How to Install Your Stabilizers for Your Space Bar and Bigger Keys

Maybe you dropped your keyboard and one of the larger keys fell off and you’re not sure how to put it back on. Or perhaps you removed your keycaps to do some deep cleaning, only to realize you didn’t know how tricky it was to put them back on.

In this post we’ll go over how to install your larger keys and make sure the stabilizers and keys are put in correctly.

Depending on your mechanical keyboard model, the spacebar and larger keys can be difficult to install. Keyboards such as the Razer Blackwidow have Cherry MX stabilizers that have extra components and are require more work to install the keycaps back on.

Here are the steps for this style of stabilizer:

  1. Unplug your keyboard
  2. Install the plastic stabilizer clips into the keyboard plate. This will require the side with the hook to be pressed in first, then the other side can be pressed in. Make sure these are facing the correct direction, or else the key will be installed backwards.
  3. The stabilizer spring (metal bar) will need to be pressed into the back of both plastic stabilizer clips. This will require a little bit of force to press into the clips.
  4. Double check the keycaps have two small stabilizer inserts pressed into the bottom side of the keycap. These holes will be plus-sign shaped, and the inserts will get pressed into holes on the two ends of the keycap.
  5. The spring stabilizer (metal bar) ends will need to be hooked into both keycap inserts. This step can be difficult and will require some patience and coordination. It’s easiest to hook one side in first, then carefully hook in the other side.
  6. The last step is to install the key onto the keyboard switch. Gently press the keycap until you feel the keycap slide onto the switch. Congratulations, you installed the spacebar!

Installing the larger keys, such as the spacebar, can be difficult. In the next section we will go over a more in-depth instruction with pictures of all the components and the steps for installation. If you don’t have this style of stabilizer, we will go over some of the various stabilizer types to try and help with your issue.

Keyboard Components

Shown below are all the required keyboard components and a suggested tool, the keycap puller. This will make it easier to remove keycaps from your keyboard. If any of your components are missing or broken, it’s possible to order replacement parts here.

Required components

The components are relatively cheap. If you are replacing the stabilizer spring, make sure the spring size is correct, because the spacebar spring size is different from the other keys. All the other keys will require the same size stabilizer spring, 2x. Just keep in mind the spacebar spring will be different. The other components such as the inserts and clips will be the same for every key, regardless of the size.

If you’re unfamiliar with what a stabilizer is, we can explain here.

Steps:

1. Unplug your keyboard.

2. Remove the keycaps around the key you are trying to fix. This will give you more room to install everything. A keycap puller can make removing the keys easier.

Remove keycaps

3. Install the plastic stabilizer clips into the keyboard plate. This will require the side with the hook to be pressed in first, then the other side can be pressed in.

Insert stabilizer clips

Make sure both clips are facing the same direction, or else the spring will not be able to be installed. Both clips need to be facing the correct direction or else the key will be installed backwards.

Generally, the spacebar stabilizers will be reversed relative to the other keys, so the spring will be on the top side of the keyboard. The other keys will have the spring located on the bottom side. The clips may already be installed into the plate, in which case you can move onto the next step.

4. The stabilizer spring (metal bar) will need to be pressed into the back of both plastic stabilizer clips. This will require a little bit of force to press into the clips.

Stabilizer spring install

Make sure the spring is facing the correct direction, as you want the rounded section to go around the keyboard switch or they will hit when actuating the key.

5. Double-check the keycaps have two small stabilizer inserts pressed into the bottom side of the keycap. These holes will be plus-sign shaped, and the inserts will get pressed into holes on the two ends of the keycap.

stabilizer insert install in bottom of keycap

6. The spring stabilizer (metal bar) ends will need to be hooked into both keycap inserts. This step can be difficult and will require some patience and coordination. It’s easiest to hook one side in first, then carefully hook in the other side

Hook in keycap onto stabilizer

7. The last step is to install the key onto the keyboard switch. Gently press the keycap until you feel the keycap slide onto the switch. Congratulations, you installed the spacebar!

Spacebar on stabilizer

Try pressing it a few times to make sure the key is working properly. If not, you may need to take everything apart and try again. It’s possible you installed the clips facing the wrong direction.

How do I reverse the spacebar?

Due to the feel, some people enjoy having the spacebar reversed. To do this, you will need to remove the spacebar keycap.

Then, remove the inserts underneath the spacebar. Once removed, reinstall them, but facing the opposite direction from which they were originally facing.

Typically, the inserts face towards the top end of the keyboard. So, when you reverse the clips, they will face towards the bottom of the keyboard.

Next, reverse the space bar keycap and line up with the switch and press back into place.

There you go, your space bar is now installed backwards!

What if I have a different type of stabilizer?

Typically, other types of stabilizers are much easier to replace as they do not hook into the keycaps. The other stabilizers simply need to be pressed into the plate/PCB and then the keycap just gets installed directly onto the stabilizer and switch. You can read more about the different stabilizer types here.

These types of stabilizers work much differently as they do not require the stabilizer bar, and in general are easiest to repair and do modifications on.

What if my spacebar still isn’t working?

If your spacebar is stuck, there are several problems that can cause this issue, including:

1. Switch is sticky and damaged.

If you run into a stuck switch, we recommend removing the keycap and dropping a little bit of rubbing alcohol onto the switch housing and then pressing the key a few times. After the key loosens up, wipe up the excess alcohol and let dry for a few hours. The switch should be working properly now.

2. The stabilizer is not installed correctly.

If the stabilizer is not installed correctly the spacebar will feel rattly and unstable. Make sure all the steps were followed properly. We recommend restarting the process and testing the spacebar again to see if everything is fixed.

Typically, the most likely mistake is the stabilizer clips or the inserts are backwards. Try flipping them around and retesting.

If it still feels wrong, check the components for damage, as you may need to order a few replacement parts.

Can I mod my stabilizers?

For some stabilizer types, it’s recommended to mod them. You can band-aid, lube, and clip the stabilizers to make them quieter and give them a more stable feel.

For the stabilizers mentioned in this post, we do not recommend doing any modifications, as the improvement will be marginal at best.

Conclusion

In this post, we went over the steps to fix your spacebar and talked about all of the components in the stabilizer underneath the spacebar. The parts include the keycap, clips, inserts, and springs and how to install them.

We also went over some of the different stabilizer types and how to reverse your spacebar. If you’re still confused or your stabilizers are still not working, leave a comment below and we will try to help!

Thanks for reading the post. Happy typing!

How to Remove Mechanical Keyboard Keys

how to remove your keyboard keys on switch and click

Question and Answer

Hey, guys. I wanted to learn how to take off the keys on my mechanical keyboard. It’s been a long time since I first got it, and now it’s probably dirty under there. I wanted to take them off to clean them. Is there an easy way I can do it? Do I need any equipment or tools to remove the keys from my mechanical keyboard?

The easy answer is to use a keycap puller, such as this one. Another option is to make a DIY keycap puller yourself out of household or office supplies such as a paper clip or clothespin. We’ll go over how to make your own keycap puller.

Why Would You Remove Your Mechanical Keyboard Keys?

Your desk probably isn’t dust-proof. Maybe it is. Even on the cleanest of desks and the best of rooms, mechanical keyboards can accumulate dust or hair underneath the keycaps. Removing the keycaps also lets you access your stabilizers and your switches.

If you’re interested in modding your stabilizers to make it more quiet (and other techniques to make your keyboard more quiet).

Make sure you refer to the Top 5 Mistakes When Modding Your Stabilizers if you’re going to be doing that. We made all the mistakes.

You might have spilled soda on your keyboard and now you need to take apart your keycaps to clean your keycaps and your keyboard. Perhaps a specific key isn’t working, and you’re trying to diagnose why. Well, it’s super easy if you have the right tools.

Keycap Pullers: DIY and Store-bought

Store-bought Keycap Pullers

Keycap puller
WASD Keycap Puller

Many mechanical keyboards come with a keycap puller. Some keyboards that come with that is the Anne Pro 2, Keychron K1, Drop CTRL, and more. Almost every mechanical keyboard we have bought have a keycap puller (not Razer though).

There are many options for cheap keycap pullers on Amazon. If you have Prime membership, getting free shipping on these would be a deal.

If you do not have Amazon Prime or access to buying a keycap puller, you can also make it yourself.

With a keycap puller, just put the wire prongs underneath the edges of each key. Pull up on the key until you feel a click when it clicked off. Then take the keycap off the puller and repeat.

With the long wire pullers, you can pull 3-4 keys before having to take them out of the puller.

