Full custom computer keyboard


I am just not satisfied with what the keyboard market has to offer! I am an electronics technitian and an IT engeneer and I can make my own, can't I? Well, surely i'm not the first one to come by that idea, so I will ask arround before i start.

I have already ordered Gateron switches and STM32 boards. I have already hooked up 4x4 keyboard matrix to Arduino Micro and tested F13-F24 keys with keyboard library. I already made the basic layout of what i want to do. So let me explain.

First, i the layout I want. i wan't a mechanical keyboard with RGB LE diodes with a lot of function and programmable keys. This is my still work in progress: https://snag.gy/yrRFZQ.jpg. The layout will probably change. i may swap the function key rows, add multimedia buttons, whatever.

Second, the arduino keyboard library has some hackaroo with that 136 thing and does not support power , multimedia nor printscreen, scrolllock, pause. Not that i would use any of those much really (except printscreen) but if I am building a perfect keyboard, well you get it! Now I will try to rewrite that a bit or have a look at HID-project or whatever you guys suggest.

Which brings me to third. With all those keys i need a lot of GPIO and i think the STM32 should do the trick. I am still open to teensy or whatever if it's already all done.

Fourth thing i want is backlight and i need a lot of LED which are diffused, 3mm and not sure if i should look into programmable or plain 4-pin common cathode or what. not sure if there are non SMD and diffused programamble ones. They will draw a lot of current, won't they? A may need additional power supply. How would one go about hooking them up? one resistor on few of them in series? Do i need to worry about something. Control the brightness with PWM? Throw some info on me. They should go into the slit on the switches.

Which brings me to fifth. I will need to get custom set of keycaps that have Croatian special characters as well F13-F24 and G1-G18 and the regular keys are a bit different with shift and alt options.

While you are writing about that, maybe you can help me with the sixth issue which si where to have PCB made. I am not too keen on making my own and trying to line up top and bottom traces, but i might very well try. For now i have looked at seeedstudio and smart-prototyping and the prices for about 150mm x 500mm is 150 usd. I could try and get away with 4,90 100x100 and hooking them up but we will see about that.

That said, what about seventh issue of PCB design? I was thinking about Eagle, but whatever. Bigger issue is two layer board (matte black soldermask would be awesome and expensive) enough? are there designs already with 5-pin Gaterons, LEDS i can have a look at? Not to invent hot water all ower again. Of course, I should say, I plan to hook up a 1N4148 diode on every switch.

Eighth issue would be solved already if I had made that CNC router i wanted to long time ago. until that happens, i'll need something cheap in Europe to make the top plate cutouts. Maybe some kind of fablab or what?

I plan to send updates and pictures as I go along. It will take me months probably to finish this. I would not desigh the PCB until i get the switches or test the layout, I would not make up the case until I have the key layout fixed on PCB and keycaps on keys. I don't want to make expensive mistakes.

So there you go. /r/RoastMe with your thoughts. o/

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It will show you how to include images to your post, some forum members and viewers use platforms that make it difficult to go off forum to view images.

Thanks… Tom… :slight_smile:

First - ok

Second - yeh, ok

third. - can just use shift registers, would also make layout easier.

Fourth - use serially-addressable LEDs (like LED - RGB Addressable, PTH, 5mm

fifth. Dunno about keycaps

sixth & seventh I use DesignSpark PCB it's free.

Eighth One option would be to get the PCB manufacturer to route out a blank PCB, you could spraypaint it later.