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  • 2U Backspace Key
  • 1.5U Tab Key
  • European Enter/Return Key
  • 1.25U Left Shift Key, 2.75U Right Shift Key
  • 1.25U Left Alt Key, 1.25U Right Alt Gr Key
  • Backtick/Negation Key: Below Esc Key, Beside 1 Key
  • Pound Symbol Key: Between 2 and 4 Key
  • Hashtag/Tilde Key: Between Apostrophe/At Symbol and Enter/Return Keys
  • Backslash/Pipe Key: Between Left Shift and Z Keys

 

Ortholinear/Matrix

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  • Matrix “Stagger”: Non-Staggered Keys
  • All 1U Keys (Except Spacebar)

 

Ergonomic

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  • Columnar Stagger (Picture) or Symmetric Stagger (Not Pictured)

 

[2.4] Functional Layouts

Functional layout is the firmware-mapped arrangement of keys on the keyboard, and is different from mechanical/physical layout (Section 2.3). The most widely used layout is QWERTY, but others also exist and may be more popular in certain countries.

 

QWERTY

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QWERTZ

1024px-KB_Germany.svg.png

 

AZERTY

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Dvorak

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Colemak

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[3.0] Pre-Built Mechanical Keyboards

Hesitant about dishing out the time, money, and energy for a custom? Not to worry, pre-builts are always an alternative. Sure, pre-builts can get a lot of flak from the custom keeb community, but hey, different keystrokes for different folks. At the end of the day, if your keyboard satisfies you, then I'd say your opinion is valid.

 

As always, exceptions, niche cases, and workarounds exist.

 

Generally speaking, what do pre-built mechanical keyboards offer that custom ones don’t?

  • Plug n’ Play: No additional tools and no assembly time needed to get your board up and running.
  • Built-In Multimedia Controls: Convenient. Also, neat party tricks.
  • USB Passthrough: When you have too many dongles and not enough ports.
  • RGB Ecosystems: Sync your battlestation’s lights! Assuming that you’ve bought your keyboard, mouse, headset, and other peripherals from the same brand.
  • Customer Support/Warranties: If your keyboard has a problem, make that problem someone else’s problem. YMMV when it comes to actual helpfulness, however.

 

Generally speaking, what do custom mechanical keyboards offer that pre-built ones don’t?

  • Customization Options: The sky is the limit! Actually, store availability and your wallet are. But! If you have some D.T. tools and the know-how, the possibilities broaden even further. Customizability ranges all the way from hardware to firmware: aesthetics (case, keycaps, lighting effects), acoustics (click and clack), feeling (actuation, tactility, lubrication), re-programmability (layers, macros), etc.
  • Quality Parts: Say no to scratchy knockoff switches, and forget about keycap wear and sticky keys. Invest some time and money into your parts, and you can build a daily driver that’ll last you for years.
  • Easier Parts Repair: Picking your own parts means you’ll know exactly what’s going on in your build. Usually. If a keycap’s broken, the case gets horribly scratched, or the cable frays, you’ll be able to source individual parts or compatible alternatives from online vendors quite easily. Not so for pre-builts, since brands often don’t sell individual proprietary parts.
  • Easier Parts Replacement: Are you fickle of heart and bored of your board? Thinking of switching things up? Or did some keycaps capture your interest? The hardest thing you’ll have to do is shop for physically compatible parts. Want to do the same with a pre-built? You’re pretty much married to that case. And good luck trying to find keycaps that’ll fit that non-standard stem and/or bottom row.

 

...You can probably tell where my bias lies. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

Additional Resources

  • Keycap Layout and Size Chart: A visual guide to standard and non-standard OEM keyboard layouts. Useful reference for choosing keycaps that will be compatible with the listed pre-built keyboards.

 


 

[4.0] Custom Mechanical Keyboards

Got your mind set on building a custom mechanical keyboard? Sweet! Then you’ll want to know about its parts, the tools needed for the build, and the assembly process. After the build, you might want to check out any firmware or software you’ll need, and well as maintenance and cleaning tips and tricks.

 

[4.1] Parts

A good place to start before building anything is to know what parts make up your build, and to find out whether said parts are compatible with: one, your needs, and two, other parts.

 

Printed Circuit Board/PCB

Simply put, a printed circuit board is a non-conductive board with circuitry (traces, most often made of copper) and components that are etched or soldered onto it. The components determine what basic and additional features the PCB will offer. Some PCBs also have designs or useful legends silkscreened on to them.

 

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  • Standard PCB: A PCB equipped with a microcontroller, a diode for every switch, and a mini-USB or USB-C connector.
  • RGB PCB: A PCB also equipped with LEDs by every switch socket and an LED driver chip to light up the scene. Some RGB PCBs also support neat sound-controlled/coordinated RGB.
  • Hot-Swappable PCB: A PCB also equipped with hotswap sockets that allows switches to be installed and removed from the board without any soldering or desoldering.

 

Case

A case offers some basic physical shock- and water-resistance for the board’s delicate internals, and also adds some flair to your build. Every case should come with mounting holes that align with the keyboard’s PCB.

 

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  • Acrylic: Solid material that’s easy to maintain. Semi-transparent variants can pair up with RGB PCBs for interesting lighting effects unattainable with wood or metal cases.
  • Wood: Solid material with a very distinct aesthetic thanks to its wood grain. Durability and color retention as time passes might vary depending on the type of wood and finishing used.
  • Anodized Aluminum: Solid, weighty, and durable. Often coated with a protective matte layer.

 

Mounting Plate

A mounting plate is a flat sheet of material -- commonly stainless steel or aluminum, but also plastics and carbon fiber -- that rests above the PCB and holds a keyboard’s switches in place. Different materials offer varying levels of flexing and affect the keyboard’s clack, or the sound produced when the switch bottoms out. The general rule of thumb is denser mediums create higher-pitched sounds.

 

Note: Mounting plates are often not essential for a keyboard with PCB-mounted switches, but can improve the switches’ stability and avoid misaligned switches (for the OCD-sensitive, like yours truly).

 

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  • Stainless Steel: Very stiff and dense material. Produces higher-pitched clacks.
  • Aluminum: Fairly stiff and dense material. Produces higher-pitched clacks.
  • Carbon Fiber: Lightweight material. Produces higher-pitched clacks.
  • Acrylic: Stiff material. Produces lower-pitched clacks.
  • Polycarbonate: Stiff material. Produces lower-pitched clacks.
  • ABS: Softer material. Produces more muted clacks.
  • Plateless: No material. Produces slightly quieter, fainter clacks than plated counterparts.

 

Switches

The mechanical switch is a contained unit responsible for the feel and clicks (or lack of clicks) of the keyboard. In terms of compatibility, switches can be divided into PCB-mounted switches and plate-mounted switches.

 

plate_pcb.jpg

  • Plate-Mounted Switches: Switches secured in place by a mounting plate, has only three pins. Usually offers more stability than PCB-mounted switches.
  • PCB-Mounted Switches: Switches secured in place by the PCB, has at least five pins. Two of these pins are plastic-molded prongs, and for some switches, can be snipped off to irreversibly convert a PCB-mounted switch to a plate-mounted switch.

 

Note that keyboard parts compatible with one switch may not be compatible with other switches. For example, an MX-compatible PCB has a specific pin layout for MX-style switches, and will not accommodate Alps switches (exceptions exist, of course).

 

The world of switches is deep and vast, and deserves its own segment (Section 5.0).

 

Stabilizers

A wire stabilizer, outfitted on larger (2U+) keycaps, is a stiff wire designed to keep the entire keycap steady and level during a keypress. Often, the wire fits between two pegs that are connected to the keycap, but in Cherry MX “leveling mechanisms” (i.e. stabilizers™) the wire rests between two mini-switch-thingies that either clip into or are screwed directly into the PCB.

 

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Keycaps

Keycaps are the covers that fit over a switch’s stem and that make physical contact with your fingers with during a keypress. Different keycap selections can completely overhaul a keyboard’s aesthetics, thanks to the myriad of keycap materials, shapes, and designs that are available.

 

Note: Keycap mounts are not universally compatible with all types of switch stems. The most common mount is the MX-style mount (cross-shaped), but other types exist as well.

 

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  • ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene): Plastic with a smooth texture and slightly glossy look. Surface layer often rubs away with prolonged use, resulting in ‘ABS shine.’ Also, gradually discolors when exposed to sunlight/UV light -- discoloration is most noticeable on white keycaps.
  • PBT (Polybutylene Terephthalate): Hard and durable plastic with a somewhat rough, grainy surface texture and a matte finish. Surface layer is more resistant to ‘shine,’ and does not discolor with light exposure.
  • POM (Polyoxymethylene/Acetal): Hard, durable, and dense plastic with a semi-opaque, smooth finish. Surface layer is more resistant to ‘shine.’
  • PC (Polycarbonate): Durable plastic with a smooth, transparent surface. Surface layer is more resistant to 'shine,' and does not discolor with light exposure.
  • Resin: Viscous substance solidified into a rigid, plastic-like material with a smooth, glossy finish. Usually molded around unique, hand-sculpted miniatures to preserve the piece’s delicate details while maintaining keycap functionality -- think, museum display cases.
  • SLA/Stereolithography Resin: Rigid plastic-like material with a smooth finish. Often used in 3D printing to create unique, highly-detailed, limited-run designs.
  • Metal: Hard, durable, and very dense material with a smooth texture and shiny, reflective finish. Probably a smudge magnet, based on pure speculation.
  • Rubber: Soft, dense material with an opaque, textured (usually cross-hatched) surface. Appears to be a rubber sleeve fitted around a plastic shell?

