May 02, 2023
building a mechanical keyboard for a beginner
I conducted research on building a mechanical keyboard for a beginner by going through various sources, including online guides from Kommandotech, Switch and Click, and Tom's Hardware, as well as Reddit discussions and a YouTube video tutorial by TaeKeyboards. There was a general consensus among the sources on the key components and steps involved in building a mechanical keyboard. Although the specific recommendations varied, the sources provided a comprehensive overview of the process, considerations, and tips for beginners.
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S. K., 28d ago
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Choosing the Right Keyboard Size
Key Components and Accessories
Keyboard Case Materials and Mounting Styles
Assembly and Testing
Timeline and Budget
"It’s up to you to decide if you want to build the keyboard now or months later depending on how customized you want your keyboard build to be."
"200$ is more than reasonable, but you probably won't be able to build one below 100$ (unless you build one of the smaller splits like the 5x5 or 4x4 as a sandwich layout)."
Recommended Resources and Kits
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- The guide includes a comprehensive, step-by-step process to building a custom mechanical keyboard for beginners.
- The keyboard size is a crucial first step to consider, with different sizes such as full-sized, 1800-Compact, Tenkeyless, 75 percent, 65 percent, 60 percent, 40 percent, and Macropad.
- The features of a keyboard are important and should be taken into consideration, including RGB lighting, QMK Firmware, and USB port.
- The timeline for building a keyboard is another aspect to consider, with two ways of getting parts: in-stock parts or group buys.
- In-stock parts are the fastest way to obtain parts for the build, but group buys can be customized for more unique builds.
- The guide provides a recommended keyboard build for under $200 that can be shipped out within a few days, but it will have fewer customizable parts.
- The main components of a keyboard are the PCB, case, plate, stabilizers, switches, and keycaps.
- The PCB is considered the most important component as it determines the size and features of the keyboard, with the three main types being standard, hot-swappable, and through-hole.
- The standard PCB requires soldering the switches to the PCB, and it offers flexibility in terms of key placement.
- Hot-swappable PCBs are perfect for those who don’t want to solder and allow for easy switch swapping.
- Through-hole PCBs require soldering in everything, which is not beginner-friendly.
- The case is essential as it protects the keyboard and holds everything together. There are different case materials, such as plastic, aluminum, acrylic, wood, polycarbonate, brass, and steel.
- The mounting styles for keyboard cases include tray mount, top mount, bottom mount, sandwich mount, plateless mount, integrated plate, and gasket mount, with gasket mount being considered the best as it provides dampening and a good feel.
- The plate helps hold everything together and improves the build quality of the keyboard.
- The plate can be rigid or flexible, with the former making it easier to install switches and the latter providing more bounce when typing.
- Stabilizers help keep the larger keys from wobbling, and there are different stabilizer options such as GMK, Durock, Everglide, and ZealPC.
- Switches are crucial for customizing the feel and sound of the keyboard, and there are different types such as Cherry MX, Gateron, NovelKeys, and Zeal
"How to get started building a keyboard?"
- One user asks for advice on building a keyboard as they are interested in doing so but do not know where to start.
- Another user suggests a beginner’s guide video as a resource for anyone who is interested in learning how to build a keyboard.
- There is some discussion of budget with a user asking if $200 is reasonable for building a keyboard and one user suggesting that it may be difficult to build a keyboard for less than $100.
- A user suggests a Tada68 kit at KBDfans as a good option if you want a few more keys than a 60.
- Other users suggest that KBDFans and KPRepublic offer good DIY kits at a very reasonable price.
- A user outlines the parts that are necessary to build a keyboard: a PCB, case, key switches, keycaps, plate, stabilizers, and USB cable.
Some links are provided to specific products on kbdfans.cn to help anyone starting on their keyboard-building journey to get an idea of what is needed:
- GK64 RGB 60 / 64 keys hot swap PCB
- Cherry MX switches (brown)
- GK64 / XD64 / DZ60 keycaps (black and dark grey)
- Mechanical keyboard shell anode aluminum shell GH60 / Poker 60 mechanical keyboard shell (black)
- 60 PC material plate
- GMK screw-in stabilizers
- USB Type-C cable
- One user also mentions the importance of considering the layout of the keys when picking a plate to ensure compatibility.
- Another user suggests that a 60% size is a good starting point and that the DZ60 is a very flexible and popular PCB to use.
- Mechboards is mentioned as having a configurator that can help anyone interested in building a keyboard to experiment with different parts to get a sense of what they need.