If you’re looking for more discrete ones, the circle keycap pullers might be a good option.

small circle keycap puller
Small keycap puller

DIY Keycap Pullers

Let’s start with the tools that you can find easily around your home without having to MacGyver anything. Look around your home. Perhaps you have a flathead screwdriver or a butter knife.

With those two tools, start with the edge keys first and slowly make your way in. Be careful and do not cut yourself. Also, keep in mind that these tools were not meant to be used for this, so they may scratch or damage your keycaps or switches if not careful.

Start slow and slowly put pressure in an upwards motion until you hear the click. After that, use your fingers or another thin tool to completely remove the keycap off. Be careful not to use a lot of pressure, or you may lose your keycaps.

Okay, now for the funky stuff. First go find yourself some paperclips. You might need more than one just in case you mess up.

A pair of pliers will also help with the formation of the keycap puller, but I’ve used my fingers before.

Using the pair of pliers, first straight out the paper clip. Now you are ready to form the paperclip to make a triangle shape (the musical instrument, not necessary with sharp corners). You can see a simple example in this YouTube video. For a keycap puller that you can reuse, look at this simple video here.

Another simple model using a paperclip and just your fingers is to open the paperclip so that one side has an L-shape. Simply pop that end into the gaps and pull up slowly until it pops off. The L might become a J in the process, but that’s okay. It’s not perfect and may need to be reformed many times before all your keys are pulled, but it’s super simple.

DIY paperclip keycap puller
L-shape of DIY Keycap puller
Pulling up keycaps using DIY paperclip
Pulling up keycaps using the DIY paperclip

What About Macbook or Laptop Keycaps?

Do this at your own discretion, but you can use a butter knife or flathead screwdriver as well. Other tools are toothpicks or tweezers. Be careful as this might damage the keycaps.

Simply stick your tool underneath and apply a slow upwards pressure. Some keys may have stabilizers to be very gentle. These keys are the larger keys such as Backspace, Enter, Shift, and the Space bar.

If you feel an unusual resistance, almost as if you’re breaking your keys or switches, stop and do some research. The specific laptop may need the keys to be removed in a certain way.

Summary

We looked at why you would want to take off your keycaps, two different options to buying keycap pullers on Amazin, different methods of making your own keycap puller from paper clips and pliers, and laptop keys too.

Hope this article helped you find what you were searching for.

How can we improve our articles moving forward? Let us know, and we’ll try our best to do it for you. As always, happy typing!

Question of the day: Have you made your own keycap pullers before, and were you satisfied with the results?

My answer: I have, and I was very happy because it was the first time, I ever removed my keycaps in a frenzy to clean my keyboard. I lost it fairly quickly and came to realize that official keycap pullers are much easier to use and are important enough for me to keep in a safe place.

Sources

Make a DIY Keycap Puller Out of Two Paper Clips Lifehacker.com

Take Keys off a Keyboard Wikihow.com

Guide to Mechanical Keyboard Cases

guide to keyboard cases

Let’s say you’re looking to build your very own custom keyboard and you’re stumped on what case to choose. Or, maybe you are trying to decide between several different keyboard models, you just have no idea what keyboard to choose.

Well, today we will go over several of the different keyboard case sizes and materials. We’ll discuss what we like and dislike about each material, and hopefully help you choose what type of case your next keyboard will be made of.

Make sure everything fits

The layout of your keyboard will determine what size case you will need. For example, a full-sized keyboard will need a case that fits all the components required for a full-sized keyboard. There are dozens of different keyboard sizes and once you start to venture into the world of split and ergonomic keyboards, there are even more types.

How do you determine what size is best for you? Well, it comes down to personal preference. A lot of people don’t feel the need to use a number pad anymore, so they go with a tenkeyless keyboard. A tenkeyless board is basically a keyboard with all the normal keys, minus the number pad. There are also 75%, 65%, 60%, and 40% keyboards. The smaller they get, the more keys that are removed in favor of a smaller, more compact keyboard.

It’s important to make sure the case you pick out matches the size of your printed circuit board (PCB) and plate. If these component sizes do not match, the keyboard will not fit together properly. It’s usually easiest to buy a kit that comes with the PCB, case, and plate together, so you do not need to worry about the parts not fitting properly together.

If you’re looking for an ultra-custom set-up on the other hand, you will need to do more legwork to make sure all the components fit together properly. This will include a lot of research into each of the components and looking to see if other people have assembled the same parts successfully in the past. I would recommend researching other custom keyboards built in the past to find something that you enjoy the look of.

Keyboard Case Sizes

The most common sized keyboards include: Full-sized (100%), TKL (80%), 75%, 65%, 60%, and 40%. There are split keyboards as well. Split keyboards are basically a standard keyboard split into two halves.

The benefits to split keyboards include better ergonomics and can be easier to type on. Purchasing the case for a split keyboard can be difficult because you will need to purchase the LH case and the RH case separately. We caution you to be careful when buying the case for a split keyboard as it can be easy to order the incorrect parts.

Material Types for Keyboard Cases

There are several different types of materials that keyboard cases can be made from. The most common two are aluminum and plastic. Aluminum and plastic are the easiest to mass produce, which is why so many keyboards are available in these two types of materials. The less common keyboard case types are acrylic and wood, to order these you will generally need to get them custom made by someone online. Or you could design these keyboards yourself, if you are DIY inclined.

Each material has its own look, feel, and weight to it, and can change the way each keystroke sounds when typing. On top of that, some materials are more durable and can last longer than others. Picking the right material comes down to personal preference and how much you are willing to spend.

Plastic

Without a doubt the most common material to build a case out of, plastic is the easiest to manufacture and is the cheapest of all the material types. Plastic keyboard cases typically come in black or gray but can easily be produced in other colors as well.

Photo by u/HandsomMichael

Typically, plastic keyboard cases are made of ABS plastic and have a metal plate to help support the structure of the case. ABS plastic is used because it’s relatively inexpensive and easy to liquefy when forming plastic components. This makes injection molding and 3d printing easier. On top of that, ABS plastic is resistant to corrosive chemicals and physical impact.

Another plastic type commonly used in the construction of keyboard cases is polycarbonate (PC). PC is like ABS but has a better toughness, which makes the plastic more impact resistant. A lot of keyboard cases nowadays are a blend of PC & ABS plastic, which make a more reliable material when combined.

PBT plastic is commonly used in the design of keycaps, because it does not develop a greasy shine to it like ABS keycaps do. While this material is great for keycaps, it is too brittle to be used in the construction of a keyboard case. When taking any sort of impact, the PBT will crack or shatter, while ABS will bend to take the impact.

While plastic is the most common material to make a keyboard case out of, it is by no means the best. A lot of people describe the experience of typing on a plastic keyboard as rattily or unstable. The key strokes have more bounce to them and overall do not feel as sturdy.

This can be improved by adding a dampener or metal plate to the inside of your keyboard, but overall plastic is not preferred for the case material. It is the most economical and will continue to be produced to keep costs low, so more people can afford to purchase mechanical keyboards.

Aluminum

Aluminum cases are another common option available, they tend to be heavier and sturdier. They are a great option for someone who wants a case that feels solid and stable. Generally, aluminum cases are less flexible and more rigid than the plastic counterparts.

The quality of aluminum cases can widely vary. The more upscale aluminum cases tend to have better better machining from the manufacturer, which allows for a more precise, clean case to be built. The better aluminum cases also tend to be heavier as well.

The anodization/finish of the aluminum also determines the quality of the product. Anodization is the process of converting the outer metal surface into a more decorative, durable, and corrosion-resistant layer. This is typically done through an electrochemical process of placing the aluminum in an acid bath and passing an electrical current through the metal.

In general, a product that has been anodized more thoroughly, will last longer and have a much better finish afterwards. The outer layer will disappear over time, so it’s better if the anodized layer is thicker.

Aluminum cases are a great choice of material for a keyboard case, but it would be in your best interest to make sure the quality of the metal is good. Or else it may make sense to go with the plastic option. Keep in mind that metal cases are more conductive, and tend to be colder in the winter, so it may be uncomfortable to touch when the temperature is low.

Stainless Steel

Steel cases are much less common than aluminum, as they are much more difficult to produce and machine. Steel is generally much heavier than aluminum and is the most impact and bend resistant of the case options you can buy. It is also rust resistant.

Photo by u/bakingpy

A stainless-steel case will make the key presses feel stiff and less bouncy. This is a great option if you want a very tough, heavy case that can take a lot of abuse. Stainless-steel cases typically only come in different shades of silver/grey and are usually shiny and reflective.

Acrylic

Acrylic cases are interesting option as well. While Acrylic is technically a plastic, it has the physical qualities of glass. Acrylic is a transparent plastic that is incredibly strong and stiff, and weathers very well over time. It’s about half the weight of glass, but much more impact resistant.