 

Keycaps also come in a variety of profile shapes, and whether a keyboard is high-profile or low-profile depends partly on the height of its keycaps; the other deciding factor is switch type. Sculpted keycaps have a slight angle built into the keycap, while uniform keycaps are flat.

 

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  • Standard/OEM Profile: Sculpted keycaps with a level surface.
  • Cherry Profile: Sculpted keycaps with a level surface and a slightly lower profile and shorter height compared to OEM profile keycaps.
  • DCS Profile: Sculpted keycaps with a level surface, quite similar to Cherry profile keycaps.
  • SA Profile: High-profile, sculpted keycaps with a slightly spherical indent in the middle of the keycap.
  • KAT Profile: Sculpted keycaps with a slightly spherical indent in the middle of the keycap, has a slightly lower profile and shorter height compared to SA profile keycaps.
  • MT3 Profile: High-profile, sculpted keycaps with a slightly spherical indent in the middle of the keycap, slightly different than SA profile keycaps.
  • MG Profile: High-profile, sculpted keycaps with a very visible concave indent.
  • MDA Profile: Sculpted keycaps with a gently curved surface.
  • DSA Profile: Uniform keycaps with a slightly spherical indent in the middle of the keycap.
  • XDA Profile: Uniform keycaps with a larger surface area compared to DSA profile keycaps.

 

Legends refer to the inscriptions or designs on a surface. The type of printing used for keycap legends affects its visual quality and durability. Most legends are printed on the surface of the keycap, but side-printed options are available as well. Some blank keycaps eschew legends entirely (hehe, Eschew).

 

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  • Pad Printed: Keycaps with legends inked directly onto its surface. Decent visual quality, but the ink wears away easily from frequent contact.
  • Laser Etched: Keycaps with legends marked onto the surface with a laser. Decent visual quality with straight lines, but not with solid fill areas (e.g. arrowheads, Windows symbol). Laser etching may also fade away on keycaps susceptible to ‘shine.’
  • Laser Printed: Keycaps with legends marked onto the surface with a laser and ink filled in the lasered grooves. Decent visual quality, but the ink can stain easily and the laser etching may fade away on keycaps susceptible to ‘shine.’
  • Laser Engraved: Transparent keycaps that are coated in an opaque paint, with legends lasered off from the opaque surface coat to create transparent characters. Often used for backlit keycaps. Decent visual quality, but the surface coat may wear away from frequent contact, revealing the transparent keycap beneath.
  • Dye Sublimation: Keycaps with legends permanently stained in the material, just beneath the surface. Decent visual quality for dark dyes on lighter surfaces, but ineffective for lighter-colored lettering on darker surfaces. Quite long-lasting, and resistant to ‘shine.’
  • Double-Shot: Keycaps with legends molded from one piece of plastic, while the rest of the keycap is molded in another piece. Contrasting colors offer decent visuals, and because the legends are made of molded plastic rather than removeable ink, ‘shine’ isn’t an issue.
  • Side-Printed: Keycaps with legends printed on one of its vertical sides, with the legends facing the user.
  • Blank: Keycaps without any printed legends.

 

Keys may be illuminated in single or multiple colors if the keyboard’s PCB supports LED/RGB functionality. Some keycaps take advantage of LED/RGB lighting with backlit legends, LED windows, or translucency.

 

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  • Backlit/Shine-Through: Keycaps with transparent legends that can be illuminated by the LEDs underneath.
  • Windowed: Keycaps with a small, transparent section that can be illuminated by the LEDs underneath.
  • Pudding: Keycaps with an opaque top surface and semi-opaque walls that can be illuminated by the LEDs underneath. Resembles the two layers of a flan pudding, hence the name.
  • Jelly: POM keycaps with a semi-opaque surface that can be illuminated by the LEDs underneath. Has a very soft and muted color when illuminated.
  • Translucent: PC keycaps that are clear and sometimes tinted, revealing both the switch and the LEDs underneath.

 

Sound Dampeners

Sound dampeners are optional additions and fit around either the switch’s or keycap’s stem to soften the clack of the keyboard. Clacks are different from clicks; the former refers to the dull, muted sound produced when the switch bottoms out, whereas the latter refers to the sharp, high-pitched sound produced by a clicky switch.

 

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  • O-Rings: Rubber rings that fit tightly around the keycap’s stem, reducing both the keystroke’s clack and travel distance. Mostly recommended for rounded keycap stems; mileages may vary with other switch stems.
    • Diameter: Diameter is tied to stem compatibility. Recommended diameters are 5mm for MX-style keycaps and 7mm for Topre-style keycaps.
    • Thickness: Thickness is tied to keystroke travel distance, with thicker rings greatly reducing travel distance. Thicknesses can range from 0.2mm up to 2.5mm.
    • Hardness: Hardness, rated along a Shore A durometer scale, is tied to keystroke mushiness and clack softening. Lower hardness (30A - 40A) are softer in both feeling and sound, while higher hardness (70A - 80A) are firmer and less effective for sound-dampening.
  • Soft-Landing Pads: Rubbery material with a circular cut-out that fits loosely around the switch’s stem, reducing the keystroke’s clack and cushioning the bottom out.
  • Silencing Clips: Plastic casings that clip over the top of the switch, reducing the keystroke’s clack and cushioning the bottom out. Compatibility is mostly limited to MX-style switches and thinner keycaps.

 

Other ways to dampen keyboard noises and vibrations exist, including but not limited to: gasket-mounted plates, sound-absorbing foam, soft rubber feet, etc.

 

Cabling

Most, if not all, wired custom mechanical keyboards use the USB 2.0 standard and HID subprotocol. USB 3.0 is quite rare on keyboards, and the max signaling rate increase from 480 Mbps to 5 Gbps usually has a very negligible observable impact.

 

Wireless customs also exist, but are far less common compared to wired ones.

 

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  • Plain Cabling: Cables that use plastic cable jackets. Comes in straight and coiled variants, and the only difference seems to be aesthetics.
  • Paracorded Cabling: Cables with a layer of lightweight nylon wrapped over its cable jacket, often in a braided pattern, that lends it additional durability.
  • Double-Sleeved Cabling: Cables with another layer of sleeving wrapped around its nylon cord and cable jacket, often in a braided pattern, that lends it additional durability and rigidity.

 

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  • USB Type-A Connector: One-way connectors.
  • USB Type-C Connector: Reversible connectors.
  • Micro-USB Connector: One-way connectors.
  • Mini-USB Connector: One-way connectors.
  • Aviator Connector: Connectors fitted part-way on a cable for convenient attachment and detachment, and as a fashion statement.
  • Wireless: Relies on Bluetooth/USB receivers, often operates at 2.4 GHz frequencies.

 

[4.2] Tools

If the right parts are chosen, the entire assembly process can be toolless. Disassembly, however, will always require a few tools - assuming you’d like to keep your parts free of dings and scratches.

 

Main tools are prioritized below, followed by alternatives and optional items in indented bullet-points.

  • Soldering Iron: A 40W - 60W soldering iron with a stand is recommended for occasional or one-off soldering work. Irons with lower wattages may create bad solder joints.
    • Digital Soldering Station: A soldering station equipped with a soldering iron, a stand, a temperature control, and a tip cleaner/wet sponge. Recommended for frequent soldering work, but a fair bit more expensive than your standard soldering iron.
    • Soldering Gun: A gun loaded with a soldering iron and solder, operates at high wattages, outputs a lot of heat, and has no temperature control. Not recommended for circuitry and mechanical keyboard building.
  • Desoldering Pump/Solder Sucker: Solder suckers come in plunger (spring-loaded piston) and bulb (rubber bulb, Teflon tip) variants, and they both work by vacuum-suctioning up heated solder.
    • Desoldering Braid/Wick: Fine copper wire woven into a flat braid, removes heated solder via capillary action.
    • Desoldering Gun: A gun loaded with an electric vacuum pump. Costs a pretty penny and a little overkill for mechanical keyboard building, but saves you some stress and headaches.
  • Solder: A metal alloy that with low melting point that is melted to form joints between two metal connections. For mechanical keyboards, a solder diameter of 0.8mm (0.031”) is generally recommended.
    • 63/37 Sn-Pb (Tin-Lead): Melts at 183°C (361°F). Roisin-core solder may produce toxic, irritating fumes.
    • 60/40 Sn-Pb (Tin-Lead): Melts at 188°C (370°F). Roisin-core solder may produce toxic, irritating fumes.
    • Lead-Free Solder: Compared to leaded solder, is more expensive, has a higher melting point, flows slower, and may also produce toxic, irritating fumes.
    • Soldering Fume Extractor: Draws solder fumes away from the user with fans. Not necessary if you keep your work area well-ventilated. Very overkill for a one-off build, but probably useful for frequent soldering work.
  • Screwdriver: A #1 Phillips screwdriver (i.e. your standard screwdriver) should be compatible with most custom cases, which often use M2 screws to secure the PCB to the chassis.
  • Keycap Pullers: Keycap pullers lock their loops/prongs around a keycap and remove them with a pull. They most commonly come in wire puller and plastic ring variants. Wire pullers are highly recommended over plastic pullers, as the latter is more prone to leaving unsightly marks on keycaps in the removal process.
    • DIY Paper Clip Keycap Pullers: A low-cost, ghetto, but perfectly functional solution. Possibly better than plastic ring pullers.
  • Switch Puller: Switch pullers work similarly to keycap pullers, by locking their tips around a switch’s bottom housing and removing the desoldered switch with a pull. They come in tongs-like or ring-like variants, and are usually all-metal or have metal tips.

