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Custom Keyboard Builds

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Posted · Original PosterOP

I guess it is about time i made this thread since i have been threatening to do it for some time after my first build. This thread is where I will keep a build log of the few keyboards I have made, making, plan to make in the future.

So my journey into keyboard building all started because of @Slick mentioning people on geekhack.org building their own keyboards so within about 2 weeks I had a working keyboard on my hands that I made from parts of an old keyboard and a Teensy 2.0 micro controller. After that I made a numpad and I started thinking about making 2 more keyboards. The first being a 40% keyboard which is what I'm currently working on but it has turned more into something like a 50% keyboard with a numpad. The second that i have been planning to make and have even started a little is the keyboard from the anime Cowboy Bebop that was used by the character Radical Edward.

So I will start this thread with the finished photos of my main keyboard and numpad and the photos of the current state of my 50% keyboard build and will go through adding some photos of the different stages my keyboards have been in with information about what I have done when I get the time to do so.

My main keyboard, numpad and usb extension that I made

0oNly33.jpg

The current state of my 50% keyboard and numpad build with random place filler key caps in places.

B2ILj7m.jpg

The planned layout as it is right now although it will change and will be filled in more later.

vukTH3A.png

this is what I plan to make in the future

RDOTZ13l.jpg

Plans I started making in sketchup

skhebyJl.jpg

and the idea for the layout for it

k2BijbGl.png

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Ima just gonna leave a follow here.


Off Balance | CPU: Fx-8350 | Motherboard: ASUS Sabertooth 990FX R2.0 | Memory: Corsair Vengance Pro 16GB 1866MHz |
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Posted · Original PosterOP

So my main keyboard started as a TG3 Data911 keyboard that I bought seconds hand. It is safe to assume it was probably in a police car for years before it was sold and I bought it of ebay for a nice low price

Although this is not my photo it is the same model of keyboard that i got so it will show what it started from since I was not smart enough to really take as many photos along the ways when I started making this keyboard but more is shown in my numpad build and 50% build about what I did. I suck at taking photos when I just start working on things it would seem.

Random google photo of keyboard

8cIy1RD.jpg

Now on to my photos and a little bit about what I did

So after I took apart the keyboard and cut the plate for it to be flat so that I could mount it I to my intended case as well as wired up the switches (sad realization that I really skipped most of the keyboard build when taking photos)

keyboard plate with switches wired together in the matrix that the controller will later use to check what switch is pressed

i7f6wLn.jpg

iiOkUgt.jpg

Then for the original case for my keyboard i went the cheap and simple route at the time i just cutting and bending a sheet of aluminum and cutting a hole in to top for my plate and switches to drop in. This is what the keyboard looked like in its first build before i rebuild it

UC1j9zB.jpg

1LTTEro.jpg

With keycaps

cHMTccH.jpg

eWFTjl6.jpg

This is how the keyboard was used for over 6 months before i decided i need to work on it again because It was not looking so good anymore since I had painted the case with plasti dip that of course started to peel within about 2 months and it then looked like this

vRXWYyA.jpg

And as you may notice in that last photo I had made myself an escape key in that time out of a stainless steel bolt

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Based on my photos I have taken of my keyboards next progression I magically ended up on this (my numpad build goes into a little more about what I did to get to that point so I will show they keyboard and get into what I did when making the numpad in the next post)

gZuPlsj.jpg

7K1Dm9H.jpg

zzyfnu7.jpg

Here is also a photo of the teensy 2.0 wired into the keyboard and finally mounted. In the original build I had just zip tied it to the wires that make up the matrix of the keyboard.

TXwNKA4.jpg

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How are the keys held in place being that they are all hand wired? Do they have a clip that holds them to the plate?


Off Balance | CPU: Fx-8350 | Motherboard: ASUS Sabertooth 990FX R2.0 | Memory: Corsair Vengance Pro 16GB 1866MHz |
GPU: EVGA 980 TI Classified | SSD: Samsung 840 Pro 512GB | HDD: 2X WD Black 3TB | PSU: EVGA P2 850 | Case: Phanteks Enthoo Luxe

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Posted · Original PosterOP

How are the keys held in place being that they are all hand wired? Do they have a clip that holds them to the plate?

Ya cherry mx switches have two little clips that hold onto the plate. It works decently well but you can pull them out of the plate when removing key caps so some people hot glue the switches in place to help with that.
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Oh so you decided not to cut it down past what you showed me to make it a true 40%. I think I think it better this way.

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Just realized that teh first reply is from @Slick lol

As for the ed keyboard I think youd almost be better scavenging from old terminal boards than to build from scratch because it definitely designed after a ISO rackmount terminal keyboard.

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Just realized that teh first reply is from @Slick lol

As for the ed keyboard I think youd almost be better scavenging from old terminal boards than to build from scratch because it definitely designed after a ISO rackmount terminal keyboard.

I like your theory but it seems more panel mount then rack mount and also I have never found an image that is close in anyway to that keyboard.
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I like your theory but it seems more panel mount then rack mount and also I have never found an image that is close in anyway to that keyboard.

