geekhack Marketplace => Interest Checks => Topic started by: Zaner on Tue, 18 September 2018, 08:55:10

Title: [IC] Single Switch PCBs
Post by: Zaner on Tue, 18 September 2018, 08:55:10
This thread is to gather interest for single switch PCBs, designed by myself.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~[UPDATE 1]~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I have finalized my design! It is decided to have two different types of PCBs. One PCB will be compatible with Cherry MX, Alps, and SMK switches. The other design is specifically for Kailh Choc switches.
I have also finalized the PCB color. I decided to go with black, because it got the most votes in the form, and it was my personal favorite in the end.
My original prototypes, (the ones that are rendered below) should be coming in the mail soon. Now that they are basically useless to the project, I'll just use them for personal use, and give some to close friends.
I will have new renders done by tomorrow, I just don't have time right now.
The final prototypes should arrive in about two weeks. once these come in, I can start taking some glamour shots and start a Group Buy!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~[UPDATE 1]~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My board is essentially the same as this one from
I have two designs right now, a 1ux1u PCB, and a 1ux10u PCB. I am planning on possibly making a 1ux2u PCB with stab mounts if enough people think I should. Right now I only have the single switch PCBs with MX switch footprints, but I plan on making them with Alps and SMK footprints in the future.

Here's the form if you're already interested:

Here are some renders of the two PCBs:

(Front of the 1ux1u PCB)

(Back of the 1ux1u PCB)

And this is the 1ux10u PCB. This also has perforations in between each 1u so you can break off any extra, and use them as 1ux1u PCBs.

(Front of the 1ux10u PCB)

(Back of the 1ux10u PCB)

This image shows how the PCBs can be arranged. You can connect them with no offset for ortholinear boards, or an offset of 2/10ths of an inch, and an offset of 4/10ths of an inch for staggered boards.
(This photo is from

You can also use these for odd-shaped keebs, like the Dactyl-Manuforms, for cleaner handwiring.

Next is price. I plan to sell my single switch PCBs for 25 cents each, in packs of 10. So a pack of 10 PCBs will be $2.50. And since the 10u PCB is essentially 10 single PCBs in a row, they will cost $2.50 each. So for example, if you wanted to make a 40% like a Planck or something, and you didn't want to spend $40 on a PCB, you could spend $10 on 4 1ux10u PCBs and solder them together, then use the processor of your choice!

Other Single Switch PCBs.
In this section, I will list all the other Single Switch PCBs I have seen, and why you should consider mine.

The Enabler
"The Enabler is a PCB for a single switch. The design will allow for MX Switches with in switch or SMD diodes, LED's, and Alps switches."
The Enabler is cool because it is compatible with both Alps and MX Switches, where I plan to have separate designs for MX, Alps, and SMK switches.
The only downside is that because of the design, it's basically impossible to stagger. My design makes it really easy to stagger if you want to.
The other thing with the The Enabler is that every time I've checked, it's been out of stock. I've been told that when it was in stock it cost 23 cents without stab holes, and 91 cents for one with stab holes.
So although it's 2 cents cheaper than mine, you don't have the ability to stagger switches.

The DeskThority "Amoeba"
This is basically the same thing as The Enabler, but it's designed in a way that anyone can take the schematics and have them printed by their favorite Chinese manufacturer.
This has the same limitation of not easily being able to stagger.

Spacecat PCB Keychain
This isn't really meant to be used for making a full keyboard. you can solder a switch to it, but that's about it.
And it's $2.49 each.

Sparkfun "Cherry MX Switch Breakout"
This is basically the exact same thing as my board. It functions the same, just looks a little different.
The only real downside to these are the price. These cost a whopping $2 each! That would mean a pack of 10 would be $20, where my pack of 10 is $2.50.

Well that's pretty much everything to know about my single switch PCBs. If you're interested, please consider filling out this form!
Title: Re: [IC] Single Switch PCBs
Post by: ProtonDecay on Tue, 18 September 2018, 17:46:53
A better idea would be to make these out of flexible PCB and give it some extra length so you would overlap them instead of hand wiring the jumpers when they're behind a concave mounting plate.

The flexibility would also prevent the jumped-together PCBs from failing (like the leads being ripped off) due to the flex of the plates they're mounted behind and general stress from handling/vibration.

Combine that with a group price for 3D printed Dactyl cases, and it's a KILLER GB. I'm sure a ton of people like me want one but without access to a 3D printer don't want to pay Maltron prices to have them custom printed.
Title: Re: [IC] Single Switch PCBs
Post by: Zaner on Tue, 18 September 2018, 21:00:42
That does sound like a better idea, but flexible PCBs are WAY more expensive. The only reason I wouldn't do that is because I couldn't afford prototypes. I could produce 3d printed cases though, I just wouldn't be able to accurately predict a ship date.
Title: Re: [IC] Single Switch PCBs
Post by: ProtonDecay on Tue, 18 September 2018, 21:22:44
Would that cost more than having them presoldered with diodes and connectors for whatever cable can be made in the cheapest possible way for this project?
Actually, is there a way to configure these so that they interlock like Legos with simple 90-degree pin connectors on either side? (maintaining the offset..)