 

[4.3] Assembly

The fun part! A clean, clutter-free, and organized workspace is recommended. Here’s the How-To.

 

Note: Testing parts are completely optional, but are useful for troubleshooting or sanity checks.

 

1. PCB and Stabilizers

  • Align the stabilizer prongs with the holes in the PCB. Orientation is important. One of the stabilizer’s prongs should be smaller than the other, and the same pattern should be apparent on the PCB.
    • Testing LED/RGB: The PCB’s LEDs can be tested simply by plugging it into a powered USB port and watching the board automatically illuminate.
    • Testing PCB Keys: With a pair of tweezers and Keyboard Checker, each key can be tested by touching the tweezers to the two pads (ring-like holes) that each switch’s pins align into.

 

2A. Standard PCBs - Mounting Plate, Switches, Solder, and Case

  • Pre-heat the soldering iron up to 350°C - 370°C (662°F - 698°F). Clean and iron the tip, if necessary.
  • Align the four switches that fit into the four corners of the keyboard on the mounting plate, and fit the loose, unsoldered plate-plus-switches assembly on the PCB. If aligned properly, each switch’s pins should fit into their corresponding holes on the PCB.
    • Testing Keycap Alignment: Before the switches are soldered in, fit a few keycaps on the switches, preferably on some switches in a row, to check that the switches are fitted properly and that the keycaps will be aligned neatly.
  • Solder each switch to the PCB by pressing the soldering iron tip to the PCB pad, making contact with the switch’s pin, and drawing the solder towards the heated tip. A good solder joint will have a concave, cone-like shape.
  • Once the four corner switches have been soldered in, repeat the soldering process with the rest of the keyboard’s switches.
    • Testing Keys: Each key can be tested with Keyboard Checker by pressing down on each switch.
  • Fit the soldered PCB-plus-switches assembly into the case, aligning the mounting plate and PCB’s mounting holes with those on the case.
  • Screw the soldered assembly to the case with some M2 screws (usually 4 or 5 screws) and a #1 Phillips screwdriver.
  • If the case is a two-piece construction (top and bottom), attach or screw the top frame over the bottom base.

 

2B. Hot-Swappable PCBs - Case, Mounting Plate, and Switches

  • Fit the PCB and mounting plate into the case, aligning the PCB and mounting plate’s mounting holes with those on the case.
  • Screw the PCB-plus-plate assembly to the case with some M2 screws (usually 4 or 5 screws) and a #1 Phillips screwdriver.
  • If the case is a two-piece construction (top and bottom), attach or screw the top frame over the bottom base.
  • Align each switch’s pins with their corresponding holes on the PCB, and press down firmly. It should install with a dull click. Double-check that the switch is level against the plate. Repeat the process with the rest of the keyboard’s switches.
    • Testing Keys: Each key can be tested with Keyboard Checker by pressing down on each switch.

 

4. Keycaps and Sound Dampeners

  • Fit any sound dampeners over their respective keycap or switch stems.
  • Fit each keycap over its corresponding switch’s stem and press down firmly.
    • Testing Keyboard: Each key can be tested on Keyboard Checker.
    • Typing Test: Test your WPM with your newly assembled keyboard on Typing.com.

 

[4.4] Firmware and Software

Firmware coordinates inputs and directives between the physical keyboard and applications or software installed on the computer. Whether a keyboard supports custom firmware, and which custom firmware is compatible with the keyboard, will depend on what microcontroller is installed on the PCB. Some custom firmware support different lighting effects, multiple layers, re-programmable keys, and additional features.

 

Software, on the other hand, is handled entirely by the computer and can offer other features that firmware lacks.

 

Note: The lists below are not all-inclusive.

 

Firmware

 

Software

 

[4.5] Maintenance and Cleaning

Owning anything means a certain responsibility is attached to said ownership, and a mechanical keyboard is no different. Keep your custom keeb in tip-top condition with some regular maintenance and cleaning.

 

Note: Running your custom mechanical keyboard through a dishwasher is generally not recommended. Domestic water isn’t pure H2O and contains other salts and impurities. Plastic materials will likely be fine, but metallic components (copper traces, stabilizer wires, switch springs, etc.) exposed to water and impurities will almost certainly corrode.

 

General Maintenance

  • Compressed Air: Used to blow the dust, crumbs, and other tiny nasties from all the teeny-weeny spaces in your keyboard.
  • Mini/Computer Vacuum: Used to remove dust, crumbs, and other tiny nasties from all the teeny-weeny spaces in your keyboard.
  • Damp Microfiber Cloth/Disinfectant Wipe: Used to wipe down the keyboard’s exterior.
  • Dry Cloth: Used to dry the keyboard from a wet wipe. Paper towels are an alternative, but note that cheapo towels tend to leave fluffy particles behind.

 

Cleaning Keycaps

  • Warm Soapy Water: Soak keycaps in a bowl of warm, soapy water for 45-60 min, then rinse and dry them off. Denture cleanser tablets will work as well.
  • Alcohol (Isopropyl, Acetone, Etc.): Not recommended. Some ABS and PBT plastics, as well as legends, can discolor or will degrade from concentrated alcohol.
  • Household Cleaners: Only recommended if heavily diluted. Both ABS and PBT plastics, as well as legends, will discolor or degrade from concentrated cleaners.

 


 

[5.0] Switches

If the PCB makes up the brain of your mechanical keyboard, its switches make up its soul. It’s that feeling you get when you start typing on your keeb, and everything just... clicks. Or clacks. Or bumps.

 

What follows is a rundown of clicky, tactile, and linear switches, as well as a mechanical switch’s parts, related tools, and flavors.

 

Note: This guide will not cover modding switches.

 

[5.1] Clicky, Tactile, and Linear

Mechanical switches can be sorted into three categories: clicky, tactile, and linear. The categorizations are based on the auditory and tactile feedback the user experiences when the switch is pressed.

  • Clicky: Switches with an audible click, and no tactile bump.
  • Tactile: Switches with a tactile bump, comes in both clicky and non-clicky variants.
  • Linear: Switches with neither an audible click nor a tactile bump.

 

Sounds

Spoiler

Clicky (Cherry MX Blue)

 

Tactile (Cherry MX Brown)

 

Linear (Cherry MX Red)

 

[5.2] Parts

Mechanical switches are generally composed of the same parts, give or take a few pieces. That’s not to say that all switches are the same -- switch manufacturers often add tweaks to the base template to create their own unique switch flavors. Note that the generalizations below are based on Cherry MX mechanical switches.

 

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Housing

The housing is made up of an upper housing and a bottom housing. Together, they form the plastic cuboid enclosure that keeps the switch’s parts contained. While it serves a protective purpose, offering some basic physical shock-, water- and dust-resistance for its internals, it also works in tandem with the switch’s spring to provide a consistent and comfortable typing experience.

  • Standard Housing: Switches with opaque, often black, housings.
  • SMD-LED Compatible/RGB Housing: Switches with transparent housings that can be illuminated from underneath by LEDs.

 

Leaf

The leaf consists of two metal contacts that sit in the bottom housing. At rest, the contacts do not touch one another. When the key is pressed, the contacts touch, an electrical circuit is completed, and a keystroke is registered.

 

Stem

The stem determines the tactility, stability, and smoothness of the switch. For custom keyboards, the most common and widely compatible stem is the MX-style cross-shaped stem, but similar variants and not-so-similar others also exist.

  • Stability/Wobbliness: A characteristic usually affected by gaps between the stem and housing, or the stem and keycap. The more airtight the gap is, the more stable the typing experience will be.
  • Smoothness/Scratchiness: A characteristic largely affected by the friction between the stem and leaf. Smoother stem materials and lubricants can mitigate switch scratchiness.

 

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  • Tactile: Switches with a small bump or indent on the wing of the stem. When the switch is pressed, the stem slides against the leaf, and the uneven surface of the stem’s wing running against the leaf creates the tactile typing sensation.
  • Linear: Switches with a straight wing stem. When the switch is pressed, the stem glides evenly against the leaf for a smooth, non-tactile typing sensation.
  • Clicky: Switches with a sharp typing sensation and an audible click. Stem shapes vary, as the characteristic click sound may produced by different mechanisms.
    • Click Jacket/Sliding Collar (Pictured Above): A separate plastic piece that is connected to and fits around the bottom of the stem. In its default position, the wings of the click jacket rest against the leaf. When the switch is pressed, the stem pushes down on the click jacket and it shoots straight down to produce a sharp typing sensation and an audible click.
    • Clickbar (Not Pictured): A metal, spring-like piece with an elongated horizontal bar that sits just under the stem's leg. When the switch is pressed, the stem's leg pushes down on the clickbar and it springs back up against the switch's housing to produce an audible click.

