Author Topic: Apocalypse Ready Kailh Box Navy Corsair K65 mod (with heavy duty custom cable)  (Read 720 times)

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Offline Maledicted

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  • Location: Wisconsin, United States
Good [insert whatever time it is where/when you read this] everyone. I felt the need to share this project, it was one of the bigger reasons for me to finally stop lurking and join my fellow keyboard lunatics officially.

This is my recently acquired, somewhat used/abused Corsair K65. I'm a fan of industrial styling and heavy duty design. You can't tell from the final result here, but I desoldered the bland Cherry MX Red switches that came in it in order to install my first batch of wonderful Kailh Box Navies. You can probably tell, however, that the usb cable isn't exactly the standard affair.

I started with this somewhat neglected poor old keyboard. I know many hate the tedium of disassembly and reassembly of these boards, but I can't help but love their aesthetic, that chunky aluminum plate (and the volume slider on the K70s).

As a lover of all things invincible, I appreciated aviator connectors from the moment I first laid eyes upon them, and wondered why I hadn't found them sooner. The way that they were being used inline in custom cables seemed, to put it bluntly, a little pointless to me though. It seemed to me that their greatest application was certainly to replace weaker mini and micro usb connectors with something more ... substantial, so that was one of the things I set out to do.

In my endless quest for cool old quality stuff, I stumbled upon this ancient spool of mystery rubber tubing. Obviously, my first thought was of all of the pointlessly extreme duty cable mods that could result. This is the first of such mods. I snagged the spool for $5. It takes significant cleaning to remove the years worth of crud all over it once you cut off a piece to use.

While I love quality and sturdiness, somewhat paradoxically, I can also be a pretty cheap bastard. Naturally, this means I started with a random 99 cent usb cable from the local Goodwill and snipped off the old usb type b connector, prepping it for ruggedizing, as if usb type b isn't rugged enough.

I haven't yet bothered to get the dimensions of this stuff, but it slid nicely over this usb cable.

That all went better than expected, but it was still missing something. I didn't like how freely the tube could slide around the cable at the ends. I could pull it tightly over the stress relief clamp of the aviator connector, and part of the type a usb connector, but that obviously wasn't good enough for me.

I think this finally rounded out the cable. I looked online for various hose clamp devices and settled on what struck the best balance between sturdiness, aesthetics, and permanence. These are 1/2" cinch clamps meant for pex pipe. You can get them cheaply at any hardware store. I avoided the unnecessary crimping tool and used some random hose clamp pliers I already had in a general purpose automotive set. Goodluck ever breaking this bad boy now.

Now I needed to modify the keyboard to test my new apocalypse cable. On the K65, the most open free space on the front of the case is on the left side. The button assembly takes up most of the void on the right side.

I used some fairly long, quality silicone wire and have simply stuck the tinned leads between the pin jackets of the original connector for now. So far, it has held up well, but I may end up hacking off the original puny internal mini usb connector and soldering the wires to that, unless anybody happens to know exactly what connector that may be called offhand so that I can just buy a new one to solder to. Like a rock.

You may have surmised that I have done quite a bit of soldering before. This, however, is the first time that I have completely desoldered the switches on a board. I planned on using one of the fancy Hakko electronic desoldering pumps, but it wasn't here yet, so I figured why not try out sharing the pain of so many others on here in using some random generic manual solder pump I got in a RadioShack soldering kit I have had lying around. I can't say I plan on ever doing that again, but it did the job. I took the chance to give the plate and board some much-needed cleaning.

It was mostly smooth sailing from there. I don't know about you guys, but for me there's something therapeutic about assembling/soldering things like this. Here's the board with its beautiful, clunky Kailh Box Navy switches.

Luckily, I seemed to have left just over enough length to comfortably assemble this board, and be able to take it back apart relatively easily (for a Corsair) down the road. I did end up having to tape that cable to the bottom casing where it is pictured in about 2 places to keep it from being pinched in those reinforcement/support fins. I must say, that even without modding in an aviator connector, reassembly would be truly irritating. There is a plastic assembly that sandwiches together between the plate and lower casing, a tiny insert/light diffuser for the lock lights that literally just falls out if not held in place between this assembly and the plate, and a silicone pad that sits loosely on the bottom casing that's supposed to hold a flat ribbon cable against open contacts on the board in order for the media buttons, etc, to make a good connection. I had to partially assemble the board half a dozen times, or more, to finally make that ribbon cable happy while trying to juggle all of the random loose parts.

And there's the keyboard as it sits now, once more. It has some battle scratches, from the previous owner. Being plain aluminum with no dye, I figured I could probably easily sand them out, but I figure it adds character and plan to use this board for many years to come. I imagine that the cable is entirely waterproof, and I could probably relatively waterproof the rest of the board with some waterproof tape, since the switches themselves are IP56-rated dust and water resistant.

I have been using it at home for about a week now, having never daily driven any box switches before yet. I must say it is wonderful. I wish the sound were as deep as alps, but their extreme tactility coupled with the massive aluminum plate on this board seems to actually, humorously, give the board a light pinginess almost reminiscent of buckling spring boards. It certainly isn't something you would encounter on any stock configuration of the K65 or K70 boards. I, like others, did feel like these might be too heavy for my liking at first, but I seem to be adapting quickly, and my Cherry MX Blue boards no longer seem to feel much more tactile than Cherry MX Brown in comparison.

What do you guys think? Like the take on aviator connectors? I think it fits the rugged aesthetic of the keyboard, and can tell I won't be pinching/fraying the cable within my lifetime.

Offline abrahamstechnology

  • Posts: 203
  • Location: USA