Author Topic: I just finished my first custom board!!  (Read 790 times)

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Offline alertArchitect

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 45
  • Location: The Void, KY, United States
I just finished my first custom board!!
« on: Wed, 10 February 2021, 16:45:34 »
Just what it says on the tin! The last things I needed for my keyboard, the switches and cable, finally arrived today. I ordered everything through Drop, because I know people who've ordered things from there before and I wanted to make the ordering kind of easy for myself starting out. I must say, I'm really happy with the results so far! Here's the details:

PCB: Drop CTRL
Case: CTRL High-Profile Keyboard Case
Switches: Drop Halo Clears (Tactile 65g switch)
Stabilizers: Everglide Panda Plate-Mounted stabilizers
Keycaps: Artifact Bloom Series Keycap Set (Black on White)

So, with this board, I have a few notes I want to post somewhere I, and maybe other newbies, can reference for the future. First, I should've done more research before jumping into my buying decisions. I thought that if you got a PCB, you could find alternate cases (specifically metal, I prefer something heavier. Knew that going in) fairly easily. This was, obviously, incorrect. You get a PCB, you have to get the case made for that specific PCB. Port locations, layout, etc. are all affected by the PCB. And while there are cases for every layout, of course, a third-party case for a PCB is very unlikely.

Second, I need to buy some lubricant. This was less of a mistake, and more of something that I didn't want to jump into until I was sure that I'd enjoy the hobby. Spending hours and hours lubing stabs and switches was a commitment I wasn't willing to go for when I wasn't even sure I'd like the hobby. But after using the keyboard for typing this post, and some other things, now, I finally truly understand what people meant in keyboard reviews when they were talking about the rattling sound of stabilizers that haven't been lubricated. And now I want to stop this sound from ever appearing in my life again!

Third, and final, I need to think ahead when getting keycaps for a board with RGB that's even moderately strong. The LEDs are shining through the tops of the caps, and on the caps 1.5u or longer, it's very apparent, as you can see the outlines of the mountings. I don't think it's just the thickness of the caps, but also the color of the caps I'm using. White doesn't exactly block other colors very well.

In the end, I've learned a lot over the process of getting this board and assembling it, and I wouldn't have it any other way! I'm already in love with this hobby, and I can't wait to put my new knowledge into practice with my next board. Currently thinking of going with a NK65 V2 Aluminum, and going for another tactile switch (though a different brand, I really want to try more switches.) to try out a 65% - 60% board. Anyway, enjoy some pictures of the board!

261933-0

261935-1

Offline Leslieann

  • * Elevated Elder
  • Posts: 3508
Re: I just finished my first custom board!!
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 10 February 2021, 21:14:31 »
Congrats!

Almost all stabs benefit from lube, some are pretty good from the factory but it's pretty rare.
Not all switches benefit from lube, boutique switches are less likely and you can screw them up.

I would start with your stabs and only do the switches if YOU think they need it. Don't go based on what others say because a LOOOOOT of people lube every switch regardless either out of habit or as insurance to make sure all are lubed equally, the latter makes sense if you have hard mounted (soldered) switches, you don't. You can also make things worse by lubing them if you use an incompatible lube, at which point the only proper fix is an ultrasonic cleaning, lots of electronics cleaner (toxic) or replacement.
Novelkeys NK65 Aluminum w/62g Zilents/39g springs
More
62g Zilents/lubed/Novelkeys 39g springs, HK Gaming Thick PBT caps, Netdot Gen10 magnetic cable, pic
| Filco MJ2 L.E. Vortex Case, Jailhouse Blues, heavily customized
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| GMMK TKL
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w/ Kailh Purple Pros/lubed/Novelkeys 39g springs, HK Gaming Thick PBT caps, Netdot Gen10 Magnetic cable
| 3d printed 65% w/LCD and hot swap
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Box Jades, Interchangeable trim, mini lcd, QMK, underglow, HK Gaming Thick PBT caps, O-rings, Netdot Gen10 magnetic cable, in progress link
| Magicforce 68
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| Logitech Illumininated | IBM Model M (x2)

Offline Maledicted

  • Posts: 1552
  • Location: Wisconsin, United States
Re: I just finished my first custom board!!
« Reply #2 on: Thu, 11 February 2021, 10:44:10 »
Nice. I thought about getting the CTRL myself but picked up an ALT. Seem to be pretty solidly constructed. You'll find some caps you like with less bleed.

You can mix and match some boards and cases. The most options are probably still in the 60% form factor. The problem with your choice is that the CTRL is very much a package deal. It is meant to be used as-is besides swapping switches and caps.