 

Spring

The spring is a metal coil that sits under the stem, and is related to a switch’s actuation force -- the force needed to press down on a switch and to register a keystroke. As a hard and fast rule, heavier springs have higher actuation points. The exact actuation force required for each weight is a little more difficult to determine, as each manufacturer seems to follow their own standards.

 

Lubricant

Lubricants aim to reduce the friction between the switch’s stem and leaf/spring to create a smoother-than-default typing experience. They are completely optional, although many enthusiasts will swear by them and some switches may come pre-lubed from the factory.

 

spacer.png

 

Note: Using random household liquids and cooking oils as switch lubricants is not recommended. They may gum up switches, leave sticky or rancid residue behind, attract dust and other particles, or produce other unpleasant results.

  • Thin Lube: Lubricants with lower viscosity. Recommended for switches.
  • Thick Lube: Lubricants with higher viscosity. Recommended for stabilizers.

 

Naming Conventions

  • Digits, Grades: Lubricants labelled with lower digits are less viscous. For example, Tribosys 3203 will be less viscous (i.e. thinner) than Tribosys 3204.
    • 10x: Lubricants that are oils. An example is Krytox GPL 104.
    • 20x: Lubricants that are greases. Examples are Krytox GPL 205 and Tribosys 3204.
    • g0: Grade 0 lubricants with a smooth consistency. Recommended for switches and stabilizers.

 

Switch Lubrication Guides

The process is precise; lubricants should only be applied to areas of the switch that would most benefit from lubrication. Also, results may vary. Lubricants will adhere to some switches better than others.

 

Switch Films

Switch films, also optional additions, aim to reduce switch wobble. They sit inside the switch, sandwiched between the switch's upper and bottom housings. The end result is a more consistent typing and acoustic experience, as well as a duller clack.

 

rL9bnGd.png

 

[5.3] Tools

Main tools are prioritized below, followed by alternatives and optional items in indented bullet-points.

  • Switch Opener: A small device outfitted with protrusions that are designed to lift the upper housing from the bottom housing of a switch, opening the switch up. Simply align the switch into the opener and press down.
    • Tweezers/Flathead Screwdriver: Both tools may be used to open switches by pushing up from under the upper housing’s clips, but this method is less convenient than a switch opener and carries the risk of damaging the switch’s housing if used recklessly.
  • Tweezers: A pair of tweezers are highly recommended for handling tiny switch parts, especially if you plan to lubricate your switches. Also, it minimizes the amount of finger oils and grime you leave on them.
  • Small Brush (For Lubing): Any small paintbrush with bristles small enough to slide into a switch’s nooks and crannies will do. Not necessary if you don’t plan on lubricating your switch.

 

[5.4] Flavors

Every person’s tastes are a little bit different, and mechanical switches come in a variety of flavors. Some switches sharing the same stem type even have cross-compatible parts, for those who like a little from column A and a little from column B.

 

spacer.png

 

The switch specifications below (contained in spoiler tags) have been described as advertised by the manufacturer, but the user’s actual experience might vary. Also, while an effort has been made to include switches that are commonly available, the list is not all-inclusive.

  • Type: Classification as clicky, tactile, or linear.
  • Mounting: Compatibility as PCB-mounted or plate-mounted, or whether both options are available.
  • Actuation (cN): Force required to register a keystroke.
  • Pre-Travel (mm): Distance required to register a keystroke.
  • Total Travel (mm): Distance required to bottom out the switch.
  • NDA: No Data Available.
  • (?): Educated Guesses.

 

Alps Stems

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Switches with a cuboid stem. Some switches may be difficult to acquire outside of Group Buys (Section 6.0).

Spoiler

Manufacturer

Switch

Type

Other Notes

Mounting

Actuation (cN)

Pre-Travel (mm)

Total Travel (mm)

Gaote

(Outemu)

ALPS White

Clicky

 

Plate-Mounted

60 ± 15

2.0 ± 0.5

4.0 ± 0.5

Gaote

(Outemu)

ALPS Red

Linear

 

Plate-Mounted

60 ± 15

2.0 ± 0.5

4.0 ± 0.5

Hua-Jie

AK-CN2

Clicky

 

Plate-Mounted

60 ± 15

1.5 ± 0.5

3.5 ± 0.5

Hua-JIe

AK-LE

Tactile

 

Plate-Mounted

70 ± 15

1.5 ± 0.5

3.5 ± 0.5

Hua-JIe

AK-DN2

Linear

 

Plate-Mounted

70 ± 15

1.5 ± 0.5

3.5 ± 0.5

Matias

Click

Clicky,

Tactile

 

Plate-Mounted

60 ± 5

NDA

NDA

Matias

Quiet Click

Tactile

 

Plate-Mounted

60 ± 5

NDA

NDA

Matias

Quiet Linear

Linear

 

Plated-Mounted

35 ± 5

NDA

NDA

Tai-Hao

APC Blue

Clicky

 

Plate-Mounted

55

NDA

NDA

Tai-Hao

APC White

Linear

 

Plate-Mounted

65

NDA

NDA

Tai-Hao

APC Green

Clicky

 

Plate-Mounted

280

NDA

NDA

Xiang Min

KSB-C

Clicky

 

Plate-Mounted

60 ± 15

1.5 ± 0.5

3.5 ± 0.5

Xiang Min

KSB-N

Linear

 

Plate-Mounted

60 ± 15

1.5 ± 0.5

3.5 ± 0.5

Xiang Min

KSB-LE

Linear

LED Cutout

Plate-Mounted

60 ± 15

1.5 ± 0.5

3.5 ± 0.5

 

MX Stems

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Switches with a cross-shaped stem. Some variants enclose the stem in a bracketed or boxed structure.

Spoiler

Manufacturer

Switch

Type

Other Notes

Mounting

Actuation (cN)

Pre-Travel (mm)

Total Travel (mm)

Cherry MX

Blue

Clicky,

Tactile

RGB Option Available

PCB-Mounted,

Plate-Mounted

60

2.2

4.0

Cherry MX

Green

Clicky,

Tactile

 

PCB-Mounted,

Plate-Mounted

80

2.2

4.0

Cherry MX

Brown

Tactile

RGB Option Available

PCB-Mounted,

Plate-Mounted

55

2.0

4.0

Cherry MX

Clear

Tactile

 

PCB-Mounted,

Plate-Mounted

65

2.0

4.0

Cherry MX

Grey

Tactile

 

PCB-Mounted,

Plate-Mounted

80

2.0

4.0

Cherry MX

Red

Linear

RGB Option Available

PCB-Mounted,

Plate-Mounted

45

2.0

4.0

Cherry MX

Black

Linear

RGB Option Available

PCB-Mounted,

Plate-Mounted

60

2.0

4.0

Cherry MX

Speed Silver

Linear

RGB Option Available

Plate-Mounted

45

1.2

3.4

Cherry MX

Silent Red

Linear

Silent,

RGB Option Available

PCB-Mounted,

Plate-Mounted

45

1.9

3.7

Cherry MX

Silent Black

Linear

Silent,

RGB Option Available

PCB-Mounted,

Plate-Mounted

60

1.9

3.7

Cherry MX

Low Profile Red

Linear

RGB,

Low Profile

Plate-Mounted

45

1.2

3.2

Cherry MX

Low Profile Speed Silver

Linear

RGB,

Low Profile

Plate-Mounted

45

1.0

3.2

Gaote

(Outemu)

Blue

Clicky

 

PCB-Mounted,

Plate-Mounted

60 ± 10

2.2 ± 0.6

4.0

Gaote

(Outemu)

Brown

Tactile

 

PCB-Mounted,

Plate-Mounted

60 ± 10

2.2 ± 0.6

4.0

Gaote

(Outemu)

Red

Linear

 

PCB-Mounted,

Plate-Mounted

60 ± 10

2.0 ± 0.6

4.0

Gaote

(Outemu)

Black

Linear

 

PCB-Mounted,

Plate-Mounted

80 ± 10

2.0 ± 0.6

4.0

Gaote

(Outemu)

Dustproof Blue

Clicky

Bracketed Stem

Plate-Mounted

60 ± 10

2.2 ± 0.6

4.0

Gaote

(Outemu)

Dustproof Brown

Tactile

Bracketed Stem

Plate-Mounted

60 ± 10

2.0 ± 0.6

4.0

Gaote

(Outemu)

Dustproof Red

Linear

Bracketed Stem

Plate-Mounted

60 ± 10

2.0 ± 0.6

4.0

Gaote

(Outemu)

Dustproof Black

Linear

Bracketed Stem

Plate-Mounted

80 ± 15

2.0 ± 0.6

4.0

Gateron

Blue

(KS-9青轴)

Clicky,

Tactile

 

PCB-Mounted (Translucent Housing),

Plate-Mounted (Black Housing)

