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Custom Keyboard

What is Custom Keyboard?

With the continuous development of e-sports, many gaming players have now also begun to focus on their own game experience. As things are tangentially related to the game experience, they are the frequent use peripherals such as the mouse, keyboard and others. And the keyboard must be the primary “weapon” of many players. And after getting a mechanical gaming keyboard, I think there may be some people who began to hear the word “customization”, and then they want to get a custom keyboard, so what is the custom keyboard? Today, the article will introduce what the custom keyboard is from whole to part.

What do You Mean about Custom Keyboard?

custom keyboard

Do you know what the relationship between a custom keyboard and a mechanical keyboard is? I think a lot of people are confused that a mechanical keyboard is called a mechanical keyboard and why it must be added word “custom”.

Customization (customize) is close to DIY and is a personalized service, UDM for short. It indicates special customization to meet the needs of a customer according to his or her requirements. It is the process of changing a standard product, replacing a standard part with a new part, or adding a special function to a standard product to provide the customer with a more complete product portfolio. In a word, the customer’s needs determine the manufacturing process.

Well, I believe here you should have a simple understanding of custom keyboard, which is actually according to users’ own needs to assemble a mechanical keyboard showing their own creativity. And the common saying is the keyboard DIY.

What are the Differences Between A Standard Keyboard and Custom Keyboard?

And now I want to ask a question: What the keyboard is used for? Obviously, its basic function is typing, which leads to no difference between a custom keyboard and a keyboard for 9.9$ in terms of the basic function. If you say so, there’s no denying it.

Then I only want to say one point which is why I am attracted by custom keyboard, that is the custom keyboard shows your own innovative ideas. It is not too much to say that the keyboard is the world’s unique keyboard. But because users need to design and assemble, the custom keyboard is destined to be only a few people’s preferences. After all, more people just want to use the keyboard to type and play games rather than pursuit of personality.

Green Hands’ Questions

How much about a custom keyboard? I don’t have many budgets and can I have one?

These two questions are seen most frequently. And a comment leaving me the deepest impression is that don’t try the custom keyboard, and it can make you penniless immediately. In terms of the comment, I want to say that it only means that you have a little understanding of custom keyboards, or maybe the conception about money among people exists great differences. The custom keyboard is also divided into high-end and low-end keyboards, but to generalize it is disagreeable.

What are the benefits I can get when I begin to walk on the road to a custom keyboard?

If you want to have a better understanding of the custom keyboard, you’d better disassemble it. Customizing the keyboard is a process in reverse order. When you assemble a keyboard, you can know the stabilizer, slanting switch, adjustment and LED beads better. And you can know how to use a keyboard longer.

Basic Components of Custom Keyboard

Switches

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The axis body can be said to be the core part of the mechanical keyboard. Without an axis body, the mechanical keyboard can only be the case. So what is the switch?

In terms of the structure, each key of the mechanical keyboard has a separate switch to control the closure, and the switch is also known as the “Axis body”.

In layman’s terms, every axis body is a small switch on the keyboard, and each key corresponds to a switch that will have mechanical movement when triggered. Therefore, the axis body is called a mechanical switch, and the call “mechanical keyboard” is named.

When people found that only one switch only brings one hand feel, which is not enjoyable to use, and then more axis bodies are invented. Then how do you distinguish different axes? Here, according to the color of the switch, they are used to distinguish different axes, so there is a series of axes such as blue switch, red switch, brown switch, black switch, etc.

Black switch

Experience: The first feeling of the black switch is more powerful and strongly elastic. It seems that there is a force that can not wait to top your fingers when pressing it. It is a linear switch straight up and down, suitable for playing games with a faster trigger. But if you want to use it to type, it is not too satisfying. For me, fingers will be fatigued for a long time.

Suitable group: Male players who have certain requirements for game operation and have strong power and prefer to be more silent.

