“What keyboard is that?” I seriously can’t even count how many times I get asked this question per day. Instead of trying to explain to everyone individually how to either get the parts or how to configure the pre-assembled unit off KBDfans, I though I’d launch a small article about. I had to make it aesthetically pleasing, since that’s my vibe. Okay, let’s kick this off with the parts, since I feel that’s important to know before you make any decisions.
This is going to be a quick overview. A basic custom keyboard consists of a few parts. A case, PCB, stabilizers, plate, switches, and keycaps. Let’s start from the bottom up.
CASE – This is what houses all your parts. There are different sizes and colours. In the case of this board, it’s the frosted acrylic part that diffuses the case. The see through acrylic case works in conjunction with a PCB that has LEDs on the underside of it. (TOFU Frosted Case)
PCB – The circuit board is essentially the “brain” of the keyboard. Before you pick out anything you should first decide on what size keyboard you use (60%, 75%, etc) and then pick a case and PCB to work with that. Some PCBs have back lighting built in, some have under-glow, and some have nothing! In this case I use the DZ60. (DZ60)
Stabilizers – Without over complicating it, this is what stabilizers do, it reduces the wobble of the larger keys like the shift, enter and space bar. The purchase link for these can be found along side the PCB.
Plate – The plate assists in mounting your switches to the PCB. It allows the housing of the switch to essentially lock into place aiding it in securing positioning and then the switch can be soldered into the PCB. Which plate you chose can affect your layout. I prefer the ANSI layout, but this is up to you. (Plates)
Switches – This is the fun part! Each switch is so different so it’s hard for me to explain this. Feeling them really helps. If you’re looking for something clicky, so far my favourite has been BOX Jades, something in between are Browns and my favourite linear switch stock are Tealios V2. The switches solder to the PCB and sit in the plate. (Switches)
Keycaps – You can let creativity shine with these. These can be found on a number of website and can broken down into a few things. Profile, keycap sets, and artisan keycaps. Popular sets I’ve found typically are sold in SA, which are taller caps, but most people are use to the height of OEM caps. I’ll do another article show casing the difference of these another time. Keycap sets are the entire set and again, you just want to make sure they support your layout. Artisan keycaps, which you see all over my Instagram, are the very unique keycaps to decorate your keyboard with. There will be a giant hub of artisan vendors that are located on my vendor list. (Keycaps KBDFANS)
Okay, so you have a basic understanding of what you’ll need and what you’re getting. You can either pick out all your own parts using the links above or buy the pre-assembled kit below (keep reading).
I’ve built a few myself now and it’s a lot of fun but if you’re not comfortable doing it, don’t force yourself. KBDfans has a pre-assembly service and I really like it!
Oh and you can use code “alexotos” for 3% off the pre-assembled version only.
What options do I even pick for the pre-assembled page to get it to look like that?
Well make sure you have the following selected as shown in the web page screenshot.
Plate: This is your choice, I prefer brass for the weight and sound but aluminum is cheaper
Stabilizer: Again, your choice. I prefer GMK Screw in but cherry is cheaper.
Layout: This is important. I use layout 2 but you can review the layouts on the website. Make sure you choose the layout you’re most comfortable with.
Switches: I love Zeal switches but this is all up to what you prefer. This will add a separate sku into your cart. Do not remove it.
That’s it! You’re done! Add the discount code “alexotos” and pick out some keycaps and you’re good to go!