60 ± 15

2.3 ± 0.6

4.0 ± 0.4

Gateron

Green

(KS-9绿轴)

Clicky,

Tactile

 

PCB-Mounted (Translucent Housing),

Plate-Mounted (Black Housing)

80 ± 15

2.3 ± 0.6

4.0 ± 0.4

Gateron

Brown

(KS-9茶轴)

Tactile

 

PCB-Mounted (Translucent Housing),

Plate-Mounted (Black Housing)

55 ± 15

2.0 ± 0.6

4.0 ± 0.4

Gateron

White

(KS-9白轴)

Linear

 

PCB-Mounted (Translucent Housing),

Plate-Mounted (Black Housing)

35 ± 15

2.0 ± 0.6

4.0 ± 0.4

Gateron

Red

(KS-9红轴)

Linear

 

PCB-Mounted (Translucent Housing),

Plate-Mounted (Black Housing)

45 ± 15

2.0 ± 0.6

4.0 ± 0.4

Gateron

Yellow

(KS-9黄轴)

Linear

 

PCB-Mounted (Translucent Housing),

Plate-Mounted (Black Housing)

50 ± 15

2.0 ± 0.6

4.0 ± 0.4

Gateron

Black

(KS-9黑轴)

Linear

 

PCB-Mounted (Translucent Housing),

Plate-Mounted (Black Housing)

60 ± 15

2.0 ± 0.6

4.0 ± 0.4

Gateron

Silent Brown

(KS-8静音茶)

Tactile

 

PCB-Mounted

55 ± 15

2.0 ± 0.6

4.0 ± 0.4

Gateron

Silent Red

(KS-8静音红)

Linear

 

PCB-Mounted

45 ± 15

2.0 ± 0.6

4.0 ± 0.4

Gateron

Silent Black

(KS-8静音黑)

Linear

 

PCB-Mounted

60 ± 15

2.0 ± 0.6

4.0 ± 0.4

Gateron

Blue Ink

(INK青轴)

Clicky,

Tactile

Blue Housing

PCB-Mounted

75 ± 10

2.3 ± 0.5

4.0 ± 0.4

Gateron

Red Ink

(INK红轴)

Linear

Red Housing

PCB-Mounted

45 ± 10

2.0 ± 0.6

4.0 ± 0.4

Gateron

Yellow Ink

(INK黄轴)

Linear

Yellow Housing

PCB-Mounted

60 ± 10

2.0 ± 0.6

3.4 ± 0.4

Gateron

Black Ink

(INK黑轴)

Linear

Black Housing

PCB-Mounted

60 ± 10

2.0 ± 0.6

4.0 ± 0.4

Gateron

Silent Black Ink

(INK静音黑轴)

Linear

Black Housing

PCB-Mounted

60

2.0 ± 0.6 (?)

4.0 ± 0.4 (?)

Gateron

(ZealPC)

Purple Zealio 62g

(KS-3P)

Tactile

 

PCB-Mounted

62 ± 15

2.0 ± 0.6

4.0 ± 0.4

Gateron

(ZealPC)

Purple Zealio 65g

(KS-3P)

Tactile

 

PCB-Mounted

65 ± 15

2.0 ± 0.6

4.0 ± 0.4

Gateron

(ZealPC)

Purple Zealio 67g

(KS-3P)

Tactile

 

PCB-Mounted

67 ± 15

 

2.0 ± 0.6

4.0 ± 0.4

Gateron

(ZealPC)

Purple Zealio 78g

(KS-3P)

Tactile

 

PCB-Mounted

78 ± 15

2.0 ± 0.6

4.0 ± 0.4

Gateron

(ZealPC)

Zilent 62g

(KS-3JP)

Tactile

Silent

PCB-Mounted

62 ± 15

2.0 ± 0.6

4.0 ± 0.4

Gateron

(ZealPC)

Zilent 65g

(KS-3JP)

Tactile

Silent

PCB-Mounted

65 ± 15

2.0 ± 0.6

4.0 ± 0.4

Gateron

(ZealPC)

Zilent 67g

(KS-3JP)

Tactile

Silent

PCB-Mounted

67 ± 15

2.0 ± 0.6

4.0 ± 0.4

Gateron

(ZealPC)

Zilent 78g

(KS-3JP)

Tactile

Silent

PCB-Mounted

78 ± 15

2.0 ± 0.6

4.0 ± 0.4

Gateron

(ZealPC)

Tealio

(KS-3GB)

Linear

 

PCB-Mounted

67 ± 15

2.0 ± 0.6

4.0 ± 0.4

Gateron

(ZealPC)

Sakurios

Linear

Silent

PCB-Mounted

62

2.0 ± 0.6 (?)

4.0 ± 0.4 (?)

Gateron

(ZealPC)

Roselios

Linear

Silent

PCB-Mounted

67

2.0 ± 0.6 (?)

4.0 ± 0.4 (?)

Gateron

(ZealPC)

Healios

Linear

Silent

PCB-Mounted

63.5

2.0 ± 0.6 (?)

4.0 ± 0.4 (?)

Gateron

Low Profile Blue

(KS-21矮青轴)

Clicky,

Tactile

Low Profile

Plate-Mounted

50 ± 15

1.5 ± 0.5

2.5 ± 0.5

Gateron

Low Profile Brown

(KS-21矮茶轴)

Tactile

Low Profile

Plate-Mounted

55 ± 15

1.5 ± 0.5

2.5 ± 0.5

Gateron

Low Profile Red

(KS-21矮红轴)

Linear

Low Profile

Plate-Mounted

45 ± 15

1.5 ± 0.5

2.5 ± 0.5

Greetech

Blue

Clicky

 

PCB-Mounted,

Plate-Mounted

60 ± 20

2.0 ± 0.6

4.0 ± 0.4

Greetech

Brown

Tactile

 

PCB-Mounted,

Plate-Mounted

60 ± 20

2.0 ± 0.6

4.0 ± 0.4

Greetech

Red

Linear

 

PCB-Mounted,

Plate-Mounted

60 ± 20

2.0 ± 0.6

4.0 ± 0.4

Greetech

Black

Linear

 

PCB-Mounted,

Plate-Mounted

80 ± 25

2.0 ± 0.6

4.0 ± 0.4

JWK

(Durock)

T1

Tactile

Smokey Housing Option Available

PCB-Mounted

NDA

2.0

4.0

JWK

(Durock)

L2 (62g)

Linear

Smokey Housing Option Available

PCB-Mounted

NDA

NDA

NDA

JWK

(Durock)

L2 (67g)

Linear

Smokey Housing Option Available

PCB-Mounted

NDA

NDA

NDA

JWK

(Durock)

L3

Linear

Smokey Housing Option Available

PCB-Mounted

NDA

NDA

NDA

JWK

(Durock)

L4

Linear

Smokey Housing Option Available

PCB-Mounted

NDA

NDA

NDA

JWK

(Durock)

L5

Linear

Smokey Housing Option Available

PCB-Mounted

NDA

NDA

NDA

JWK

(Durock)

L6

Linear

Smokey Housing Option Available

PCB-Mounted

NDA

NDA

NDA

JWK

(Durock)

L7 (62g)

Linear

Smokey Housing Option Available

PCB-Mounted

NDA

NDA

NDA

JWK

(Durock)

L7 (67g)

Linear

Smokey Housing Option Available

PCB-Mounted

NDA

NDA

NDA

JWK

(Durock)

L7 (78g)

Linear

Smokey Housing Option Available

PCB-Mounted

NDA

NDA

NDA

JWK

(Durock)

Koala (62g)

Tactile

Cream Housing

PCB-Mounted

NDA

2.0

4.0

JWK

(Durock)

Koala (67g)

Tactile

Cream Housing

PCB-Mounted

NDA

2.0

4.0

JWK

(Durock)

Dolphin Silent Linear

Linear

Silent

PCB-Mounted

NDA

NDA

NDA

JWK

(Durock)

Daybreak Silent Linear

Linear

Silent, Smokey Housing

PCB-Mounted

NDA

NDA

NDA

JWK

(Durock)

Lilac

Tactile

Dark Purple Housing

PCB-Mounted

NDA

NDA

NDA

JWK

(Durock)

Mauve

Linear

Cream Housing

PCB-Mounted

NDA

NDA

NDA

JWK

(keebwerk)

Bushi.

Tactile

Silent,

Red/Gray Housing

PCB-Mounted

62

2.0

3.8

JWK

(keebwerk)

Tacit.

