Board
building.

behind the board

Below is a full walk-through of the method that I use when building keyboards. I have included pictures as well as a detailed description of each step to help guide you through your first batch of switches. I hope this will help you develop the confidence to build your first board and if you have any other questions, please don’t be afraid to contact me.

Stabilisers

Before you get to soldering your board, I would recommend modifying your stabilisers. Doing this makes for a much more pleasant overall typing experience and will also help to eliminate the disgusting rattle you get from OEM boards. Dependant on the stabilisers you are using the method may alter slightly bt for my example I will walk you through how to lube and clip PCB mounts stabs.

outer casings

I like to do my outer casings first as this allows me something to start assembling the rest of the stabilisers into after modding them so that you don’t wipe off the lubricant on your work surface. The outer casing is pretty simple, all you need to do is apply a reasonable amount of a thicker lubricant to the tip of your brush, then using vertical strokes, cover all inner faces of the casing. You want a slightly thicker layer of grease than you would need for switches as this will help remove rattle and keep the stabs feeling smooth for longer. With the 3 whole faces finished, it’s worth just cleaning your brush by wiping off any residual lubricant on the inner face of the hole. With that, your first casing is complete, repeat this process on as many of the outer casings as you are going to need then move onto the next step

stems

To begin, I like to clip my stems first. Clipping is when you snip off the 2 ‘springy’ legs on the bottom of the stem that stop it from bottoming out and can lead to some undesirable sound. All you need to do is, using a set of snips or scissors, cut off the 2 legs that are diagonal from one another and have the flap sticking out of the bottom.

With your stems clipped, its now time to lubricate. Apply a small amount of lube to the end of your brush and coat the inner faces that do not have the whole with a slightly thicker layer of lubricant than you would use on a switch. repeat this on all the casings before moving to the next step.

Bars

This part of the stabiliser modding process is pretty simple, however, it usually makes the biggest difference. To apply the lubricant to your stab bars, all you need to do is dip the short sides into your tub or bottle of lube and twist it around to get a good layer of coverage over all of the surfaces of the bar. With this final part ready you can re-assemble the stabilisers by placing the stem with the 2 holes pointing out the big hole on the outer casing before putting the bar into the lower hole on the stem and clipping it into the outer casing. 

Mounting switches & stabs

Now that all the parts of the keyboard are good to go, you’re ready to start assembling. To start with I always do my stabilisers first to make sure that I get them in the right places. This part is pretty simple though s long as you take the time to pice the right holes to mount them in so you don’t have to desolder your whole board after finding out one stab is slightly off. Simply take the side of the casing with the hook and put that through the bigger hole on the PCB and then the clip or hole side into the smaller hole. With the stabs mounted it time to put your switches into the plate. I like to put switches in each corner and down the middle as well to start with, then after soldering them I mount the rest. To mount them all you need to do is ensure that they are in the correct locations to fit your keycaps and that the pins align with the holes in the PCB then press them in until you hear a click.

Soldering

Now comes the most intimidating part of building a keyboard. There’s really nothing to worry bout though, so long as you take your time and you don’t hold your iron to the PCB for ages then you should get through it without any major problems. In principle, soldering is super simple, all you’re doing is heating up the contact on the PCB and the switch pin before melting some soldering into the space between the two parts. he way I like to solder is to hold the iron to the PCB and switch pin for a second or 2 to allow them to heat up, then bring the solder in a melt enough to make a concave cone on the exposed side of the PCB. You don’t need to completely cover the switch pin, so long as there is none of the PCB contact showing then you should be fine, your joint should look something like the image beside.

Assembly

With your board all soldered you’re essentially done with building, all that’s left to do is put everything into the case, mount the keycaps and test. For assembling the case I always recommend using a magnetic tipped screwdriver so that you don’t lose any screws between the PCB and plate when it comes to screwing them down. Other than that, if you’re using a tray mount case then take a little time to ensure you centre everything for the aesthetics and that’s you, you’ve just built your first board.

Some PCB’s don’t come pre-flashed so to get the board working you will need to refer to the firmware guide. I always advise testing your PCB BEFORE soldering to make sure everything is working as after soldering you can sometimes void warranties etc.