Offline alertArchitect

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 45
  • Location: The Void, KY, United States
Re: I just finished my first custom board!!
« Reply #3 on: Fri, 12 February 2021, 10:16:55 »
Congrats!

Almost all stabs benefit from lube, some are pretty good from the factory but it's pretty rare.
Not all switches benefit from lube, boutique switches are less likely and you can screw them up.

I would start with your stabs and only do the switches if YOU think they need it. Don't go based on what others say because a LOOOOOT of people lube every switch regardless either out of habit or as insurance to make sure all are lubed equally, the latter makes sense if you have hard mounted (soldered) switches, you don't. You can also make things worse by lubing them if you use an incompatible lube, at which point the only proper fix is an ultrasonic cleaning, lots of electronics cleaner (toxic) or replacement.

Honestly, I could've phrased the post better. I don't plan to lube the switches, as I like the tactility and I know that sometimes gets lost with lube. Thank you for the concern though!

Nice. I thought about getting the CTRL myself but picked up an ALT. Seem to be pretty solidly constructed. You'll find some caps you like with less bleed.

You can mix and match some boards and cases. The most options are probably still in the 60% form factor. The problem with your choice is that the CTRL is very much a package deal. It is meant to be used as-is besides swapping switches and caps.

Yeah, I figured that out after a bit. The CTRL doesn't seem to be compatible with anything other than CTRL parts for the case, and either way TKL is a less popular layout than 60%, so I see how it would be easier to find 60% boards that can fit a wider variety of cases.

And as for caps, yeah, I'm already planning to look into it a bit. Not going to jump into buying anything just yet, because I have some expenses coming up that are necessary and unavoidable, but I'll definitely look for some that are still in the aesthetic I like and thick enough to stop light bleed. Thank you for your input!

Offline JayyReq

  • Posts: 7
  • Location: Los Angeles, California
Re: I just finished my first custom board!!
« Reply #4 on: Fri, 12 February 2021, 15:53:15 »
Great post! As a newbie who just took the plunge today, this is some good information to go off. And a route that I probably would have blindly trekked if not for this post.

I'm currently using a Ducky x Varmillo MIYA (65%) keyboard and will probably end up building a 65% keyboard just out of preference. Knowing now how popular the 60% keyboards are, I might end up scrapping the arrow keys altogether.

Offline Maledicted

  • Posts: 1552
  • Location: Wisconsin, United States
Re: I just finished my first custom board!!
« Reply #5 on: Fri, 12 February 2021, 16:34:16 »
Great post! As a newbie who just took the plunge today, this is some good information to go off. And a route that I probably would have blindly trekked if not for this post.

I'm currently using a Ducky x Varmillo MIYA (65%) keyboard and will probably end up building a 65% keyboard just out of preference. Knowing now how popular the 60% keyboards are, I might end up scrapping the arrow keys altogether.

I couldn't use 60% boards for all of the things I do, so 65% is the smallest I'll ever go. If you're not using the arrow keys in conjunction with a lot of hotkeys, ditching the arrow keys is considered an improvement in efficiency and ergonomics amongst the tiny keyboard proponents.

Find what works for you.

Offline Leslieann

  • * Elevated Elder
  • Posts: 3508
Re: I just finished my first custom board!!
« Reply #6 on: Fri, 12 February 2021, 20:50:22 »
I don't plan to lube the switches, as I like the tactility and I know that sometimes gets lost with lube.
How you lube tactiles is what alters tactility and it's easily avoided.

What I was referring to is that some simply do not change in terms of friction.
Novelkeys NK65 Aluminum w/62g Zilents/39g springs
More
62g Zilents/lubed/Novelkeys 39g springs, HK Gaming Thick PBT caps, Netdot Gen10 magnetic cable, pic
| Filco MJ2 L.E. Vortex Case, Jailhouse Blues, heavily customized
More
Vortex case squared up/blasted finish removed/custom feet/paint/winkey blockoff plate, HID Liberator, stainless steel universal plate, 3d printed adapters, Type C, Netdot Gen10 magnetic cable, foam sound dampened, HK Gaming Thick PBT caps (o-ringed), Cherry Jailhouse Blues w/lubed/clipped Cherry light springs, 40g actuation
| GMMK TKL
More
w/ Kailh Purple Pros/lubed/Novelkeys 39g springs, HK Gaming Thick PBT caps, Netdot Gen10 Magnetic cable
| 3d printed 65% w/LCD and hot swap
More
Box Jades, Interchangeable trim, mini lcd, QMK, underglow, HK Gaming Thick PBT caps, O-rings, Netdot Gen10 magnetic cable, in progress link
| Magicforce 68
More
MF68 pcb, Outemu Blues, in progress
| YMDK75 Jail Housed Gateron Blues
More
J-spacers, YMDK Thick PBT, O-rings, SIP sockets
| KBT Race S L.E.
More
Ergo Clears, custom WASD caps
| Das Pro
More
Costar model with browns
| GH60
More
Cherry Blacks, custom 3d printed case
| Logitech Illumininated | IBM Model M (x2)

Offline Asewze

  • Posts: 2
Re: I just finished my first custom board!!
« Reply #7 on: Wed, 17 February 2021, 15:26:07 »
Congrats!

