A Step-by-Step Guide on Building Your Own Mechanical Switch

A Step-by-Step Guide on Building Your Own Mechanical Switch

Are you curious about how keyboards work? Have you ever wondered what's inside those clicky keys that make typing feel so satisfying? Building your mechanical switch is a great way to start if you want to learn more about the inner workings of keyboards! In this guide, we'll break down the process into simple steps to help you understand how to build your mechanical switch.

Materials You'll Need to Build Mechanical Switches:

Before diving into the construction process, you'll need a few basic materials:

  1. Switch Components:
    1. Stem: The vertical plunger that provides feedback and actuates the switch.
    2. Top Case: The part that covers the top of the switch, affecting sound and feel.
    3. Bottom Case: The housing for metal contact leaves, slider rails, and switch pins.
    4. Spring: A component that allows the switch to slide and reset, influencing feel and feedback.
  2. Lubricant: A substance applied to switch components for smoother keystrokes, reduced noise, and improved overall feel. It is not advisable to use for clicky switches. 
  3. Tools:
    1. Switch tester: A device to help you determine your preferred switch type by trying different options.
    2. Keyboard plate or PCB: If needed, a platform to secure the switch within your keyboard.

These materials and tools will enable you to build and customize your mechanical switch successfully.

Step-by-Step Guide for Building the Mechanical Switch

Gather all your materials and ensure a clean, well-lit workspace to assemble your mechanical switch. Now, let's follow these step-by-step instructions.

Building the Mechanical Switch

Step 1: Choose Your Switch Type:

Choosing the right switch is crucial before you start building switches. There are various switch options, each offering a different feel and sound when pressed.

  1. Switch Profiles:
    1. Normal Profile Switches: These switches have a standard height, providing a traditional typing experience.
    2. Low Profile Switches: These switches are shorter in height, offering a sleeker look and sometimes a different typing feel.
  2.  Switch Feels:
    1. Linear: Linear switches provide users with a seamless typing experience without tactile feedback or audible clicks.
    2. Tactile: Tactile switches provide a noticeable bump when you press the key, indicating that the keystroke has recorded.
    3. Clicky: Clicky switches have a tactile bump and produce an audible click sound when pressed.
  3. Mounted Styles:
    1. 3-Pin: These switches have three pins for soldering onto a PCB (Printed Circuit Board).
    2. 5-Pin: These switches have five pins, including two extra plastic pins, for added stability when mounted on a PCB.
  4. LED Compatibility:
    1. SMD-LED Switches: Surface Mount Device LED-compatible switches allow for easy integration of LEDs directly onto the switch.
    2. Plug-in Switches: These switches require the insertion of separate LEDs into the PCB for backlighting.

Unsure? Try a Switch Tester:

If you're unsure about the switch you want, consider purchasing a switch tester. A switch tester typically includes a variety of switches in different profiles, feels, and mounted styles. By testing out other switches, you can find the typing experience that suits you best before committing to building your switches.

Step 2: Gather Your Components

Assemble Your Switch

Choosing the right components is crucial in building a functional and satisfying mechanical switch. Here are the main parts you'll need:

  1. Stem: The vertical plunger that provides feedback and actuates the switch. Choose between regular MX-style or box-style stems.
  2. Top Case: Determines the sound and feel of the switch when it returns and top-outs. Options include PC, Nylon, or POM materials.
  3. Bottom Case: Contains metal contact leaves, slider rails, and switch pins. Consider the layout for switch compatibility. Options include PC, Nylon, or POM materials.
  4. Spring: Allows the switch to slide and reset. Different weights and lengths affect feeling and feedback. Options include Gold-plated, black-plated, or stainless steel.

Step 3: Lubricate Your Components

You may lubricate your switch components for a smoother typing experience. Applying lubricant to the top, stem, spring, and bottom cases can enhance the switch's feel by reducing spring noise and internal scratchiness. Lubing is optional but can significantly improve keystrokes and a more satisfying sound. However, avoid lubricating clicky switches, which may affect the click sound.

Step 4: Assemble Your Switch

Now, it's time to put everything together. Follow these steps for a smooth assembly procedure:

  1. Place the stem into the top case, ensuring it aligns correctly with the slide rails.
  2. Insert the spring into the stem, allowing for smooth sliding and resetting.
  3. Position the bottom case, making sure the metal contact leaves, slider rails, and switch pins are correctly aligned.
  4. Press the components together gently to assemble the switch.
  5. Repeat these steps for each switch you wish to construct.

Step 5: Testing

Once you've assembled your switch, it's time to test it:

  1. Visual Inspection: Check for any loose components or solder joints.
  2. Functional Test: Press the switch repeatedly to ensure it actuates smoothly and registers key presses accurately.

Step 6: Keycap Installation (Optional)

If you want to use your switch with a keyboard, you'll need to install a keycap:

  1. Align the Keycap: Place the keycap over the stem of the switch, ensuring it's aligned properly.
  2. Press Firmly: Apply gentle pressure until the keycap snaps into place.

Congratulations! You've successfully crafted your very own mechanical keyboard switch. Repeat these steps for each switch you plan to build.

Discover the perfect keyboard switch for your typing style at Keychron. Explore a variety, including Keychron Kailh Switch Set, Mechanical switches, Cherry MX Switches, and Low Profile Gateron switches. Elevate your typing experience with craftsmanship and cutting-edge technology. Find the ideal switch for a personalized and exceptional typing journey with Keychron keyboard switches.

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