Building My First Keeb!

Hello there. I am D, a designer from Yushakobo. My first entry is about


Building my first keyboard! And it was extremely exciting!


When I first joined Yushakobo, I didn't know anything about building keyboards. I've never worked with electronics, either. I use a computer when designing things, but I'm more of a pen-and-paper person when it comes to drawing.


But now I work at at DIY keyboard shop, and it makes me want to build something. I spent a lot of time looking at the kits and the keycaps we carry, and eventually decided what I want to build. Then it was just a matter of getting the components and putting it together.


I chose DZ60, a unibody 60% keyboard.






The only things that required soldering were the switches, making this a very beginner-friendly board.


Unlike some other boards, which come with acrylic plates or even in full kits, the DZ60 doesn't come with any. Plates or cases must be purchased separately.


As of March 2020, the DZ60 is the only board in our shop that has a wooden case. It comes in Walnut and Rosewood, and I picked Walnut for the classy look.



Wooden 60% keyboard case



As for the plate, I chose brass over aluminum because I was going for a steampunk-ish look.




Brass plate


The theme of my keyboard is "steampunk typewriter", so on top of choosing a wooden case and a brass plate, I chose clicky switches to make sure the keyboard would sound like one.


The shop carries a few different clicky switches, and I settled on Cherry MX Blues because they're a little on the heavier side, which I like, and to me they sound closest to a typewriter.




Clicky Switch


And finally, the keycaps. These keycaps are actually the reason that I wanted to build a steampunk typewriter, because they, well, look like keys from a typewriter.


We carry both white and black, and I spent a long time trying to decide which one to get because this choice will really have an impact on how the keyboard looks. In the end I went for white keycaps, because it's easier to see the legends.





That's how I picked all the parts of this keyboard, agonizing over different parts and how the final product will look. It was fun and unique because it's not something that can be experienced when buying a pre-built keyboard. Now all that's left is to build it.


Build Log

First, I laid out all the components. Just looking at this got me excited.




Then I installed the stabilizers and put the plate on.



Next, soldering the switches.

I was super into it and forgot to take a "work in progress" photo.




And the time has finally come to put on the keycaps. It felt like putting together a puzzle piece by piece as I looked at the keymap and searched for the key from the pile.  My first build is almost complete!

The case also comes with a wrist rest made from the same material, and the height is just right.




Even for someone like me, who doesn't know much about this and is generally on the clumsy side and had to get help, it only took a little less than 2 hours and everything went fine.


Flashing firmware and modifying keycaps (changing what the keys do when pressed) also required some external help, and again everything went fine.


It's done! And it looks exactly how I wanted it to look.

There was just one minor issue - I assigned the 2 keys to the right of the space key to be "eisu" (English alphanumeric) and "kana" (Japanese Hiragana and Katakana), but the keycap set doesn't have these keys, so I had to use the extra Alt and Ctrl keys in their place.



And it even sounds like a typewriter! Amazing!


I plan to take this keyboard with me when I go out and connect it to my iPad when I work. Since the theme is supposed to be a typewriter, the iPad will look like a piece of paper when placed on a stand.


I took it out with me the other day and took a blurry photo:


I was at a seminar and took notes from time to time, with the sound of clicky switches reverberating throughout the room.

Now I want a bag that looks like a retro leather typewriter case, to hold the keyboard, wrist rest and my iPad.

When I went to the seminar, I put the keyboard in a cloth bag that came with the case, then put it in my bag. I felt like something could break at any given moment, so I don't really want to do that again. It looked like something Violet Evergarden (from the light novel and anime of the same name) would carry with her.


The entire process - from choosing all the components to putting it together - was very enjoyable, and the fact that it's one-of-a-kind makes it all the more meaningful to me.


And here's a tip - if you're someone like me, who doesn't know a lot about these things and doesn't know anyone to ask,going to the shop and building it there is the way to go. I received a lot of help from people at the shop and can't recommend it enough.


That's it! My first build! If you're interested and think this looks fun, but are anxious about building your first one, I hope this entry has helped you somehow.




Yushakobo, a DIY Keyboard Shop