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geekhack Projects => Making Stuff Together! => Topic started by: Grendel on Thu, 15 May 2014, 14:00:29

Title: Beefing up a Roswill RK-9000
Post by: Grendel on Thu, 15 May 2014, 14:00:29
The Rosewill RK-9000 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&DEPA=0&Description=rk-9000) is a seriously underrated board IMHO. While made by Costar, it is one of the cheapest Cherry MX based ANSI 104 boards on the market. So cheap that people buy them just for parts -- for as little as $65 you get 104 MX switches, a switch plate, 104 diodes, and a case. Not helping its reputation is the so-so reliability record of Costar boards based on single sided main PCB's (USB ports coming lose, intermittent or chattering switches) , RoHS solder really likes via's. Resoldering these w/ leaded solder will improve reliability a lot.

If you are not afraid of voiding warranties, are able to solder (or want to learn about it), and have some money to spend, the RK-9000 can be customized into an exceptional keyboard for a reasonable price.

Things you need besides a soldering setup:
 - RK-9000BL (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16823201045), ~$75 (or any other MX flavor)
 - The Black Petal (http://deskthority.net/marketplace-f11/qfr-and-filco-105-controllers-t6193.html), $35 (optional, but highly recommended !)
 - 110 Cherry MX switches (http://mechanicalkeyboards.com/shop/index.php?l=product_list&c=43), $54
 - a good keycap set (optional), eg. Sideprinted PBT Keycaps (http://mechanicalkeyboards.com/shop/index.php?l=product_detail&p=230), $51, or blank DSA caps (http://keyshop.pimpmykeyboard.com/products/full-keysets/dsa-blank-numpad-sets-1), $21+$19+$9.50, or whatever floats your boat.
   The Galaxy Class Set (http://www.pimpmykeyboard.com/deals/the-galaxy-class-keyset/) would be a great candidate too :)

Meet the RK-9000BL. You can sand and repaint the top shell if you so desire, I just covered up that ugly Rosewill logo w/ electrical tape :)  The case comes apart like a CMS QFXT or QFR, three screws and the top cover hooks into the base w/ hooks at the front and back. Note the sketchy soldering of the USB mini connector:

(http://s30.postimg.org/3ohfh9aq5/MG_1239.jpg) (http://postimg.org/image/3ohfh9aq5/) (http://s30.postimg.org/n7m0qm9hp/MG_1240.jpg) (http://postimg.org/image/n7m0qm9hp/) (http://s30.postimg.org/yl8k1tk0d/MG_1241.jpg) (http://postimg.org/image/yl8k1tk0d/) (http://s30.postimg.org/ocg2vzvyl/MG_1242.jpg) (http://postimg.org/image/ocg2vzvyl/)

(http://s30.postimg.org/3tl6qxi19/MG_1243_2.jpg) (http://postimg.org/image/3tl6qxi19/) (http://s30.postimg.org/xzjl5poy5/MG_1245.jpg) (http://postimg.org/image/xzjl5poy5/) (http://s30.postimg.org/ndzptpiml/MG_1246.jpg) (http://postimg.org/image/ndzptpiml/)

Desoldering the black switches. Very easy at 375C using a simple rubber bulb. A spring loaded sucker would work too, it's just more work to reset it after each joint:

(http://s29.postimg.org/vsaakdnj7/MG_1247.jpg) (http://postimg.org/image/vsaakdnj7/) (http://s29.postimg.org/f5sqbaulf/MG_1249.jpg) (http://postimg.org/image/f5sqbaulf/) (http://s29.postimg.org/3uq2mxnqb/MG_1251.jpg) (http://postimg.org/image/3uq2mxnqb/)

Soldering in new switches. I used a mix of MX Green and Whites, some with Clear springs (ESC, and the Whites in the 2nd pic). The space switch has a spring from a tactile Grey:

(http://s27.postimg.org/s8b18ypy7/MG_1252.jpg) (http://postimg.org/image/s8b18ypy7/) (http://s27.postimg.org/p2qfir7bz/MG_1253_2.jpg) (http://postimg.org/image/p2qfir7bz/) (http://s27.postimg.org/q6ajuprz3/MG_1256.jpg) (http://postimg.org/image/q6ajuprz3/)

Putting it back together and adding some caps:

(http://s13.postimg.org/rlowmmgar/MG_1258.jpg) (http://postimg.org/image/rlowmmgar/) (http://s8.postimg.org/5i8sh1ssx/MG_1267.jpg) (http://postimg.org/image/5i8sh1ssx/) (http://s13.postimg.org/uttdzo2kj/MG_1261.jpg) (http://postimg.org/image/uttdzo2kj/)

Alternative caps:

(http://s2.postimg.org/i93suq5rp/MG_1270.jpg) (http://postimg.org/image/i93suq5rp/) (http://s2.postimg.org/ahn2w61md/MG_1271.jpg) (http://postimg.org/image/ahn2w61md/) (http://s2.postimg.org/6ntmn0kad/MG_1273.jpg) (http://postimg.org/image/6ntmn0kad/)

The Black Petal can be programmed with TMK (http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=41989.0), Easy AVR USB Keyboard Firmware and Keymapper (http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=51252.0), or make-your-own (my preference.) You now have full control :)

There you have it; A cheap, reliable, and highly customized keyboard that doesn't break the bank and makes for a fun project.