Blue Switch

Experience: The blue switch is more similar to the mechanical switch with a strong sense of paragraph. Its crisp “click, click” sound makes you want to type a few more and the rhythm is created. If you do not feel specific, may as well think about your ballpoint pen, and the sense of paragraph is like pressing your ballpoint pen wildly. The disadvantage of it also is its sound. For someone, it is noise. Because of its two-stage structure, the traveling distance is long and slow trigger.

Suitable group: newcomers who want to experience the difference between membrane keyboards and mechanical keyboards and typists who want to cool themselves and make others annoyed.

Red Switch

Experience: The first feeling of it is very soft and light. It is linear and goes straight up and down when pressed. It can show its moderate bounce after being carefully pressed a few times.

Suitable group: The switch is suitable for both common people who like to play games and occasionally type and like the hand feel and girls without strong strength.

Brown Switch

Experience: Brown switch gives users a concave feel, which is like a lump on smooth skin. It takes little strength, and won’t have a powerful bounce on your hands. Although it has a sense of paragraph but is completely different from the blue switch. The brown switch is the legendary universal switch.

Suitable group: typists and gaming players who want to enjoy the sense of paragraph but do not want to disturb others as well as literary girls.

The above switches are often mentioned and they are enough for daily typing and games. Of course, the mechanical switch is not the only four axes.

Now the axis body can be said competitive. Many switches such as the Kailh switch, TTC, OTM, Gateron switch and others have been significantly improved and even threaten the status of the Cherry switch. Although we still want the Cherry switch when purchasing a mechanical keyboard, faith actually accounts for some of the components. In terms of custom keyboards, other switches provide you with more choices and can meet your needs for the use of the mechanical keyboard.

Case

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Some people often say that some mechanical keyboard uses models again or copies others. It is often the outer case that leaves a great impression on people. It can be said that the case is the first impression for users and also an important part of the appearance. And now, we have a look at the case of a custom keyboard.

Cases can be divided into two parts according to the material and size.

Material

According to the material, customized cases can be divided into three styles–plastic (acrylic), metal, and wooden cases.

Needless to say, plastic case is the cheapest and most colorful. The transparent case is very suitable for PCB with bottom light and with an obvious light effect. Of course, the disadvantage is also a common problem of plastic that is the case is not strong and easy to deform.

The metal case adopts generally the CNC cutting process, sturdy and more rigid, and after being anodized, its color is even richer than the plastic case. And owing to its malleable property, many high-end custom kits are metal cases. The disadvantage is easy to be harmed after falling or colliding and even irreparable, and it is a little higher.

Because of the versatility, the Wooden case is used on a 60% configuration keyboard. And the color of the keyboard is related to the type of wood. If you like a little darker, you choose walnut wood; If you like a clear texture, you can choose huanghauli wood; if you like a little brighter, you can choose pine wood. There are many wood species for choice. As for the disadvantage, it is that because of the climate, the wooden case will have some changes in size and even crack.

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Size

According to the keyboard specifications of size, the custom keyboard can be divided into 104 keys, 87 keys, 60% and 40%. Of course, there is other special sizes keyboard. And the custom keyboard size is determined by your own needs.

In addition, you should note that generally, custom keyboard’s cases don’t have brackets, so you need to look at the case angle to prevent an uncomfortable hand feel.

Keycaps

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In terms of keycaps, there is a lot of knowledge.

Classification of Keycaps

First of all, keycaps can be divided into ABS, PBT and POM according to the material.

ABS

The scientific name of ABS is Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene. The material has low cost, high strength and good toughness and is easy to process. It is these characteristics that make ABS material extremely widely used. Due to the mature production process, keycaps made of ABS material generally are neat, exquisite, and even in texture. In addition to its wonderful workmanship, ABS keycaps have a good, delicate and comfortable hand feel.

It has wonderful workmanship and touches feel, but there exists an obvious shortcoming, that is because the material hardness is low, the surface will become oily and bright after being used for a long time, which is called “oiling”. After being oiled, the ABS keycaps not only are slightly sticky but will make the whole keyboard dirty and greasy.