Acrylic cases are made by laser cutting sheets of acrylic into the proper shape. They generally need to be about 4-5mm thick to achieve proper stiffness and strength.

Photo by u/sherminnater

People like to acrylic cases for the clear see-through aesthetic, as it tends to show off lighting better than other case materials. Keep in mind that acrylic can scratch easily, and it can crack if you drop the keyboard. You need to be a little more careful with a case made from acrylic to avoid damage. They are also slightly more flexible than the metal counterparts.

Wood

Wood cases not commonly used on mechanical keyboards. They require a bit more work to prepare, such as cutting, sanding, and finishing. The quality of a wood base depends mostly on the type of the wood used, and how it’s prepared.

Wood cases offer some of the most interesting aesthetic choices, due to the different wood types and ways to produce them. Some of the most common choices are rosewood, zebra wood, and walnut. Generally, these case styles are only available on custom-made 60% keyboards, but there are some other ones available online, it just takes a little extra research.

Photo by u/madditup

Some of the benefits to a wooden case include, a nice solid feel, unique aesthetic, and the fact that they do not bend very much.

Different Mounting styles

Keyboards also have a wide variety of different mounting styles and configurations. Some of the keyboard mounting styles include tray mount, top mount, bottom mount, sandwich mount, plateless mount, integrated plate, and gasket mount.

Each style refers to a different way in which the PCB and plate are secured to the case. It also refers to how the switches are held in place as well.

Check out the graphic below for a better understanding of each style.

Photo from thomasbaart.nl

Wrapping Up

There are many things to consider when picking out a keyboard case that will work for you. You need to know what size keyboard you want, the material type, and which style of PCB/plate mounting you prefer. Picking out the details of everything can be difficult, so if you feel overwhelmed or confused, we would recommend checking out several keyboard kits online. The kits take a lot of the guesswork out of building a custom keyboard and make the process smoother overall.

Whether you prefer a plastic, aluminum, steel, acrylic, or wood base, none of the options are to superior to another. It all comes down to your budget and personal preference.

We hope that this guide helped you in choosing which keyboard is best for you.

And, as always, happy typing!

Group Buys: Everything You Need to Know

what are group buys on switch and click

What is a Group Buy?

In this new series that will be highlighting group buys within the mechanical keyboard community, we will be going over their ending dates, and the products themselves.

First of all, what is a group buy?

A group buy is when a group of people get together and pay ahead of time for a product that will be made and delivered later, usually with a set deadline. This can result in small savings and opportunities to buy items that are custom designed by people within the community or to access items that aren’t available in many stores.

Group buys can be set up by hobbyists to make keycap sets, cases, keyboard kits, and anything else they so choose to. Specific websites, such as Drop (formerly Massdrop) organize group buys on an easily accessibly platform. Other places to look for group buys within the mechanical keyboard community include GeekHack, /r/Mechmarket, KBDFans, and other small hobbyist makers such as tinymakesthings and Qlavier. Some companies start up their own Kickstarter pages to fund their product, and in return, promise you get that product in the future.

a group of people

Things to Look Out for Before Joining a Group Buy

Make sure you ask a LOT of questions.

Because some group buys are organized by the seller themselves instead of companies such as Drop, you must be careful to not get scammed or cheated. We, at Switch and Click, take no responsibility if you do join a group buy that ends up being not what you expected it to be.

Know what the product is, what exactly the features are, if there are pictures of the products from multiple angles. Also ask others within the community if they’re also looking forward to said product and what they know about the group buy.

Know the reputation of the group buy leader/seller.

This is along the lines of asking a lot of questions. Within the community’s discussion boards, ask whether the buy or leader is reputable.

Have they done group buys before?

Did they deliver the product in good quality and on time?

Were there any previous complaints about them?

Make sure the person has good standing within the community, so that you know their product is backed by their personal integrity and reputation.

If the group buy leader or seller is doing their very first group buy, then they have a higher change of  being delayed, not being prepared, not being good at communication with their customers, and not being experienced with the logistics such as shipping, packaging, and organization.

Understand that your group buy will take longer than you expect.

Many group buys that are organized by small groups or people are likely to take a longer time than they think they will get it done.

According to a survey between community members of the mechanical keyboards subreddit completed in 2015, 19% of group buys took longer than expected. The times delayed, however, ranged from weeks to even years.

The survey results and source will be linked here to the person collecting the data. I’ll attach the picture below for quick reference.

A more recent discussion documented peoples’ experiences with specific group buys within the past year.

a survey on reddit regarding group buys

Know That The Money You Spend on a Group Buy Might Amount to Nothing

Some group buys, unfortunately, end up in disaster and failure. I’m not telling you to not participate in them at all, I’m saying to be cautious and really think about the situation before putting in your money.

Some of these buys could be outright scams with the seller or leader intentionally taking money from people with no intention of producing and giving them any product at all.

Sometimes, it may just be a lack of organization and experience which results in a failure.

According to the study above, in 10% of all group buys, the seller does not fulfill the orders of the buy. It could be due to many factors: illness, an accident, moving, depression, literally anything.

Drop (formerly Massdrop)

Drop teams up with designers and collaborates to come up with products that the community will like. They also feature third-party products after looking at polls and discussions for products the people want most.

The Drop team will contact the manufacturers and try to establish a connection to obtain those products. Other products, that the community did not pick out, are products that the manufacturers recommend, or they’re selected by community managers.

For certain products, they only last a certain amount of time on Drop until the group buy closes. For third-party products, they last an average of 5-7 business days with one price. These are called runs, which are product offerings from Drop and third-party products. The selection of these product varies, so make sure to check their website regularly.

When the run ends, Drop places the order with the vendor. For you to get the product, the vendor can either ship directly to your front door or ship everything to Drop, who will then ship to you.

In the future, we plan on collecting information on Drop group buys, taking note of their end date, product details, estimated shipping, reviews, and more to make sure that there is a place where

Summary

Overall, group buys are a great opportunity to invest in a maker and product that is limited and not in most stores. But, on the other hand, there are many things to be aware of when going into a group buy.

Make sure you are cautious, don’t just throw your money into them, ask a ton of questions regarding the reputation of the seller or leader and the product itself.

Keep in mind that it could take a really long time, even years, to get your product after committing your money into a group buy. Even reputable sites such as Drop can be delayed with product fulfillment.

Sources

Drop Drop.com

/r/MechanicalKeyboards Reddit.com

Disclaimer: Drop is an affiliate link. Clicking and purchasing through the link will not result in any extra charge to you, but we will get a small kickback in return for your purchases.

The Five Mistakes When Modding Your Stabilizers

top 5 mistakes modding keyboard stabilizers by switch and click

Question and Answer

I’ve been reading your post on how to make a keyboard quieter, but I want to make sure I do it currently the first time. I definitely want to make my stabilizers less rattly and noisy. The space bar and right shift are what annoys me the most. Are there things that I should know before I go on this wild adventure of clipping, lubing, and band-aid modding my stabilizers on my mechanical keyboard?

There are many things that you should consider before modding your stabilizers. First, what kind of stabilizers do you have? That’ll be a good thing to know to do research prior to taking your keyboard apart and then realizing that you don’t know how to modify that specific kind of stabilizers. Second, make sure that you can take off the stabilizers from your keyboard. Without doing that, you cannot clip your stabilizers or do the band-aid mod. You can still lube, but it won’t be a thorough job. Third, make sure to take a picture of your keycap legends prior to take it apart, the same with your stabilizers. Understand that there is a right and wrong way to putting them back together. Fourth is to find a good and clean workstation so that you back and body don’t end up regretting it. Fifth is to test your switches and stabilizers prior to putting everything back together. Let’s get into it.

Mistake #1: Not Know What Kind of Stabilizer You Have

There are three different kinds of stabilizers. We wrote an article about the common ones before. They are Cherry stabilizers, Costar stabilizers, and ZealPC stabilizers. I myself have never used ZealPC stabilizers, but they’re already very high quality and may not need mods at all.

The most common kind of keyboard stabilizer is the Cherry stabilizers. I’ve attempted to do mods on my Razer’s Costar stabilizers with no such luck. Those stabilizers clicked into the k keyboard, and they have the wire that connects to an insert that goes into the keycap. They’re super annoying to use.

If you have Costar stabilizers, you can choose to lube these. You cannot clip the Costar stabilizers because there are no moving feet to clip unlike the Cherry stabilizers, that have a housing, stem, and a wire. In our article on how to make a keyboard more quiet, we link to different resources that show you have to lube your Costar and Cherry stabilizers.

