DIY 40% Keyboard: A budget perspective.

This project aims to introduce students to the world of PCB design by providing a tangible and functional end product to motivate them to learn and create. Traditionally, custom mechanical keyboards have been incredibly expensive, often spilling over and excess of $200, but my design aims to change this by providing a cheap and low cost alternative to traditional keyboards. This design uses as few “extended” components as possible and limits itself to mainly “basic” components which are usually readily available at a low cost from most manufacturers.

The keyboard features Cherry MX compatible hot swap sockets which aims to minimise long term cost and effort as users can easily change their switches based on their needs. Generally Cherry MX compatible switches are cheap and readily avaliable. Another unique choice is the use of the RP2040 chip, the same one found in the Raspberry Pi Pick, and right now it seems to be the best option in terms of availability, price and feature set.

The estimated total cost of this project from my end is around $180 due to my location in the UK and any significant savings as part of the sponsorship would be welcome. The final design will be opensource once completed with a detailed build guide which I will create in the coming weeks once I order and ensure it is working well. The future update will also feature a rotary encoder, something often absent on budget boards.

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Jun 08,2023
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