- Multiple users mention the importance of ensuring that all parts are MX-compatible to avoid compatibility issues.
- Some users suggest that finding a community to ask questions and chat with can be helpful for beginners, with the r/mechanicalkeyboards subreddit being a popular option.
- Several users suggest that taking the time to learn about switches before starting to build a keyboard can be very useful in order to ensure that the final product is customized to meet personal preferences.
- A user with experience building keyboards notes that while it can be a tedious process, the end result is often very rewarding and that a beginner should expect to spend several hours working on a build.
- One user suggests that sourcing
"How to start building a mechanical keyboard?"
- There are multiple ways to build a mechanical keyboard, from buying a kit to designing your case and PCB.
- Handwiring a keyboard is a cheaper option but is more challenging.
- The required components of a keyboard are switches, a controller, a plate with your preferred layout, diodes, and wire.
- You can build a keyboard for less than $50 using the components mentioned above, but buying a case is strongly recommended as does a PCB, although it is optional.
- If you plan to use LEDs, it is recommended to use an LED compatible PCB. If you opt-out, it is possible to handwire the keyboard.
- There is a wiki where you can learn more about building a mechanical keyboard.
- A typical build can cost about $150, but it can be much cheaper or much more expensive depending on the components you choose.
- Buying a kit will save you the hassle of figuring out the components’ specifications. A MagicForce 68 or GH60 kit can cost under $100.
- You will need a soldering iron and solder to assemble your keyboard.
- Building a mechanical keyboard is different from building a PC. While you can usually save money by buying individual parts when building a PC, building a custom mechanical keyboard is generally more expensive than buying a ready-made keyboard, although it offers features not available on standard keyboards.
- A keyboard with a smaller board, like Planck, can use a cheap Pro Micro controller, while a bigger one, like the Teensy controller, is recommended.
- A built keyboard will have components of the quality you choose to pay for.
- It is possible to start building a mechanical keyboard as a beginner. You can choose to build a straightforward keyboard by buying a kit and assembling it. Alternatively, you can handwire your keyboard using the components required, which is more challenging but cheaper.
- The keyboard’s case is an essential component to consider. You can buy a ready-made one (recommended) or choose to build one yourself although it will likely be more expensive than buying one.
- A custom-built keyboard offers features not usually available on commercial keyboards and the satisfaction of owning a keyboard built entirely by you.
- Building a custom mechanical keyboard is highly satisfying and enhances the daily computing experience.
- It is a daunting task especially for beginners but it can be made easy with the right guidance.
- The webpage presents a step-by-step guide for building a custom mechanical keyboard.
- The guide suggests purchasing a DIY kit for beginners as it contains all the necessary parts to build a custom keyboard.
The key components and accessories required for building a mechanical keyboard are:
- Keyboard case
- PCB (printed circuit board) compatible with that case
- Switch mounting plate
- Mechanical switches
- USB cable
- Soldering iron and solder (required for soldering switches)
- Keycap and switch puller
- Stabilizer pads or cloth band-aids
- Nail clippers or flush cutters
- Permatex or other semi-thick dielectric grease
- Switch lube (Krytox 205g0 is a safe bet)
- Fine paintbrush
- Switch films
- Neoprene damping material.
- The guide provides a list of websites to purchase components from, which includes KBDFans and KPRepublic for curated selections and Novel Keys, Prevail Key Company, and Cannon Keys for accessories.
- Consider the layout and keycaps before purchasing any components as they can impact the functionality of the board.
The webpage provides an overview of popular keyboard layouts:
- Keycap materials to consider include ABS and PBT, while the guide recommends using PBT keycaps with doubleshot or dye-sublimated legends.
- The webpage recommends choosing a matching PCB and case. It suggests features to consider include RGB or hot-swappable switches.
- The guide provides guidance on choosing stabilizers and switches. It notes that switches can be linear, tactile, or clicky. The guide explains the difference between PCB-mounted and plate-mounted switches and mentions that five-pin switches do not require a plate.
- Switch lubing is an optional and time-consuming step that can increase the smoothness of a typing experience.
- A sample build using the D60 WKL keyboard kit from KBDFans is provided.
- The article offers a step-by-step guide on how to build a mechanical keyboard, discussing various factors that should be considered before starting building.
- It suggests different keyboard sizes to choose from, including 40%, 60%, 65%, 75%, 80%, 96%, and full-sized keyboards.
