How to protect yourself when buying aftermarket

Similar to audiophile products, most mechanical keyboards are built to last and custom production runs are limited. As such, there is a thriving aftermarket when it comes to keyboards. Knowing how to protect yourself is very important. There are many high-value items around our community, which draws the attention of people trying to scam others. Thankfully, our community is a very positive one, but there are bad people no matter where you go.

For starters, make sure you use a protected payment method, like PayPal , which offers very strong buyer protection, if you use the “Goods and Services” or Invoice options. A lot of other services, such as Venmo do not offer this. It’s important to differentiate these services, even though they are owned by the Paypal, Inc. Venmo is supposed to be used between friends, and Paypal is usually used for merchant services or trades. By using Paypal, if the seller decides not to send you the item while keeping your money, you have 180 days to file a dispute, which is usually more than enough time. Sometimes, during a group buy ran by another community member, the actual ship date of the product can be much farther out than 180 days, so it’s not uncommon practice to ask to cancel your initial purchase and re-purchase, thus recycling your active protection and starting it anew. This is a really good habit to get into, in case the organizer decides to run away with your money, which is rare, but not unheard of.

If a seller is insisting on using a non-protected method or PayPal Friends and Family (Gift), which is also unprotected, that should be an immediate red flag to you. There is no shame in canceling that transaction, and it may even be a good idea to let the moderators of that platform know what’s up, if it seems fishy. This may sometimes look very attractive, as you can save a few dollars on Paypal fees, but lets play it safe. It’s not worth trying to get the product you want, if you have a high chance of losing it.

R/Mechmarket is the biggest community-centered marketplace for mechanical keyboards and all things related, so a lot of the person-to-person business happens there. There, we have a flair system that shows you how many completed transactions a user has if you enable the subreddit style. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the rules of the subreddit, it will help make your experience a little more seamless (Read the Rules Here).

Other than R/Mechmarket , you can also check out the Classifieds. They work similarly to R/MM (mechmarket), but use BB forums, and have slightly different rules. Make sure to read up on them here.

People can also link their Heatware accounts to the flair, as well, which is another way of tracing back successful or unsuccessful transactions. Now, I’m not saying you should completely trust someone with a monumental trade count, but it’s often a good indicator of someone that knows what they’re doing and will send you your item(s).

Don’t be afraid to take precautions. This is your hard-earned money you’re spending, and you deserve to get what you paid for.

Lastly, make sure to contribute and help maintain the flair system. It helps with your own future trades, and also helps maintain the safety of our trading platform. It’s a simple process, and all you have to do the following:

  1. Go to the “[Insert Current Month] Confirmed Trade Thread” on R/Mechmarket
  2. Comment what you bought, sold, or traded, and tag the other community member.
  3. Lastly, ask the other community to confirm the trade & you’re all set!

If you’re looking for other places to buy mechanical keyboard related things, please also check out the Classifieds

Quakemz’ guide to lubing switches!

Disclaimer: When it comes to lubing, there are multiple schools of thought and differing opinions. What I’ll be displaying here today is by no means the end-all be-all method for everyone ever. After quite a bit of experimenting, this is the method that works best for me. Your mileage may vary! Furthermore,  lube isn’t a cure. It makes good switches great, it does not make bad switches great. 

Equipment you will need for this process:

  • Your desired lube
  • Your desired switches (This guide will be for MX-style switches)
  • A small, clean fine-tipped brush (Here I am using size 5/0, but normally I prefer 10/0, which is a noticeably smaller size)
  • A clean and open work space (don’t forget to wash your hands first, too!)
  • Tweezers that are sized appropriately for handling springs and stems
  • Something to open the switches with (depending on your tweezers, they might work.)
  • Time to spare (this isn’t something to rush. Set aside more time than you think you’ll need for this.)
  • (Optional, but helpful) Something to hold the switches steady during the lubing process

Let’s start with our items and work area. As you can see, I have everything I need, easily within reach, as well as a clean and open work space. It’s important your area and items are all clean, so you don’t accidentally get dust, dirt, pet hair, skin oils, etc. into the finished switches, which can cause issues. If you’re using a blend of lubes like I am here, you’ll want to give that container a vigorous shaking before we start, as the lubes can often separate after a while. I like to prop up the vial in something that holds it, like this open switch tester here, but anything that accomplishes this will be fine.

