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Custom keyboard hot swapable switch build

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Posted · Original PosterOP

This is project that's been going slowly for me but finally is getting close to the end so I'll share what I've worked on so far. To begin I'll focus on the biggest part of the build, the idea I got from the Smart 68 board I saw on GeekHack: https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=61714.0 no solder/easy swapping switches.

Like this:

MXswap1st

MXswap2nd

MXswap3rd

MXswap4th

 
 

Since their wasn't information on the inserts used for the Smart 68 and no one else seemed to want a build like it I decided to do the research myself. For starters I had to look up the types of PCB adapters their are and sort through all the sizes available. I'll save you all the details for now and skip to the short list of what I could find. Since I only had numbers to work with I had to pick up some of each of these to try out myself before order the large number required.

 

For the LED sockets:

Harwin H3153 H3153-01_tmb.jpg

Mill-Max 5660566-2-15-01-21-27-10-0_tmb.jpg

Mill-Max 5220552-2-15-01-11-27-10-0_tmb.jpg

The results for these was a bit disappointing personally then bad. They all fit the holes in the PCB perfectly fine, flange clearance from the surface of PCB to the switch bottom is generous so only the 566 was a little to high. The problem being they only accepted LED pins that were round and the LEDs I have were square pins :(. Needed a larger internal diameter to be more universal then.

 

For the Cherry MX sockets:

Mill-Max 03050305-2-15-80-47-80-10-0_tmb.jpg

Mill-Max 03390339-0-15-80-15-27-10-0_tmb.jpg

Mill-Max 73057305-0-15-15-47-27-10-0_tmb.jpg

TE connectivity HOLTITE 8134-HC-8P38134-HC-8P3_tmb.jpg

 

These also fit well into the PCB holes but the Mill-Max connectors only fit the smaller squarer Cherry MX pin of but thinner/flatter pin was to wide to fit any of them. Also any flange or lip can interfere with the bottom of the switch. The HOLTITE was perfect for this job, it fits flush to the face of the PCB and both pins fit tightly.

 

TE also had HOLTITE in smaller size so I decide to use these for the all the LED holes, so I decide on: 8134-HC-8P3(7-1437514-1) and  6-1437514-7(8134-HC-5P3)6-1437514-7_sml.JPG

 

Now that I've chosen the parts now to install. As the name implies HOLTITE inserts need to be press fit into the pcb holes and don't require soldering. I actually chose the riskiest method to do this: Centre punch and Hammer. this method needs good support in the right place and can damage the inserts if not careful.(it happen a few times) If anyone else wants to try these inserts I would recommend using a soldering iron to heat them up and pushing them lightly makes it very easy.(as I figured out fixing a few mistakes)

 

Other problems I found is this PCB being a universal board, fitting a few different layouts, some holes are not closed, not round and not centred adding a few issues if I wanted to use the layout I want and still have every switch be solder-less. Drilling out the odd shaped holes worked and the spare sockets I had from my testing came in handy:

Example

Bad things can happen if you do this wrong.

twisted and crushed pin

My first try at fixing this needed to much solder and caused problems when I tested it. Next I used a plastic cement to hold the socket it and worked fine.

Glued in pin rreceptacle

These socket types also need the lip reduced for the switches to clear:

Filed down lip

And the results from drilling

Sockets in place

 

 

 

Other parts for the build:

 

I picked up a PCB from the Winkeyless store when they had a sale on their old PCB designs. The new PCB design can be found here: http://winkeyless.kr/product/b-87-pcb-x2/

Mine:

med_gallery_64571_1665_1574108.jpg

 

And my plate I had water jet cut recently:

med_gallery_64571_1665_1320907.jpg

 

I'll be salvaging the MX Blacks from my Ducky.

 

LED are white 2x3x4 I bought from and ebay seller.

 

Things I haven't decided on are what case and/or mounting I'm going to use for the plate.

 

Put it together:

Assembled top view

Assembled bottom view

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Posted · Original PosterOP

looks interesting I think @TheProfosist my be interested in this as well

as for case setup I could show you the 3 things I have done

Any ideas would be good. For right away I'm thinking just a few small pieces of wood as a base and something to hold the PCB and the plate firmly together.

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Any ideas would be good. For right away I'm thinking just a few small pieces of wood as a base and something to hold the PCB and the plate firmly together.

well that is something i had not though about since you dont have the switches soldered in place they will not hold the pcb. so i guess you kind of need plate and pcb mounted to the case...

I wonder if you could mount the pcb to the plate with spacers and then do something like a sandwich type of case

as for what I have done it has all been plate mounted mostly no pcb other then the 60%

sandwich style case with spacers between the top and bottom plate (designed with swills tool)

K3iy57ph.jpg

machined aluminum of my own making/design to match my keyboard that I made before

3YIggtxh.jpg

wf4Vguoh.jpg

Bent aluminum with plate screwed to it. I made this before the infinity keyboard was a thing but I don't know if I stole the design from someone else or not lol.

UC1j9zBh.jpg

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Posted · Original PosterOP

well that is something i had not though about since you dont have the switches soldered in place they will not hold the pcb. so i guess you kind of need plate and pcb mounted to the case...

I wonder if you could mount the pcb to the plate with spacers and then do something like a sandwich type of case

as for what I have done it has all been plate mounted mostly no pcb other then the 60%

sandwich style case with spacers between the top and bottom plate (designed with swills tool)

K3iy57ph.jpg

machined aluminum of my own making/design to match my keyboard that I made before

3YIggtxh.jpg

wf4Vguoh.jpg

Bent aluminum with plate screwed to it. I made this before the infinity keyboard was a thing but I don't know if I stole the design from someone else or not lol.

