The Fascination with Mechanical Keyboards
Gamers have long been fans of custom mechanical keyboards because they may provide quicker reactions and an overall better playing experience. However, if you just use your computer for work or play games on a console, you might not have given much attention to the idea of spending money on a keyboard. Customizable mechanical keyboards vary from more basic devices primarily in that they allow for customization. It involves more than just switching out your keycaps—the portion of the keys you actually press with your fingers—for something cozier or more vibrant. Although there are some unusual keyboards that come pre-assembled, making your own is more fun. Barebone kits are common in custom keyboards because they allow you to experiment and personalize the look mechanical custom keyboards of your keyboard.
Understanding Mechanical Keyboards
In best custom mechanical keyboards have switches that come in hundreds of kinds, but they may be broadly classified into three categories: linear, clicky, and tactile. It all depends on your desired typing experience when choosing a switch. I usually just use the Brown or Red switches. You should get a switch tester to assist you in selecting the right one if you're serious about this keyboard problem. They connect to the PCB via a few copper connections, and they give your keyboard its unique feel and sound. There are three primary varieties that are frequently faced: clicky, tactile, and linear. The first one doesn't give any feedback, the second one feels (a tiny bump), and the last one adds an additional click when it's enabled or the machine really registers the key.
There are three types of switches tactile, linear, and clicky. Each has a different feeling when pressed, and they are made for a variety of user types.
- Linear: Consistent, quiet strokes that are steady and fluid.
- Tactile: With each keystroke, there is a slight bump and a small noise.
- Clicky: Each keystroke produces a loud click sound along with a little bump.
Unlike conventional backlighting, RGB backlighting gives you access to a palette of over 16 million colors, allowing you to alter the lighting atmosphere of your setup. Even while RGB backlighting's main purpose is to make keys easier to see in the dark, it's a simple way to unify the look of your desktop.
Although there are several materials that may be used to make keycaps, ABS and PBT are the two most used ones. Compared to PBT keycaps, ABS keycaps are more affordable and widely available. But compared to ABS keycaps, PBT keycaps are far more robust and resistant to degradation. They are also popular since they may be built in various configurations and do not include switches. Before you install a custom keyboard, we want you to understand the bigger picture—the whole key.
Planning Your Custom Keyboard
It is not advised to create a bespoke keyboard for less than $100, as there are definitely better-prebuilt keyboards available for that amount of money. In all likelihood, you ought to budget between $200 and $400 for a personalized keyboard.
A custom keyboard's layout is the first step in the process. The need for a plank with a certain layout and feature set that is hard to find—a full-size 104-key plank is just too big with too many unused keys—is one of the most common motivations for designing a keyboard. Make sure the item you're interested in is compatible with your home setup before making any purchases, whether it's a new plate, switches, or keycaps.
Components that comprise custom mechanical keyboards:
I won't criticize, but your dream keyboard might be proudly displayed in all its RGB glory on your desk, but there are a few steps between you and there. Let's acquaint ourselves with the mechanical keyboard's construction first, though.
1. As an illustration
The case refers to the external chassis of the keyboard, commonly referred to as its "shell." It provides structural stiffness and houses all the other components. The size of your keyboard's shell determines its form factor and the number of keys it can hold.
2. Electrical Board
The brain of your keyboard is its Printed Circuit Board, or PCB. It has all the details needed to recognize the characteristics of your keyboard. Your switches will be directly linked to the PCB. In addition to the PCB, you also get the plate. This is the flat section that sits on the PCB and makes direct contact with your keys. The two parts contained inside the shell are the printed circuit board (PCB) and the plate. The former, which is linked to your computer and contains your switches (which we shall cover in a moment), is the brains of your keyboard.
3. Leveling Agent
The stabilizers are in charge of preventing excessive rattling of the bigger keys, such as the shift and spacebar. Making sure you have quality stabilizers is important. A cheap, rattly keyboard stabilizer may ruin the whole keyboarding experience. One of the most crucial components of a keyboard's sound is its stabilizer. This is the first place you should go if you decide to alter your keyboard. When left unchanged, stabilizers often have a cheap, rattly sound if they are not balanced and greased.
The keycaps are the last item. These comprise the whole appearance of your keyboard, except the casing. You have a wealth of options when it comes to keycap designs as they come in so many different varieties. Because keycaps are entirely detachable, you are also free to switch up your keycap sets—or even mix and match—as often as you choose. PBT or ABS keycaps will be available for purchase. Many keyboard fans will be divided into different camps due to this disparity. Every kind has advantages and disadvantages.
