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GON NS NerD Crystal TKL - Detailed Build Log

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GON NS NerD Crystal TKL

Introduction: It was love at first sight when GON posted the first pictures of an all-polycarbonate board. I knew I had to have it, but at the same time I knew I had to make it special.

I love transparent things and I love white electronics. My desks are both frosted white glass. My mousepad is frosted glass. The only artisan caps I desire are the transparent variety. My monitors are all white. My speakers are white. My phone is white. It all makes sense to get this board. This is the board that I always knew I needed. And it finally exists. <3

Mission: Build a board thats as transparent as possible. Pretty much everything but the PCB and springs. Crystal clear, xray board, ice board, ghost board, whatever you want to call it. I want to take the GON "Crystal" to the next level. I knew that if I could do this, then I would really have a dream keyboard underneath my hands. And let me tell you as I am typing this. This keyboard is a dream.



Now if I'm gonna buy a $400+ kit, you better be damn sure that I will have its components planned. I knew I wanted things to be as transparent as possible, but at the same time avoid cheap materials like ABS plastic or acrylic. First thing is first though, gotta make sure that these components are actually attainable before placing an order at GON's website.

Screws: If you've ever seen a GON keyboard, you will know why having matching flathead screws is important. The entire design is almost dependent on it. So I wanted mine to match. I wanted them to look seamless. I needed flathead polycorbonate flathead screws. I searched for days. They were not easy to find. Metric, flathead and polycarb? Go fish. Luckily knowing GON and his superb customer service, I reached out to him. He made it happen. Thanks GON.

Keycaps: One of the first things I think about when I start planning a board. I always think "Hmm this board is beautiful. What kind of caps would complete this?" When I saw the Crystal GON, I almost instantly thought of the White Jelly POM set. I remembered reading that he was still sorting them out, but I reached out to him anyway. He was kind enough to sort and sell me a complete set just for me. If you're reading this, thank you Feng.

I also felt that this was the perfect home for my Spirit Blue Brobot v2, that I fought so hard to get.

Lubrication: Victorinox multi-tool knife oil for springs and GH "thick" formula krytox mixture for housing and stems. My usual stuff.

Springs: 62g gold springs. I love my regular 62's on my LZ, but for variation sake, I wanted something just a drop heavier. Thanks to VesperSAINT's advice, I got the gold springs and they are perfect.

Switches: Oooooh~ Now here is the tricky part of this board. Getting all-clear switch housings. Only one place to find that in North America. The recently released Corsair RGB lineup. So I grit my teeth and drive out to Best Buy and fork over $150+ dollars. For switches. I bought a brand new board (Corsair K65 RGB), perfectly fine, and even in some opinions, a very fine board. All so that I could effectively disassemble it and dismantle the switches. Yes, I _could_ have ordered from 7bit and waited for his group buy to ship. But the RGB switches were still "coming soon" on his thread and he was on vacation. Possibly two of the worst words you can think of when trying to buy something from GH or DT users. Soon and vacation. lololol.

So yeah, anyway I hope to reassemble the k65 with black housings and hopefully get around $60 back. But in the mean time you're probably wondering "Was it worth it?". And the answer is yes. It was worth it. The reason behind this is that I wanted to rely only on the SMD LED's that was a new feature for the NerD board. In the same fashion as the K65 RGB, the GON transmits the light directly from the PCB through the clear switch housings and onto the keycaps. SMD's on the front of the board are a new and rare thing these days, even for crazy korean custom keyboards. Time to make use of it.


Order Date: September 10th, 2014
Ship Date: October 31, 2014
Arrival Date: November 3rd, 2014

It's November 3rd but for all I know, it's Christmas Day. This is the day that the GON DIY kit arrives.



-All items ordered are accounted for and inspected. I actually had to "shower" the housings as they still had some polycarb dust on them from the factory. Careful rinsing and towel drying. I even use a fresh towel because that's how much I love this board that I haven't even built yet.
-Having never seen any pictures of the polycarbonate screws before, I'm delighted as I pull out the tiny bag containing them. They look nice. I'm happy.
-GON included some extra gold smd led's. A good gesture.
-I take pictures and post them in the "What did you get in the mail today?" thread. Usually when an awesome thing happens to someone they call someone and tell them about it. Besides my girlfriend all I have are you guys, so it means alot when I can share my appreciation for boards with you. Very happy to post my stuff here. "Happiness, only real when shared."