Once those conditions are met, we can start to lube our switches! The general thought is that thinner lubes/blends work better for linears, and thicker lubes/blends work better for tactile switches. While I do share this opinion, it doesn’t mean you have to. Thinner lubes will net you a slicker, more “glide-y” experience, which most people tend to prefer on linears, though it’s not as good at covering up imperfections in the switch, so there is a trade-off. Thicker lubes won’t make for as slick of a finished product, but it will cover up more imperfections in the switch. This is better for tactile switches, because you get the most friction during the tactility, where the slider legs meet with the metal leaf, so thicker lubes help hide that, while using less in those areas.

I prefer to work from starting from the base of the switch, so we’ll start with the base of the housing. As for the amount of lube to use, I use a very thin layer–like, seriously thin. About as thin as you can get it. Like salting food, it’s always easier to add a little more, than it is to subtract. With this in mind, I wipe off a lot of the excess lube on my brush back into the vial before applying to any part of the switch.

It will be even more obvious when you open your own switches, but there are two rails inside the bottom housing, which the slider moves up and down on–one to the left and one to the right. These are my first targets. Lube the entire length of both rails. Next, we head to the metal leaf itself. On each side of the leaf (left and right in the picture above), where our slider legs rubs against for actuation, those are the next targets. I lube the entire vertical length of each side, because the slider legs will touch a lot of it.

Moving in my preferred direction, the spring is next. If I’m being totally honest, I almost never lube the spring at all, as I don’t feel it provides enough of a benefit to me for the effort it takes. For the sake of this guide, I will touch on it, though. Using our tweezers gently, hold the spring with one hand and lube the entirety of it with the other, inside and out, as well as both ends. It’s worth noting that most experienced lubers prefer something much less thick for this, such as straight Krytox 103, 105, or even knife oil. If you have a bottle, some people go as far as to dip the entire spring in and let the excess drip off. Place the spring back into the bottom housing.

Now on to the slider. Like with the springs, you’ll definitely want the tweezers here. Grabbing it by the stem, you’re going to lube this side entirely, as well as the opposite side. Don’t forget those two legs that protrude outwards. Those touch that metal leaf that we lubed earlier, which is often where most of the “scratchiness” comes from in switches, due to the increased area of friction.

Once done, it should look something like this, or hopefully a little less, since I used a bigger brush than I normally do.

Carefully, using the tweezers, place the slider back into the housing, on top of the spring. The metal leaf in the bottom, legs of the slider, and logo on the top housing should all be aligned with each other, otherwise you risk damaging the metal leaf when you press them together for reassembly.

Now we have a super smooth linear switch! As far as tactile switches go, the process is the same for me, but I often use a little more lube than with the linears, and use less lube on the legs and metal leaf. Those two areas affect tactility the most, so the more lube applied to those spots, the less “bump” you will have once completed.

A couple additional tips:

  • New/unused switches get smoother after a few weeks of daily use, so I suggest using them a bit before lubing, if you can, since it will result in a better finished product. This is sometimes referred to as a “break-in period”.
  • Even if a lubed switch doesn’t feel quite as good as you wanted it to, consider using it for a while, anyways. After some use, the lube spreads out more evenly, making it a bit smoother. If it’s 95% to where you want it, that extra use will get you the final 5%.
  • Be consistent! Use the same amount of lube for each switch and in the same spots. The more consistent you are, the more consistent the final product will be.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment! There really is no right or wrong here. I strongly encourage you to try different lubes, different lube locations, and different amounts of lube.

Thank you very much for checking out this guide. Happy lubing!

Artisan keycaps: What are they and should I care?

Artisans are a niche within a niche, when it comes to the keyboard community. Little bits of material that command the attention of many enthusiasts and often are valued much higher than you might believe. At the most basic level, an Artisan is a keycap that has been created to add artistic flair to one’s keyboard, by placing the cap(s) on the stems of your switches. Depending on who created the artisan keycap, there is a wide array of options, styles, and personalities, from menacing skulls to cute little animals, and everything in-between.

