Building your mechanical keyboard is a fun process. It is an excellent way to get into the world of custom mechanical keyboards, a hobby that is growing exponentially. When building a keyboard, choosing the right parts is very important, so I have written this blog detailing the different parts of a keyboard.
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PCB (Printed Circuit Board): The PCB is the motherboard and acts as the heart of your keyboard. The PCB supplies electricity to all components of your keyboard. Make sure to get a good quality PCB that fits your keyboard's layout and size.
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Plate: The plate is a component that holds all the switches in place, is a significant aesthetic component, and dramatically alters the feel of your keyboard.
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Case: The case is the body of the keyboard, and all the components go inside the case. There are a large variety of keyboard materials.
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Keyswitches: The keyswitches are an essential part of the build. There are many different types of keyswitches, categorized into linear (smooth and quiet), tactile (a little bit louder and has a bump), and clicky (a tactile switch but with an audible click sound). For more information, see our blog about modifying a keyboard.
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Stabilizers: stabilize large keys such as the spacebar and backspace (hence the name stabilizers). The stabilizers are extremely important to the quality of a build, so make sure that you do not overlook this component.
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Keycaps: Keycaps are the most creative aspect of a keyboard. There is so much to choose from when it comes to keycaps. The keycaps also set the feel for your board, as the keycaps are what you will be coming in contact with the most. There are also artisan keycaps, which are highlights to your board. More details are on this blog.
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Layouts of a Keyboard: Budget-friendly keyboards are easy to find in the 60% format (missing the navigation keys, number pad, and function keys). In the world of custom mechanical keyboards, a budget keyboard is $50-$200. You can build a reliable budget keyboard by utilizing a plastic case and budget switches like the Gateron Yellows. Make sure to purchase anything you may be needing to modify your keyboard (see our "How to Make Your Keyboard Sound Better" article). Also, make sure to buy the tools you need to build the keyboard (screwdriver, switch puller, keycap puller, etc.).
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Conclusion: The choice of your layout, parts and keyboard look all depends on you. Make sure to get quality parts, though! I recommend KBDfans for keycaps, cases, and accessories, CandyKeys for switches, and Amazon for a pre-built keyboard (if you are planning to modify a pre-built keyboard). Have fun building!