Usually, the Cherry stabilizers are most commonly modded. They are very cheap to obtain at about $2 per stabilizer. In their native form, they are not the best stabilizers. However, after performing the modifications to them such as clipping, lubing, and band-aid modding, they have a much better sound and feel to them as well as a huge decrease in rattle and noise.

razer blackwidow with costar stabilizers
Razer Blackwidow with Costar Stabilizers

Mistake #2: Know What Kind of Mounting Your Stabilizers Use

There are different kinds of mounting systems for stabilzers. On some, you may need to desolder the switches prior to gaining access to the stabilizer to take them out of the keyboard.

On hot-swappable PCBs, you can easily pull out each switch and then take off the plate to access the stabilizers.

Some stabilizers are PCB snap-in, PCB screw-in, plate-mounted, or hook in.

PCB snap-in stabilizers are easy to take off. All you have to do is to open up your keyboard to reveal the PCB, turn the PCB around so that you can see the back side and pop the stabilizers out using your fingers or pliers.

PCB screw-in stabilizers require a screwdriver to take out. They are the most secure stabilizers that have the least rattle. For Costar stabilizers, just pull them out of the plate. Make sure not to lose the inserts that are attached to the keycaps.

The Massdrop CTRL has plate-mounted stabilizers.

These are the exact steps I took to modify my Cherry stabilizers on my Drop CTRL keyboard.

  1. Unplug the keyboard from the power source.
  2. Turn the keyboard to its backside and take out all the screws that you see. Keep those somewhere safe.
  3. Take off the keycaps and switches. Keep those safe too.
  4. Take the PCB out and separate the plate from the PCB.
  5. Pop out the stabilizers by pushing them up and then maneuvering them out.
  6. Pull the wire out of each one by popping them out.
  7. Proceed to lube each part, clip the stems, and band-aid mod the PCB.
  8. Put back together.

Make sure you have the supplies you need prior to take a part your keyboard. These can include a screwdriver, keycap puller, switch puller, dielectric grease, paintbrush, band-aid, scissors, and a flush cutter. I use pliers and twisted the little legs off. It worked well.

Here is an awesome guide for modding your stabilizers if you have Cherry ones.

Mistake #3: Not Taking a Picture of Your Keyboard Prior to Taking it Apart

You take your keyboard apart, everything goes perfectly, and then you start putting it back together. Oh wait, where di this Alt key go? What about the + key? Hmm…where can I find a picture?

One great thing to do prior to take anything apart is to take a picture of it from multiple angles. I took a picture of my Massdrop CTRL and Razer Blackwidow prior to take apart both keyboards. It helped tremendously in putting them back. Some keyboards have non-standard layouts.

It’s easy to think, Oh I know where the B key goes. But do you? It’s easy to misplace keys because you think you know where it goes. Why not take a picture and be 100% sure that they’re in the correct spots.

The same thing goes for your stabilizers. If you’ve never done this before, take a picture of the stabilizers prior to taking them apart. Make sure the wires are facing the same way at the end as where they started. That could mess with being able to putting them back together or with the feel and alignment of them.

It does matter which side the wire is on, especially on the Costar stabilizers and Cherry. I’ve put in the Cherry ones back on wrong many times, having to take it back out, and try again. It’s a huge pain in the butt. Make sure you do it right the first time.

Mistake #4: Working in a Messy Place on the Floor

Because this might be a time-consuming process, especially for beginners, make sure you do this at a large diskspace such as the dining table or your computer desk. Clear it out and lay out some paper towels.

Grease can get everywhere. Have some paper towels handy to wipe your fingers on. Something else that would be wonderful to have would be a pair of tweezers or thin tongs to hold onto the stabilizers when you’re lubing them to avoid getting them on your fingers.

Also make sure your chair is comfortable, you do not want to be leaning and or bending your neck down for that long amount of time. There will be too much pressure on your neck muscles. It took me approximately 3 hours my first time because I had to take it apart after putting it back together because my Left Shift key wasn’t working correctly because I put the stems back in wrong.

Mistake #5: Not Testing Before Putting It All Back Together

After you put your stabilizers back into your PCB or plate, put in a switch and test it. Make sure it goes down and back up.

Sometimes when messing with stabilizers, it may be possible that the stems are turned the wrong way or there is a kink in the hole somewhere. It could cause the stabilizer to get stuck and not bounce back up.

Another thing when putting your switches back in is to make sure none of the wire bits are bent or stuck. You want them to be extended to go back into the holes of your PCB prior to soldering.

Before putting back the keycaps on, make sure the switches work. Plug it in and test it. If any don’t work, pull the switch out, fix it, then try it again.

It is trial and error, but you want to decrease the amount of work done as much as possible. That means don’t do anything twice that could be done only once.

I must take apart my entire keyboard again because of my left shift key being stuck. Then I had to take off individual keycaps and switches because they weren’t working properly.

Make sure your band-aid mod is what you want it to be. If not, take it off and maybe try again or you forgot to put lube on the band-aid. Make a checklist of things to do and things to check prior to piecing it back together.

Summary

In summary, modding your stabilizers can be a rewarding process to improve the feels and sounds of your mechanical keyboard stabilizers. For many people, it may be their first time doing this, and it’s scary.

It’s exciting, but there is some anxiety. What if I mess up my keyboard? What if it doesn’t work? What if it doesn’t make my stabilizers better?

It’ll be okay because now you won’t make many of the mistakes that I did. And even if you do, you won’t make those same mistakes again next time.

Every time you do it, you’ll get better and better.

We talked about the top five mistakes someone can make when modding their keyboard stabilizers. To iterate, those mistakes are not knowing what kind of stabilizer you have, not knowing how your stabilizers are mounted, not taking pictures of your keyboard legends and stabilizers when you’re taking it apart, not having a large ergonomic working station, and not testing the parts such as stabilizers and switches when putting it back together.

Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you have an awesome time modding your stabilizers.

Question of the article: What were some mistakes you made when you first modded your stabilizers? What’s the biggest mistake you learned from?

Happy typing!

Top 5 mistakes when building a custom keyboard

Top 5 mistakes when building a mechanical keyboard

So you’ve decided to build a custom mechanical keyboard? First of all, hats off to you for going down this exciting and rewarding journey. You decided to jump right in and do some research about what your going to need and happened to stumble upon this post. 

You want to build your custom keyboard in the most enjoyable and non-frustrating way possible and are worried you might make a mistake. Don’t worry, this is a common feeling because there is just so much to learn. 

Do not fear! Avoid these five mistakes and you will be well on your way to building a flawless keyboard that you’ll want to show it off to the entire internet (we recommend /r/mechanicalkeyboards).

We’ve compiled a list of problems that most people encounter when building their first keyboard and ways to help you avoid making mistakes.

[GB] GMK Copper - Group Buy Live on all vendors
CMK Copper from u/Fatboycarney

1. Ordering parts that don’t fit

Ok, so you’ve ordered all of your parts and you’ve been waiting anxiously days for them to show up in the mail so you can assemble them. Once the parts finally arrive you tear open the boxes and start assembling, that’s when you realize you’ve made a grave mistake. 

One of the parts doesn’t fit. You’re mind is in a swirl of frustration and bewilderment as you try to calculate the point in time at which you screwed up to get to this point in your life. Now you need to repack the part, drive back to UPS, ship it off, order new parts, and wait another 2-3 days for the correct part to arrive. 

All the while your unfinished keyboard sits in the corner of your room staring at you menacingly and reminding you of the failure that you are.

Well, all of this can be avoided!

Before ordering your parts we recommend that you double and triple check to make sure the components are compatible. Research each of the parts and check the info from the manufacturer to guarantee that everything fits.

Let’s talk about the big trouble-making parts that tend to be ordered incorrectly.

PCB:

A PCB that doesn’t fit inside the case can be one of the more annoying problems to encounter. It’s incredibly frustrating to be stuck sanding down your plastic case trying to force a PCB to fit inside just because the PCB is just barely too large for the case. 

To avoid this, we would recommend looking at the different keyboard kits online. They usually include the case, PCB, and metal plate. These parts are guaranteed to fit together and can make ordering and building a custom PC a breeze.

Keycaps:

One of the benefits of a custom PC is the diverse amount of keyboard layouts available, you literally have hundreds of options. When assembling your own keyboard, make sure you are ordering the correct keycaps, especially the spacebar, shift, and enter keys. These are typically different sizes and will require a wider key.

Stabilizers:

Similar to the keycaps, the stabilizer sizes vary based on the keyboard layout and PCB mounting holes. We caution you when ordering these parts to 1) make sure they are compatible with your PCB and 2) they are the correct size. 

There are several types of stabilizers including snap/stab in, screw in, plate-mounted, and hook in. In addition, the stabilizers come in different sizes as well so verify before you order.