Artisans by: Clack, Keykollectiv, Booper, and Hunger Work Studio.
A variety of popular artisan caps – picture provided by KeyKollectiv

The caps themselves are usually created via one of several methods including, but not limited to, resin-casting, 3D printing, CNC-machining, and even clay sculpting/baking. Resin-casting is arguably the most popular method and is used by pretty much all of the community’s most prolific keycap artists. After completing a limited number of these special caps, the artists often hold raffles of varying styles, where you can win a chance to purchase one or more caps. You heard me right – win a chance to purchase.  Most artists only produce a fairly limited selection for a raffle, so when there are only 50 caps available and 500 people want them, raffling tends to be the most fair option to distribute them to the public.

It’s not uncommon for popular artists to get well over 1000 entries for a raffle. With the caps being so limited, this causes a massive influx of people trying to obtain them on the aftermarket, which in turn drives up the value of the caps. Just like keyboards, there are some that are easy to obtain (often relatively inexpensive) and some that are very hard to obtain (often quite expensive). The same is true of artisan keycaps, for the most part. Some people pay $500-$1000 USD for just a single rare keycap they’ve been searching for months or years to find, while other caps can be almost instantly had for pennies, in comparison.

Furthermore, a lot of rare caps don’t even get sold, because the owners refuse to sell them. There is an unofficial and unwritten rule among experienced enthusiasts that high-value caps are to be traded, not sold, usually out of respect for the artists, as they don’t actually get to have any of that money from massive aftermarket markups, because they raffled or sold the caps for $20-$50 a cap, a fairly standard range for top-tier artists. Trading does tend to be more common for these high-end caps, which can make purchasing one an absolute horrific test of patience. Most enthusiasts you see with a large collection of artisan caps have usually won a lot of raffles and completed a lot of trades.

When trading, most enthusiasts agree to a rough theoretical range of each cap’s worth. Since retail price is the only rock solid price to go on, people can only ballpark its worth on the aftermarket, based on demand and rarity. It’s not unusual to see one cap traded for many caps, or even rare keyboards, since a single cap can be worth a ton of value, especially to the right person. Because of this, artisan caps are almost a currency in a way, as they’re sometimes the only way to get the caps you truly want.

Artisan keycaps are art, there is no getting around that. Just like other art communities, this one isn’t always the nicest. Because of the value some caps possess, some people are willing to lie and steal for what they want, so it really helps to be as knowledgeable as possible about the caps and really determine what they mean to you and what they could mean to others. On the flip-side, there is no shortage of nice people here, too, often willing to give people caps, sell them at retail, or accept trades that others might consider unfavorable for them.

Fruit Reboot by prolific artists KeyKollectiv – picture provided by KeyKollectiv

Either way, this niche can have a hard barrier of entry if the more in-demand caps are the ones piquing your interest. Joining raffles is the best first step, but don’t be afraid to make friends with other enthusiasts. It’s surprising how tight-knit this community can be, and helping people will often get you help in return.

If you’re curious on where to find sales, here are some resources to get you started:

Keeping up to date with those three sources will basically mean you’ll never miss an artisan raffle.

Lastly, if you’re looking for an Artisan Archive, here are two great resources by /u/Rocketgruntjake & the Handmade Artisan Keycap Directory by Bambino. Please note that these resources are community maintained and are not complete. Please submit data if you have the time, cheers!

How to Reprogram ps2avrGB boards

Different DIY kits offer different types of PCBs. DIY keyboard PCBs usually use three firmwares: ps2avrgb, TMK, or QMK. Out of all of these, ps2avrgb by Winkeyless.Kr is the easiest to program as they have a program.

You can download it here – WindowsOS X.

