Here’s something a bit different! A giant hand-wired ortholinear keyboard, sticker-bombed with anime characters and crammed into a vintage cherry rc128bm case!
Hi there, who are you and where are you from?
I’m Ren and I’m from the USA.
What attracted you to the world of mechanical keyboards?
Well my very first mechanical keyboard was a Razer Blackwidow Chroma v2, and don’t worry I’m definitely ashamed of it now. I initially was attracted to the customizable rgb and macros that came with having a “high end” keyboard. While I was looking for alternatives, I finally discovered the world of custom mechanical keyboards. I was even further drawn in by the possibilities of building whatever layout and design I wanted.
What were you looking for in your perfect keyboard? Do you think you achieved it?
Unfortunately, this build is not along the lines of a perfect keyboard for me. I am a die-hard split-ergo-ortholinear guy. But I did, however, achieve what I wanted with this board. I have a massive ortholinear board that I am free to use as a macropad or full-size keyboard or whatever I want at any time, which is quite nice.
Tell us about the case? What did you go for and why?
I wanted to improve the look of the rc128bm case, and I only knew one solution. Hatsune Miku stickers! As a weeb I am legally required to carry a bag of waifu stickers on me at all times and I finally put them to use.
What switches did you go with? Why?
The cherry rc128bm comes with vintage cherry mx blacks, which are a favorite of mine. A big benefit of ortholinear is not having to deal with those horrible stabilisers. Never again.
How about the PCB?
Well here’s the thing, is there a PCB? Yes. Did I use it? No. This case had so much space that I was able to handwire with a Teensy2.0++ over top of the pcb and use that instead. This fixes issues that the keyboard had anyway despite the fact it wasn’t working, like 2kro. Running qmk firmware as probably expected.
Did you use a plate? What’s it made out of?
Yes, I used the aluminum plate that was part of the original cherry rc128bm.
And of course… what keycaps are you wearing today?
Simply 128 white DSA blanks. A look that doesn’t make it easier to find the home row that’s for sure, but I tried to pick something to match the sticker bomb.
Tell us about the Lube!
Krytox 205g0, my standard, works well enough in my opinion.
Anything else went into this endgame build?
A little bit of my sanity.
Cheeky question… how much did it all cost?
Original rc128bm (switches included): $45, Keycaps: $40, Teensy2.0++:$5 Lube, wires, solder, stickers: always on hand. Total: ~$90
How long did it take you to build this keyboard from start to finish?
Well, I hate to admit it, but this has been an on and off project for about 6 months. I’ve probably spent ~30hrs of actual work and research to get this one done. It was quite the long haul as far as a normal build usually goes.
How is the typing experience?
It’s actually more comfortable than it would seem, as I programmed the layout to act as a split (by that I mean there is a numpad between the normal split layout), which means my hands can sit more comfortably. On top of that vintage Cherry Blacks are quite the genuine typing experience that just can’t be replicated anymore.
If you could change anything about this keyboard what would it be?
I would break it in half and tent it. Unfortunately, I am not talented enough to pull that off.
Do you have any other keyboards in the works?
I’ve got two split keyboards coming up soon, and a cyberdeck in its early stages, so mostly just experimenting with new layouts.
Finally… time to promote yourself. Where can we find you online and what do you do?
You can find me at my blog-project-random website: relivesight.com, all of my socials are linked in my bio there, you can catch me all over the net~ I mostly spend my free time building keyboards, doing motion or graphic design, working on video projects, 3d printing, and speedrunning games.