Building My First Keyboard From Scratch
Last weekend I built my first keyboard from scratch: the microdox. I went with a low-profile build utilizing Elite-Cs as the controllers and Kailh gChocs for the switches.
Here are some things that I would keep in mind next time:
- Use a chisel tip for soldering. I used a round fine-tip and found it hard to heat up the components enough to make the solder flow very well.
- The Elite-C has a bright blue LED that cannot be turned off via software. It must be physically covered, desoldered, or destroyed if you don’t want a bright blue LED blaring at you all the time.
- Get painters tape for holding down components
- Maintain a cleaner / more organized soldering work station
As far as the build process went, it went fairly smoothly all things considered. I followed this guide and found it straighforward. The only hiccup I ran into was that 2 keys were sending both the correct key and an unintended key on the right half of the board. The top-row index finger was sending the bottom-row index finger key, and the bottom-row pinky key was sending the top-row pinky key. I pulled my hair out for a while checking for any bridging or incorrectly oriented diodes. In the end, I solved this by doing the following: I pulled off the top plate and switches, manually shorted the affected keys and verified that they were sending only the proper keycodes, trimming the diode legs closer to the board, and then reassembling. I am not sure why that fixed it, but it did.
As far as the experience of using the keyboard, I’m really liking it. It’s very small, which will make it easy to transport. I’m still getting used to how light the switches are, but I put some o-rings on the keyboard this morning and they feel a lot better. The only thing I dislike are the blue LEDs on the Elite-Cs, but I’m planning on putting nail polish on them or something. Also, I used some pretty thick bumpers on the bottom, and I’d like to replace them with some thinner ones.
Overall, the experience was rewarding and in the future should I want to try another board I will definitely build it from scratch.