  1. Connect the keyboard to the computer via USB
  2. Open bootmapperclient & click Download
  3. If you’re looking to program a Function Layer, please select the layer first.
  4. Now Toggle Bootmapper& Reboot after Uploading. In the bootmapper mode, you cannot type regularly, so untick it if you need to use the keyboard. 
  5. In order to program a key, please hit it physically on the keyboard. You’ll see it highlighted in the top & bottom sections. The top section shows you what function is programmed into the key. The bottom section shows you what key is selected. Reprogram everything accordingly.
  6. If you’re programming for OS X. Please use the following:
    1. Scr Lck = Screen Brightness Up
    2. Pause = Screen Brightness Dn
    3. LGui = Command
    4. Mute, Vol Dn, Vol Up are for Volume
    5. Prev Trk, Play, Next Trk are for Music
  7. To program Lighting, please go to Options.
    1. RGB LED settings on the left deals with the RGB underglow.
    2. Full LED settings on the right deals with the LEDs.

How to build a Sandwich Keyboard

In this tutorial, we will be going through soldering, installing sip sockets, spring swapping, and more. I hope you enjoy the tutorial and get your keyboard built soon!

A list of all the tools and parts that are included in this tutorial can be found at the end of this guide.

The parts

Chances are you’ll have a PCB, housing, switches, and stabilizers. The remaining parts are all basically add-ons that you don’t technically need to have a fully functional board. However, you might have opted to get some SIP sockets, feet, LEDs, or aftermarket switch springs, just to name a few. In this guide, I’ll try to cover these basic components in a simple way, so you’ll have an easy time, even if this is your first build!

THE tools

You typically don’t need very many tools to build a keyboard, but I like to be prepared. My trusty iFixit kit has been a godsend for both keyboard and PC building alike. These magnetic bowls are also great to have on standby and are pretty inexpensive on Amazon . com.


Here is what your PCB will look like, though it might be a different size, since there were a few different size options for this group buy. Notice that all of the small components come soldered on already: diodes, resistors, controller and USB port are all already present, which makes our job much easier! Most PCBs on the market these days come fully assembled like this, but a few of them do not.

The stabilizers

Here are the Cherry-styled PCB-mount stabilizers. Due to the size of my board and the standard layout I’m using, I needed 4x 2u and 1x 6.25u variants. Depending on your configuration you might need a different amount. Also, depending on where you get your stabilizers, they may come assembled or they may not come assembled. We’ll talk more about assembling them shortly. Note: These should all be PCB-mount stabilizers, but the longer wire (spacebar) was plate-mount, which I corrected later on.

Disassembled stabilizers

The parts that make up a stabilizer are the housing (larger plastic piece), insert (smaller plastic piece) and wire.

Close up stabilizer insert.

This is what the bottom of a genuine Cherry-styled stabilizer insert looks like.

Clipping Cherry-styled Stabilizers

“Clipping” stabilizers is a 100% optional step. If you notice on the left, I have a “clipped” one, and on the right is the stock version. I’ve marked the legs that should be clipped – The zig-zag leg and the one diagonally across from it. For this, I use a pair of flush cutters. The reason for doing this is that it makes the stabilized keys feel more natural and crisp, whereas people often describe the stock stabilizers as a little mushy. It’s not a world of difference, honestly, but I prefer them clipped, and this step is very fast and easy. Again, this is completely optional.

Assembled clipped stabilizer (bottom)

Once They’re clipped (or not), you can put them together. Here is what they should look like from the bottom. The insert has two possible sides: one with two square holes and the other side with one. The side with two square holes faces the back of the housing (the side that holds the wire). Then the wire gets inserted into the bottom hole of the two and clipped into the back of the housing (easier to see in the next picture).

Assembled clipped stabilizer (top)

Once they are together and look like this, you can move on!

Installing a stabilizer into the PCB

Like most of building a keyboard, this step is pretty simple. The back of the stabilizer has a lip at the bottom where it slides into the larger holes (marked in black). The front of the stabilizer, which has a two-pronged pin on the bottoms, gets pushed into the smaller holes (marked in white) until it clips in. On this PCB, the smaller holes are cut off a bit at the edge of the PCB, but they still function the same way. Once they’re installed, the stab housings should fit flush against the PCB. If they don’t, squeeze the pronged pins under the PCB to remove them and try again.

Stabilizers installed

Take note that some of them might face different directions, which is totally fine. The PCB determines where the stabilizers face, nothing else. You just have to make sure the backs goes into the larger holes and the front pins go into the smaller holes and everything is flush.

The plate

Now is a good time to gently put the plate over the PCB and stabilizers, to make sure you have the correct placement for them.

