Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced keyboard builder, custom mechanical keyboard are a great way to personalize your workspace. They’re incredibly customizable, and you can even change their layouts or add extra features like RGB backlighting and programmable macros.
To make a custom keyboard, you’ll need a few parts, including the switches, case, PCB, and switch plate. This article will walk you through the entire process of building a custom mechanical keyboard from start to finish!
Whether you’re looking to build your first custom mechanical keyboard or your tenth, selecting the right switches is one of the most important steps in the process. The switch type you choose has a big impact on the experience you get out of your keyboard, so it’s worth taking some time to research each of the options available.
If you’re a light typist, you’ll want to look for switches with shorter activation points. These will register the keypress faster, so you’ll be able to type faster and more accurately.
A trend that’s been growing in the mechanical keyboard market is customizable keyboards. These allow users to personalize the typing feel, remap the keys, set key combinations, and more.
When it comes to making a custom keyboard, there are many different components that you’ll need. These include a case, plate, switches, and keycaps.
The case is the main component that holds all of these parts together and protects your keyboard from damage. It can come in a variety of different materials, and it’s important to pick the right one for your build.
You’ll also need to choose whether your case is hot-swappable or soldered. This depends on how much customization you want to do and how often you want to change your switches.
A hot-swappable case is the easiest to modify and is a good choice for beginners. Soldered cases are more advanced and can require some skill to customize the switches on your board.
Once you’ve picked out a case, it’s time to start getting the pieces together. This will take a little bit of time, but once everything is assembled, your custom keyboard will be ready for use!
During this step, you’ll need to remove any fasteners that the keyboard may have been attached to. This will make it easier to open the keyboard and install the case.
The case can be made from a variety of materials, including aluminum and plastic. The type of material used to make your case will affect its quality and price.
The case can also be modified to reduce the sound of stabs and improve the keyboard’s typing feel. There are several ways to do this, including clipping the stabilizers, lubricating them, and adding some dielectric grease to the stabilizers.
The PCB is the circuit board in a keyboard that contains all the electronics needed to control the switches. It also helps keep everything secure and enables you to easily switch out switches without having to solder them.
A PCB can be made from a variety of materials such as brass, aluminum, polycarbonate, and carbon fiber. The material you choose will impact the quality and feel of your keyboard.
If you are going to be soldering, make sure to invest in a good set of soldering equipment such as a soldering iron and tweezers. This will help prevent any mistakes from happening and also save you time from having to re-solder every switch.
One of the most important things to consider when designing a PCB is how you want your mechanical switches to be mounted. You can go with a plate-less design where the switches are installed directly to the PCB, or you can opt for a plate-mounted style of mounting that will help stabilize the switches.
Another thing to consider is the type of switches you will be using. There are many different types of switches on the market, so it is important to choose a switch that suits your preferences. Do you want a smooth linear switch or do you prefer something that sounds loud and clicky?
You can also find switches that have a built-in stabilizer. These are typically used on larger keyboards to offer more support and a more-sturdy feel to the keys. However, they can be more expensive and take longer to install.
There are a lot of things to consider when making a custom mechanical keyboard. Switches, keycaps, and the case all need to fit together to make the keyboard work correctly. One of the most important parts is the switch plate, which allows switches to snap into place on the PCB.
You can purchase a plate in a variety of materials, from plastics to harder ones like brass or carbon fiber. The material you choose affects the stiffness of your keyboard and how it feels and sounds. Harder plates are usually a bit more rigid and have a higher pitched sound profile, while softer materials like polycarbonate (POM) and PC offer a more flexible typing experience with a softer, more pleasant tone.
When choosing a switch plate, consider the type of switches you plan to use and what kind of layout you want on your board. Some of the most popular options include 60%, a symmetrical layout with blockers for the Windows keys; full-size keyboards with a number pad; and split spacebars.
For a DIY project, you can find basic switch plates at low prices that look cool, or you can buy more expensive models with custom colors and styles that match your personal style. Modern switch plate covers, often made from polycarbonate thermoplastic (PCT), are resistant to extreme temperatures and sunlight.
In a typical installation, a switch plate is attached to the front of a gang box by small screws. It’s a good idea to check your electrical wiring before installing your switch plate to ensure that it will cover the opening of the gang box without allowing access to the wires inside.
A switch plate can also be used to conceal a single light switch, receptacle or other device. There are many different types of wall plates, including screwless designs that hide the switch’s screw and come with an adapter to attach to the gang box. These are typically available in standard, midsize or jumbo sizes.
Adding custom keycaps to your keyboard can make your setup look and feel more like your own. They’re also an easy way to change up the aesthetics of your gaming rig, and don’t require too much technical knowledge or expertise.
First, you’ll need to choose the keycap design that best fits your setup. There are a few different designs available, including DSA profile keycaps (the short ones with the lower pitch) and SA profiles (the tall ones with the higher pitch).
If you want to customize your setup even more, you can opt for unique artisan keycaps. These aren’t as practical for a full-custom keyboard, though they can be great for a few individual keys.
The material your keycaps are made of is also important. You’ll want to choose keycaps that are either ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) or PBT (polybutylene terephthalate). A high-quality ABS keycap can be expensive, but it’ll last a long time.
Lastly, look for keycaps that are compatible with your switches. This will ensure that you have a proper fit and don’t experience any problems with your keyboard later on.
Once you’ve chosen the right keycaps for your setup, it’s time to start putting them together! The process is straightforward, and it shouldn’t take long to get everything installed. Before you start, make sure that you have the right tools for the job. For starters, you’ll need a wire keycap puller that can easily be used to remove keycaps from the switches.