Solder Once, Never Again: Mill-Max Sockets

Something that intimidates new mechanical keyboard hobbyists is soldering. Additionally, when you are building a soldered keyboard, it is extremely painful when you want to change out stabilizers, and you have to desolder 60+ switches, or 120+ pins. However, if you want to make your PCB "hot-swappable", there must be tightly fitting sockets that the pins friction fit into. Although the best sockets are Kailh hot swap sockets, these are not compatible with most PCBs. The sockets that fit into every keyboard PCB are called Mill-Max sockets.

The first type of millmax sockets are made of tin, called 0305. You must put these into each pinhole in your PCB, tape them down, then flip the PCB over and apply some solder around the edges to secure them. Once they are all soldered in, you can remove the tape, and the sockets should stay in. You now can push switch pins through these sockets and they will friction fit nicely. They cost $0.12 per.


The second type is called 7305, and it's made of gold. These are identical to 0305, just slightly shorter. They are much more expensive (30 cents), but they may be necessary if there isn't much clearance between the PCB and the bottom of the case.

One thing you should keep in mind when using these sockets is that they are made of metal, and can short out the PCB. You should make sure when soldering that you don't accidentally connect circuits you don't want to. Additionally, you may want to put a layer of non-conductive material under the PCB to prevent shorting with a metal case.

You can buy these sockets in online groupbuys, or they are currently in stock at ringerkeys.com. Overall, if you want to avoid soldering in the future, I would definitely recommend trying these out. They are a fairly painless way to save a lot of time in the future.

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