PBT

The scientific name of PBT is polybutylene terephthalate with a good reputation for white rock. Its processing technology and cost are higher than ABS material, and its solidity is more outstanding, and the injection molding shrinkage rate is smaller. Its processing technology is relatively mature, and can even use a double-shot process achieving the purpose of never losing the fonts. PBT keycaps are dry and hard with a very unique frosted feel.

The biggest advantage of PBT material is its wear-resistant property significantly better than ABS material. In terms of oiling, PBT keycaps in daily use are later than ABS Keycaps.

POM keycaps

The scientific name of POM is polyoxymethylene. The material is hard, and wear resistant. And it also has the characteristics of lubrication, so it is often used for manufacturing lightweight moving parts. POM keycaps feel cold and its self-lubrication feature makes the keycaps touch a uniquely dry and smooth sense.

Keycap Engraving Technology

Laser Etching

Laser etching is the use of laser engraving technology to burn a black groove in the keycap. Its engraved traces are linear, so the common keys of laser etched keyboard are hollow.

Silkscreen Printing

Its principle is that a special screen is placed over a blank keyboard, where the area with the writing is hollowed out, and then the ink is scraped over it so that the writing is printed on the hollowed part.

Impregnation printing (also called dye sublimation process)

Impregnation printing is a printing method that is very different from ordinary ink printing. It uses solid resin-based inks instead of the usual liquid pigment-based inks. This ink will sublimate into a gaseous state at high temperatures, and then condense in the form of gaseous molecules to penetrate the permeable printing surface, thus physically becoming a whole with the printing surface rather than just “sticking” to the printing surface like ordinary pigment-based inks. Its printing is extremely solid. Moreover, resin-based inks are inherently better in terms of gloss and form.

Dichroic molding

Dichroic molding uses a mold to combine two different colors of plastic to display the fonts using the difference in the color of the two plastics. The advantage of the dichroic molding process is that the font is bright, durable, and not easy to wear words. And the tactile performance of the keycap will be very nice if the manufacturing technology is good.

Data Line

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Custom keyboards generally use a detachable design, so you need to buy the corresponding data line. But how do you pick a data line? I am here to analyze.

Interface

The interface of the data line can be divided into two parts, the PC connection side and the keyboard connection side.

PC connection interface

PC interface can be divided into PS / 2 and USB.

PS / 2 first appeared in the IBM PS / 2 devices, thus getting its name. This is a special interface for the mouse and keyboard.

USB supports hot-swappable with the advantages of plug-and-play.

In terms of use, the keyboard with PS / 2 interface and keyboard with USB interface keyboard is similar. Because the USB interface supports hot-swappable, a USB keyboard may be more convenient. Now, most mechanical keyboards are using the USB interface, and also have PS / 2 and USB interchangeable adapters, so in the purchase of the USB cable or PC interface is not a problem to consider.

Keyboard connection interface

The keyboard connection interface mainly depends on what the interface on the PCB is. Now the main types include four types: type-c, mini USB (T port), MicroUSB (Android port), and USB.

Type-c

Although the type-c interface has just used not much time, the keyboard with this interface is increasing.

Mini USB (T port), MicroUSB (Android port)

These two interfaces are too familiar to people.

The USB interface cable is used not frequently, and only a few detachable keyboards use a dual USB data line, which leads to its poor versatility, but the interface is really unusually solid.

Material of the data line

The material of the data line can be divided into two parts, one of which is the outer skin of the line, and the other is the material of the line itself.

The outer skin of the line

The most intuitive feeling of ordinary consumers for the data line material is that the line is a little hard or soft. But, in fact, the different feel only shows the outermost layer of the data line. Currently, although there are a wide variety of data lines on the market, most of the outer skin are TPE, PVC and braided wire.

PVC material is a common material for data lines with non-flammable, high elasticity, resistance to weather changes and excellent geometric stability.