Power Cable:

Trust us, you don’t want to hook up your new keyboard that you spent hours slaving away on, to realize the dang thing won’t start because you don’t have enough power. You realize your power cable only has enough voltage for a cell phone, not a keyboard.

Verify your power cable has enough voltage before purchasing.

2. Not having the necessary equipment

Attempting to build a keyboard without the proper tools is a quick way to make you wonder why even wanted to build a custom keyboard in the first place. Keep in mind, most keyboard assembly requires at least some soldering. 

Additional tools are also recommended such as a keycap and switch puller. They will make your life a whole lot easier when attempting to swap out keycaps and switches.

Image result for soldering

Here is a short list of recommended equipment:

  • Soldering station
  • Solder wire
  • Solder sucker
  • Cutter/snippers
  • Keycap puller
  • Switch puller

3. Not properly installing switches

Let’s say spent an hour carefully soldering the switches to your PCB. You only have a few switches left and then you realize, the layout is wrong. Either you did not properly lay out the pattern you wanted correctly or you don’t have enough room for your remaining switches. Now you need to spend the next hour desoldering and removing switches to reorient them correctly.

This tends to happen when working on unique key layouts, especially in the space bar area where the pattern is slightly different. Before soldering spend some extra time to plan the key layout in more detail. You know the old saying “measure twice, cut once”.

4. Not budgeting enough for switches, keycaps, and stabilizers

Let’s face it. Building your own keyboard is not cheap. Unless you are some sort of keyboard guru and build most the parts yourself, building a custom keyboard is going to cost a bit more than ordering a pre-built one from the factory.

A big mistakes new keyboard enthusiasts make is ordering a keyboard switch, but not factoring the cost of the switches, keycaps, and stabilizers. Most kits will only include the PCB, case, and metal plate. Everything else will be need to be ordered separately.

The price of switches can get quite expensive being any from $0.50-1.00 ea. With a full keyboard you’re looking at $50 at least for the switches alone. If you’re trying to stay under budget we would recommend cheaper MX knockoff switches such as Gaterons.

Post image
Smoky Zealios V2. From u/EgorSemeniak

The keycaps on your customized board tend to be what you and everyone else will look at the most once your build is complete. You don’t want to build your entire keyboard up and realize you have no budget left for the keycaps, and are stuck ordering blank keycaps made of cheap ABS plastic. Figure out the price for your desired keycaps ahead of time, they will usually before expensive than you think. Especially if customized.

5. Not testing switches before buying

So you read online about a new switch that everybody is raving about, so you quickly order them up for the custom keyboard you’re working on. Once they arrive you install them and test them out… only to be extremely disappointed by the way they feel. Now you’re stuck with a brand new expensive keyboard and you don’t even want to type on it.

Next time, before buying switches test them out. This is something we cannot stress enough. There are hundreds and hundreds of switches <> available online, take the time to test a few out and see how they feel. There are switch sample kits that let you test out 10 different switches at once for a few bucks, this is a great way to pick out the best switch for you.

The switches are something you’ll be interacting with on a daily basis so you need to make sure they do not fatigue your fingers or just feel bad to press.

Post image
Photo from u/Camdenvh

Conclusion

We talked about some of the biggest mistakes you can make when assembling a custom keyboard. Hopefully this list saves you some time with your next keyboard build. If there is anything we left off the list, please let us know and we’ll update.

If you don’t feel like reading, check out the video below.

Happy Typing!

How to Make Your Mechanical Keyboard Quieter

make your keyboard quiet on the switch and click block

Don’t be the guy that brings your mechanical keyboard into work and start click-clacking away. Unless they want you to do that, then you go and get the loudest switches you can get. But for some others out there, we’ll try and be quieter.

Question and Answer

So I went and got myself a keyboard with Cherry MX blue switches thinking the clicks were super cool. I’ve been streaming on Twitch for several months now and my audience keeps complaining that although I have a nice voice and good sound, my keyboard is so darn loud that it’s getting annoying for them. What are some things that I can do, other than buy a new keyboard with new switches, to quiet down my keyboard just a tad?

This is a tough situation because Cherry MX blue switches were born into this world to be clicky. There are some ways where we can make them slightly quieter but, in the end, the blues will still make the click sound when they actuate. That mechanism is built into the switch. In another situation, if you were to try to make browns or reds quieter, it would be much more effective. But let’s try anyways! Some strategies or techniques to make your keyboard quieter include putting rubber O-rings on the keycap stems to dampen the sound of the plastic hitting plastic, lubing your stabilizers and switches which provides a smoother feel and makes it a tad bit more quiet, adding a foam pad inside the case of the board under the PCB to reduce the echoing within the hollow body, band-aid modding the stabilizers to prevent the loud clack every time you pound that space bar, clipping your stabilizers (remove two protruding legs that hit the PCB causing noise), adding foam within the larger keys such as the space bar to prevent echo, and lubing the individual springs to get rid of the spring boing sounds. Let’s jump into each method.

Different Techniques to Make your Keyboard More Quiet

Well now that we know the different things we can do, it’s time to get started with each one. These are in no order; some methods are quicker than others. Combined, they will all help your keyboard be a super-spy in the cubicle of the office.

Rubber O-rings

O-rings are small rubber rings that cost about $5-10 on Amazon. I personally use these O-rings for my keyboard. They currently cost $6.99 for 100 pieces.

They go around the stems of the switches under your keycaps. O-rings can come in many different colors from black, pink, blue, clear, etc. Many people choose to pick the clear ones because their keyboard has RGB lighting with see-through keycaps.

The process for this is very easy. On your keyboard, take off the keycaps using a keycap puller or a Macgyvered paper clip (I did this on my first attempt because I didn’t have one).

To save time and/or money, you do not have to do this for every single key. Do this for the keys that are most often used. For example, if you have a TKL keyboard and don’t use the function row or the insert, home, del, end, and those other buttons, you probably don’t need O-rings under them. But if you want to, all the power to you.

I did it to every single key… because I have problems like that. I’m the kind of person who organizes all my apps into very specific folders but moving on.

Place an O-ring directly around the stem of the mechanical switch. The stem is the part that looks like a + sign usually and sticks out. It’s how your keycap connects to your switch.

Repeat this process for all keys desired. Then place the keycaps back on, make sure you press a few times because it will feel stuck.

One mistake I made was that I didn’t push down all the way, so my keys appeared uneven. To make sure you got them all, look at your keyboard from a side profile. Is anything sticking out?

Now when you pull off a keycap, you’ll see that the O-ring is around the stem within the keycap instead of around the switch. It’ll stay there easily without falling out.

O-rings are dampening the hitting sound of the plastic from the keycap and the switch. It works wonders. On blue switches, the actuation click will be heard, but the sound of the plastic hitting will decrease. Definitely very helpful in making your keyboard quieter, even with the really loud switches.

o-rings
O-rings

Lubing stabilizers

Adding lube on your stabilizers reduces the amount of friction when these parts are moving. It makes the movement smoother and makes the sound more uniform and less rattling. It will also reduce squeaking and other noises that should not be there.

Essentially, the lube is filling up the space that would have been empty, space that sound could’ve travelled through but not as filled up with lube.

The following materials are needed to lube your stabilizers:

  • Silicone grease (for stabilizers: Some commonly used greases for this are RS PRO Silicone Grease, Super Lube 21030 Synthetic Grease, and Krytox GL 205 Grease.
  • A small paintbrush
Dieletric grease
Dielectric grease comes in a tube such as this one.

Steps to lubing your stabilizers:

  • Take off your keycaps, revealing your stabilizers and switch.
  • Remove the wire from your stabilizer, if your stabilizer has a wire.
  • Get a small amount of lube on your paintbrush.
  • Apply the lube to places where there are moving parts, on the wire and on the stabilizers.
  • Be careful of overlubing, with this, less is more.
  • Place the wire back into the stabilizer by clipping it back in.
  • Put a small amount of lube on the part of the wire that your kepcap will clip into.
  • Lube the stem of the keycaps that go into the stabilizers where the wire will be in.

For a closeup video of this process, see down below.

Cherry stabilizers are different because there is more to lube. It is recommended to take apart the stabilizers. On the back of the PCB, there should be connections to the stabilizer that is easy to pop out.

To open the stabilizer, pop out the wire. You’ll see 5 parts, the 2 bases, 2 stems, and the wire. Lube parts that have contact with the stems using a thin layer of lube.

And there you have it. Lubed up stabilizers, go ahead, try it.

Press those long keys to your heart’s desire until you hear the sticky keys sound and think, oh no, what have I done?