Day 1
I take a deep breath. As much as I want to build the board the second I get it, I have to accept the fact that it will take days to complete. It's 5:30 in the evening. Even if I try staying up until 4, there is a very slim chance of finishing the board, as well as an exponentially larger chance that I will make mistakes. Accept it. It will take days. Excitement is good, but don't let it control you.

I spend the night dissassembling the clears that came with the kit. The stems are all I need.

Day 2
Lubrication. A tricky business indeed. On my LZ, I did not have the luxury of a needle to apply lube, so this was at least better than using a paintbrush.

The first step is to create a standard. Create a desirable lubed switch which you can model the feel after. And follow that method which you used. After doing 8 switches (it took so long because this is the first time using a needle applicator), I find the "model switch". Patient zero. I now set up a temporary lube station; or a place to hold switches as I methodically apply each step to all switches at once. In this case I use the PCB.

Each switch is tested for both feel and sound after assembly. I have to hold the switch in the _exact same_ manner to test sound characteristics. If you hold a switch even slightly differently, it will affect the sound that the switch makes when you press it. I learned this after a lot of trial and error so please remember that. I tend to use a lot of lube per switch, so sometimes I have to dab out some of the lube with a clean brush. Excessive lubing is characterized by the "popping" sound that may come from a lubed switch. The sound can be either subtle or very apparent, but you'll know when its there.

Day 3
Double check switches and solder some diodes and resistors.

Each switch is checked for feel and sound once again. Maybe only 8 or 10 have to be adjusted, but at least I have peace of mind in switch consistency. After all, what's the point in modding switches if you can't fully enjoy them?

Pictures of diodes:

Day 4
I'm sick. Turns out to be a bad cold. I wonder if getting my flu shot would have helped. Oh well. I feel terrible but at least I can get something done at home. If I don't get too sick I may finish the board. First thing in the morning: more SMD work.

Work on the board goes into the night. I realize I didn't order enough LED's to cover the bottom of the board. Stupid mistake. LED's ordered, but I know it will be a while.

<pictures pending>

After dinner I find myself following along BlueBär's"[/youtube]]video on clipping stabs. It's a lot easier then I thought. Before my GON kit even arrived, I had already purchased a metal nail filer specifically for this reason. Everything goes perfectly. Nice!!!

Stabs are lubed and tested on the board.

Switches are soldered in and caps are put on.
<final soldering picture pending>

Switches feel amazing. Worth every minute of testing.

Board is tested. It's like decorating your Christmas tree and seeing it light up for the first time. Amazing feeling.

Just one problem: a few SMD led's on the front are not functioning. It looks like they did not get enough solder. That's what I get for trying to make them beautiful. It will take a complete desoldering to gain access to the front SMD LED's, since the switches are mounted to the plate covering the LED's.

I go to sleep. I'll fix it the next morning.

Day 5
I wake up to desolder my board. While the board is complete and functions perfectly, I know that I cannot accept having a few LED's inactive. The morning is spent finalizing the board.

Typing Video:



I've built an amazing board that I am super proud of. A more detailed review will be coming later, but that will do for now. The all-polycarb structure actually absorbs a significant amount of sound to the point where anyone can easily tell that the board is much quieter than my LZ. The POM caps allow for nice light distribuition as well as a great feel and sound. And the board itself is just so beautiful, durable, and unique.

If you have any questions about this keyboard, please feel free to ask me here.

P.S. Some of the build pictures are on an SD card that I may have left at my that's why you see the <pictures pending> note.

Thanks for reading!!!

11/11/14 - Added lube station pictures
11/16/14 - Added typing video

Awesome and though I'd be too scared of owning a white board that looks god damn amazing!

You've done a great job  :thumb:

The end product looks so awesome! You really put a lot effort into building this. After reading your build log, I think I will go for RGB switches too, for my KMAC build with NerD PCB and PC plate. Thanks for sharing!  :thumb:

Damn, that attention to detail.  It all paid off too.  I almost wish it had a subtle blue LED glow to give it a full ice palace look, but it's stunning as it is.

Thats amazing Im glad you posted this. My eyes have been set on a gon crystal after I saw GL1CHES Gon.


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