Author Topic: Looking to design a one-off custom keyboard  (Read 637 times)

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Offline CollinTM

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 3
Looking to design a one-off custom keyboard
« on: Mon, 15 March 2021, 10:32:35 »
Hello I've been into custom keyboards for a while now and nothing on the market has really met my desires.

If you have the capability to design a CAD file that I can take to be CNC'd I would love to work with you and feed you some of my ideas.

DM me my discord is CollinTM#2783

Offline funderburker

  • * Exquisite Elder
  • Posts: 1311
  • Location: Latvia, Riga
Re: Looking to design a one-off custom keyboard
« Reply #1 on: Mon, 15 March 2021, 10:47:17 »
Hey, CollinTM!

Maybe you can expand a bit on your idea here publicly? Also what's your budget? Do you have a CNC mill yourself, know a manufacturer or a friend that does CNC on the side?
My boards: TMO50 FE:06 | LAGOM Groda-T | TMOv2 R1 prototype | Onyx prototype | Stege TKL prototype

Offline Leslieann

  • * Elevated Elder
  • Posts: 3675
Re: Looking to design a one-off custom keyboard
« Reply #2 on: Mon, 15 March 2021, 21:09:56 »
Hello I've been into custom keyboards for a while now and nothing on the market has really met my desires.

If you have the capability to design a CAD file that I can take to be CNC'd I would love to work with you and feed you some of my ideas.


You already asked this a couple months ago and got no answer and that's because you're expectations are unrealistic.

You are not going to get a CNC keyboard design you can group sell with only 2 prototypes, that's laughable and sets the tone for the rest of your expectations.
You have no CAD experience, no CNC experience, I'm going to guess no electronics experience or product development experience either and we already know you have no reputation here with this being your third post. What exactly are you bringing to the table, an idea, ideas aren't worth the napkin you draw them on (particularly a 60%). Money? Now you're talking but you better have a few rent checks, not simply lunch money.
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Offline Rico

  • Posts: 68
Re: Looking to design a one-off custom keyboard
« Reply #3 on: Tue, 16 March 2021, 06:03:01 »
Designing a case for CNC manufacturing is not a trivial task at all.
It is in fact the most tricky part of keyboard design.

As an example I already designed and manufactured two keyboards for my personal use and in the way of designing a third one.

The PCB design and soldering part became something quite easy for me to achieve, and far less challenging.

Designing a case on Fusion360 on the other hand is another topic...

First you are tied to inherent limitations of keyboard mechanics, that is the plate, the PCB and other components that must fit into your case with no problem.
This limit a lot your design possibilities and make things harder to make a nice good looking case at the end.
That's not without reasons people often say "Yep, yet another rectangle..." or "Nice rectangle!", because you are tied with the fact that all important mechanical parts are in a rather big rectangle to begin with.

Second, you have to design something that  is machinable by a CNC shop and there are a lot of limitations to make that possible.
I had to read countless time 3dHubs, Xometry and other online shops document to kind of understand what they are requesting.
Also to document myself quite a bit on how CNC machining is done on various kind of machines (3 axis, 4 axis, 5 axis).

Third, CNC manufacturing is crazy expensive for a one off.
As a personnal example, made my 2 first designs made in EU:
- around 600 for 1 unit of the first design.
- around 2000 for 3 units of the second one.
- sure in China it may be cheaper, but you have the idea.
So you must not make ANY design mistakes if you want to have the chance of something that assemble correctly (and works correctly).
Yet having something that also feel and sound correctly is another difficulty on top of that.

As you see, case design a a pretty tedious, time consuming and nerve breaking process.
I'm not sure you'll find someone nice enough to do that kind of work for free (or cheap).

So my guess is, do as some people willing to have their own stuff, learn Fusion360 (or another CAD software) and do that yourself.
This will not come without tremendous effort, but in the end it is very rewarding :)

Offline twohands

  • Posts: 23
Re: Looking to design a one-off custom keyboard
« Reply #4 on: Thu, 18 March 2021, 14:48:27 »
While others have spoken (the perhaps harsh) truth, I would still encourage you to elaborate on this forum. The benefit is that people can talk you through expectations and provide feedback. It sounds like you have nothing to lose because this isn't a commercial/group-sell project (from your title at least). I think the reason the reflexive response isn't 100% welcoming is that your post came across like you believe you have an incredible idea and you would like others to put effort into helping realize that with little input or work from your side (as evidenced by lack of details or effort put into the post).

Assuming a more charitable interpretation, here's some thoughts that may be helpful:
 - Freelance industrial designers exist - look on, say "Fiver". I can't vouch for the quality, but there are offerings at every budget level.
 - CAD design of a nice keyboard, while tricky and involved (person-hours can be in the hundreds or thousands), isn't the hardest part of the entire process. Fusion360 is an incredible (and I believe still free non-commercially) tool to develop a first keyboard - there are great free tutorials online that can get you started in a matter of hours.
 - If you think you can bring everything but the CAD design to the table, and are just looking for a technically-proficient hobbyist partner, it'd be worth reaching out to community members individually. Many people have discord channels. However, the challenge is to convince others that your hobby interests align. Again, this forum is a great place to have a public discussion unless you want to keep your work private.


Offline Leslieann

  • * Elevated Elder
  • Posts: 3675
Re: Looking to design a one-off custom keyboard
« Reply #5 on: Thu, 18 March 2021, 23:34:20 »
I think the reason the reflexive response isn't 100% welcoming is that your post came across like you believe you have an incredible idea and you would like others to put effort into helping realize that with little input or work from your side (as evidenced by lack of details or effort put into the post).

 - Freelance industrial designers exist - look on, say "Fiver". I can't vouch for the quality, but there are offerings at every budget level.
Low effort posts get a low effort response, this is long tedious work, and if this is the effort we can expect it has no chance of getting beyond this. You cannot half-a$$ manufacturing. Even poorly made objects had a lot of effort put into them to reach that point.

As for Fiver...
One-off aluminum keyboard cases run several hundred to more than $1000 depending on the design and how well optimized the design is so while you may save a couple hundred paying someone on Fiver to design you a keyboard you will likely end up requiring more prototypes (each of which can take months) before you get a functional, much less a sellable item. Want code for a doohicky, design a penholder you can 3d print or draw something, great, but those aren't costing you hundreds or thousands for every iteration. This will likely cost you far more in the long run than if you paid someone a better rate and needed fewer prototypes made.

Suddenly Keycult's prices don't sound so bad.
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| Magicforce 68
More
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| YMDK75 Jail Housed Gateron Blues
More
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| KBT Race S L.E.
More
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| Das Pro
More
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More
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| Logitech Illumininated | IBM Model M (x2)