But since you have your stabilizers taken out anyways, you might as well do the band-aid mod and clip your stabilizers for even more noise reduction and buttery smooth button presses.

Band-aid mod for stabilizers

A band-aid mod uses exactly what is in its name: a simple band-aid. The purpose of doing this is to silence even more the bottoming out of the stabilizers. However, some have said that this makes the keys feel mushier.

The stabilizers will hit the band aids instead of directly hitting the PCB, which produces a loud, pingy sound.

What you need:

  • 1 or 2 standard-size cloth band aids, KT tape is great, or other fabric ones
  • Scissors
  • Dielectric grease
  • Earwax picker, Q-tip

Steps to complete this mod:

  • Get your PCB in front of you.
  • Get a bandaid and cut off the rounded edges
  • Cut little rectangles of the band aid with the adhesive sides.
  • Tape it onto the board where your stabilizers will hit.
  • Get your earwax picker and get a small amount of dielectric grease.
  • Apply the grease across the band aid to change the color of the band aid (not too much.)

That’s it! Very quick and easy as well. The sounds are extremely satisfying to hear. No more rattling sounds.

Clipping stabilizers

The bottom of the stabilizers has protruding small legs that will hit your PCB when you bottom-out any of these keys, which can cause damage and create unnecessary additional noise. For additional graphics, Rama has a graphical guide on how to mod your stabilizers.

To do this, you will need cutting pliers, a scalpel, or a craft knife. Clipping is when you remove the protruding legs on the parts that move on the stabilizers.

First you remove the stabilizers by twisting and pulling them out. Take the stems out.

Look at the stems for the two protruding legs, clip them using your wire cutters.

This is a very quick process, and when you do this, it is recommended to do all the different stabilizer mods at the same time because you are taking out the stabilizer parts anyways.  

Lubing individual switches and switch springs

Lubing the switches works a little differently than stabilizers since a different lube is used (a thinner material), but it also makes the switch smoother and dampens the sounds.

Caution: This process is very time consuming, about 1-2 hours depending on how many switches you have and how experienced you are.

Many places such as Switchmod, NovelKeys, and 1UpKeyboards will sell lubricants for switches.

For this process you will need:

  • Switch opener
  • Small paintbrush
  • Tweezers
  • Switch lubricant

Steps to lubricating your switches:

  1. Take apart the switch using a switch opener.
  2. Dab a little bit of lubricant onto the brush.
  3. Lube the bottom housing on the 2 side rails. The goal is to lube any areas that come into contact with moving parts.
  4. Lube the center hole by inserting the brush inside. 
  5. Then lube the top housing.
  6. Lube the spring by painting the ends of the springs and the middle areas as well.
  7. Lube the stem, rotating as you go.
  8. Combine the switch parts back together and place it back into your keyboard by lining up and pushing down until it snaps back into space.

It’ll take a long time, but it’s all worth it! You’ll have buttery soft keys.

Using a guide such as the YouTube video below will be helpful to see a closeup.

Adding foam under larger keys

This is usually done on the space bar, but you can do this for other keys as well. It fills up the empty space where echoes and sounds can travel through. Like sound foam’s effect on a room, this is what happens to the inside of the key.

Doing this is simple. Simply measure the length and width of the key you can insert foam in.

Using a craft knife or similar, cut out holes for the stems to poke through. Any foam will do, but I’ll link to something that you can get on Amazon.

Once you get it to the right size, simply place it within the keycap and push it back onto the switch.

All done, test it out! Yes, it could feel a little mushier.          

Add a foam pad inside the case

To do this, we add a foam layer between the PCB and the case to dampen the echo from within plastic or metal cases. This is worse with aluminum cases as noise is more likely to echo.

The sound will be less loud and high pitch. The foam you use must have some compression. Using the foam that you used for your larger keys will probably suffice.

Many have also recommended using butyl rubber instead of foam for improved sound dampening qualities as well as a lower price.

To do this know the exact measurements of your case. You’re going to have to take out your keycaps, switches, the top plate if your switches are plate-mounted, and the PCB outside of the case.

Then you place the compressible foam first into the case. Next put everything back in.

macbook on stand, mouse and keyboard on desk mat
Desk mat

BONUS: Using a desk mat to prevent noise from hitting your desk

Using a desk mat or a simple towel underneath the keyboard will reduce noise as well. Because the keyboard has some space underneath, when you type, there is movement there, which can cause additional unwanted noise.

More stores offer desk mats, but Dixie Mech has a large selection of high quality desk mats for $25 each.

They usually come with a rubber bottom and a cloth top. They will fit your keyboard and your mouse on top of it, so no need for that low-quality mouse pad your father got you from his workplace anymore.

Is that just me? It might be just me…

simple black keyboard on desk mat
Desk mat

Summary

We looked at many ways we could make a mechanical keyboard quieter, even if the keyboard has crazy loud switches. It can still happen!

The different methods we looked at were:

  • Adding O-rings onto the switch stems
  • Lubing your stabilizers
  • Clipping your stabilizers
  • Band-aid mod for stabilizers
  • Lubing switches and switch springs
  • Adding foam under the PCB inside the case
  • Adding foam inside the key caps of larger keys

Hopefully, after employing these many strategies, your keyboard will be workplace appropriate. Or if you’re gaming into the latest hours of the night, the people in your household won’t think that you’re annoyingly loud.

Thanks for reading, and as always, if you have comments, questions, or concerns, feel free to post them down below. If you have any other ideas for us, tell us that too.

Happy typing!

Sources

How to Make your Keyboard Quieter! Youtube.com

How to Clip, Lube, and Band-aid Mod Your Stabilizers Youtube.com

Silencing Stabilizers Rama.works

What is a Planck Keyboard?

what is a planck keyboard on the switch and click

Question and Answer

Hey Switch and Click, I’ve been hearing the term Ortholinear and Planck around the communities such as Reddit or GeekHack, but what is it? How is it different than a regular keyboard?

This is something I’ve been wondering as well, since there are so many different keyboard layouts within the mechanical keyboard community. Let’s dive into some research.

A Planck keyboard has a 40% layout with 47 or 48 keys. It has 4 rows of 12 keys each. However, you can choose to make the spacebar key take up two keys’ worth of space, therefore making it a 47-key keyboard. It’s like a block of cheese that you cut into 48 even pieces, 4 blocks up and down and 12 blocks across.

It was initially created by a man named Jack Humbert. Ortholinear keyboards are keyboards that have keys that are not staggered. Jack took this idea and made a compact keyboard that is designed to reduce finger movement and fatigue when typing.

planck keyboard
Planck keyboard with MIT layout

Basics of a Planck Keyboard

Size

A Planck is a 40% keyboard. The Drop + OLKB Planck Mechanical Keyboard Kit V6 is 9.2 x 3.2 x 1.3 inches. You can hold it with one hand and put it in your bag easily.

Fully assembled, it weighs 18oz, a little bit over one pound. That’s like a block of butter or a new bag of fresh coffee beans.

A Planck EZ designed by OLKB (Ortholinear Keyboards by Jack Humbert) measures in at 9.2 x 3.2 x 1.1 inches. This is the size that you can expect if you decide to build your own or not.

Are there enough keys?

Are 47 or 48 keys enough for your use?

Here is the basic layout of a Planck keyboard.

Grid Layout Vs MIT Layout

The Grid layout on a Planck has 48 keys. It is a 4×12 keyboard where the spacebar only takes up one key rather than two.

Many people recommend using the Grid Layout because when you’re typing you usually have a preference hand that will press the space button.

For myself (which I’ve just realized right now), it is my left hand that primarily hits the space bar.

So, for a person that prefers one side over the other, it would be easy to put the space key on the side that they use most often. Most space bars are too big, and the entire key isn’t pressed anyways.

The MIT layout on a Planck has 47 keys. It is a 3×12 keyboard followed by a row with 11 keys (the middle two keys are combined to make a 2u(2 times the length of one keycap) spacebar.

A standard key is about 18mm wide, so the spacebar here would be 36mm wide.

A benefit to doing this is that it doesn’t take more than half a second to orient your keyboard. The big key goes on the bottom. Whereas, the Grid layout, you must read the legends (labels, markings, or engravings) on the keyboard and then say, “Oh this side goes up.”

For many, they choose to go Grid and then program the bottom two buttons to be space if need both thumbs to be able to press space.

The board’s programming can be modified through QMK firmware, which is free to use. This will allow you to add more layers to the keyboard and not limiting yourself to only 48 things.

soldering a planck pcb with switches
Planck PCB, photo by Damien Pollet

Planck Layout

There is a base layer, this is the layer that you press regularly, without having to press any modifier keys at all. On your keyboard right now, this is the QWERTY keyboard.