Plate-mount vs PCB-mount switches

One the left, we have a plate-mount switch. On the right, a PCB-mount switch.
Now, there really isn’t a difference in how these perform as switches, but there is a reason each exists.
PCB-mount switches have additional legs on the bottom. These legs push into the PCB and provide extra stability and keep the switch from rotating in any way. These are ideal for keyboards that won’t be using any kind of plate, which also stabilizes switches.
Plate-mount switches are actually slightly more uncommon and do not have the legs. To be honest, these don’t really have a real benefit to them. Even with a plate, the support legs are still nice to have, as some of the slots on the plate that support multiple layouts are much wider, so it doesn’t stabilize the switch the way a 1u-sized slot would.
The only real reason to use plate-mount switches is if you’re using a PCB where the holes for the support legs are too tight for the extra legs to get in, or you’re doing a hand-wired build and think the legs get in the way of the wiring.
Furthermore, you can always turn PCB-mounted switches into plate-mount by simply clipping the legs off at the base using a pair of flush cutters, so there often isn’t much point in buying/using plate-mount switches.
With that said, either variety will work fine here.
Quick tip: On most American sites, they will be clearly labeled as Plate-mount or PCB-mount, but on some translated Chinese sites for example, they may be labeled as 3-pin and 5-pin switches, 5-pin being the PCB-mount variety.

Bent switch pins?

If you ever order switches, chances are you will have some arrive with bent pins. This is totally fine and pretty expected. Just gently bend them back until they’re straight. You never have to worry unless any pins are broken off. For convenience, I typically always order more switches (and other components) than I think I’ll need. It never hurts having extra!

Installing switches

At this point, I like to install a few switches around the edges and solder them in, so we’ll have some stability while installing the rest of the switches. Make sure you’re putting your switches in correctly. The pins should go through the holes on the PCB! If you messed up the orientation, just push in the little tabs on the front and back of the switch, right under the switch-top, using something small and plastic to just release the clips and pry the switch back out. Then fix the pins that inevitably bent, and try again.


There are TONS of guides on the internet when it comes to soldering, so I’m not going to go too heavy into details here, but I’ll cover the basics.
You hold the soldering iron in one hand (usually your dominant hand) and the solder in the other. You then gently touch the pad on the PCB and the pin on the switch simultaneously to heat them up. Do this for no more than a couple seconds, then apply/push solder to the joint until it creates a small dome over the pad and nothing more. You do NOT need to cover the tip of the switch pins.
After that, remove the iron and the solder in your hand. If you leave the iron touching a pad for too long, you run the risk of destroying the pad, which isn’t good. Try not to leave the iron on a pad for much longer than about 4-5 seconds at a time.
Now, you might not have a fancy fume-extractor on your soldering iron like I do, but there are alternatives. The cheapest method is to make sure the room you’re working in is well ventilated. Take a mildly deep breath before you solder. Then, when you start applying the solder, blow on it to remove the smoke and fumes from your area. Another alternative is to place a fan in such a way that it blows all of it away from you.
Some extra soldering tips:
  • Make sure the tip you’re using for your iron is the right size for the job. The pads and pin you’re going to be soldering are pretty darn small, especially the LED holes, so you’ll likely want one of the finest tips you can get.
  • Having an iron with a temperature gauge is a good idea. I solder at 350c pretty much always, though I will sometimes vary it from 300c-375c, depending on how careful or fast I want to go. It never hurts to start lower and work your way up, if you need to.
  • The solder I use is just a basic 60/40 composition with a size of .8mm. I find this size works the best for me overall. Anything larger gets too messy to do things like LEDs, SMD or through-hole diodes.
  • Have a clean and open workspace where you won’t be knocking things over. BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS!
  • Have water standing by, both for hydration and in case you somehow catch something on fire…somehow!
  • After every few switches, briefly clean off the tip of your iron on a damp sponge or brass pad.

First switch soldered

This is what I like mine to look like after soldering – Nice small domes.