UC1j9zBh.jpg

Took some time to decide on what to use but it was easy enough to find what I wanted, used nylon board spacers and and bolt them together, harder to find nuts and bolts in the right size.

Nylon spacers side view

 
Last thing is to decide on a case or stand.
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Posted · Original PosterOP

I like to order screws and stuff like that from http://www.mcmaster.com ,spacers are not much of a peoblem for me I just make them on one of my lathes.

Looks good, I look forward to more updates.

It would make things a lot easier to have access to a lathe myself, the spacers I chose were cheap though. But my main problem is dealing with Canadian shipping costs and that most hardware stores here don't carry fasteners in the size I needed. That was whole thing. I worked it out.

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Posted · Original PosterOP

A lot of effort went into this board, every part seemed to have a few mistakes and retries; one of the harder things I subjected myself to using a thicker plate then normal, 14 gauge( or .078 inches) instead of the normal 16ga for MX. Since I am using a B.87 board, bought from the Winkeyless store, I decided to follow closely the bolt hole patterns for their acrylic cases, if I ever wanted to try one out the future, but their top layer of acrylic is 2mm(.079") thick and using 16ga(.062") plate would cause problems when fit together.

Here's what that looks like:

Switch in plate

The switches won't clip.

bottom view

 
The cutting also left a some extra material to remove on the stabilizer holes:

Water cut plate

 

So here's the fun part, filing the plate to fit the switches and stabilizers.

Clip view

Filed to fit

 

That took a lot of time. Wouldn't recommend anyone to use a thicker plate unless they're very capable with filing or come up with a better method for making room for the clips.

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A lot of effort went into this board, every part seemed to have a few mistakes and retries; one of the harder things I subjected myself to using a thicker plate then normal, 14 gauge( or .078 inches) instead of the normal 16ga for MX. Since I am using a B.87 board, bought from the Winkeyless store, I decided to follow closely the bolt hole patterns for their acrylic cases, if I ever wanted to try one out the future, but their top layer of acrylic is 2mm(.079") thick and using 16ga(.062") plate would cause problems when fit together.

Here's what that looks like:

 

The switches won't clip.

 

 

The cutting also left a some extra material to remove on the stabilizer holes:

 

 

So here's the fun part, filing the plate to fit the switches and stabilizers.

 

 

 

That took a lot of time. Wouldn't recommend anyone to use a thicker plate unless they're very capable with filing or come up with a better method for making room for the clips.

I never really thought about filing it like that. Looks good though, I even had to file my plates after having them water jet cut because the taper made the cutouts really tight as it was.

Again I have an easy way to do the cutouts for switch clips though so not that big of a deal if I ordered a thicker plate I would just toss it on the mill and cut a pocket for each clip.

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Posted · Original PosterOP

I never really thought about filing it like that. Looks good though, I even had to file my plates after having them water jet cut because the taper made the cutouts really tight as it was.

Again I have an easy way to do the cutouts for switch clips though so not that big of a deal if I ordered a thicker plate I would just toss it on the mill and cut a pocket for each clip.

I had the idea of cutting the whole plate out of thick aluminium on a CNC mill if I had the chance to do it myself, even drew the hole pattern for switches to have round corners, would've been cool but decided to have a plate cut for me instead.

 

I also had a few mistakes in my drawing I had to fix, two holes were in the wrong place. Easy to enough, at least I have a drill press. :D

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I had the idea of cutting the whole plate out of thick aluminium on a CNC mill if I had the chance to do it myself, even drew the hole pattern for switches to have round corners, would've been cool but decided to have a plate cut for me instead.

 

I also had a few mistakes in my drawing I had to fix, two holes were in the wrong place. Easy to enough, at least I have a drill press. :D

gons universal plates are cnc cut thicker aluminum as i recall.

mxuxeNy.jpg

I don't have a cnc mill just a manual mill so cutting a plate would be a bit of a pain in the ass although I have cut the plate for my numpad but that was by hand and not on the mill lol

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Posted · Original PosterOP

gons universal plates are cnc cut thicker aluminum as i recall.

mxuxeNy.jpg

I don't have a cnc mill just a manual mill so cutting a plate would be a bit of a pain in the ass although I have cut the plate for my numpad but that was by hand and not on the mill lol

Yeah, looks like they use 2mm thick top plates. Could be all the Korean customs use standard sizes in millimeters.

 

But when I said thick I meant 1/8"-1/4" thick, some common size that could be in the scrap bin that I could get cheap/free. Manually machining it though, that would be crazy hard, to easy to confuse the dimensions with the qwerty layout.

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Posted · Original PosterOP

The part of this build I was most worried about was the soldering the diodes and resistors to the PCB, the controller parts soldering I had done for me, the reason being I had already messed up my Ducky board in a previous mod attempt.

Took some time but went great. After testing their were only a few spots I missed soldering and I had to fix the socket mention in the OP. Sample:

Soldering sample

 

What took a lot of time was desoldering all the switches. Reminds me why I wanted to do a hot swap able board.

Taken apart

 

Once all that done just pop in all the Cherrys

All poped in

 
Had to fit all the LEDs after that but for now I'm done. Just a few changes and other mods I can make in the future, not complete but I'm happy with how it's turned out.
 
I'll try to add something to show off how the swapping works once I figure out a good way to do it.
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