In case you want to reproduce this project. There are several points you have to think beforehand:
- Making this keyboard doesn't come cheap. Doesn't mean to scare you, but spending the money on purchasing high-end mechanical keyboard might possibly be better for you. Depending on the PCB cost and the Switches, the cost can easily go above $150 or even $200.
- If the point above didn't scare you, then the next thing is bit more of a technical requirements. You need or have somebody around you that knows and have experience in soldering SMD components. And of course, you need access to good tools as well.
- The time. Building and assembling it actually didn't cost me much. only the waiting/lead time perhaps is going to annoy you. Most of the parts I suggested in this project come from China. Depending on your origin, it can take more than 2 weeks or even more than a month.
- And lastly, you just have to be extremely curious.
If you consider yourself that you'll manage to handle the 4 points above, then you can proceed reading this instruction.
First thing first, you obviously need a PCB. By the time I wrote this, I have several spare of the PCBs that I can send you for free. Yes, free, though depending on where you live. Just hit me up on a comment or message, I can send you right away.
In the other case, you obviously need to order the PCB. At this point, I don't have any sort of tindie shop or things like that. So you have to order it by yourself. Download the gerber from this project files section, and go to your favorites manufacturers website. I've done my research, and it appears that the cheapest one you can get from china for PCB with this dimension is from PCBWay. Their service is quite exceptional, responsive and fast. I received my PCB in 5 working days. Quality-wise, I cannot judge just yet. OSHPark might be more convenient for you and they should be able to handle it as well, though not sure the price range there.
So, while I'm trying to find more motivation in finishing this instruction, you can go and order the PCB meanwhile ;)
In the next instruction I will explain you where you can get the cheapest part possible for building this project. Stay tune!
- Next step, in case you've managed to get the PCB the next step is for you to get the all the parts you need to start building it. I've listed the complete list of components you need for this, but I guess it is going to be a lot easier if I also tell you where to get them.
First of all, I used to be a huge fan of EBAY, but nowadays I tried as much as I can not to use them. not necessarily because they are bad, in fact they are still doing OK if you are dealing with seller from the same country. The main reason is simply I found a better alternative if i want to buy stuff directly from China. Guess what the name is? yes, Aliexpress. why?
- If you are in the Netherlands, it accept national's favorite payment system, called IDEAL which is very ideal. I put an order in less then 10 seconds through the app. Yes, literally, from adding a thing to cart to paying from my Bank account.
- Tracking system is embedded into your order, so no need to go to complicated Chinese mail tracking post. Also you can get notification from the App if there is any chance in shipment status and progress Last time I check EBAY doesn't have this kind of feature yet.
- Buyer protection. If you don't receive your product, and the shipment status is stuck somewhere after certain period of time, you should be able to get refund easily.
- Let me tell you, I often find the price is more competitive than ebay. no joke. I am not sure, but i think because the charge as a seller is not as high as EBAY. well as a matter of fact Aliexpress is a Chinese company by definition.
So in the next step you will see most of my preferable source are from Aliexpress. But before proceeding please make sure you have an Aliexpress account :)
At this point I assume you've already figured out how to get the PCB. So below are purely the component side:
- Cherry MX switch.
- Mouser. They have pretty decent stock available for Black, White and Blue color. apart from that you probably need to find somewhere else. I purchased mine from them simply because I need to make sure it is a genuine Cherry MX. Won't gamble on this.
- Aliexpress. Aliexpress has plenty of seller that sells this. but don't ask me about the authenticity etc.
- Sparkfun. They also sells one if you need specifically the blue one. Their price is a bit more expensive than average but not too much. especially if you are their fanboy.
- Aliexpress search list. There are just tons of this type of things. you can pick anyone you want. but be careful about the pin spacing etc. for single key that is a standard size it might not be a big issue, but for bigger keycaps for enter key, or tab or space, you might need to reconfirm before purchasing it.
- My selection. if you purchase the keycaps from this link. I can assure you that the pitch will be OK with the PCB I've designed.
- Be creative. Make your own 3D printed one or took from some random mechanical keyboard out there.
- WS2812b RGB LED
- Aliexpress. You've probably have your own place to purchase this. But the link on the left it seems to have the best price. or at least cheap enough. and they have the black version of WS2812b as well. which is nice.
- Aliexpress. If you purchase this from place like Farnel or similar, don't get surprise with the price. It can go up to 5 times more expensive if you outsource it from ebay/aliexpress or so. Unless you are buying in a reel then it might be a different story.
- Bluefruit HID
- Adafruit. This is one of the most selling product adafruit. They go out of stock pretty fast. So you might need to buy from their distributor instead. And my favorite is:
- Kiwi Electronics. They ship worldwide and guess what. they are just around the corner. Yes, I know, because Netherlands is a small city. Country i meant.
- Aliexpress. this is one of the cheapest you can get from China. It appears to work fine so far with me. If you are worried about the genuity then i suggest you start digging on the Digikey, Mouser, Farnell or whatever.
- Bluetooth HM11
- Aliexpress. There are so many placer you can buy ths Chinese popular Bluetooth 4.0. I discovered one in Aliexpress and the price is quite ok. but also they have some sort of distributor so you can select from where do you want it to ship from. So it arrived in less than a week shipped within Europe in my case. BUT BEWARE!! If used this type of bluetooth many times, and this is actually not the original firmware. some random people start putting their firmware and call it HM11 as well. though it is still functioning fine. I tested it with the other pair that I ordered.
- Aliexpress. This is also everywhere technically. you must be able to get it from anywhere.
- OLED 128x64
- Aliexpress. This is quite common as well especially since Adafruit spend some energy making a nice library for it. More and more chinese stuff that is similar to this has came along. but for me this supplier was quite ok and Fast.
- LORA DRF1278F
- Aliexpress. I purchased mine from there. but unfortunately they are running out of stock already. I don't see any seller still selling this in Aliexpress to be honest. Alternatively see below.
- Ebay. From this seller this module appears to be selling pretty well for some reason. I don't see a reason why it is not a good option.
- Thumb Joystick
- Cherry MX switch.