Tactile

RGB

PCB-Mounted

67

2.0

3.8

Kaihua

(Kailh)

Blue

Clicky,

Tactile

RGB Option Available

Plate-Mounted

50 ± 10

1.9 ± 0.4

4.0 ± 0.4

Kaihua

(Kailh)

Brown

Tactile

RGB Option Available

Plate-Mounted

50 ± 10

1.9 ± 0.4

4.0 ± 0.4

Kaihua

(Kailh)

Red

Linear

RGB Option Available

Plate-Mounted

50 ± 10

1.9 ± 0.4

4.0 ± 0.4

Kaihua

(Kailh)

Black

Linear

RGB Option Available

Plate-Mounted

60 ± 10

1.9 ± 0.4

4.0 ± 0.4

Kaihua

(NovelKeys)

Cream

Linear

 

PCB-Mounted

55

2.0

4.0

Kaihua

(Kailh)

Speed Pink

Clicky

 

Plate-Mounted

50 ± 10

1.1 ± 0.4

3.5 ± 0.4

Kaihua

(Kailh)

Speed Bronze

Clicky

 

Plate-Mounted

60 ± 10

1.1 ± 0.3

3.5 ± 0.3

Kaihua

(Kailh)

Speed Gold

Clicky

 

Plate-Mounted

60 ± 10

1.4 ± 0.3

3.5 ± 0.3

Kaihua

(Kailh)

Speed Copper

Tactile

 

Plate-Mounted

50 ± 10

1.1 ± 0.3

3.5 ± 0.3

Kaihua

(Kailh)

Speed Silver

Linear

 

Plate-Mounted

40 ± 10

1.1 ± 0.3

3.5 ± 0.3

Kaihua

(Kailh)

Speed Heavy Pale Blue

Clicky

 

Plate-Mounted

70 ± 15

1.1 ± 0.4

3.5 ± 0.4

Kaihua

(Kailh)

Speed Heavy Burnt Orange

Tactile

 

Plate-Mounted

70 ± 15

1.1 ± 0.4

3.0 ± 0.4

Kaihua

(Kailh)

Speed Heavy Dark Yellow

Linear

 

Plate-Mounted

70 ± 15

1.1 ± 0.4

3.5 ± 0.4

Kaihua

(Kailh)

PRO Light Green

Clicky,

Tactile

 

Plate-Mounted

60 ± 10

1.7 ± 0.6

3.6 ± 0.6

Kaihua

(Kailh)

PRO Purple

Tactile

 

Plate-Mounted

50 ± 10

1.7 ± 0.6

3.6 ± 0.3

Kaihua

(Kailh)

PRO Burgundy

Linear

 

Plate-Mounted

50 ± 10

1.7 ± 0.6

3.6 ± 0.3

Kaihua

(Kailh)

BOX White

Clicky

BOX Stem

Plate-Mounted

55 ± 10

1.8 ± 0.3

3.6 ± 0.3

Kaihua

(Kailh)

BOX Brown

Tactile

BOX Stem

Plate-Mounted

60 ± 10

1.8 ± 0.3

3.6 ± 0.3

Kaihua

(Kailh)

BOX Red

Linear

BOX Stem

Plate-Mounted

45 ± 10

1.8 ± 0.3

3.6 ± 0.3

Kaihua

(Kailh)

BOX Black

Linear

BOX Stem

Plate-Mounted

60 ± 10

1.8 ± 0.3

3.6 ± 0.3

Kaihua

(Kailh)

BOX Thick Jade

Clicky

BOX Stem

Plate-Mounted

50 ± 15

1.8 ± 0.3

3.6 ± 0.3

Kaihua

(Kailh)

BOX Thick Navy

Clicky

BOX Stem

Plate-Mounted

60 ± 15

1.8 ± 0.3

3.6 ± 0.3

Kaihua

(Kailh)

BOX Heavy Pale Blue

Clicky

BOX Stem

Plate-Mounted

60 ± 15

1.8 ± 0.3

3.6 ± 0.3

Kaihua

(Kailh)

BOX Heavy Burnt Orange

Tactile

BOX Stem

Plate-Mounted

60 ± 15

1.8 ± 0.3

3.6 ± 0.3

Kaihua

(Kailh)

BOX Heavy Dark Yellow

Linear

BOX Stem

Plate-Mounted

70 ± 15

1.8 ± 0.3

3.6 ± 0.3

Kaihua

(Kailh)

BOX Glazed Green

Clicky,

Tactile

BOX Stem,

Green Housing

Plate-Mounted

45 ± 15

1.8 ± 0.4

3.6 ± 0.4

Kaihua

(Kailh)

BOX Noble Yellow

Tactile

BOX Stem,

Yellow Housing

Plate-Mounted

55 ± 15

1.8 ± 0.4

3.6 ± 0.4

Kaihua

(Kailh)

BOX Chinese Red

Linear

BOX Stem,

Red Housing

Plate-Mounted

45 ± 10

1.8 ± 0.4

3.6 ± 0.4

Kaihua

(Kailh)

BOX Ancient Gray

Linear

BOX Stem,

Gray Housing

Plate-Mounted

95 ± 10

1.8 ± 0.4

3.6 ± 0.4

Kaihua

(NovelKeys)

BOX Royals

Tactile

BOX Stem

Plate-Mounted

45 ± 10

1.8 ± 0.3

3.6 ± 0.3

Kaihua

(Input Club)

Hako Clear

Tactile

BOX Stem

Plate-Mounted

55

1.95

3.9

Kaihua

(Input Club)

Hako True

Tactile

BOX Stem

Plate-Mounted

60

1.95

3.7

Kaihua

(Input Club)

Hako Violet

Linear

BOX Stem

Plate-Mounted

28

1.88

3.7

Kaihua

(Input Club x NovelKeys)

Hako Royal Clears

Tactile

BOX Stem

Plate-Mounted

50 ± 15

1.8 ± 0.4

3.6 ± 0.3

Kaihua

(Input Club x NovelKeys)

Hako Royal Trues

Tactile

BOX Stem

Plate-Mounted

55 ± 15

1.8 ± 0.4

3.6 ± 0.3

Kaihua

(Kailh)

BOX Silent Brown

Tactile

Silent,

Rounded BOX Stem

Plate-Mounted

45 ± 10

1.8 ± 0.4

3.6 ± 0.4

Kaihua

(Kailh)

BOX Silent Pink

Linear

Silent,

Rounded BOX Stem

Plate-Mounted

35 ± 10

1.8 ± 0.4

3.6 ± 0.4

Kaihua

(Kailh)

Choc White

Clicky

Low Profile

PCB-Mounted

50 ± 10

1.5 ± 0.5

3.0 ± 0.5

Kaihua

(Kailh)

Choc Brown

Tactile

Low Profile

PCB-Mounted

50 ± 10

1.5 ± 0.5

3.0 ± 0.5

Kaihua

(Kailh)

Choc Red

Linear

Low Profile

PCB-Mounted

50 ± 10

1.5 ± 0.5

3.0 ± 0.5

Kaihua

(Kailh)

Choc Thick Jade

Clicky,

Tactile

Low Profile

PCB-Mounted

50 ± 10

1.5 ± 0.5

3.0 ± 0.5

Kaihua

(Kailh)

Choc Thick Navy

Clicky,

Tactile

Low Profile

PCB-Mounted

60 ± 10

1.5 ± 0.5

3.0 ± 0.5

Kaihua

(Kailh)

Choc Heavy Pale Blue

Clicky

Low Profile

PCB-Mounted

60 ± 10

1.5 ± 0.5

3.0 ± 0.5

Kaihua

(Kailh)

Choc Heavy Burnt Orange

Tactile

Low Profile

PCB-Mounted

70 ± 10

1.5 ± 0.5

3.0 ± 0.5

Kaihua

(Kailh)

Choc Heavy Dark Yellow

Linear

Low Profile

PCB-Mounted

70 ± 10

1.5 ± 0.5

3.0 ± 0.5

Kaihua

(Kailh)

BOX Choc Round Blue

Clicky

Low Profile,

Rounded BOX Stem

PCB-Mounted

55 ± 10

1.3 ± 0.3

3.2 ± 0.25

Kaihua

(Kailh)

BOX Choc Round Brown

Tactile

Low Profile,

Rounded BOX Stem

PCB-Mounted

50 ± 10

1.3 ± 0.3

3.2 ± 0.25

Kaihua

(Kailh)

BOX Choc Round Red

Linear

Low Profile,

Rounded BOX Stem

PCB-Mounted

50 ± 10

1.3 ± 0.3

3.2 ± 0.25

MOD

MOD-L Tactile

Tactile

 

PCB-Mounted

45

NDA

NDA

MOD

MOD-M Tactile

Tactile

 

PCB-Mounted

55

NDA

NDA

MOD

MOD-H Tactile

Tactile

 

PCB-Mounted

62

NDA

NDA

MOD

MOD-SH Tactile

Tactile

 

PCB-Mounted

70

NDA

NDA

MOD

MOD-L Linear

Linear

 

PCB-Mounted

45

NDA

NDA

MOD

MOD-M Linear

Linear

 

PCB-Mounted

55

NDA

NDA

MOD

MOD-H Linear

Linear

 

PCB-Mounted

62

NDA

NDA

YOK

Purple Trash Panda

Tactile

 

Plate-Mounted

67

NDA

NDA

YOK

Trash Panda

Linear

 

Plate-Mounted

50

NDA

NDA

YOK

Red Panda

Linear

Red Housing

Plate-Mounted

50

NDA

NDA

YOK

Mint Panda

Linear

Green Housing

Plate-Mounted

50

NDA

NDA

YOK

Polar Panda

Linear

Blue Housing

Plate-Mounted

50

NDA

NDA

 

Topre Stems

spacer.png

 

Switches with a cylindrical-shaped stem. Not available for sale as individual switches.