- It highlights the importance of deciding on features and USB port types before starting the build, such as whether to get a regular or mechanical keyboard, QMK Firmware, and USB-C.
- The article lists key components necessary for building a mechanical keyboard, including the Printed Circuit Board (PCB), keyboard case, mechanical switches, keycaps, switch-mounting plate, stabilizers, screwdrivers, tweezers, soldering iron and solder, and USB cable.
- It explains the differences between types of plastic used for keycaps, namely ABS and PBT, and their respective qualities.
- The article goes in detail about lubing switches, which takes several hours, and testing if the PCB works properly by plugging it into the computer and using tweezers to touch the two small holes where each key should be placed.
- It offers instructions on how to assemble stabilizers, mount them, and install them onto the PCB before installing the switches.
- The article explains how to install switches using either soldering or hot-swap sockets.
- It highlights the importance of gaskets for sound-dampening before reassembling the case, as well as checking if all the keycaps work using one of the keyboard tester websites.
- The article also provides tips on where to buy parts for building a mechanical keyboard, such as from Amazon or group-buy keyboard kits.
- It suggests setting a timeline ahead of time depending on when necessary components will arrive, which ranges from a few days to up to nine months for group-bought keyboard sets.
- The article overall emphasizes the importance of planning everything ahead and not rushing during the building process.
"A complete BEGINNER guide to the world of Mechanical Keyboards"
- The guide title: “A Complete BEGINNER Guide to the World of Mechanical Keyboards”
- The author thanks the community for their helpful comments and offers advice to always ask for community help when building keyboards.
- Personal reasons to build a mechanical keyboard include spicing up aesthetics and the sound and feel of the keyboard fitting personal preferences. The author includes a quote from Taeha Types: “Why not invest in something that we use so often?”
- There are six components to a mechanical keyboard: PCB, mechanical switches, stabilizers, case and plate, keycaps, and USB cable.
- Mechanical switches come in clicky, tactile, and linear options, and the article lists examples for each.
- Different plate materials (steel, brass, aluminum, acrylic, and polycarbonate) affect sound and feel differently.
- There are five sizes for keyboards with numpad and seven sizes for compact boards without numpads. The author briefly explains each type and mentions an informative video by TaeKeyboards.
- Different mountings affect sound and feel differently. Tray-mounted is basic and most common. Gasket-mounted adds a rubber gasket to isolate the plate and PCB. Top-mounted has mounting tabs screwed to the top case. Bottom-mounted has mounting tabs screwed to the bottom case. Sandwich-mounted has the top and bottom case sandwich the plate between them, and the bottom half is screwed to the top.
- Tools required to build a keyboard include a soldering iron kit (if PCB is not hot swappable), solder wire, small screwdrivers, keycap puller, small portable fan, mechanical switch opener, thick lube, thin lube, switch film.
- There are advantages and disadvantages to having a hot swappable PCB. For example, some advantages of having a hot swappable include being able to switch out your keys whenever you please.
- The article provides links to purchase some of the recommended products.
- The article was originally posted on Reddit by a user named /u/Aukten.
"Beginner's Guide : How to Build a 60% Mechanical Keyboard by TaeKeyboards"
- YouTube video tutorial on building a 60% mechanical keyboard, geared towards beginners.
- The tutorial covers everything in 10 minutes, from sourcing materials to the final assembly.
- Reddit users commented on the video with additional tips and suggestions for building mechanical keyboards as a beginner:
- A suggestion to use a Sentraq kit as a cheap option for quality parts.
- Recommendation for writing custom firmware with popular options being TMK and QMK.
- discussion on soldering and stabilizers.
- Recommendation for hot-swappable/modular PCBs and using holtites or similar sockets.
- Comments on the quality of the video and the content on the TaeKeyboards YouTube channel.
- Discussion on group buys at Sentraq and upgrades.
- Comments on the clothing and time of year in the video.
- Responses to questions about building keyboards, such as where to buy parts and how to write custom firmware.
- Some users sharing their personal experiences building mechanical keyboards and recommending specific components or configurations.
- The video may be a helpful resource for a beginner looking to build a 60% mechanical keyboard, but additional research outside of this video may be necessary to fully understand the process and customize the build to personal preferences.
"A Great Beginner’s Guide to Building Your Own Mechanical Keyboard"
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Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Basic Mechanical Keyboard for Beginners
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Introduction to Building a Mechanical Keyboard for Beginners