TPE material is an available soft rubber material made by a thermoplastic molding machine, and its elasticity and toughness have been greatly improved.

Most of the braided data line is made of nylon. The durability and folding of braided wire as the outer skin of the data line will be better.

The connector of the data line

The interface of the mechanical keyboard data line can be divided into a one-piece connector and a DIY data line connector.

The one-piece connector is generally PVC material wrapping the metal in it, which is relatively tight. But the structure limits your choices.

DIY data line connectors are generally braided or personalized custom lines, which can be divided into metal connectors and heat-shrinkable tube connectors.

Satellite Switch

Although the satellite switch does not look inconspicuous, it is related to your custom keyboard experience. And then how do you choose the satellite switch?

A satellite switch is generally a combination of a wire and two-axis bodies.

Color

According to the color, the satellite switch can be divided into transparent and black satellite switch. Although the transparent satellite switch is also plastic, it is slightly harder than the black. A transparent satellite switch with an RGB switch will make the keyboard look more uniform and have better light transmission.

The black satellite switch is the common satellite switch. It is softer and easier to install.

Brand

According to the hierarchy of brands, it can be divided into switches made in China, Cherry and GMK. The steel of satellite switches made in China is relatively thin and slightly rough.

The steel wire of the Cherry satellite switch is thicker, and the plastic combination of parts is tight, wobble and wire sound has improved significantly, but the price is more expensive.

GMK’s satellite switch has a close production process to the Cherry. But the difference is that many of GMK’s satellite switch is screwed, so it is more solid and will not fall off because of plugging and unplugging.

PCB

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PCB is another core component of the custom keyboard, and it is related to the entire keyboard circuit. A good PCB can ensure that your keyboard is more stable in operation. Unlike other parts, PCB doesn’t include too many types, but 60% configuration keyboard will involve some of the problems.

All PCB plates must be tested before insallation, otherwise maybe there are troubles. In addition, there are some cheap PCB plates, but they don’t have the main control or U-port, which are not recommended to buy.

According to the type, PCB can be divided into SMD light PCB and insert LED PCB, and SMD PCB is divided into frontal SMD and back SMD.

Front SMD PCB installed SMD lights in the original location of the inserted LED lights holes, so you can not install LED lights. The back of the SMD PCB becomes bface, which is collocated with a transparent chassis to use, and its front can be inserted with LED lights. There is also a PCB plate, it does not have a light, and requires you to insert the LED lights.

Positioning Plate of Custom Keyboard

Custom Keyboard

A positioning plate is used to fix the switch, and strengthen the structure. Now most custom keyboards, including finished keyboards will use the positioning plate. Although some people say it will affect the hand feel of the switch. And now I will talk about how to choose a positioning plate of custom keyboard.

According to the material, it can be divided into plastic, metal, or carbon fiber positioning plate.

The plastic positioning plate is the cheapest, but its possibility of deforming is serious and it is easy to crack the connection, which is suitable for the low-end custom keyboard.

The metal positioning plate is stronger and has rich color choices, but the material is harder and the installation of the switch will be more difficult.

The carbon fiber positioning plate combines the advantages of those positioning plates, and it is said that you can feel the knocking feeling of the keyboard without steel. Some carbon fiber positioning plates are required to customize.

Most of the customization kit positioning plates have been collocated well. It will not involve the problem of size deviation except 60% custom keyboard, whose positioning plate may be difficult to install into the case. Therefore, you should try to ask before buying. Also need to pay attention to 60% of the custom keyboard has a lot of matching.

LED

LED lights are often needed for customization, but are not necessary.

According to the type, it can be divided into square lights and round lights.

Square light is generally smaller than round light and the light is more transparent. Round light is generally 3mm round. Because of its volume, the installation needs to pay attention to the

Conclusion

In person, the article is pretty comprehensive. If you are interested in the custom keyboard and want to have your first custom keyboard, I suggest that you can read the article carefully and make the best determination.

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