Below is an example of a Planck base layer layout.

TabQWERTYIOUPBcksp
EscASDFGHJKL;
ShiftZXCVBNM,./Enter
LightCtrlAltCmdLowerSpaceSpaceRaiseLeftDownUpRight
Base layer

As you can see, the central area is where the alphabet letters are.  The purpose of this keyboard is to be able to type with as little movement as possible. On a regular keyboard, a person with short fingers might be jumping around.

But on here, their hand stays relatively still or moves ever so slightly to reach a certain key.

The outer part includes all the function and modifier keys such as tab, backspace, shift, lighting effects if you have that.

The bottom right has the 4 arrow keys. Learning that down and up are next to each other instead of being on top or below each other will be a difficult switch at first, but those keys are rarely used. Also, it’s unlikely this will be your daily gaming keyboard.

A Planck keyboard is more for people who would like a portable keyboard to bring to and from work as a daily driver.

Note: All the layers are entirely customizable. For programmers, they may choose to include frequently used keys such as < > { } ( ) and [ ]. Don’t forget the double and single quotes too.  

By using the lower or raise buttons, you can access different layers of the programming.

An example of a Top layer of a Planck keyboard

`1234567890Bcksp
DelF1F2F3F4F5F6=[]\
ShiftF7F8F9F10F11F12    Enter
            
Potential top layer

Other options are instead of making the numbers be across the top row, you can make it into its own number pad on the top layer. Very convenient for a lot of number entries.

For the bottom layer, it’s possible to add all the punctuation that usually comes with pressing Shift + a number such as ~ ! @ # $ % ^ & * (  ). It’s also possible to add media keys such as next, pause/play, vol+, vol-.

The possibilities are endless.

size comparison of planck keyboard vs macbook
Size comparison of Planck vs Macbook, photo by Doug Mcgauhan

Where Do You Get One?

Planck EZ

For a fully assembled Planck, OLKB designed the Planck EZ that goes for about $180.

It has an MIT layout. It’s available in black or white for the keycaps. You get to pick to buy it without keycaps for a savings of $10 if you have your own keycap preferences.

For an extra $15, you can get the Planck EZ with RGB lighting. If you game a lot in the dark, this might be good for you. Recently, I’ve come to like the clean look without lighting.

The switch options have the following Cherry MX switches: brown, blue, clear, red, silent red, black, white, speed silver. They also offer the following Kailh switches: brown, thick gold, gold, silver, copper, box brown, box red, box white, and box blacks.

Drop (formerly known as Massdrop)

Note: The above is an affiliate link at no extra cost to you.

Drop occasionally has orders for OLKB-designed Planck keyboard kits such as the Drop + OLKB Planck Mechanical Keyboard Kit V6.

This keyboard has 4.25 stars with 67 ratings. The reviews are possible.

It has an MIT layout. The kit comes with the PCB, steel plate, aluminum case, USB cable, and choice of keycaps. You’ll have to provide your own switches and stabilizers.

The PCB options are Matias or MX, depending on what switches you’re planning on using.

Their default keymap is linked to here. It has pretty graphics, but like the other keyboard, this one is also programming using QMK firmware.

They also get Planck cases and keycaps, which are limited group buys.

The above Drop may have changed or be out of stock, so be sure to check on it regularly for updates.

Should You Make the Switch?

Get it? Switch? Haha…

There are mixed feelings on whether a Planck keyboard would help or not.

Xah Lee has reviewed a Planck keyboard. However, he states that he doesn’t like small keyboards or ergonomic keyboards.

Words to note, he used a Planck keyboard with blank keycaps and 48 keys. It was difficult for him to orient the keyboard, let alone know what keys what were.

Despite his critical review, if given a keyboard with legends and a MIT layout, his experience would’ve been exponentially better. If you do watch the associated video review he has, you’ll notice that his hands are too big for the keyboard he is using, and he has not practiced using the keyboard enough prior to typing on it.

Callum Oakley also wrote a review after using a Planck keyboard for 3 years.

He specifically programmed his layout to suit his needs because he is a software developer. He uses a lot of symbols. On regular keyboards, it takes more time to press shift and then reach over to ( ) or [ ] or < > or { }. I just did it, and it required my entire hand to move right.

With the QMK firmware, the possibilities are endless. You can pick and choose where you want your keys. It’ll also let you learn how you type very well.

Callum writes, “I don’t think this board is for everyone…”

It’s important to give things a try and to think deeply about how you type and how you can make it a more efficient process. If you type for a living, it wouldn’t hurt to give something new a try if you’re worried about repetitive stress problems.

Anyways, I would love to try a Planck keyboard in the future if I can get my hands on one.

I have small hands and probably would benefit from typing on something like that. Hope this answers any questions you had over the Planck keyboard.

If you have any additional questions that we can answer for you, comments, or concerns, feel free to leave a comment down below! Happy typing!

Sources:

The Planck Keyboard Noah Frederick

Planck OLKB

48 keys are plenty Callum Oakley

Planck Keyboard Xah Lee

What is the average cost for a custom mechanical keyboard?

What is the average cost for a custom mechanical keyboard?

When browsing the internet I’ve been finding a lot of really cool mechanical keyboards on various blogs and websites such as Reddit and Pinterest and had the wonderful idea of – Why don’t I build one for myself?

So I dove into research-mode and found out everything I could about building your own keyboard. The main question I had was how much does it cost? It was very difficult to get an accurate estimate for the price, but after lots of research I now have a pretty good idea of how much it will cost to build your own.

The cost for a custom mechanical keyboard wildly ranges.  There are so many options to choose from and the price depends on how much you’re willing to spend on upgrading the different features. However, the average cost comes out to be around a $100-200 per board. But don’t worry if this price scares you, it is possible to build a mechanical keyboard for around $60 although this will require a lot of shopping around and searching for deals. If you’re a big spender the price can increase exponentially depending on how customized everything will be and how much you’re willing to spend on the switches, stabilizers, PCB  and keycaps. 

Let’s go over some of the main questions and concerns people have when deciding to go on the adventure of building a custom keyboard.

Do you need a soldering kit?

Soldering kit

Well based on my research, you will need a soldering kit… sometimes. If you’re building your keyboard from a kit, most of the time a soldering kit will not be required.

If you choose to go down the route with hot swappable switches, a soldering kit is usually not needed for that as well.  Overall, hot swappable switches can make assembly much easier and does not require you to figure out how to solder which would save a lot of time. 

However, if your switches are not hot-swappable and you are not building from a kit, chances are you will need a soldering kit because the switches will need to be soldered to the PCB during assembly.

The average cost for a good soldering kit usually comes out to be around $100.  If this additional price is beyond your means, it may make sense to order your keyboard through a kit to circumvent the extra cost.

Which are the main components I need to purchase?

For building a custom keyboard there are several components required for assembly.

This list may have a lot of components you never heard of before and if you’re confused that’s okay-  we have a lot of resources that you can reference to help you better understand how everything works together.

This may seem overwhelming at first but once you dive in and get a better understanding of how everything works it can be interesting and exciting.

The parts are listed as follows, assuming 60% keyboard size:

  • PCB (Printed Circuit Board), $35-60
  • Switches (whole keyboard set), $40-100
  • Stabilizers (for 60% keyboard), $10-40
  • Case, $6-50. Depending on if plastic or aluminum
  • Aluminum plate (optional), $15

As you can see the price of each individual part varies depending on the quality and overall effectiveness of the part – and of course, how much you are willing to spend. 

If these prices seem a little on the expensive side, keep in mind it is possible to order knock-off parts that are very similar functionally and are much much cheaper.

How do I decide what size keyboard to build?

Well a lot of this comes down to personal preference as well.  Some people have a tighter working space so a smaller keyboard is easier to use. In addition, if you want to take it with you when traveling to a coffee shop or commuting to work and back, a smaller keyboard is also nice in those situations.

In general, the smaller keyboards are cheaper and easier to build because there are less keys and switches and overall material to order. 

The majority of people think that smaller keyboards are aesthetic because they have more symmetric shape, but keep in mind- these are only opinions. Do whatever makes you excited.

If you really enjoy using a numpad and arrow keys, a smaller keyboard might not be for you.

Perhaps a larger size that has all those extra keys might be a better fit. Or maybe you want to deck out your keyboard with several extra programmable keys. The larger sizes allow you to get quite creative with all the extra button space available.

I would recommend exploring all of your options before you determine what size works best for you. Check out this post where we go over all of the different keyboard sizes and explain what they all mean.

Why should you build a custom keyboard?

Perhaps you’re getting bored of your current keyboard or you’re sick of that mushy membrane feel of your crappy office keyboard. Or maybe you drove your old keyboard in the ground and your keys are stuck and won’t spring back anymore. 