Choosing layouts

Most plates and PCBs these days support a WIDE variety of layouts, particularly the bottom row. Knowing what layout you want beforehand will save you a ton of time here. I opted for a standard bottom row, which consists of the following sizes from left to right, minus the arrow pad: 1.25u, 1.25u, 1.25u, 6.25u, 1.25u, 1.25u, 1.25u, 1.25u
This layout is very common, as a lot of OEM boards use it and thus is supported much more widely by aftermarket keysets. You could opt for other bottom row layouts, but they will require differently-sized modifier caps and/or spacebar, which your aftermarket keyset may or may not support, although a lot of the more popular sets these days support the majority of layouts. Always check for compatibility before you build!
Some other things to notice and consider (assuming the plate/PCB allow it) are:
  • Caps lock: stepped or unstepped (I went with the less common stepped version on this build). Nothing wrong with either, but some keysets may not come with the stepped version.
  • Short right shift: This is where you use a 1.75u right shift and a 1u cap directly to the right of the shift. These two would replace the much more common 2.75u shift you see on most OEM boards. This configuration would also require one less stabilizer. It’s what you see on the popular Topre board, the HHKB.
  • Split backspace: This is another less common practice on OEM boards that involves using only 1u caps along the number row of the main cluster and the “|\” key becomes backspace, so it’s 1.5u in size and is a row lower than backspace typically is. Again, this requires one less stabilizer. This is also found on the HHKB, which is one of the more popular custom layouts among hardcore enthusiasts.

Proper bottom row switch installation

As you saw in the previous picture, there are several places in the PCB and plate to install switches, so using caps to gauge the orientation of each switch on the bottom row is a smart idea. Start with the spacebar and work your way out. Caps should obviously not interfere with each other.

Switches installed

Now that we have our layout, all switches can be installed. Make sure each one is clipped into the plate (where possible) and pushed into the PCB as far as it will go. Due to the plate supporting multiple layouts, there are some spots where switches won’t clip in as well due to the wider slots.

Switches soldered

After all the switches are in place, you can solder all of the switch pins, using the method I explained and used earlier. Now is a good time to install the feet on the bottom portion of the case, if you’re using them. You just line up the feet with the hole and screw it in from the inside. Pretty simple!

Additional mods

At this point, you basically have a keyboard. You can close up the housing and plug it in and type away! But, for the sake of this guide, we’re going to do a little switch modding, which is completely optional.
For this, I have a couple things on standby. First, I have a pair of switch openers that can be found on for $7 shipped in the US. I highly suggest investing in these if you plan to mod a lot of switches, as they make the process much faster.
If you don’t have access to these where you are or just can’t wait, you can open up switches with pretty much anything small and thin enough to gently pry open the top from the four clips that keep it attached to the bottom.
Second, I have a nice pair of tweezers. This will be for handling small parts like springs, stems and SIP sockets.
Lastly, I have my modding pieces: SIP sockets and aftermarket springs. Lubing and stickering switches are also options, but a guide for another time.
SIP sockets are tiny piece of metal that go into the switch and then soldered into the board. This results in a fixture where LEDs can be not only housed, but hot-swapped, if desired.
The springs I’ll be swapping into the switches here are just some aftermarket 62g units, which are a tad heavier than the springs that come in the stock Gateron Browns that are on the board, as I don’t personally care for switches that light.

Close up of the switch

Notice the little slots on each of the four corners of the switch?

Opening the switches

That’s where you insert the switch openers and then just squeeze the tools together gently. This will release all four of the clips that hold the top on, and you can just lift the top away slowly. You don’t want to apply too much pressure, because you can warp or break the switch-top, so don’t rush this!
Also, keep in mind that not all boards/plates support being able to remove switch-tops, and if you try this on a board/plate that doesn’t, you can (and will) cause permanent damage to the switch and plate.

Opened switch

Now that you have the top off, you’re free to access the internals. Be careful of how you handle the slider portion of the switch, as a lot of switches come with small amounts of lube on the little legs of the switch that protrude outward.
Also note how the switch was assembled, so you can reassemble it the same way.

Stock spring

Remove the stock spring to make way for the aftermarket one!

Bare bottom

With the internals removed, we have a look at the empty bottom.