I think you need connections in the aerospace industry. Also thinking on that note I wouldnt be surprised if its that thick because its using Hall Effect switches.

*Charger's thoughts: "And there goes Prof making it even harder on me again."*

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Posted · Original PosterOP

I think you need connections in the aerospace industry. Also thinking on that note I wouldnt be surprised if its that thick because its using Hall Effect switches.

*Charger's thoughts: "And there goes Prof making it even harder on me again."*

It seems a little pointless to try to find the keyboard it may have been based off of seeing as it is future retro tech and even the number of keys change every time they show it lol
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It seems a little pointless to try to find the keyboard it may have been based off of seeing as it is future retro tech and even the number of keys change every time they show it lol

True but I was saying more to find and original chassis and I think it would be complete BA to go with Hall Effect switches. I know your a fan of linear switches too.

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Posted · Original PosterOP

So after I made up the keyboard I started working on the numpad and first started drawing up plans for the numpad in sketchup

X1yyhoN.png

I started with making the plate for the numpad. I first layed out the plate for where I needed to cut for the switched to fit into. I then drilled a hole in each switch cutout for me to put a saw blade into and started cutting it out by hand.

lrP7STJl.jpg

OI1kq16l.jpg

I then cut out the top layer of the case and machined the pocket in it to allow the switches to fit and the plate to sit flat on the case to be screwed down later

Z1J5hDi.jpg

After that I started working on my usb extension and also beveled to top layer of the keyboard case

HfuXoLNl.jpg

After that I mounted it to the bottom later of my case

ymgeb6Rl.jpg

Then i cut the bottom layer at an angle

3Ac59Vol.jpg

Then I started final assembly of the keyboard

plate attached to case and controller attached to plate

3YIggtxl.jpg

Cherry MX green switches installed on the plate

DYOF2khm.jpg

Numpad with keycaps installed

y9vUGDB.jpg

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I wish I had the tools to machine metal like that.


Off Balance | CPU: Fx-8350 | Motherboard: ASUS Sabertooth 990FX R2.0 | Memory: Corsair Vengance Pro 16GB 1866MHz |
GPU: EVGA 980 TI Classified | SSD: Samsung 840 Pro 512GB | HDD: 2X WD Black 3TB | PSU: EVGA P2 850 | Case: Phanteks Enthoo Luxe

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Posted · Original PosterOP

I wish I had the tools to machine metal like that.

me and my little brother have probably invested 2 grand or so in tools probably more really lol then we also have what my dad as accumulated over the years to use as well

I first bought a mini mill then he bough a larger mill and sold my mini mill for half of its value without permission when I was in las vegas for 3 days. I also traded a table saw for a metal lathe and put some money into that to get it usable and he just got a larger lathe to replace my small lathe luckily he has not sold my lathe out from under me yet lol

between my dad, little brother and myself we have a vertical mill, 2 metal lathes, a welder, portable band saw, 2 belt grinders, a bench grinder, 4 angle grinders, drill press, corded and cordless drills and screw guns, 2 sheet metal brakes, table saw, 3 skill saws, sawzall, jigsaw, 2 routers, and a bunch of other stuff lol

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me and my little brother have probably invested 2 grand or so in tools probably more really lol then we also have what my dad as accumulated over the years to use as wellI first bought a mini mill then he bough a larger mill and sold my mini mill for half of its value without permission when I was in las vegas for 3 days. I also traded a table saw for a metal lathe and put some money into that to get it usable and he just got a larger lathe to replace my small lathe luckily he has not sold my lathe out from under me yet lolbetween my dad, little brother and myself we have a vertical mill, 2 metal lathes, a welder, portable band saw, 2 belt grinders, a bench grinder, 4 angle grinders, drill press, corded and cordless drills and screw guns, 2 sheet metal brakes, table saw, 3 skill saws, sawzall, jigsaw, 2 routers, and a bunch of other stuff lol

bandsaw, drillpress, couple other drills, sawzall and some files. I need my own shop first so I have room for more stuff.

Off Balance | CPU: Fx-8350 | Motherboard: ASUS Sabertooth 990FX R2.0 | Memory: Corsair Vengance Pro 16GB 1866MHz |
GPU: EVGA 980 TI Classified | SSD: Samsung 840 Pro 512GB | HDD: 2X WD Black 3TB | PSU: EVGA P2 850 | Case: Phanteks Enthoo Luxe

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Is there any guide how to make something like this?


Basic guide to CPU's!

If I said I were 14, you would call me a kid. If I say 70, you’ll entitle me too old. If I say 20 you say I’m inexperienced and if I say 40 than I'm too boring.

龴 ͡ↀ ◡ ͡ↀ龴#locked( ͡͡ ° ͜ ʖ ͡ °)

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I have not really seen a full guild but I can accumulate some links for some information and posts on other forums about it if you like. I will tag or quote you when I get around to doing that for you.

Thanks!


Basic guide to CPU's!

If I said I were 14, you would call me a kid. If I say 70, you’ll entitle me too old. If I say 20 you say I’m inexperienced and if I say 40 than I'm too boring.

