So, you're interested in keyboards. You want to build your own, but you don't know too much about it and you want to start off easy. That's fine! In this keyboard build, we'll be getting a "kit", which comes with many components so you don't have to worry too much about compatibility. This keyboard accentuates all the "satisfying" aspects of mechanical keyboards: it's clicky, with a thicc pop sound, and also has spectacular RGB lighting that is showcased by the keycaps. Without further ado, let's get into it!
Don't know how to build a keyboard? Check out our guide!
PCB, Top Plate, Case, Stabilizers
One of the best ways to make a budget custom keyboard is to buy a kit. Ours is the GK61 kit from YMDK. It comes with a black plastic case, an RGB PCB plate, a metal top plate, and some decent stabilizers as well. These aren't low-quality materials, but they are quite basic and you might consider spray-painting the case to match the theme of your setup. As you can see, it also comes with a braided USB-C to USB-A cable, but we're going to be using a retractable cable, although you can certainly choose which cable is best for you. The GK61 comes with two super useful tools: a key puller and a switch puller. See that module on the bottom? You can use it for a split spacebar, where you can have the different sides do different things. One of the most popular uses of a split spacebar is to have the right side be a function key. Lastly, a great fact about the PCB: it already has many effects built in, so you don't need to install any sketchy softwares.
For our switches, we're going with Kailh Box Jade switches. These have extremely thicc clicks that will give your ears joy every time you use them. The PCB that comes with the GK61 has Kailh hot-swap sockets, which are compatible with many switches such as Kailh and Cherry switches. Kailh Box Jades are clicky-type switches, like Blue, Green, or White switches. They're also $4.20 for 10 switches, so a great price for a world-class switch.
Since we're just starting off on our first build, we're going to be going with a super safe keycap set: the HyperX PBT Pudding Black set. This set looks great on most keyboards and also allows for a ton of RGB to shine through. Additionally, they're made of PBT instead of ABS plastic, which means they'll last longer and won't shine. If you have a theme to your setup, you can also get colored PBT keycaps for under $30 on Amazon. The pudding keycaps are controversial, however, with some saying they look ridiculous and some saying they're awesome. In my opinion, they're more on the "gamer" side, but since this is the self-therapist build, this is what we're recommending. Any PBT set that sticks with your aesthetic will do though.
For our cable, we're going with an excellent retractable USB-C to USB-A cable. I personally adore these cables because they make your desk look so clean without sacrificing any functionality. It will also match our minimal black aesthetic. However, you can also get a cable to match the color of your setup.
For our customization, we're going to be sticking with the fairly basic - lubing the stabilizers. You'll need some dielectric grease, although any silicone-based lubricant will work fine. Make sure it is not vaseline or any other petroleum-based lube as this will eat away at the insides of the keyboard. First, snap the wires out of the plastic parts, then take the cross-shaped piece out of the housing. Take a small paintbrush, dip it in the lube, brush it against the sides of the bottle to remove excess, and brush the insides of the housing lightly. Then, dip the wire in the grease, wipe off the excess, and put everything back together.
And that's our beginner-level "self-therapist" build. It will pleasure your senses with thicc clicks, beautiful RGB, and it has a comparatively beginner price at $130. Think that sounds expensive? Keyboard building, like most hobbies, will cost money - just like photography (lenses and cameras), sports (shoes, equipment), music (instruments, books, maintenance), and many more. And similar to those hobbies, if you not only put money into it, but thought and effort as well, you will end up with something beautiful.