How much does it cost to DIY your own mechanical keyboard?
If you’ve ever gone down the rabbit hole of mechanical keyboards, you may be aware that there is a vibrant subset of keyboard enthusiasts who build their own boards. Just lurk around r/MechanicalKeyboards or a Facebook group like Mechanical Keyboard Warriors PH, and you will be delighted with awesome looking keyboard builds that might just give you the DIY bug.
But how much does it cost to build your own mechanical keyboard? Well, I’m gonna start with a huge disclaimer — it’s more expensive than you think. It takes a lot of time and effort to build one of these things, and it generally costs a lot more than an off-the-shelf product from the big name brands. However, depending on the type of person you are, it can be a very rewarding experience that offers loads of customization possibilities and an opportunity to work with your hands.
For the purposes of this article, the custom mechanical keyboard we’re gonna be fake-shopping for, is a 60% layout keyboard. The 60% layout is defined as missing the numpad, function row, and navigation/arrow keys. Parts are easily accessible online, making it the most popular type of keyboard for a DIY build.
At minimum, these are the parts we need to build a 60% mechanical keyboard:
- Mechanical key switches
- Mounting plate
- USB Cable
For a second disclaimer, this article is meant to show how much it costs to build a keyboard. This is not a guide/tutorial. If you guys want one, let us know in the comments section.
All parts will be sourced from banggood.com, since they have everything we need under one store, and we will be eligible for free shipping. (orders over Php2,143.04, as of 11/17/18) We will also be choosing the cheapest parts to illustrate the minimum amount it costs for us to build a mechanical keyboard with parts sourced online.
The PCB, or printed circuit board, is the brain of our build. Most of our other items will mount directly to it, and it’s the one that will hook up to a computer. It’s the starting point for any keyboard build, so naturally it will define what other parts to get.
Since we’re doing a 60% board, we’re going with an OEM GH60 PCB, a popular inexpensive option.
We’re not gonna go into definitions and the science behind these things, but they are what make mechanical keyboards, well, mechanical. For this, let’s go with something classic and go with some clicky blue switches.
These particular switches don’t seem to be branded. Switches from brands like Cherry or Gateron will be more expensive. They’re sold in packs of 10, so we’re getting 7 packs to make for a total of 70 switches, as we need 61 of them.
Price: Php1271.67 (Php181.67 x 10)
As evidenced by its name, the mounting plate is where the switches will be mounted. It serves as an intermediary piece that ensures the switches are aligned properly with the PCB.
You may have noticed before that long keys such as Shift or the Spacebar can be pressed down without wobbling, no matter where you press. This is thanks to the stabilizers.
Like all of the other components, there are lots of stabilizers of varying quality. These ones are just basic OEM, but should be good enough.
The case holds all the other parts. There’s not much more to be said about it. Aside from the keycaps, this is another part open to creative customization, as there are many cases available out there in different colors, made of different materials.
For this example, we’re just going with a simple white plastic case.
The plastic part of the keyboard that is pressed down to register a keystroke. If you thought mechanical keyboards was already a rabbit hole, just wait until you get into keycaps. There are thousands upon thousands of different looks and styles.
But for the purposes of this theoretical build, we’re just going with a fairly inexpensive 61-key set that honestly looks pretty cool.
Finally, of course we need a cable. The type of cable will depend on your PCB, but the one we chose requires a mini USB cable.
Nothing fancy about this one, it’s just a generic 2-meter Type-A to mini-B USB cable.
Spending the bare minimum on banggood.com, our grand total for the parts of a basic 60% mechanical keyboard is — Php6,027.19 (as of 11/17/18). This puts us above Banggood’s free shipping threshold, so this is all we need to pay. Also, all our items are eligible for cash on delivery, which is nice.
Take note that this number is only the cost of the parts themselves. Aside from them, you will also need some tools like screwdrivers, soldering iron, etc. But in essence, you can build your own mechanical keyboard for about Php6k, minimum. It can cost less, if you are able to source your parts at lower prices, or it can cost more if you want better quality stuff. You can get something off-the-shelf for a lot less, but where’s the fun in that?
If you guys want us to try this out ourselves and make a build guide or tutorial, let us know in the comments section down below.