Custom Keyboard Design and Discussion Thread

What’s a feature or design aspect of a custom board you have that you didn’t notice at first but now couldn’t live without? What things do you think are necessary for new customs coming to market? What materials wow you? What plate material and mounting style is your favorite?

I’ll start by saying I think heavy customs that have a handhold or side cutout makes it much easier to move them around. I didn’t realize this was something I cared about until I was moving my Mech27 and my AEK64 around and found the AEK64 much harder to move because the case sits flat with no cutouts.

Curious to hear about people’s feelings towards the designs and usage of customs and what draws them to certain boards and designs.

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I just need them to feel “sturdy” it cant feel like a cheap plastic OEM board. HHKB being the exception hehe

IMO USB type C should be on every modern keyboard. People will argue that it doesn’t “do” anything, but it is a more durable and more pleasant to use connector, and as people like zeal keep seriously pushing the power budget on a keyboard, the power delivery features might become important.

I’ve also found that I really strongly prefer boards that are naturally angled rather than needing cone feet to tilt. It just makes them feel way more premium.

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Great thread, btw!

I think for me, like Gio, it has to feel solid to me. Doesn’t necessarily mean heavy, but I like tight tolerances and the feel and sound while typing should be clean (I’m a sound guy). :stuck_out_tongue:

Yeah agreed about C. I don’t think it’s necessary for pcbs like gh60s and other smaller no frills stuff, but it seems like C is the way to go for boards that push out more features.

Yeah sound to me is a huge factor as well. I’ve actually found it hard to find customs that have the right sound to me. Especially now that there are so many switches, plate materials and thickness and new mounting styles etc it gets difficult to decide what makes a board sound right to you.

personally I really dislike when the PCB is mounted to the case (ie having to stick screws through holes in the plate to attach the PCB to the floor of a case). Much prefer the plate be mounted in some form or fashion

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I think tray mounting has it’s place, but I agree that I would much prefer a board with a proper mounting system of some kind.

Type C is a fundamental connection improvement. It is reversible, so it doesn’t matter which direction you plug it in, its structurally very secure, and it has enormous potential on the data and power delivery side. Now to be clear on that last point - most Type C keyboards will be unable to make use of the advanced power - too many people have computers that only have old USB ports to make the switch. However, in a few years as old computers become obsolete we will get some fancy things with solenoids, charging, and whatnot :slight_smile:

I actually disagree with this. They will be unable to make use of power delivery when connected via A to C, but a keyboard could be designed to use power delivery and if the PD negotiation fails then it could self-limit the max brightness of the LEDs or whatever in order to stay within the standard USB C power budget. For A to C users it wouldn’t make much of a difference, but for users on more modern systems they could unlock more brightness from their boards.

Overall agree with your sentiment though!

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Besides feeling sturdy, as @notG10 mentioned, what I’d love to have in any new custom keyboard is an extra USB port where I can plug my security key or an USB drive.

I’m eagerly waiting for my Massdrop ALT just because of this.

It’s incredibly difficult to know, until you try it all. Which of course costs a lot of money, and takes a lot of time and patience. :frowning:

For real man, it took me almost a year to find my true preferences. I think it’s worth it in the end though. My customs feel so much better than I ever thought a keyboard could so finding what you like pays off eventually.

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I’ve had quite a few custom boards to-date. Weight is not the main thing I look for although a decently weighted one is nice. Alu case is a most though. As for RGB, pffffttt !! Am now waiting for TKL PCBs with Kailh hot swap sockets built-in. Yes, going back to my roots with TKL.

  • I really prefer top mount or integrated plate to tray mount; it feels a lot better.

  • I like type C, I just like the connector it feels nifty and modern. This isn’t essential but I still prefer it.

  • A weight, the weight of the weight doesn’t actually matter that much to me, but I think it makes the design less boring and helps to break up just a flat surface; shiny brass looks premium.

  • Packaging… when you see the box the experience starts here, take ramaworks for example, they have custom design packaging with nifty bags and a nice aesthetic, there is a HUGE difference in opening a product in custom printed bags and packaging rather than just a plain brown box with white foam. Also take Kin, the bags that come with the TX boards are not only useful but a lovely addition, you really feel they are protecting something valuable.

  • QC, if your paying $$$$ for a board you best believe its coming in good condition, I know sometimes in group buys things cant be helped, and small single runners cant offer much sometimes (this is an inherent risk you take with a group buy) but if i was running one I would expect every avenue explored to reach the best outcome with good communication and honesty.

For design I like things that are simple but not boring, nothing flashy or over the top but still thoughtful.

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