Hope you enjoyed this little writeup, type on ! ;D
Title: Re: Beefing up a Roswill RK-9000
Post by: SpAmRaY on Thu, 15 May 2014, 14:03:29
So what do you recommend doing to make the usb port better?
Title: Re: Beefing up a Roswill RK-9000
Post by: Grendel on Thu, 15 May 2014, 14:08:14
Clean the RoHS solder off, resolder w/ leaded solder. Since the PCB sticks out a bit underneath the connector I also added a twist tie (most cables you buy are hold together w/ these) for better mechanical stability. Can be seen in the shot w/ the Black Petal seated.
Title: Re: Beefing up a Roswill RK-9000
Post by: fohat.digs on Thu, 15 May 2014, 14:14:31
Great project!

How did you get rid of the hideous logo?
Title: Re: Beefing up a Roswill RK-9000
Post by: SpAmRaY on Thu, 15 May 2014, 14:20:28
Clean the RoHS solder off, resolder w/ leaded solder. Since the PCB sticks out a bit underneath the connector I also added a twist tie (most cables you buy are hold together w/ these) for better mechanical stability. Can be seen in the shot w/ the Black Petal seated.

Ok cool, I saw the twist tie just didn't recognize that is what it was. :thumb:
Title: Re: Beefing up a Roswill RK-9000
Post by: Grendel on Thu, 15 May 2014, 15:47:28
How did you get rid of the hideous logo?
[..] I just covered up that ugly Rosewill logo w/ electrical tape :)

Black vinyl tape (http://) . I use that stuff to cover up logos on gadgets, blends in nicely.
Title: Re: Beefing up a Roswill RK-9000
Post by: physicsmajor on Fri, 16 May 2014, 20:11:56
Watching for reference. I've got three of these with various switch types, and while for me they've been completely reliable (I don't move them much, so the USB gets little stress) I'd definitely rather fix/improve than discard if it ever comes to that.
Title: Re: Beefing up a Roswill RK-9000
Post by: IvanIvanovich on Fri, 16 May 2014, 20:43:55
I've been working on customing one myself. Been doing a hand applied lacquer finish similar like those 'fancy' $$$ expensive aftermarket Filco top shells in bright yellow. Going to do the plate magenta and install clears and magenta lock leds.
Title: Re: Beefing up a Roswill RK-9000
Post by: Grendel on Fri, 16 May 2014, 21:49:02
Cool, post some pictures ! :)

Forgot to mention the LED's -- replaced them w/ green T1's (http://www.digikey.com/product-search/en?x=0&y=0&lang=en&site=us&KeyWords=365-1174-ND) since I really don't like blue LED's and I wanted something brighter (the BP can drive them w/ HF PWM.)

For additional stress relief of the USB mini port I got this right angle USB cable (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004NO0L4O) (left angle here (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004NNTV6O).)
Title: Re: Beefing up a Roswill RK-9000
Post by: berserkfan on Thu, 22 May 2014, 14:58:19
Cool, post some pictures ! :)

Forgot to mention the LED's -- replaced them w/ green T1's (http://www.digikey.com/product-search/en?x=0&y=0&lang=en&site=us&KeyWords=365-1174-ND) since I really don't like blue LED's and I wanted something brighter (the BP can drive them w/ HF PWM.)

For additional stress relief of the USB mini port I got this right angle USB cable (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004NO0L4O) (left angle here (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004NNTV6O).)

Would anyone recommend not doing anything with the USB mini port until it breaks? I mean, if it doesn't give problems, why bother to do anything?
Title: Re: Beefing up a Roswill RK-9000
Post by: Grendel on Thu, 22 May 2014, 17:11:44
Things have an uncanny tendency to break at the least opportune moments -- since I was already up to my elbows into the PCB w/ a soldering iron I figured I may as well rework the USB connector. If you are not already knee-deep into the case, "wait 'til it breaks" sounds fine to me.
Title: Re: Beefing up a Rosewill RK-9000
Post by: MythicalWagyu on Thu, 22 May 2014, 17:55:44
Would anyone recommend not doing anything with the USB mini port until it breaks? I mean, if it doesn't give problems, why bother to do anything?
Only thing I did with mine was order a shorty USB cable from Pexon so I can leave it plugged in all the time:
(http://i.imgur.com/DHcsKNC.jpg)
I've had it for over a year without issue, this was just a good excuse to fancy it up a bit  :)

Agree with ya OP, this is a great keyboard for the price - thanks for the write up and photos! I may have to consider the Black Petal once I get better at soldering  :thumb:

I waited for a sale & paid a cool $60 shipped; only ordered because I needed a fullsize for work, wasn't really expecting much from it, but now she's got PBT caps, custom cable and has seen more overall use than any other board I've got. I think this keyboard will be my first to sport Granite PBT once those ship.
Title: Re: Beefing up a Roswill RK-9000
Post by: Grendel on Thu, 22 May 2014, 18:31:56
Very nice board ! Looking forward to the Granite set myself.

I may have to consider the Black Petal once I get better at soldering  :thumb:

bpiphany sells the fully assembled Black Petal for $35 shipped -- drops right in, no soldering required at all :)
Title: Re: Beefing up a Roswill RK-9000
Post by: MythicalWagyu on Fri, 23 May 2014, 11:27:52
Very nice board ! Looking forward to the Granite set myself.

I may have to consider the Black Petal once I get better at soldering  :thumb:

bpiphany sells the fully assembled Black Petal for $35 shipped -- drops right in, no soldering required at all :)
Stop tempting meeeeee! Hahaha good to know, thanks sir!
Title: Re: Beefing up a Roswill RK-9000
Post by: Grendel on Thu, 31 July 2014, 18:56:10
Just a quick PSA -- I published the firmware I wrote for this board here (https://code.google.com/p/corecon/).