So I’ve developed an obsession with keyboards. Well, I’ve long had an obsession with keyboards, but I now have a specific obsession with mechanical keyboards.
I’ve long spent more money than most would deem sane on keyboards and mice. My logic: I work in IT, a mouse and keyboard are my tools, and anyone would spend money on a good tool for their job. A carpenter knows the value of a quality hammer. The keyboard is my hammer. Analogy. Logic.
However, not all carpenters buy too many hammers. I’ve long been a Logitech loyalist; I own a K300, a slim Illuminated, and two solar wireless K750s. Additionally, I have two M705 Marathon mice, a MX Anywhere 2 travel mouse, and a G502 Proteus Core gaming mouse. I have a problem.
Logitech keyboards are great; they have a very consistent feel and build quality. However, keyboards with mechanical switches are the BMW to Logitech’s Ford models. I won’t go into why here (there are plenty of forums that explain it better than I will, like geekhack.org, reddit.com/r/mechanicalkeyboards, deskthority.net), but they provide a very sturdy and comfortable typing experience that is more than just “nice.” My WPM goes from the 70s to 90s when stepping up to my Vortex Poker 3 that I spent too much money on.
Now I’ve started to really go down the rabbit hole, imagining a world where I’ve finally given myself a good reason to learn to use a soldering iron and planning to construct my own keyboard from scratch. The thought is appealing, but it’s not easy (I’m not assuming using a soldering iron is easy) and it’s not cheap.
If you’re going to the trouble to build your own keyboard, you’ll probably bother to use premium parts. I’ve discovered that premium parts are real expensive. This is mainly because most are made overseas (Korea, China), and predictably overseas shipping is expensive. Case in point: an aluminum backplate from Korea will cost 50% more than the too-expensive keyboard I just purchased. Yeesh.
Now, learning how to solder is something I should already know how to do, and that will be an enriching experience. Also, I already have some parts because I plan to sacrifice my other mechanical keyboard (SteelSeries 6GV2) for the cause. However, building my own keyboard will probably cost north of $300 and a lot of time.
I still think it might be worth it; if I do well, I’ll have a real personal, well-made tool for my trade. Something tangible and useful that I can point to and say “I built that.” My job usually only provides intangible rewards (besides money, of course); this would be nice.
Now I just have a lot of learning to do, and some decisions to make. Aluminum case, or acrylic? Aluminum backplate? Backlights? What switches? Keycaps? Form factor?
I’m a nerd.