 

[5.5] Preferences and Opinion Pieces

With hundreds and thousands of options available on the market, choosing the right switch can be a daunting task for first-timers. How do you know which one is the one for you?

 

Here I echo the old adage: “You’ll never know unless you try.”

 

Head out to your local brick-and-mortar store, and test the waters out with some pre-built keyboards. That small exercise will usually help narrow down the choices between clickys, tactiles, and linears. Chances are, however, that you’ve seen a switch online that’s caught your eye, and said switch can’t be found in your local area. In that case, stoke that interest by finding out more about it. Look for reviews from others that have shared their opinions on said switch, so you know what to expect. Listen to some sound tests, and perhaps try out some switch testers to find out whether you like how it sounds and feels.

 

Don’t forget, the purchase isn’t the be-all and end-all of things. If your choice doesn’t live up to your expectations, there’s nothing stopping you from trying again with another set of switches.

 

Opinion Pieces

Sorted by alphabetical order. Preferably LTT forum content and curated by yours truly, but I’ll entertain suggestions recommending outside sources if requested by reputable members. (Shoo, bots and shills.)

 


 

[6.0] Online Vendors and Marketplaces

Custom mechanical keyboards are a fairly niche market, which means most parts are purchased via select routes -- in this case, online. Listed below are where most source their custom keeb parts from.

 

Only vendors and marketplaces for custom keyboards and keyboard parts will be covered, with a bias for stores accessible from the U.S. Some stores offer international shipping, and for those, I’d strongly advise reading through their shipping policies before placing an international order -- the customer is usually responsible for any import duties and fees. For pre-builts, I’d suggest looking at Amazon, Newegg, or Microcenter.

 

Group Buys

What is a Group Buy (GB)? Simply put, a niche within a niche. In some cases, a product -- often keycaps, switches, or keyboards -- will be greenlit for production or distribution only if a number of buyers show interest and a minimum cash goal is reached. Think, Kickstarters. Group Buys may be organized by an organization like Drop, or by individual community members like on GeekHack.

 

Note: Group Buys are not guarantees. Be aware that there is a risk associated with placing a deposit on a product not yet confirmed for production or distribution.

 

Vendors

 

Artisan Vendors

Vendors offering custom work or limited-run and expensive products, often through Group Buys.

 

Marketplaces

Purchase at your own discretion.

  • Aliexpress
  • Banggood
  • eBay
  • Etsy
  • GeekHack
  • r/mechmarket

 


 

[7.0] All Finished!

Thanks a bunch for your interest! I’ve tried to keep the guide concise (read: to-the-point) and bias-free where possible, but if I’ve missed something, if you spot a spelling/grammatical error, or if you have any suggestions, please leave a reply. I’ll keep the guide up-to-date when I find new info, for as long as I’m available. Hopefully someone, somewhere, will find this thread useful?

 

If you’ve managed to build your own custom mechanical keyboard with the help of this guide, congratulations! Treat your lil’ or biggun keeb well, and it’ll serve you just as well. 😁👍

 

Join the Mechanical Keyboard Club and show off your keebs! #KeebWeebClub

 

[7.1] Special Thanks!

 

[7.2] Related Reading & Other Material

Priority given to written material, followed by videos; sorted in alphabetical order. Preferably LTT forum content, but I’ll entertain suggestions recommending outside sources if requested by reputable members. (Shoo, bots and shills.)

Spoiler

Related Reading

Video Content

 

[7.3] Auto-Rejected Suggestions

Suggestions that I will not cover. However, if someone else has made a well-written and informative guide on these topics, I’d be more than happy to consider adding it to the thread.

Spoiler
  • JIS Mechanical Layout: Uncommon outside of Japan. Shelved topic, until demand arises.
  • From-Scratch Keyboards: No experience with the process. This includes, but is not limited to, the topics below.
    • Custom 3D Prints: No experience with the process.
    • Custom CAD/CAM Work: Limited experience with CAD/CAM. No experience with designing keyboard parts.
    • Custom PCBs: No experience with the process.
    • PCB Microcontrollers: No experience with installing or programming microcontrollers.
    • Hand Wiring: No experience with the process.
    • Firmware Development: No experience with programming.
  • Modding Switches: No experience with the process. Uninterested in assuming liability for any damages.

 

[7.4] Bibliography

Spoiler

Section 2.0: Keyboard Sizes, Profiles, and Layouts

Section 2.1: Sizes

Section 2.2: Profiles

Section 2.3: Mechanical/Physical Layouts

Section 2.4: Functional Layouts

 

Section 4.0: Custom Mechanical Keyboards

Section 4.1: Parts

Section 4.2: Tools

Section 4.3: Assembly

Section 4.4: Firmware and Software

Section 4.5: Maintenance and Cleaning

 

Section 5.0: Switches

Section 5.1: Clicky, Tactile, and Linear

Section 5.2: Parts

Section 5.3: Tools

Section 5.4: Flavors

Section 5.5: Preferences and Opinion Pieces

 

Section 6.0: Online Vendors and Marketplaces

 

[7.5] Revision History

Spoiler
  • [06/25/2020]: Added more entries under Vendors (Section 6.0) and Firmware (Section 4.4), added notes under Pre-Built Keyboards (Section 3.0). (Suggested By: @geo3 - Reply 1Reply 2, @Dissitesuxba11s - Reply)
  • [06/26/2020]: Added more notes to Auto-Rejected Suggestions (Section 7.3), added QWERTZ entry under Functional Layouts (Section 2.4), corrected 1800-Compact entry under Keyboard Sizes (Section 2.1), corrected Stem - Clicky entry under Switch Parts (Section 5.2), added Film Switches entry under Switch Parts (Section 5.2), added more entries under Vendors (Section 6.0), added more entries under Video Content (Section 7.2). (Suggested By: @bowrilla - Reply 1, Reply 2, @seon123 - Reply)
  • [06/28/2020]: Added another entry under Opinion Pieces (Section 5.5), added more notes under Proof-Reading, Fact-Checking, and Contributions (Section 1.2). (Suggested By: @LukeSavenije - Reply)
  • [06/29/2020]: Added Keycap Material - PC and Legends - Laser Engraving entries under Keyboard Parts (Section 4.1).
  • [06/30/2020]: Added missing tags in Section 5.3: Tools under Bibliography (Section 7.4), added Durock, keebwerk, and YOK entries under Switch Flavors (Section 5.4), added more entries under Vendors (Section 6.0).

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yayayayayayayay!

 

*takes notes*

 

very noice

 

also, 🥚


Don't forget to use the "Quote" feature or mention me ( @Gegger) if you want me to see your reply!

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dddmmh++/::::::::::::::::+mmhooooooooyhhddh:::::::::::hmmysshhd mmmmmdhhs::::::::::::::::+mmhoooooooohhhhhy:::::::::::hmmhhh``+ mmmmmh++/::::::::::::::::+mmdhhsooooodmm++/:::::::::::hmmsss``+ dddmmhoo+::::::::::::::::+dddddyssyyydmm::::::::::::::hmmsoo++o dddmmdhho::::::::::::::::+hhdmmddddmmmmm::::::::::::::hmmsooNNN mmmmmh///::::::::::::::::+hhdmmmmmmmmddd::::::::::::::hmmsoo++/ yyhmmdss+::::::::::::::::/ooydddmmmmmsoo::::::::::::::yddhyy::+ ++ommmmmy:::::::::::::::::::ohhdmmddd/::::::::::::::::shhdmmsssNNNmmN ..+mmmmmy:::::::::::::::::::://shh+//:::::::::::::::::://dmmmmdoo+..o ``+dddmmhss+:::::::::::::::::::+++/::::::::::::::::::::::ooodddhhysshNNy++m ``+hhdmmdhhs///:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::yyymmmmmmmmo++hNNmdd ``+hhdmmdhhhhh+:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::/hhhhhdmmmmmsoo... ``+ddmmmdhhhhhyyyyyyyyyyyo:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::+++++sdddmmdhhsss//+ ``+mmmmmhsshhhhhhhhhhhhhhy++/:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::+ssyyydmmddd///hhd ``+mmmmmy::shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhs:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::ymmmmmmmh../ ``+mmmmmy:://////////////ohhhyy+::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::///hddmmmhhs++s ``+mmmmmhssssssssssssssssydddddysssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssdddmmmmmy::s ``+mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmhooh

 

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2 hours ago, Eschew said:

 

Vendors

Here's a few more

 

https://mekanisk.com

https://novelkeys.xyz

https://keycult.io

https://www.primekb.com

https://switchmod.net

https://www.switchtop.com

https://dixiemech.com

 

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2 hours ago, Eschew said:

 

Firmware

Via is another KB firmware.  It's has less support for different PCBs, they are growing the list, but is feature rich and easy to use. 

https://caniusevia.com/

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Good job on the guide.

Here is a list of more mechanical keyboard vendors. Not mine, someone on r/mk made it so I don't know if it's updated.

 

I know this guide is geared towards custom, but this layout reference might be helpful for folks with OEM keyboards (Corsair, Razer, etc) that want to start off with changing their keycaps.

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Mods, get this pinned!

 

@wkdpaul

@TVwazhere

@PCGuy_5960

 

Also, consider posting this in the guides and tutorials sub-forum!


