Mechanical keyboards have become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason. These keyboards offer a more satisfying typing experience, improved durability, and customizable features that standard rubber dome keyboards simply cannot match. One of the most appealing aspects of mechanical keyboards is the ability to build a custom one to your exact specifications.
However, building a custom mechanical keyboard can be a bit intimidating, especially when it comes to budgeting for the project. If you’re interested in building your keyboard, there’s much to consider. You have to decide what layout you want, how much you’re willing to spend on parts, and how long it will take to get everything you need. Once you’ve made those decisions, you can start shopping for the necessary parts. You’ll need a case, a switch plate, and keycaps for your keyboard. In this article, we’ll explore the costs associated with building a custom mechanical keyboard, from the basic components to the more advanced features.
The most essential component of a mechanical keyboard is, of course, the mechanical switches. There are a variety of switch types available, each with its own unique feel and sound. The most popular switches are Cherry MX, Gateron, and Kailh, and each type is available in a range of colors and actuation forces. A pack of switches typically costs between $20 and $30, depending on the type and quantity. Another key component of a mechanical keyboard is the PCB (printed circuit board). This is the backbone of the keyboard and allows the switches to communicate with the computer. Custom PCBs can be purchased pre-assembled or as a DIY kit, with prices ranging from $30 to $100, depending on the features and complexity of the board.
Keycaps are the tops of the switches that you press when typing. Keycaps are available in a variety of materials, including ABS plastic, PBT plastic, and even wood or metal. Custom keycap sets can be purchased for anywhere from $50 to $200, depending on the material and design. The case of the keyboard is another important component, and it can be made from a variety of materials, including plastic, metal, and wood. Custom cases can be purchased for anywhere from $50 to $200, depending on the size, material, and design.
While the components mentioned above are the basics of building a custom mechanical keyboard, there are several advanced features that can add to the cost. One such feature is RGB lighting, which allows the user to customize the lighting on their keyboard. RGB lighting typically adds an extra $30 to $50 to the overall cost of the build.
Another popular advanced feature is programmable macros, which allow users to assign specific actions to individual keys. Programmable macro support can be added to a custom PCB for an additional $20 to $50.Some custom mechanical keyboards also offer hot-swappable switches, which allow the user to easily change switches without soldering. This feature can add anywhere from $50 to $100 to the overall cost of the build, depending on the type of switch used.
Three components make up a mechanical keyboard: the circuit board, switches, and keycaps. The board determines the size and layout of the keyboard, while switches control the action of each key. The circuit board contains diodes, resistors, and other electronics that convert critical presses into electrical signals and send them to a computer. It can also contain features like USB ports, dedicated volume knobs, and programmable RGB lighting.
Some boards are hot-swappable, meaning you can change out mechanical switches on the fly without having to solder them to the PCB. Others require that you solder them in, which may be more beginner-friendly but limits your options. Choosing the proper case is an essential part of building your mechanical keyboard. A good case will protect your keyboard and enhance your gaming experience. The type of case you choose will depend on your budget and personal preference. Several options include plastic, wood, acrylic, and steel. The material you use for your case will significantly impact your keyboard’s look, feel, and weight. For example, plastic cases are cheaper than others but can still look and feel premium.
When building a mechanical keyboard, one of the essential parts you’ll need is a switch plate. This part will affect how stiff your keyboard is, how the sound sounds, and much more. A switch plate is made from various materials, but brass and polycarbonate are the most popular. Brass plates produce a higher-pitched tone, while polycarbonate makes a softer sound.Plate-mount switches are mounted to a metal plate before being inserted into the PCB. This gives the Printed Circuit Board assembly more support and reduces side-to-side wobbling when the keyboard user presses the switch. Each keycap is labelled with a legend, typically dye-sublimated or double-shot. Dye-sublimated legends are crisper, while doubleshot keycaps are more durable and often come with RGB lighting.
This mounting style works well for smaller keyboards, which tend to be more rigid and have fewer supporting components. However, most heavy-duty keyboards use a plate to ensure a consistent and firm typing experience. Keycaps are the most visible component of a mechanical keyboard and one of the most fun parts to customize. They can be moulded in various shapes, colours, and materials, and they’re a great way to personalize your gaming experience. They can be made of ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) or PBT (polybutylene terephthalate). While both types have pros and cons, fans prefer ABS for its vibrant colours. You can buy them individually, but if you want the best value, getting them as part of a set is better. Most sets have a base kit that covers all conventional keyboard form factors like 60% boards, TKLs, and full sizes.
Building a custom mechanical keyboard can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience, but it’s important to budget for the costs associated with the project. The basic components of a mechanical keyboard, including the switches, PCB, keycaps, and case, can cost anywhere from $150 to $400, depending on the specifications. Advanced features, such as RGB lighting and programmable macros, can add to the cost, but they also add to the functionality and enjoyment of the keyboard.
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