In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know to assemble your mechanical keyboard, including:
- The different parts of a mechanical keyboard
- The tools you'll need
- How to put it all together
By the end of this article, you'll be an expert at assembling mechanical keyboards! So let's get started.
What You Will Need
To assemble your mechanical keyboard, you will need:
-Phillips head screwdriver
-A small flathead screwdriver
-A wire cutter/stripper
-Keycaps (with stabilizers if needed)
-USB cable (Type A to Mini/Micro B)
Step One: Gather the Parts
To assemble your new mechanical keyboard, you'll need to gather all of the parts. This includes the PCB (printed circuit board), the switches, the keycaps, and the case. You may also need a few tools, like a soldering iron and some solder.
Step Two: Prepare the Case
Depending on the model of keyboard you're assembling, this may involve opening up the case and removing any pre-installed parts. If your keyboard kit comes with a case, start by installing any feet or other stabilizers that came with it. Next, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the layout of the PCB and identify where each switch will be installed. Most cases will have specific mounting holes for each switch, so it's helpful to know where they go ahead of time. Once you have a general idea of where everything goes, begin installing the switches in the appropriate positions. If your PCB has LED lights, now is also a good time to install them. Simply insert them into their respective holes and make sure they're properly seated.
Step Three: Install the Switches
Assuming you have all the necessary equipment, here are the steps for installing the switches in your mechanical keyboard:
1. Start by taking a switch and inserting it into the keyboard PCB at a designated location. There should be a hole for each switch. If not, you will need to solder the switch in place.
2. Make sure that each switch is flush with the PCB and that no wires are protruding. Once all switches are in place, you can begin soldering them to the PCB.
3. Use a multimeter to test each connection before moving on. This step is important to ensure that your keyboard is working properly.
4. Once all switches are soldered, you can now attach the keycaps. Start by inserting the larger keys (i.e. spacebar) first and then work your way down to the smaller keys.
5. To secure the keycaps, you can use O-rings or other similar devices
Step Four: Solder the LEDs
This step is critical for your LEDs to work properly.
- First, identify the positive and negative leads on your LEDs. The longer lead is the positive lead, and the shorter lead is the negative lead. Cut the leads to the appropriate length - they should be just long enough to reach the solder pads on your PCB.
- Next, in the leads with a small amount of solder. This will make it easier to join them in the PCB later.
- Now it's time to solder the LEDs in place. Hold the LED in place with one hand, and use your other hand to heat the solder pad with a soldering iron. Once the pad is hot enough, touch some solder to it until a small mound forms. Then touch the LED's lead to the mound of solder - this should cause it to flow onto both surfaces and create a good connection. Repeat this process for each LED.
- Finally, trim any excess wire from each lead so that they're all tidy and flush against the PCB.
Step Five: Assemble the Keycaps
Now that you have all the keycaps of the keyboard, it's time to start putting them back on. But before you do that, there are a few things you need to know.
- The first is that there are different types of keycaps; The most common are OEM and Cherry. OEM keycaps are the ones that come pre-installed on most keyboards. They're usually lower quality and not as durable as Cherry keycaps. Cherry keycaps, on the other hand, are of much higher quality. They're also more expensive, but they'll last longer and feel better when typing. If you're serious about your mechanical keyboard, then you should get Cherry keycaps.
- The second thing to know is that there are different sizes of keycaps; The two most common sizes are 1u and 2u. 1u keycaps are the standard size for most keys on a keyboard. 2u keycaps are twice as tall and are typically used for spacebar keys.
- You'll also need to know what row your keycaps go on; Most keyboards have four rows of keys, with the top row being the tallest. Keycap rows are usually referred to by their height in millimeters (mm). So, a 1u keycap would go on the first row, which is typically around 12mm tall.
- Finally, you'll need to decide what material you want your keycaps to be made from.
Step Six: Flash the Firmware
There are a few different ways to do this, but we recommend using the QMK Firmware Toolbox. This is a graphical interface that makes it easy to select the right firmware for your keyboard and flash it onto the board. Once you've downloaded the toolbox, open it up and select your keyboard from the dropdown menu. Then, select the keymap you want to use. There are a few different options here, so choose whichever one you prefer. Finally, click "flash" and follow the instructions on the screen. That's it! Once the firmware is flashed, your keyboard is ready to use.
In A Nutshell,
In a nutshell, you need the following to assemble your mechanical keyboard:
-Plate-mounted or solderless construction
If you're opting for a plate-mounted keyboard, you'll also need a metal plate. Most PCBs are designed for plate-mounted construction, so be sure to check before ordering.