Remember to QUOTE (Arrow in the bottom left of the post) or TAG (@gloop) for me to see your reply

 

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just one quick suggestion... can't help you with the exact details, but maybe consider to do some position links so people can click them and go to that specific section?


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2 hours ago, gloop said:

Also, consider posting this in the guides and tutorials sub-forum!

Done, I added a hardware section and added a few links in there.

 

As for the pin, we're discussing it !


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Posted · Original PosterOP
4 hours ago, LukeSavenije said:

just one quick suggestion... can't help you with the exact details, but maybe consider to do some position links so people can click them and go to that specific section?

Looked a little bit into it. Internal links to a thread would require some custom BBCode that I don't think is integrated into this forum?

 

Thank you for the suggestion, though! I'd use it in the guide if I could. 👍

I've tried to work around this with the Table of Contents and by adding section numbers to the beginning of each section, which should be search-able with CTRL-F. 😅

 

3 hours ago, wkdpaul said:

Done, I added a hardware section and added a few links in there.

 

As for the pin, we're discussing it !

Fast Parrot *excite excite* Fast Parrot

 

Also thank you for adding this guide to the Tutorials & Guides Catalog!

 

*happiness noises*


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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Eschew said:

Looked a little bit into it. Internal links to a thread would require some custom BBCode that I don't think is integrated into this forum?

from what I know the forum handles bbcode poorly, but if you want to find the best way... have a talk with Mortis (I won't tag him here, you know where to find him)

 

and if you ever need help with something, feel free to ask (maybe add a creative commons?)

Edited by LukeSavenije

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HDD: 1 TB 7200 RPM Seagate Baracudda, 1 TB 5400 RPM Samsung Spinpoint HD103SI

SSD: Samsung 860 EVO 500 GB

Case: Cooler Master Masterbox Lite 5 RGB (modified)

PSU: Seasonic Focus GX650

 

Consoles:

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PS4 Slim Glacier White 500 GB

PS4 FTP Special Edition 500 GB

PS3 Super Slim 500 GB

PS2 OG

Xbox OG

DS Lite White

DS Lite Black/blue

DS Lite Blue

DSI XL Orange

Gameboy Advanced Color

PS Vita v2

Wii

 

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Cool article. You skipped point to point hand wiring of the switches. Some people do this skipping the switch matrix pcb part. They often solder the hand wired matrix directly to something like an Arduino board.

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Posted · Original PosterOP
1 hour ago, bowrilla said:

Cool article. You skipped point to point hand wiring of the switches. Some people do this skipping the switch matrix pcb part. They often solder the hand wired matrix directly to something like an Arduino board.

Ah. Hadn't heard of hand wiring before until you mentioned it.

 

I did try to read up on it, however, and it looks to me like it might be more relevant in a guide to custom PCBs or to building a custom keyboard from scratch. Unfortunately, I have zero experience with custom PCBs, from-scratch keyboards, or hand wiring, and I feel that the topic deserves detail and coverage that is a little out of my element. 😅

 

I'll update Section 7.3 (Auto-Rejected Suggestions) to better communicate my stance on the topic.

 

Thank you for your input, though! Much appreciated. 👍


正直に生きる

一度きりの人生だから

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33 minutes ago, Eschew said:

Ah. Hadn't heard of hand wiring before until you mentioned it.

 

I did try to read up on it, however, and it looks to me like it might be more relevant in a guide to custom PCBs or to building a custom keyboard from scratch. Unfortunately, I have zero experience with custom PCBs, from-scratch keyboards, or hand wiring, and I feel that the topic deserves detail and coverage that is a little out of my element. 😅

 

I'll update Section 7.3 (Auto-Rejected Suggestions) to better communicate my stance on the topic.

 

Thank you for your input, though! Much appreciated. 👍

Fair point. Maybe I'll get to the PCB part. I'm in no way an electrical engineer but I have a project in the making that splits the PCBs and makes it modular. Learning a lot about electronics and PCB design in the meantime. 

 

Another point: you might want to add QWERTZ to your list as a variant of QWERTY. AZERTY is the French layout, QWERTZ is the German layout. Basically 

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22 hours ago, Eschew said:

1800-Compact

spacer.png

  • 104 Keys (ANSI), 105 Keys (ISO)

🤔 Unless I counted wrong, the one on the picture has 98 keys. Missing right control, print screen, scroll lock, pause break, delete and end, maybe something more.

22 hours ago, Eschew said:

[4.3] Assembly

-snip-

1. PCB and Stabilizers

  • Align the stabilizer prongs with the holes in the PC

It might not always be obvious which holes to use. E.g. the DZ60 has a few layout options

 

 

22 hours ago, Eschew said:

Clicky: Switches that lack the wings on the stem altogether. Instead, the wings are found on the clickbar, a separate piece that is connected to the stem. In its default position, the wings of the clickbar rest against the leaf. When the switch is pressed, the stem pushes down on the clickbar and the clickbar shoots straight down, resulting in a sharp typing sensation and an audible click.

I think you are talking about the click jacket? Clickbar is more commonly used for the clicking thing in clicky Kailh Box switches, I think?

22 hours ago, Eschew said:

[5.2] Parts

Could add a short thing on switch films, since you're mentioning lube

22 hours ago, Eschew said:

Vendors

Optic Boards has some items. Most notably the Ghost Switch, for which you can buy extras

https://www.opticboards.com/

 

Mekanisk's Norwegian-only store is a thing now. They are going to be the Norwegian vendor for at least a couple of keycap GBs, and they also have a couple of other parts

https://mekanisktastatur.no/

 

 

 

^^Me just nitpicking here. Good job :D


 

Quote

Women. They are a complete mystery.

-Stephen Hawking

 

I think the hoomans put their builds here?

Why do you hoomans give your builds a name? Here's my build, which I shall call "Do as I Say, Not As I Do" (seriously, don't get this build)

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Ryzen 1500X @3,925 GHz

Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo + 2x ML120

MSI B350 Tomahawk Arctic

2x8GB Corsair Vengeance LPX 3000 MHz CL15 (Micron B-die) @2933 MHz

Sapphire Radeon R9 280 Dual-X @1120 MHz / 1450 MHz

120GB 850 Evo

120GB Kingston SSD

500GB WD Blue

Cooler Master Elite 430

Seasonic Prime Titanium 650W

Logitech G710 with Kailh Box Jade

Logitech G502

HyperX Cloud

And my laptop, which I shall call "If It's Stupid But It Works" (It can actually play CS:GO at 50 FPS, and Civ V at 25 FPS)

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Lenovo Thinkpad L460

Intel Core i3 6100U

4GB (probably) DDR4 2133 MHz

Intel HD Graphics 520 0.3-1.0 GHz

128GB Samsung MZ7LF128HCHP

Corsair M65 Pro RGB (worst mouse I've ever had)

Sennheiser CX 5.00G

And here would be where I would put a picture of my cat. But apparently, images are not allowed here. So take this instead (*ΦωΦ*)

Hello fellow night theme users

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btw, don't know if you'd want to add this, it's something I wrote a while ago, taking 5 different black switches into testing

 


PSU Tier List 4.0//Motherboard Tier List//Community Standards//ATX Specification//Group Regulation//Topologies and Regulations//How many watts?//PSU Protections

Don't forget to quote or mention me

 

Primary PC:

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CPU: I5-8600k 5.0ghz

GPU: GTX 1070 ti EVGA SC Gaming

RAM: 2x8 3333 mhz DDR4 Trident Z

MOBO: MSI Gaming Pro Carbon AC

HDD: 1 TB 7200 RPM Seagate Baracudda, 1 TB 5400 RPM Samsung Spinpoint HD103SI

SSD: Samsung 860 EVO 500 GB

Case: Cooler Master Masterbox Lite 5 RGB (modified)

PSU: Seasonic Focus GX650

 

Consoles:

Spoiler

PS4 Slim Glacier White 500 GB

PS4 FTP Special Edition 500 GB

PS3 Super Slim 500 GB

PS2 OG

Xbox OG

DS Lite White

DS Lite Black/blue

DS Lite Blue

DSI XL Orange

Gameboy Advanced Color

PS Vita v2

Wii

 

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Really nice write up. Thanks for taking the time.  All you really need to know to get started right there!! 
 

sticky?? 😁


Bleigh!  Ever hear of AC series? 

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Good job. Reminds me that I still have to do my PCB thread. But this is very good. Almost makes me want to do a vint board thread although mine won't be nearly as good as this.


Quote me to see my reply!

SPECS:

CPU: Xeon X5650 OC'd to 4.4GHz @ 1.36V (courtesy of @XR6) Motherboard: Asus Sabertooth X58 RAM: 4x4GB G.Skill DDR3 1866MHz GPU: Asus RX 570 Strix Storage: WD Blue 1TB and a 128GB Kingston UV400 PSU: EVGA 600B Case: Fractal Design Define C Monitor: 3x Dell P2210 on a Steelcase Eyesite triple monitor stand Mouse: Logitech G403 Prodigy Wireless Keyboard: It changes, but usually Focus FK-9000 Mousepad: Steelseries QcK XL Headphones:  Sennheiser HD598SE

 

 

 

 

i use arch btw

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