I just finished my first over the weekend as well and it is really rewarding to have it all done in the end. I built an XD75re and I really love the resulting product! Here's to our new enjoyable experiences!

Offline Maledicted

  • Posts: 1552
  • Location: Wisconsin, United States
Re: I just finished my first custom board!!
« Reply #8 on: Thu, 18 February 2021, 10:53:01 »
Congrats!

I just finished my first over the weekend as well and it is really rewarding to have it all done in the end. I built an XD75re and I really love the resulting product! Here's to our new enjoyable experiences!

Nice. That looks great. Beige works surprisingly well with brown and natural wood.

Offline alertArchitect

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 45
  • Location: The Void, KY, United States
Re: I just finished my first custom board!!
« Reply #9 on: Thu, 18 February 2021, 10:56:48 »
Congrats!

I just finished my first over the weekend as well and it is really rewarding to have it all done in the end. I built an XD75re and I really love the resulting product! Here's to our new enjoyable experiences!

Nice. That looks great. Beige works surprisingly well with brown and natural wood.

Agreed! I could never use it, personally, as I am very much a touch typist and the keyboard I have to use at work (government office, no plugging any outside device into PCs bc potential security violations) is the staggered layout, so going to ortholinear is basically impossible for me atm. I could not learn a new layout and still keep my work WPM up to necessary levels. Love how that one looks though!

Offline stoicbias

  • Posts: 10
Re: I just finished my first custom board!!
« Reply #10 on: Tue, 23 February 2021, 17:04:37 »
Just what it says on the tin! The last things I needed for my keyboard, the switches and cable, finally arrived today. I ordered everything through Drop, because I know people who've ordered things from there before and I wanted to make the ordering kind of easy for myself starting out. I must say, I'm really happy with the results so far! Here's the details:

PCB: Drop CTRL
Case: CTRL High-Profile Keyboard Case
Switches: Drop Halo Clears (Tactile 65g switch)
Stabilizers: Everglide Panda Plate-Mounted stabilizers
Keycaps: Artifact Bloom Series Keycap Set (Black on White)

So, with this board, I have a few notes I want to post somewhere I, and maybe other newbies, can reference for the future. First, I should've done more research before jumping into my buying decisions. I thought that if you got a PCB, you could find alternate cases (specifically metal, I prefer something heavier. Knew that going in) fairly easily. This was, obviously, incorrect. You get a PCB, you have to get the case made for that specific PCB. Port locations, layout, etc. are all affected by the PCB. And while there are cases for every layout, of course, a third-party case for a PCB is very unlikely.

Second, I need to buy some lubricant. This was less of a mistake, and more of something that I didn't want to jump into until I was sure that I'd enjoy the hobby. Spending hours and hours lubing stabs and switches was a commitment I wasn't willing to go for when I wasn't even sure I'd like the hobby. But after using the keyboard for typing this post, and some other things, now, I finally truly understand what people meant in keyboard reviews when they were talking about the rattling sound of stabilizers that haven't been lubricated. And now I want to stop this sound from ever appearing in my life again!

Third, and final, I need to think ahead when getting keycaps for a board with RGB that's even moderately strong. The LEDs are shining through the tops of the caps, and on the caps 1.5u or longer, it's very apparent, as you can see the outlines of the mountings. I don't think it's just the thickness of the caps, but also the color of the caps I'm using. White doesn't exactly block other colors very well.

In the end, I've learned a lot over the process of getting this board and assembling it, and I wouldn't have it any other way! I'm already in love with this hobby, and I can't wait to put my new knowledge into practice with my next board. Currently thinking of going with a NK65 V2 Aluminum, and going for another tactile switch (though a different brand, I really want to try more switches.) to try out a 65% - 60% board. Anyway, enjoy some pictures of the board!

(Attachment Link)

(Attachment Link)

This looks amazing.  I would be inspired to code non stop!

Offline JayyReq

  • Posts: 7
  • Location: Los Angeles, California
Re: I just finished my first custom board!!
« Reply #11 on: Thu, 25 February 2021, 03:07:42 »
great post! I'm also a newbie into the hobby and just reading other peoples experiences is great to learn from. thank you for sharing and looking forward to reading more of your posts on your future builds!