Budget Custom Mechanical keyboard
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Budget Custom Mechanical keyboard

Budget Custom Mechanical keyboard:

Today we’re gonna check out a custom mech that has a lot of potentials, and there’s like hardly any information out there aboutthis. It’s been on Aliexpress for a while, andnow it’s on Drop for like a few more hours at the time of this video, my apologies. And to be clear, this one is from Aliexpress and is from the first batch of 50. So there are slight differences between whatI have, and what will be released with Drop, and in the future on Aliexpress, so keep thatin mind as I do run into a couple of issues.

First impressions, it’s pretty light inthe hands, but it’s the form factor and layout that piques my interest. But before doing anything, as always, chuckon the rubber feet so we don’t damage anything. In shipping, there were just 2 screws holding this bottom panel. And then another two holdings in the PCB. Super simple design, there’s just two parts. We have the main piece, and basically a panelthat closes off the bottom. So as we can see, the plate is not separate,and this is what we refer to as an integrated plate design.

The way the plate is mounted in a mechanicalkeyboard makes huge huge difference in how it feels when using it. This design isn’t seen too often, but canpotentially feel a little stiffer, because it’s connected to the case all the way round. But we also have some standoffs for the PCBto screw into.

And of course, it’s made from aluminium,and contributes to most of the boards weight. The sides are pretty thin, but the bottom,and top in particular have a bit of chunk. However, for the future versions the top willbe slightly shorter with the revised PCBs. At least that’s what I’ve been told, andhave read. The bottom aluminium panel is super basic. It’s literally just to close off the bottom,and doesn’t add much weight or height in fact to the board. It’s just 3mm thick, and about 1mm for thethin bit. Okay, here’s the PCB. A couple of interesting things going on here.

First of all, a huge feature is that it hasKailh hotswap sockets. These will accept pretty much any MX stylekeyswitch. So Gateron, Kailh, Cherry MX, etc. And you can see the contacts that will pressagainst the switch pins, so that the pins don’t need to be soldered. Interestingly for whatever reason there’sholes for through hole LEDs. Of course these make no sense because it wouldmake the hotswap sockets useless, as they will secure the switches. So no, it isn’t an RGB backlit keyboardlike the Aliexpress listing suggests.

But it does have underglow LEDs, which againdoesn’t really make sense as it’s a solid opaque case. And then a bunch of SMD LEDs on the top side,which again is blocked. So yeh, PCB is a little weird. Another unusual thing. I only received 3 stabilisers, so one wasmissing. Anyway, these are clip in stabs, and a 100%requirement is that you lube them. I’m using dielectric grease with these. It’s pretty easy to find. And this will just eliminate that terriblerattle.

Budget Custom Mechanical keyboard

Sometimes I go pretty thick depending on thebuild. Of course the thicker you go, you can potentiallymake it feel sluggish. But yeh, I did go on pretty thick here. You can also brush on the insides, but withsomething thinner. It’s not necessary to screw the PCB ontothe plate, as the switches will hold it in place. And it may potentially feel better for youwithout the screws in, as they add hard points around the board. However, when putting in the switches, it’smuch easier with the screws in.

And yeh. Gotta love hotswap, you just drop em in. Just make sure the pins are straight. It’s almost certain that you’ll bend afew pins when doing this. And when that happens, you just have to takethem out, straighten the bent pins, and go again. For hotswap boards, personally I prefer 5pin switches. So these Gateron Ink Blacks have these 2 extraplastic prongs that friction fit into the PCB. Just gives that little bit more stability,as these of course aren’t soldered into place. Aaand another hiccup.

The bottom alu panel wasn’t going in flush,which isn’t a great sign. Regardless of what’s hitting it, it’snever comfortable for the internals to be in contact with the aluminium. But I brute force screwed it into place. After all of that, my stabs weren’t goingup and down, which just makes you cry inside, because it’s like right at the start ofthe process. But, a great thing about hotswap is that itisn’t a huge deal, no desoldering required. I took it all apart, and put the stabs backin. First of all, I just put the wire into thewrong hole.

That’s my bad. BUT, I found the problem. There’s just not enough clearance betweenthe spacebar stabiliser and the alu panel. Said panel is thinner in that area, as wesaw before. But it still hits. I was able to screw it shut, but the problemwith these clip in stabs, is that it pushes them out. So if you remove your spacebar cap, it’lljust pop out, which is a nightmare. So, I had no choice but to use screw in stabs. But it didn’t fix the clearance issue. Weirdly enough, I haven’t seen anyone elsehave this issue with these early boards.