The issue of size is the next one. You have a plethora of options when it comes to form factors for mechanical keyboards; select the one that best fits your requirements. As I stated, there are a ton of options. Since my typing technique and home office setup fit either full size or 70%, I usually stay in those sizes. Those two form factors are also the most comfy for me.
6. Dampening and Foam Materials
These days, silicone or foam dampeners are included with a lot of custom mechanical keyboards. They are now recognized as an integral component of creating a keyboard's sound rather than as changes. If the foam is missing from your kit, it's simple to create your own or purchase pre-cut foam. While PCB and plate foam may give your piano a lush, marbling sound, case foam can reduce reverberations and make it seem less empty. In certain plastic keyboards, such as the V-series keyboards from Keychron, silicone dampeners are used in place of casing foam.
Tools and Equipment
Purchasing a chassis, printed circuit board (PCB), plate, mechanical switches, and keycaps, then putting everything together to create a typing surface is the simplest method for creating mechanical custom keyboards. Your Inventory of Needed Tools for Constructing Mechanical Keyboards -
I. puller switch.
Ii. Keycap remover.
Iii. Opener switch.
Iv grease the brushes.
V lubrication station.
Vi lubricant palette.
Vii iron for soldering.
Viii station for soldering.
Building Your Custom Keyboard
First, check your PCB.
Prepare: Make sure you have a cable to plug in your PCB and tweezers on hand.
Guidelines: Start your preferred application—we recommend VIA—to see if the PCB is operational. Next, as shown in the illustration, gently tap each switch with the tweezers; the switch should now light up in your application as a registered key! Continue with every key.
Step 2: Installing or lubricating your stabilizers
Prepare: Your stabilizers, PCB, brush, lubricant, and screwdriver set are required.
Guidelines: There are several excellent videos available that demonstrate how to properly lubricate and adjust your stabilizers. Next, put your stabilizers in the proper areas and screw them in place, based on your arrangement. After that, you should insert a switch between them and test to see whether everything works as it should. Proceed to the following stage after you're satisfied with the outcome.
Step 3: Installing Switches Prepare the PCB, plate, and soldering iron (if necessary) in addition to the switches.
Directions: Start by setting down your plate; it should sit comfortably on the stabilizers. After that, begin flipping switches! Make sure your sockets are supported if you're using a hot-swap PCB, and if the switches are soldered, make sure they're flush when you press them into position. After that, begin soldering each one down!
Step 4: Case Preparation
Prepare: Grab your screwdriver kit, your keyboard kit, and any additional parts (foam daughter board, gaskets, etc.)!
Instructions: If this is a gasket build, install them first, then, if applicable, add your daughter board. Once finished, incorporate any additional foam into your design. Next, set your PCB/PLATE assembly on the gaskets or screw it down, according to the kind of enclosure. At this point, you can close your case and go on.
Using your keyboard is step five.
Assemble: confirm that your keycaps and switches are installed!
Instructions: Put your keyboard's keycaps on. This is the simplest and most enjoyable stop. You're done now!
Maintaining Your Custom Keyboard
In order to get rid of dust and debris, flip custom mechanical keyboards over and give a little shake. For a cleaner look between the keys, use a can of compressed air. To clean the tops of the keys, dampen a cotton cloth or paper towel with rubbing alcohol. Avoid putting liquids, including alcohol, directly onto the keys.
1. Turn your keyboard upside down, then softly tap. Keyboards are prone to accumulating dust, crumbs, and other dirt, particularly on desktop models with wide spaces between the keys.
2. Use compressed air to get rid of the crumbs.
3. Make use of a keyboard vacuum.
4. Put the keys away.
5. Take out the keys so they may be thoroughly cleaned.
Budgeting and Cost Considerations
Because there are undoubtedly better-prebuilt keyboards available for that amount of money, it is not advisable to design a bespoke keyboard for less than $100. In general, you should spend between $200 and $400 on a customized keyboard.
Because the parts for customized mechanical keyboards are not inexpensive, this is not a project for someone who wants to buy the supplies and figure everything out later. You'll eventually get the hang of it and either has a highly personalized board or a burning desire to know more. Preparation is also essential if you want to go all in and create a board from the ground up. Recall that keyboards are a luxury item, and it's simple to get intimidated by their expense and complexity. Therefore, try not to spend only to have a nice keyboard. The keyboard market is expanding constantly as well, offering an enormous selection of new switches, caps, and other accessories. We are overjoyed that you have decided to call this wonderful planet home!