龴 ͡ↀ ◡ ͡ↀ龴#locked( ͡͡ ° ͜ ʖ ͡ °)

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I have not really seen a full guild but I can accumulate some links for some information and posts on other forums about it if you like. I will tag or quote you when I get around to doing that for you.

Tag me too please Charger ol' buddy.


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Posted · Original PosterOP

@Stijncat @GloriousPain @TheProfosist @wolfgang @HellaflushMcSwaggins

I wonder how much I should really go into this since I don't know where people are likely to start getting into this kind of thing. I think I will keep it to the simple side to start with mainly links but will help fill in things later if you guys want me to and probably just do my own write ups on some of it.

First I guess I should start with pointing people to where more help can be found about this kind of thing and I will skip over salvaging parts for now and may got into that later with more links and if I cant find links I will do a write up myself on some stuff. To do that I may have to re-solder switches into the pcb I just removed them from to take photos I didn't think many people would want to see lol.

There are 2 forums that have a rather helpful community for building custom keyboards. The sites are Geekhack.org and Deskthority.net these links will direct you to the area of their forums where people work on custom keyboards and other projects in case you want to look around a bit.

Now assuming you are trying to make your own fully custom board a decent place to start designing the layout of the board as well as the intended key placement is keyboard-layout-editor.com. It is a relatively simple tool that allows you to move switches and change the side until you get a layout you like. There are stranded presets which as probably best to start with if you mess with this tool.

Now the reason I pointed you to keyboard-layout-editor.com is that recently someone on Geekhack has been making a tool that will take the raw data from that site and create a cad drawing of the plate for the keyboard you have drawn up so that you can have it laser cut or water jet out of metal or acrylic. This can be a costly process which is why I have been salvaging parts when I can rather then having things made for me. Here is a link to a thread on geekhack for Swill's plate building tool as well as a direct link to his site http://builder.swillkb.com.

Ok so for hand wiring switches I will point you to this tutorial Hard Wiring How To which is on the geekhack wiki which also has some other keyboard related information.

Now the next part you will need a micro controller the most common used is the Teensy 2.0 which can be bought from the manufactuer pjrc.com or a place like adafruit.com. There are alternatives that can be used and are cheaper but are not as easy to program normally. The next think you would need to do is program it with a customized firmware for your keyboard design. The firmware I have been using is known as TMK which has a thread on both geekhack.org thread and deskthority.net thread but he is more active on geekhack so if you are looking to ask the developer questions I would recommend the geekhack thread. He has his firmware up on gethub so I here is a link to that as well TMK firmware. There is also a thread called How to build your very own keyboard firmware that walks you through how do edit and compile the the firmware to fit the matrix you have made for your keyboard.

Now since I assume I have lost everyone one by now I will just post some links to build logs of keyboard that will show you some different peoples keyboards and variations in what they have done

https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=45139.0

https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=42302.0

http://deskthority.net/workshop-f7/hhfox-aka-diy-pcb-t6905.html

http://deskthority.net/workshop-f7/tutorial-rebuilding-designing-thinkpad-keyboard-t7431.html

http://deskthority.net/workshop-f7/onehand-20-keyboard-t6617.html

http://deskthority.net/workshop-f7/thkb-tiny-hacking-keyboard-40-t6455.html

http://deskthority.net/workshop-f7/the-apple-m0110-today-t1067.html

http://deskthority.net/workshop-f7/my-diy-keyboard-collection-or-how-i-became-a-kb-geek-t2534.html

http://deskthority.net/workshop-f7/katy-keyboard-or-k80cs-key80-contoured-split-t8524.html

Here are some places to find keyboard parts

http://mechanicalkeyboards.com/which is a decent place for new cherry mx switches and a few other keyboard parts. Really you can get a lot of the parts to make a custom phantom like was done on the forum here in Custom built Phantom Keyboard made by @the pokemon kid

http://www.wasdkeyboards.com/has keycaps sets that you can have custom printed as well as other keyboard parts as well

https://www.massdrop.com/has also become a decent place to get parts like switches or full keyboard kits

http://ortholinearkeyboards.com/is kind of a new site from what I have seen but they are also one of the few places that I can find keyboard plates so it may be a good place to start with a custom board if you are not interested in having something custom made for you or salvaging parts from a keyboard that is already made.

Now if i scared everyone off let me just say this. When i first heard people were making keyboard from slick on a wan show I then started looking into it and ordering parts and withing about 2 weeks I have made a keyboard and was using it for only $50 I know this isn't really what will happen for most people but their are ways to get into custom mechanical keyboard for relatively cheap and have it far more flexible the a standard keyboard.

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Yea eventually ill get to some write-ups on Keyboard building on my website http://goo.gl/uhvvpK. I believe @Charger will be posting stuff there as well. What I post besides the build logs really depends on what people want I guess.

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Yea eventually ill get to some write-ups on Keyboard building on my website http://goo.gl/uhvvpK. I believe @Charger will be posting stuff there as well. What I post besides the build logs really depends on what people want I guess.

yep at some point I will get around to typing up something that is better then what I have done here for the site lol
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