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Operation Mechanical Keyboard

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A few months ago a friend of mine had linked me a mechanicalkeyboards subreddit. After some careful research, and much deliberation I have decided to start a keyboard customization progress. I plan to sand, paint, and replace a CM Storm Rapid's switches and keycaps.

 

I plan to upload a video to youtube later on how I will go about my progress, but I wanted to share it hear first in case anyone here was interested. I will most likely be constantly updating this guide with photos when the equipment I ordered arrive. 

 

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So Why are Doing This?!?

 

1. I want to learn how to solder effectively.

2. I want to learn how to desolder.

3. I want to learn how to paint plastics.

4. I want a keyboard that I customized.

5. I want the best keyboard possible.

6. I want to show others my process.

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What's the difference in between your keyboard and a big name brand keyboard? ie Corsair. 

 

1. The switches. No big brand keyboard has brought Zealios into their keboard.

2. The keycaps. Very little brands use the high quality keycaps I am using.

3. The colors. My color scheme is unique and creative.

 

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I. EQUIPMENT PREFACE

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Depending on what you want to customize your keyboard with, your equipment will vary. 

 

Trust me, I strongly recommend purchasing a base keyboard first instead of making your own PCB/Case/USB/Plate/Aluminium Cut outs. An aftermarket PCB alone costs 30 dollars which is already half the price of the CM Storm Quick Fire Rapid. 

 

I've decided to cut this part into sections....

Painting/Exterior modifications and Soldering/Interior modifications.

 

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II. EXTERIOR MODIFICATION EQUIPMENT

 

In this scenario I will be painting the case and replacing the keycaps. 

 

1 x Base Keboard - I used the CM Storm Quickfire Rapid with blue switches off Amazon.

I highly recommend looking into CM keyboards, Ducky kebyoards, and Vortex keyboard as base keyboard, but there are hundreds of amazing cheap keyboards you can get off Chinese and American websites. 

 

1 x Keycap Set - I used this PBT keyset from Ducky.

In regards to keycaps you have two options... PBT or ABS. 

PBT keycaps - Thicker, Few Colors, No blacklighting, Higher quality, Texture, More expensive.

ABS keycaps - Thinner, Many Colors and Options, Smooth feel, Wear out quicker, Cheaper.

Ultimately, PBT sets are harder to come by, but provide a thicker and more satisfying noise when using the keyboard.

 

3 - 5 x Low Grit Sandpaper - I just found this on Amazon.

It doesn't really matter what you get as long as it's in the 500 - 600 range, just make sure you can wet sand with them. Lower Grit sandpapers are more.... IDK effective/stronger than higher grist sandpapers. They are good for taking off current paint, but are not good for finishing touches obviously.

 

2- 3 x High Grit Sandpaper - I just found this on Amazon.

It doesn't really matter what you get as long as it's in the 1500 - 2000 range, just make sure you can wet sand with them.

 

1 x Krylon Paint Primer - I haven't bought this yet

but make sure it doesn't have a terrible nozzle and make sure it binds with plastic in the case of my keyboard or whatever material you want to paint with .

 

1-2 x Krylon Paint Final Coat and Color - Same as the primer

but pick your favorite color. I am probably going to paint my keyboard white.

 

3 x Microfiber Applicators 

Optional: Good for cleaning up after coats from what I have read.

 

Keycap Set - 40-60 dollars. 

Painting Supplies - 20 dollars.

 

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II. INTERIOR MODIFICATION EQUIPMENT

 

In this scenario I will be replacing the blue switches off my keyboard and replacing them with ZEALIOS!

 

WARNING: DEPENDING ON THE KEYBOARD YOU BUY, YOU MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE TO SOLDER IN YOUR SWITCHES! Most keyboards now-a-days are PLATE mounted meaning they have a plate that keeps the switches in place. This plate supposedly does a better job keeping the switches in place and gives the switches a stronger feel with less flex. Plate mounted keyboards need to be desoldered and soldered. Some keyboard are PCB mounted meaning they have no plate and are mounted directly to the PCB board. These do not require soldering and can be quickly switched out with a flat head screwdriver and some force.

 

1 x Base Keboard - I used the CM Storm Quickfire Rapid with blue switches off Amazon.

I highly recommend looking into CM keyboards, Ducky kebyoards, and Vortex keyboard as base keyboard, but there are hundreds of amazing cheap keyboards you can get off Chinese and American websites.

 

1 x Soldering Iron - I have an Aoyue 469

I always find it incredible hilarious how crazy people get over their soldering iron. Some people claim they can do anything with a crappy radioshack soldering iron. Other people claim you need a 100 dollar Hakko FX 888 in order to be successful. In my honest opinion, the solder you buy is more important than the soldering iron you buy. I don't think you can go wrong with Aoyue with the crazy amount of good reviews it gets, but a Hakko 888 will probably make your life easier.

 

1 x Solder - I bought some VERY good Kester solder

This is very thin 63/37 solder. This is probably the best solder you can buy for this project. From what I have read on the internet, good solder is more important than a good soldering iron. Whatever you do, don't buy lead-free solder. It's a pain in the bum to work with and you won't get lead poisoning from regular soldering. If you are doing electrical work buy Resin Core solder. Other solders may be used for plumbing and are acidic. This acid will eat through your board and destroy everything. 60/40 solder is good. 60/37 solder is best for this project. These boards are small, buy small solder.

 

1 x Desoldering Pump vs Desoldering Iron - I bought a relatively cheap desoldering iron.

Desoldering Pumps suck up the heated solder. These are cheaper than a desoldering iron, but require precision and skill to use. A desoldering iron requires less skill and means you only gotta use one hand instead of two, so for me it was a no brainer.

 

1 x Desoldering Wick - Any wick will do, it's super cheap too.

This is just in case your desoldering iron/pump can't get any hard to reach solder.

 

1 x Set of Switches! - I bought the super coveted ZEALIOS!

This is seriously the coolest part of the entire build in my opinion. Basically, some guy named Zeal PC noticed the mechanical keyboard community had a gap that needed to be filled. He wanted the smoothness of Cherry MX browns with the feel of Cherry MX clears and a more pronounced bump. He contacted Gateron and created ZEALIOS! I am very excited to partake in this group buy and pre orederd 80 57g Zealios. You can also buy Japanese KitKats on his website too. Zeal is an incredible dude who is very active on mechanical keyboard forums.

 

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III. Exterior Modification Guide.

Coming later.

Keep in mind it make take a month before my zealios and keycaps arrive :(

 

 

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IV. Interior Modification Guide.

Coming later.

Keep in mind it make take a month before my zealios and keycaps arrive :(

 

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V. Photos

Coming much later.

 

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VI. Conclusion and Price

 

The overall price for everything I mention will probably set you back ~240 dollars. BUT, if you already have soldering equipment like I did, then the total price should be around ~130 dollars [*cough* Cheaper than a Razer keyboard amirite *cough*]. Ultimately, I feel like completing the project and acquiring these skills required to paint and assemble the keyboard make the entire experience worth the cost.

 

How cool is to have an almost completely custom keyboard. Nobody on EARTH will have the same keyboard as you! Plus, you literally cannot buy a keyboard that comes with zealios on amazon!

 

Also, I really want to have the longest forum post in the history of this entire forum :P

I wonder what the second longest post is..... hopefully it'snot one of mine already.....

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I opened the case and desoldered 4 switches (pretty sp00ky)... I think I am going to record this and put this on YouTube tomorrow.

 

Edit: video recorded, time to upload.

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