Well, by building a custom keyboard you have the ability to make something unique and creative that expresses who you are through your keyboard. 

A well-built mechanical keyboard is something that is built to last and is tailored specifically to you. Nobody else on the entire planet will have the same keyboard as you.

In my opinion, it’s worth the extra time and effort to build one for yourself.

Plus you can show it off on the internet, that’s the reason I want to do it.

Switch and Click Pinterest feed
Switch and Click Pinterest feed


Summary

We talked about how much it would cost on average to build a mechanical keyboard from scratch and learned that the pricing wildy varies, but on average it costs around a $100-200. In addition, we went over the components required and some of the average costs associated with each part.

We also went over some of the situations when a soldering kit is not required, such as when you are building from a kit or using hot swappable switches. It’s understandable if the idea of learning a new skill such as soldering is intimidating, in which case those options are your best bet.

I hope the research put together here helps you with your build. I would recommend researching your own build by looking at some of the different designs currently out there on the internet and choosing something that resonates with you.

If you find one that you like, you can look into the keyboard further and figure out exactly what parts are required to build. That will give you an idea of where to start, and from there you can tweak to personalize the keyboard to your own specific needs.

Happy keyboarding!

Don’t feel like reading? Check out the video on YouTube.

Razer Mechanical Keyboard Switch Types

razer mechanical keyboard switch types on the Switch and click blog

Question and Answer

Razer has been in the gaming world for a long time. They’ve always had those green clicky ultra-loud switches, but recently they’ve come up with new switches. Ones that are not as clicky. My favorite kinds of switches are the tactile ones that are not clicky, does Razer have a tactile switch, I wonder? Let’s do some research!

These are all mechanical switches. Razer’s most common switch is the clicky green switch that we’ve seen throughout the years. They’ve come up with new orange and yellow switches, which are known to be quieter and faster. The quick response would be the orange switches are tactile and silent, while the yellow switches are linear and quiet. The newest of the new are the optical switches, the purple and red switches. The red switches are linear whereas the purple ones are clicky.

Mechanical Switches

Green Switch

Okay first, the most common, the Razer green switches. These are tactile and clicky. When playing games with others, your friends will probably complain of the loud clicks coming from your keyboard for every time you press WASD.

Even with O-rings, it’s still super loud. Only get this if you REALLY want the clicks. I didn’t know any better when I did.

Its total travel distance is 4.0mm with the actuation point at 1.9mm. The actuation force is 50g, which is the heaviest of all three switches.

These switches are usually compared to Cherry MX blue switches.

Green switches from a 2014 Blackwidow Tournament Edition
Green switches from a 2014 Blackwidow Tournament Edition, don’t judge the dust

Razer’s Lineup with Green Switches

Here are the keyboards in Razer’s current lineup that feature these green switches.

First up is the Blackwidow, the iconic keyboard that started it all. This keyboard has RGB lighting, a full-size layout, and fully customizable keys.

The next one is the Blackwidow Elite, which is everything the Blackwidow has but so much more. You get a comfortable spot to rest your wrists on while gaming or typing, the choice of using green, yellow, or orange switches, and digital media keys and dials to change music and volume whenever you want.

Other variations such as the Blackwidow X Tournament Edition Chroma and the Blackwidow X Tournament Edition, also featuring green switches. This keyboard has a tenkeyless layout. The Chroma has RGB lighting and preprogrammed lighting effects, whereas the original does not.

Also the Blackwidow Tournament Edition Chrome V2, which has an additional wrist rest attached and the choice between the three different switch types.

There’s also the Blackwidow Ultimate, which is a full-sized keyboard that is water and dust resistant. Don’t worry about spills or dust getting into this bad boy. It only comes with green backlighting though. Hopefully, that matches with your computer’s look.

Yellow Switch

Razer’s yellow switches are linear and silent. They’re like Cherry MX Red Switches.

The total travel distance is 3.5mm (which is much shorter than Cherry MX Reds) and the actuation point is at 1.2mm. The actuation force is at 45g, which is lighter than their green switches.

These switches are the fastest due to their short travel distance and light actuation force. They’re extremely quiet as well. They’re good for gaming that requires fast button presses for optimal responses.

Pair these switches with O-rings and you’ll dampen the sounds of bottoming out (when your switches hit the bottom).

Razer’s Lineup with Yellow Switches

Currently, only the Blackwidow Elite and the Blackwidow Tournament Edition Chrome V2 have the option of having yellow switches in them when ordering.

Orange Switch

Razer’s orange switches feel like the green switches, but with less of a bump. It still gives you the tactile feels, letting you type quickly and accurately.

The total distance of the orange switches is 4.0mm with an actuation point of 1.9mm, exactly like the green switches. However, its actuation force is 45g, which is lighter and easier to press.  

These are usually compared to Cherry MX Browns.

If you’re going a lot of typing and gaming, these switches are for you. If you’re mostly using the keyboard for gaming, yellow will be your best bet. But it all boils down to personal preference. Don’t let common statements make decisions for you. Go to your local store and try them out. Press on all the keys as if you’re gaming or typing.

Razer’s Lineup with Orange Switches

Out of their current lineup, here are some of the keyboards that offer orange switches.

First, the Razer Blackwidow Lite which comes in black or white has these switches alongside coming pre-installed with O-rings to further dampen the sounds. It also has a sleek look, letting you see the white lighting underneath as well as the switches and stabilizers.  

The Razer Blackwidow Elite lets you pick between any of the green, yellow, or orange switches. This full-size keyboard sites at a hefty $170 price tag, but it does have the convenience of changing media keys at a button push and scroll wheel as well as an ergonomic wrist rest.

The Blackwidow Tournament Edition Chrome V2 offers the orange switches as well with a tenkeyless layout and RGB lighting.

For more details of the green, yellow, and orange switches, Razer has a full page with videos, graphics, and convenient charts.

Optical Mechanical Switches

Purple Switch

The Razer purple switch is labeled as an optical switch because when you press on the key, it covers a light that sends a signal to the computer that the key was pressed.

The optical switches are advertised to be able to handle over 80 million keystrokes. They come with a stabilizer bar on each switch to reduce wobble and increase stability.

This switch still gives a tactile feel and is clicky with actuation at 1.5mm (which is 30% shorter than common mechanical keyboards), but it is purely for the feels and not for the function. The actuation force is 45g, lighter than the green switches but like all the other ones.

cherry mx blues
Purples sound like Cherry MX blues with the clicks.

Red Switch

The red switch is also an optical switch. It’s a linear switch that gives you no tactile bump for feedback.

The actuation force is 40g, which is the lightest of all of Razer’s switches. It also has the shortest actuation distance of 1.0mm, which is 60% shorter than common mechanical switches.

Fun fact, the actuation and rest point are the same due to the way optical switches work, via infrared light. This lets you complete more keystrokes with less finger movement.  

Razer’s Lineup with Purple or Red Switches

For additional information on Razer’s optical switches, they have a full web page with graphics, videos, and tables.

The following keyboards offer purple or red switches:

The Razer Huntsman, which we’ve all heard of recently, has a Tournament Edition, and Elite edition, and the original Huntsman.

The tournament edition has a tenkeyless design, double-shot PBT keycaps, linear red switches, and a USB-C cable. Razer has finally listened to the people. The double-shot PBT keycaps are much higher quality than the old ABS ones.

No longer are the days of glossy and grimy keys, but new are the days of textured high-quality keys.

The Elite version is a full-sized layout with digital media keys and dials just like the Blackwidow Elite. This version lets you pick between the purple or red switches.

The Huntsman is a full-sized keyboard that offers only the purple switches. It’s available in three colorways: black, pink, or white with special keycaps as well. With RGB lighting.

Summary

We’ve discussed all 5 different switch types that Razer has to offer. The greens, yellows, and oranges fall into the mechanical switch category, whereas the purples and reds are optical mechanical switches.

The greens are loud, clicky, and tactile. This is the cornerstone of old-school gaming keyboards. The yellows are linear switches, and the oranges are tactile without the extra sounds.

The purples are clicky and tactile with less actuation force and distance. The reds are linear and quiet with the lowest actuation force and shortest distance. The optical switches offer more durability and improved response.

The mechanical switches go with Razer’s Blackwidow lineup, and the optical ones go with Razer’s Huntsman lineup.

In a few years, we’ll get to really see where Razer’s new switches are going to stand. Will they be the new standard compared to Cherry? Only time will tell.

Sources

What’s the difference between Razer mechanical switches? Windows Central

Which Razer Keyboard Switch is Right for You? Youtube.com

Razer.com