Newbie attempts first nearly 100% custom keyboard. [TW: Lots of writing & reading of nonsense]


  • Newbie attempts custom
  • basically doesn’t know where to start
  • 60-65%, non-custom PCB, 3D printed
  • May need to make a Git-Hub (don’t know what to do with that though)
  • Still a lot of questions left to be answered

The nitty-gritty stuff:

By far one of the best and worst ideas I have ever come up with. I figured if I hold myself accountable in a topic post, I’ll actually get this project done. So, here we are.

If it looks like I have no idea what I’m doing, you would be 100% correct in that aspect. I have absolutely no clue what I’m doing. I’m also broke as hell, so if I can avoid spending over $300 that will be chefs kiss

I’m very worried that this project will flop so…hopefully it doesn’t! Fingers crossed! :crossed_fingers:

But, I started brainstorming what to do and what specific qualities and points I want to hit.

Here’s what I am certain I want:

  • It needs to be small, preferably around 60-65%. I’m debating whether arrow keys are important to me, but I need to figure out whether they’re something I use daily. So far, I do use them daily, but I’m currently in a flurry of applications so writing & arrow keys are synonymous.
  • It will have a flat bottom. This is because I’m not about those little stands that you can flip back and forth. I think they’re cool, but for my current setup, it’s not going to work.
  • SQUARE BUMPONS I just really really like the look of square bumpons e.g. the ones from 3M. So that’s what I’m going to work for. This is subject to change.
  • Optimal for games. I play video games, as many of us do. But I set this as a point because I know for a fact that this will play a part in choosing different pieces to put into my board and how I’ll design it.
  • RGB/LEDs don’t matter, I really don’t care if my board flashes pretty colors at me. I barely even notice that my current board has some, I forget that it is there half the time. I only notice it when it’s reflected onto my ceiling.
  • Cable will be on the side. Most likely the left side because when I play games, I tilt it to the left, and the cable gets in the way when it’s in the middle. I have limited desk & mouse space.
  • Funky colors Black and white are fine colors. My current board is black, but colors like neon pink, bright yellow, or orange sound fun to me. Only issue is that keycaps may be difficult to find a match to, but that’s pretty far into the future and a stylistic choice I can handle later.
  • My first iteration will be 3D printed. This will definitely pose the issue of “How on earth am I going to split this up into pieces to print…” That’s a problem for 3D-modeler me to deal with.
  • I’m not making a PCB from scratch. I’m not at that level of expertise, and I don’t know what kind of software/skills that will require. I know it’s something related to KiCad? This is the part where the “100% custom keyboard” bit isn’t true.

Here’s a list of stuff I need to figure out:

  • Do I want it to be angled or completely flat? This is more of an ergonomics issue. I did a research paper on ergonomics this year, so now I’m paranoid that I’ll f-up my body more than I already have being a bum at home.
  • How about weight? I’m 50/50 on this, on one hand, it’ll be nice for it to have some weight to it rather than pure PLA, but I’m going to have to figure out what kind of weight I’m willing to get. Silicone? Brass? Straight-up metal from my garage cut to size?
  • Is this going to be a layered build? i.e. multiple “plates” to stack on top of each other? I like the look, it’s based on the Stacked series by Cannonkeys, but I don’t know if I want it permanently (would be a cool NumPad in the future!)
  • Do I want it to be wireless? The plausibility of this is low, but wireless is nice. I’m a laptop user with only two USB-B ports and one USB-C. I’m already stretching my ports thin, with a mouse adapter, my current keyboard, and a mic. My mic is already on an extension dongle that plugs into the USB-C. That being said, I’m planning on upgrading in the future…so what I build now may still need a cable.

The number of stuff I need to figure out are longer more situation based than what I want…It’s a work in progress. I started thinking about this project two days ago, so there are a lot of kinks to still work out.

Day 1: SUPER rough ideas (my handwriting is horrendous, please kindly disregard it)