And I checked what I was doing over and overagain, with no switches and everything. But anyway, all of this doesn’t really matter,as it only affects the first batch that hardly anyone has. So future boards should be all fine with everything. And here it is, the highly anticipated ID80. And yeh, changed to GMK Minimal because itlooked better. But yeh, what a stunner. I’ve had so many comments asking for a hotswapalu 75% mech. This particular style of 75% has been prettytrendy lately, like with the 7V.

So we have our dedicated arrow keys, our functionrow, and a few nav keys, but it’s spaced out in clusters. It gives it a sense of space, where a typical75% can feel a little cramped just in how it looks. But also in actual use. Having clusters separated does make it a littleeasier to navigate and press keys, especially when touch typing. It is essentially a tenkeyless keyboard inregards to primary functionality. But about 2 columns shorter, giving us a littlebit more space for our mouse. We have 1.25u keys to the left of the spacebar.

And 1.5u keys to the right, with just a standard6.25u spacebar. The arrow keys are lowered to separate themfrom the enter key. But yeh, it’s just a very aesthetic layoutin my opinion, and is currently one of my favourites, along with just the classic TKL. This is available in a range of colours whichis also a nice feature. I just went with a simple silver. The anodised finish looks clean and even. I didn’t see any noticeable defects, althoughthe two alu pieces don’t match perfectly. Not that it matters anyway.

And yeh, the panel. My one just doesn’t fit in properly, sothere’s a bit of a bulge. Although with this sort of thin bottom paneldesign, this is a pretty low profile mech. It’s about 17.5mm at the front. And 32.5mm at the back. With the rubber feet. This is a few millimetres shorter than mostof my other mechs, and I actually really like it. It’s comfortable, creating less of an anglewith my wrists, so less strain. And it just looks different. Even though it’s just a few mil, it justlooks lower.

Overall, it’s a pretty simple design. Flat sides, curved corners. The corner gets a little close over here. On my version, the bottom and top bezels areequal, however on the new ones, and what’s pictured on Drop, the top is shorter. With the thin bottom, there’s no extra weightlike you see on many customs. So it’s relatively light for an alu 75%,coming in at about 1.2kg. I mean it’s not light, it’s still heavierthan even just a typical full size retail board. But this is another thing that I’ve cometo appreciate overtime. Light customs.

Heavy mechs are amazing, they naturally exudequality and toughness. But what I noticed about myself, and how Iplay with mechs, I really struggle with heavy boards as I constantly move them around. And find actual delight in lighter ones, sothis board has been amazing to use. I used Gateron Ink Blacks from my mate Idyllic. Check him out, he makes some really cool DIYstuff in particular, I’ll chunk links in the description. And some 35g Kailh Box switches for the restof them. Everything affects how a keyboard feels and sounds.

The desk, case, switches, keycaps, etc. But it’s the switches here that make a big difference. These are lubed and filmed somewhat heavily,so they’re nice and buttery. As said, this has an integrated plate design,with a 1.5mm plate. It is on the hard side for the bottom out,and that reflects on its sound, being again, a little harsher and higher pitched than saya top mount. But there’s no real right or wrong. I actually like that tighter bottom out for some linears.

And what I noticed also with the last integrated plate board I played with, is that it doesn’t transmit a lot of desk noise, and sounds likeit’s all contained, which I love. My desk is pretty bad in that regard, andyou can try it with your mech. Depending on your desk, there can be a hugedifference between how it sounds on your desk, compared to your lap. I’ve heard some people suggest that it feelshollow. I didn’t really get that feel, even withother switches. Again, gotta love hot-swap.

But overall, it’s a solid typing experience,and with hotswap, you can change whenever you want to whatever switch you want. And that’s the ID80. Assuming all of the issues I had are fixedwith the Drop version, and the new ones on Aliexpress, this is a real winner in my eyes. If you’re into keyboards, you know thatthis is a unique product, and is really by itself. It has a very attractive spaced out 75% layout. Which contributes a lot to how it looks aesthetically. It’s completely made from aluminium, andis available in a range of colours to suit you.

It’s powered by QMK, so you can customisethe keys to whatever. AND, it’s hotswap, which makes buildingthis thing super easy. And all of that, for just $110-130. Yeh, that’s a good amount of money, andyou have to buy your own switches and keycaps, but for something like this, with all thesefeatures, it’s unrivaled. And for me, it’s a near perfect startermech. It’s great for someone who doesn’t wantto drop several hundreds more, because that can easily be the case. And to top it off, no long group buys.

At least for now. But don’t expect some crazy high qualitylevel custom, because it’s not that. Going back, to be very clear, this is fromthe early batch. So all of these fitment issues I had, shouldnot be present with the newer versions. So with that in mind, yes, I do recommendit. I think it’s a steal on Drop at the moment,and even at normal price it is. And once again, we’re seeing things tricklingdown into more affordable options.

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