So all the stuff from China finally arrived and now I’m rocking a fancy new 87% mechanical keyboard.

Picture of the keyboard

I was already using a mechanical WASD keyboard but found that the red Cherry MX switches I chose weren’t as feedback-y as I wanted. Also, I wanted to try a keyboard with a smaller footprint in my desk to see how it felt. All this while trying to save a buck too.

Here’s the list of things I bought:

Not so cheap in the end. I had to pay higher to reduce some complexities of choosing the specific parts list. After all I’ve learned, I think I could get everything for a new keyboard at 75% the cost now.

Here are some insights after the whole process:

  • Don’t buy a kit that comes with a cheap plastic case for your keyboard :/
  • Make sure that your Chinese vendor actually has stock for all the parts included in the kit you’re buying.
  • Learn about keyboards a bit. Watch @fightingkitten’s videos!
  • Use a softer switch or install better stabilizers for the spacebar if you tend to hit it off-center
  • It’s hard to find ISO layout items. I found it to be almost impossible to find Spanish ISO items (at least at the Chinese vendors I was able to find).
  • It’s hard to find 80%-87% layout items. The range of options is much wider if you plan on building either a 60%, or a 100%-ish layout keyboard.
  • Plan ahead. Dry run your build by placing stuff together without soldering.
    • The keycap set comes with different size variants of some keys such as ctrl, alt, win, etc.
    • The keycap set may come with keys you don’t like, missing, or wrong keys. In my case, I had to stick with a win and fn keys that I don’t like, and a \ key above the return key with a shape that feels kind of weird.
    • Start placing keycaps with the spacebar and continue fitting the rest of the bottom row until you come up with a combination that you like.
    • Continue with all the other keys with a non square shape.
    • Check the vertical shape of the keycap to figure out the row it belongs to.
  • Writing Spanish accents and special characters in Windows is a pain in the *ss. So far, I’m using the Spanish accents CapsLock method, which is nice because it works half the time.

Even though I’m loving the English layout for code (no alt-gr nonsense), and writing in English (for obvious reasons), I haven’t abandoned the idea of building a new Spanish ISO keyboard, but it’s clear now that I’ll have to invest more time in researching PCBs and vendors.

Also, considering that there are fewer options for 80%-87% keyboards, I might go for a full keyboard next. I don’t think I could really use a keyboard without a separate block for cursors or ins, del, home, or end keys.