Published the 2021-01-25 on Stacy Harper's blog

I just built a keyboard

I get hyped after some videos from hackers how explained how to build a keyboard on Youtube.

This slowly started to be one of my todo things. I never did soldering nor electronics but, meh, this was a good starting point.

Here the result. I'm so proud !

After my first keyboard (and first mistakes), here what I learnt.

Tools

Material

I bough all the keyboard parts on

KBDFans

You need:

The main board of the keyboard.

To connect the PCB to the computer.

Basically the ground and border of the keyboard.

The things you actually put your finger on.

The toggles under the keycaps. There is lot of different colors for different feelings. The more common are brown cherries.

It is going on the PCB. We will clips switches on it.

There is only one switch under Enter or Space but the keycap do not swing from one side to the other. This is stabilizers !


You should double check your differents part, keeping in mind the keycaps count and ensuring it would fit in the plate and PCB.

Recipe

You cannot put switches or stabilizers in the wrong orientation. Grouped holes on the PCB are for the same key. Using one or the other will only inpact the key layout.

Soldering

This was definitely the funniest part. Soldering really is trivial and you should not fear this part.

You should configure your soldering tool to something between 360C and 400C.

Place the tool on the pins. You should be on contact to the pin and the PCB.

Touch the tool with your soldering wire. The wire will melt and you have to wait until it flow. It should looks like a pyramid, almost covering the pin.

Be carefull to not touch the PCB differents component or you could destroy them.

After two or three pins, you'll be confortable with this. Stay patient and enjoy the work.

Software

The keyboard should just work out of the box (you can't say this !). Anyway, you still can write, hack then flash the software on the PCB.

For my PCB, let's read

the QMK documentation

or use

the online QMK graphical configurator

More to see ?

Sone keyboard builder only speak about lube. I do not really carred about this but this somehow feel important (or not?).

I should check about this and see how this give a better feeling.

Maybe using different switchers for some key could be cool. Having a different feeling for Esc or Space by example.


If this post inspired you, feels free to leave a comment !

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