Basic Keyboard Info

All you need to know to build your dream board

Introduction

So you've decided to jump into this black hole of a hobby, but don't know where to start.

Nobody likes wasting hours on research, so I've done the research for you and organized the info here.

With the info from this section of the wiki, you can confidently work towards your dream keyboard without being tricked by marketing and hype.

 

== In progress ==

How a keyboard is built

To build a keyboard, you must know how one is built.

 

Overall Structure

Here's a generalization of how most keyboards are built:

Of course, very unique keyboards can add and omit some of these parts. But for a general overview, you can expect most keyboards to be comprised of these parts.

Switches: The enthusiast guide

What the big brands don't tell you.

So, what are switches anyways?

To put it simply, they're just buttons.

They're similar to any general buttons such as ones on elevators, your car stereo, or even the power button on your phone. The only difference is that they're tuned to be used in a keyboard.

The three main types

If you come from buying mechanical keyboards sold by large brands, you may recognize this:

If you've read around before, a few colors may come to mind: red, brown, blue, black. However...

Feel the rainbow

The reality is that the main colors of switches offered by Cherry aren't anywhere close to the only ones.

In fact, they're often the least preferred switches of all.

Since the Cherry MX switch was originally produced starting in 1984 and their patents have expired, various brands produce compatible switches. Often, they are superior to authentic Cherry switches in the following ways:

The only way to know which exact switch is for you is to try them all.
Fortunately, I've compiled a flowchart so you can home in on your possible favorites quickly. More on that later.

50 million

One concern newcomers to the hobby often have is "off-brand" switches being more fragile than the authentic Cherry ones.

To put it simply, it is not of any concern.

Cherry switches and its clones are usually rated for 50 million keystrokes. That's how many times you need to press a single switch before it has a chance of breaking. 
For reference, if you pressed a single key 3 times per second without eating, sleeping, or resting, you would need to need to do so for 192 days straight before the switch might break. You would break first.

Some people in this hobby harvest vintage switches from decades ago to reuse in their new keyboards. They still run fine after years of abuse.

Best of all, they're cheap and easy to swap if they ever do give out. 

Beyond the shelf