Also, in for one Dactyl case set for handwiring, if you ever choose to make those and it's not crazy expensive :)
Title: Re: [IC] Single Switch PCBs
Post by: Zaner on Tue, 18 September 2018, 21:47:21
Okay, first I wouldn't be able to have the boards pre-assembled, I would have to do that myself. I don't know what you mean by cable, the way these connect is by a small piece of wire soldered to the connectors. I personally would just use the clippings from the Diode.
Second thing, it would be more expensive to manufacture them in anything other that a perfect square, because I would have to get it manufactures as a square and trim it down myself.
Everything with my design has been done to be as cheap as possible to manufacture, so I can sell it as cheap as possible.

And for the dactyl cases, if I sold 3d printed cases I could probably sell them for about $15 per case, if anyone is interested that is  :)
Title: Re: [IC] Single Switch PCBs
Post by: ErgoMacros on Wed, 19 September 2018, 00:23:19
Two thoughts...
1. There is another 1-switch PCB design around... maybe worth looking at for ideas.

2. Given that many keyboard designs have rows of adjacent keys, producing these in sets of say 3 or 5 with the option of breaking them apart might be nice. May even make the resulting keyboard sturdier.

Title: Re: [IC] Single Switch PCBs
Post by: Zaner on Wed, 19 September 2018, 00:29:45
1: I am aware of these, but they are only really sturdy in an ortho layout. They are not really made for staggering.

2: I agree that this would make the pcb sturdier, but it would cost more to have multiple in a row than to have them done individually. either way, these aren't really made to replace a PCB. These are only meant to make handwiring easier. A friend of mine is experimenting with making rows of 12 single switch PCBs, that could be broken off, but it's significantly more expensive than individual PCBs.

Thank you for the input!   ;D
Title: Re: [IC] Single Switch PCBs
Post by: ErgoMacros on Wed, 19 September 2018, 01:00:40
Surprises me that a 5"x1" PCB would cost more than five 1" PCBs, but I readily admit I haven't looked into that kind of pricing.

And, of course, rows don't have an advantage for layouts like the Dactyl-Manuforms.
Good luck with the project, I'll be following.
Title: Re: [IC] Single Switch PCBs
Post by: Zaner on Wed, 19 September 2018, 07:12:46
After doing some calculations with my manufacturer, it turns out that I can get 10u wide rows done for about the same price. Thank you for the suggestion!
Title: Re: [IC] Single Switch PCBs
Post by: drdoc on Wed, 19 September 2018, 07:45:03
Why is this useful?  Legit question; I'm not trolling.

 I'm new to all this and gathering parts to build a handwired TKL. The 1x10 I get - that stiffens the assembly, but with the 1x1 I don't see why doubling the number of solder joints makes sense.

'Splain please.
Title: Re: [IC] Single Switch PCBs
Post by: Zaner on Wed, 19 September 2018, 07:55:09
Thank you for the question! I'll try to answer as best I can.

When you handwire normally, you need to solder a diode to each switch, and then wire up all the rows and columns. With the PCB, you solder the diode to the PCB, then solder it to the Switch, and then all the PCBs perfectly align weather you're doing an ortho or a staggered layout. once all the PCBs are aligned, just solder them together and wire the rows and columns to a processor!

Here's an image that can give you an idea of what's going on:

Tl;dr, these make hand wiring a bit easier, and make it so that you don't have a mess of wires after.
Title: Re: [IC] Single Switch PCBs
Post by: kohlerm on Tue, 23 October 2018, 04:24:04
I would be interested in the 10u PCB, or better in a full 5x6 PCB
similiar to this one:

but with columns connected, and still a way to break off single PCBs.
I think the larger PCB should be cheaper than several column PCBs

to build something like this:
that would require 6 10x1 PCBs.
I would be interested if the price is similar to the one above, which is about 17 cents per PCB. 
Title: Re: [IC] Single Switch PCBs
Post by: Zaner on Tue, 23 October 2018, 17:48:24
I don't plan on making any 10x1u columns, because you can't stagger then, and you would have to break them all into single units to be able to stagger them. I am, however, going to make 1x10U rows. rows are the easiest to work with, because if you are making any normal keyboard, you don't have to break it apart at all.

To make the example board you linked, you would still only need 6 1x10u rows, you would just have to break them into 1x2u segments.

And making a larger sheet of the pcbs wouldn't make them any cheaper than producing them individually.

tl:dr, I plan to only produce 1x10u rows, because they are the easiest to work with on most projects. Although not all projects can benefit from this, most will, and the benefit that most projects will have outweighs the inconvenience that some projects may have.

Also, I plan to keep the price at 25 cents per switch, or $1.50 per row.
Title: Re: [IC] Single Switch PCBs
Post by: rondg on Tue, 23 October 2018, 18:02:42
I know you have finalized your design but would you consider a pcb in which we can use a hot swap socket?
I am in, with or without the hot swap socket idea.  ;D
Title: Re: [IC] Single Switch PCBs
Post by: Zaner on Tue, 23 October 2018, 18:16:27
Right now my design has support for Cherry MX, Alps, SMK, and Kailh Choc switches. I'm not sure how I can make my PCBs compatible with the hot swap sockets, but if I can figure out how to I would love to include them as an option!
Title: Re: [IC] Single Switch PCBs
Post by: iggy2k on Thu, 20 December 2018, 06:34:58
Hey, any updates on this? I've been looking for something like this to use for chocs for a while.

Cheers :)
Title: Re: [IC] Single Switch PCBs
Post by: ErgoMacros on Mon, 22 July 2019, 23:49:51
Any final run of these... I've got a project that could use them.