Have you ever wished to customize-build your keyboard? Then you have reached the best place!
This article will tell you how to customize the best keyboard for yourself. So make sure you read this guide to the very end.
- Build Your Custom Keyboard
- Step #1 Determining the Type of Keyboard You Wish to Build
- Step #2 Purchase the Keyboard Components
- Step #3 Testing the PCB
- Step #4 Installing Stabilizers
- Step #5 Installing or Soldering the Switches
- Step #6 Assemble the Plate and PCB in the Case
- Step #7 Mount the Keycaps
- Step #8 Re-Test
- Step #9 Programming the Lights or RGB
Build Your Custom Keyboard
Required Tools and Equipment [Must-Haves]
- Keycap puller
- Switch puller
- Components of the keyboard
Other Tools and Equipment [Not Mandatory]
- Switch lube
- Switch opener
- Four-claw tool
Step #1 Determining the Type of Keyboard You Wish to Build
Before building the keyboard, you must fix the type you wish to build. There are various options. You will have to consider the following:
- Cost – You may spend as littleas $50 or climb up to the $150 mark. If you plan on using premium parts, it can easily cost you $300 to $400.
- Layout and Size – You can either opt for a full-sized or a 100% keyboard, or 80% TKL (which does not have the ten-key num-pad on the right), or 75% (a full compact keyboard with TKL), or a 60% which is the most popular size that does not have function row and arrow keys.
- Wired or Wireless – Next, figure out whether you want to have a wired or wireless keyboard. Bluetooth works way better, but if you wish to go for wired, you can get fully customized coiled USB cables.
- RGB Lights – Do you wish to have an exciting light showusing your keyboard? Research and get your preferred RGB lights.
Step #2 Purchase the Keyboard Components
- PCB – The Printed Circuit Board is the very core of any keyboard. It is responsible for sending inputs and controlling the function of switches. Choose your PCB according to your preference.
- Case – The case is available in four materials: wood, plastic, aluminum, and clear acrylic. Remember, the PCB should perfectly fit into the case you purchase.
- Switches – There are three types of switches available, Clicky, Linear, and Tactile. You will need to research before you buy any of these keys. Linear keys do feel a lot softer. Tactilekeys are soft but produce a bit of noise, while, Clicky keys generate noise while you type. You can also opt for hot-swappable keys, letting you try out new switches without desoldering them.
- Stabilizers – Stabilizers are used to hold longer keys in place. Stabilizers prevent these keys from bobbing off when pressed. Buy a set of stabilizers according to the size of the keyboard.
- Mounting Plate – You should buy your mounting plate according to the size of the PCB and Case. The mountingplate safeguards the PCB and holds all the switches in place when you solder them.
- Key Caps – Not all keycaps are made with the same effort, so you choose the keys depending on theirdesign, profile, and material. Such as, the ABS keys feel smooth, look shiny, and are At the same time, PBT keys are generally more textured, more durable, and expensive.
You can opt for SA keys; these have a curved top. Going with OEM will give you keys of mid-height with slanted tops. Or you can get along with Cherry; this is the most popular keycap.
Step #3 Testing the PCB
After all the components are delivered, it is time to test your PCB. Follow this outline:
- You will need tweezers
- Plug the PCB with aUSB into your PC
- Open keyboardtester.io to test your keys.
- For each key, connect both ends of the tweezers on the pad of your PCB
- You will get to see the result, and if the key does not get activated, try moving the tweezers around
- Ifthis does not work, replace the PCB
- Test each key, and then get to the next step.
Step #4 Installing Stabilizers
Installing the stabs is pretty easy. Align prongs with the holes of the PCB and push them straight inside.
Remember, the plain ends should go into the large holes, while the clipped ends should go into the small holes. First, put the ends of the stabilizers in larger holes and then through the smaller holes. Apply a slight amount of pressure to get the clips together.
Since the keys are not readily lubricated, you might require a bit of lubricant to the contact points to reduce the noise of the keys. Use dielectric grease for the best results.
Step #5 Installing or Soldering the Switches
Now it is time to install the switches, follow up with the outline –
- Align the PCB and the plate perfectly. To hold the alignment, install the corner keys first and then the others.
- Insert the switches into the plate. Thepins of the switches should go directly into the PCB. Be gentle, or you can bend the pins.
- Once the keys are installed, get ready for soldering them in.
If you are unfamiliar with soldering, you can learn about it on YouTube. And you will know what it is, and you know of the spots to solder the switches.
- Put on safety gear.
- Ensure the soldering iron has reached its temperature.
- Apply tiny amounts of solder.
- When done, connect your PCB to the system, and re-test your PCB and the switches. Desolder and repeat the same steps if you did it wrong.
Step #6 Assemble the Plate and PCB in the Case
To assemble the plate and PCB into the case, all you will do is –
- Mount the plate and PCB inside the case, ensuringthey are aligned properly.
- Screw in.
Step #7 Mount the Keycaps
Now, install your keycaps over the switches. If you are unsure which key goes where, use the manufacturer’s website, and look for the images of a completed keyboard.
Press the keycaps to its stems.
Step #8 Re-Test
The keyboard is all set now. And you need to conduct the last test like you tested your PCB on [Step 3].
Step #9 Programming the Lights or RGB
There are two ways you can program your RGB lights –
- Using the keyboard itself
- Or you can use software that came along with the keyboard, Via (only if your PCB supports it, or you can use QMK.
Now, your custom keyboard is all set to use.
Building your very own custom keyboard is pretty exciting. As you have read this guide, it is time to build one! So, Order your components, and start building your keyboard.
And if you ever feel like building another keyboard, you can try new keycaps and switch types or accessories like artisan keycaps, wrist rests, etc.