SIP sockets

Now is a good time to install the SIP sockets. There are usually two varieties to choose from, depending on where you get them.
One variety – the ones I have here, are all metal single rods that go in to the little holes designated by the switch. You will need two per switch.
The other common variety are shorter, but encased in plastic, often sold in units of 2, so you only need one piece per switch.
They function the same, either way. Also, there is no incorrect orientation here.

SIP sockets installed

Spring installed

Now you just put the new spring onto the little rod the sticks up in the base of the switch.

Stem installed

Place the stem on top of the spring, with the protruding legs of the stem facing TOWARDS the metal leaf of the switch.

Switch-top positioned

Now place the top of the switch over the stem, which the logo of the top directly above the stem legs and metal leaf in the base.

Switch-top installed

Now just press down evenly on both sides of the top (left and right) until all 4 clips clip into place. Time to move on to LEDs!


Here is what an LED looks like when you get them, typically. This is the 1.8mm variety, which is my personal favorite. The size has to do with the bulb and housing, not the length of the pins.
With the 1.8mm size, you will never have to worry about clearance issues involving caps, which you often do, if you use BOTH larger LEDs AND Cherry profile keycaps. (Note: I said Cherry profile, not Cherry stem – Different terminology).
There are two pins on an LED. One is longer than the other. The longer one is a positive lead, which will correspond with the “+” on the PCB when installed. The other pin will go in the adjacent hole.
Now, if we were not using SIP sockets, we would just push one of these through the opening of each switch, into the PCB, solder them in, then clip off the remains of the pins and be done with it.
However, since we’re using SIP sockets, we have to pre-clip the LEDs.

Clipping LEDs

On the stock LED on the left, notice there are small bumps towards the top of the pins. Using a pair of flush cutters (ideally), clip right above the top of those bumps. This will be just the right amount of length to be inserted into the SIP sockets.

Soldering SIP sockets

The black marking is where SIP sockets get soldered, the white are for the switches themselves. This will all seem way less complicated when it’s all in front of you.

Installing an LED

Now you just push the clipped LED into the SIP socket! If you got the orientation wrong, just use a pair of tweezers or something to pull it back out, turn it, and put it back in.
Once you clip the LED pins, it’s obviously much harder to tell which one of the pins was the longer, positive pin, however, if you look at the housing of the LED, the internals will not look symmetrical, so you just have to figure out which side is positive, then install all of them the same way.
Just a tip, make sure you have the board plugged in, the software (Bootmapper Client) open, and you’re in the options tab with the lighting effects. Click “connect” to connect your board and then turn the switch brightness meter to anything beyond 0, so that way you know if the LEDs are on while you install them. It’s always easiest to install LEDs via SIP sockets while the board is on, so you can see if they work and you got the orientation correct.
If you’re wondering why I only installed a caps lock LED on this board, it’s because I miscounted my LED inventory, and I didn’t have enough of the LEDs I wanted to install on this board. But, the process will be the same for all of the LEDs.

Finished board

Barring any further programming or adjusting you would like to do, the board is finished!


Now it’s time to dress up the board with some caps and type away! I went with some nice JTK PoW/WoP caps to match my case.
Congrats on your sandwich build, and I hope you enjoy it!
If you have any questions, feel free to message me on Reddit – username: /u/Quakemz

All the parts you’ll need

Welcome to KBDLounge

First off, thank you visiting KBDLounge! We’re truly excited for everything that this site will do for all our community members.

KBDLounge is a collective effort between Jchan94 (Joseph Chan) and QuakeMz (Brian Walker). We wanted to bring this site together for the Mechanical Keyboard Community, as we noticed that there’s a huge disparity in the quality, and consistency of guides and reviews for everything Mechanical Keyboard related. On both geekhack and R/MK, we noticed a few issues: search is always an issue, threads get off topic, and sometimes, there are no extensive guides to go through all of the details of a build. While anyone can look through these websites and learn things over time, our mission is to bring the information you need to get started on a project in a easy to read fashion. This site is meant to cater to any beginner, or hard-core enthusiast, so please link us to anyone who needs help! We’ll be bringing guides for modifying and building anything and everything related to Mechanical Keyboards.

I hope that KBDLounge brings some value to your next build, and hope that you can get started on elevating your typing experience.

Cheers!  -jchan94