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Cover image for Mechanical keyboard : first build (v2) - DIY kit

Mechanical keyboard : first build (v2) - DIY kit

Drilon Mecuku
・2 min read

TL;DR
My journey so far on building a mechanical keyboard. Hard and fun parts that I faced while building a custom keyboard.

Why

I have been using keyboards since I was 14 when I wrote my first characters on a notepad file and haven't stopped since. I am using one as I am typing this post and I think it's one of the most underrated components of what people prefer to refer as a computer.
But it wasn't until 3 years ago (2018) when I joined a new company and a new team that I first heard the term mechanical keyboard.
As soon as I saw one of my new team mates keyboard I was fascinated. It looked so neat , powerful and the sound of those mechanical keys was music to my ears. He had build a 60% keeb with ansi layout and blank pbt keycaps - a work of art. I was hooked and immediately started asking a millions questions and ended up doing a lot of reading and got even more hooked.

How

After a few weeks of research I decided I wanted to build my own keyboard.
first build (v1)
I will describe the whole process in steps and try to be as concise as possible.

  1. Research (lots of hours)
  2. Order the parts/components (less than an hour)
  3. Start building the keyboard (couple of days)
  4. Success (nope)

Unfortunately my first attempt failed as I did a couple of mistakes when trying to solder my keyboard and ended up deforming the pcb to a point where it wouldn't fit the case. Sad times :(

Three years after my first attempt and a lot more research I decided I wanted to have another go at it.
first build (v2)

  1. Research (lots of hours)
  2. Order the parts/components (less than an hour)
  3. Start building the keyboard (couple of hours)
  4. Success (YESSS!!!!)

First build v2

Lessons learned

Hard Parts:

  • Lubing stabilisers , it was hard. People posting videos online (thank you) make it look so easy but it's not. It requires a lot of practice and patience.
  • Screwing the pcb to the case was a test of my patience. The screws are so small and it does need a professional screwdriver otherwise you end up spending a lot of time trying to fit them in.

Fun parts:

  • Hot swappable pcb is a game changer (for newbies)
  • Fitting the keycaps was very satisfactory.
  • Typing the first few letters from a newly build mechanical keyboard.

It's a great hobby but very addictive. It makes you appreciate the importance of typing - very powerful.
For any keyboard fans my build is Hot Swappable 60% with ansi layout, DSA blank PBT keycaps and Gateron brown switches.

Next step on my keyboard journey is programming multiple layers of keys and doing less typos. More on that soon...

Discussion (4)

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gypsydave5 profile image
David Wickes

Nice one Drilon! Did I ever show you the Preonic I built a few years ago? To be fair I barely use it as I'm constantly forgetting where all the keys are 🤣... but it was a lot of fun.

I'm currently lusting after a Ferris...

github.com/pierrechevalier83/ferris

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drilon241 profile image
Drilon Mecuku Author

No, we never got the chance to talk about it. But it does sound very interesting and something we can talk about whilst having a few craft beers 😀

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ashoutinthevoid profile image
Full Name

Great work! Custom keyboards can be a real difference maker when you spend most of your waking hours in front of one.

I personally use a split ortholinear with a colemak layout (though i kept my caps lock key). Even if you don't want to learn a new layout (there are multiple variations that are all more efficient than qwerty), I would definitely recommend checking out splits and ortholinear setups.

Have fun, and try to keep the budget reasonable (the real mkb challenge :))

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drilon241 profile image
Drilon Mecuku Author

Thanks for your comment.
I am already thinking about the second keyboard I want to build but as you rightly said - keeping a reasonable budget is going to be the biggest challenge.

I’ve looked briefly at ortholinear and I really like the way they look , so that’s a good candidate for the next build.