Author Topic: Newbie builds budget banger  (Read 438 times)

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Offline chungsteroonie

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Newbie builds budget banger
« on: Sat, 29 May 2021, 23:57:02 »
Hello Keyboard friends,

I figured I'd circle back and post my build since the kind people on this forum have been so welcoming and helpful with my newbie questions.  I really appreciate the encouragement.  I did my first build and wanted to report because I feel it exceeded expectations in many ways.  I do not generally like the Group Buy framework so, I set about trying to make an off-the-shelf project that was as cheap as reasonably possible that still has all of the "cool kid" features.  After looking at the available options, I decided to try and O-ring mount a standard KBDfans 60% case and PCB and make myself an off-the-shelf Bakeneko thing.  The mod for Tofu case is well documented, but I wanted to do it with screw in stabilizers. . . well, I actually was going to use plate mount stabilizers, but bought the wrong plate.

The most straight forward solution I thought of was to make relief cuts into the side of the case where the stabilizers were positioned.

Also, looking at the existing plastic spine structure inside the case, the easiest way for me to create bottom stops for the PCB was to use some EPDM tubing I had laying around for water cooling.  The tube wall thickness is 1/16" which was almost perfect.

After hacking away all of the internal spines to allow enough room for the board to float and have decent range of motion in the case, this is what I ended up with.

The cutouts help center and position the PCB in the case, but there are 4 main rubber stops.  The butt end as mentioned previously are pieces of EPDM tubing, and the front lip stops are 1/8" thickness Sorbothane.

Because Sorbothane is kindof "sticky", I kept the protective film on the top part so it would not stick to the PCB when disassembling the keyboard.

here is how the backspace stabilizer cutouts fit.  You can see the red Silicone O-ring jutting into the frame cutouts.

And here is one of the spacebar stabilizers.

The assembly installs by sticking the USB port and the butt-end backspace stabilizers into the frame cutout notches.

And then wedging in front face spacebar part.

Once everything is seated, the notches lock everything in quite well.

Alignment is not perfect as pictured, but I can make the backspace stabilizer cutouts a bit deeper to even it out.


Offline chungsteroonie

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Re: Newbie builds budget banger
« Reply #1 on: Sun, 30 May 2021, 00:20:06 »
I really liked that this uses a standard 60% PCB and the entire assembly remains completely un-molested.  I will be able to try Wood, Acrylic, Aluminum, and Resin cases with the same PCB very easily and cheaply.  I REALLY wanted to start with the $15 case though and found some intriguing characteristics that are not "normal" for custom keyboards.  My hope is that the case is flexible enough especially on the bottom tray portion to act as a sortof "drum head" to convert keypress energy into some sort of thump.  If successful, I should be able to tune the frequency of the thump by putting tire weight in the center part of the case bottom as well as by trimming the plastic splines.  From preliminary tests (I don't even have my keycaps yet), this seems to be happening.  The PCB assembly is dampened enough that there is not a lot of "clack" sound being transmitted. . . or practically, the "clack" sound that the keyboard case makes when you tap it with your fingernails is not being generated when typing.  But, typing does replicate the sort of tone I get with thumping the bottom of the case with the soft part of my finger.  I'll have to sit with this for a while and see if I like it as is or if I should try to tune it with weight or polyfill.  Additionally, for a custom keyboard, it is comically lightweight.  I was thinking that weight might improve the feel, but thinking about it now, if I can get a really premium sound and feel out of the board and maintain it as ultra-light, why not?  It would make a great travel board.

Here is a video showing how the suspension mechanism is working in a normal typing environment and another one showing how ludicrously flexy the case is (for better or for worse).

So, my total build cost breakdown went something like this:

If I were to shop smarter, I could have used an Aliexpress PCB and plate . . . and perhaps omit the plate foam and use $40 keycaps and get in at around $145.  Of course that's not taking into account the $80 I spent on lube to try and learn this "keyboard thing".   ;D

I'm over the moon with the result.  You would have had me at lubed switches and tuned stabilizers, and being as this is my first go, I really can't say if the action and feel of the thing is REALLY all that premium compared with the slew of current options, but I'm a happy camper and have a lot of fun tweaking to do down the road with this starting point.  Does this do any better than a DZ60 lite in terms of performance or cost?  Probably not, but if a friend is interested, I would be able to buy all of the parts right now and deliver something that performs very well for the money.
« Last Edit: Sun, 30 May 2021, 00:26:54 by chungsteroonie »