Custom TKL On The Cheap (TKLOTC)

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I just had this crazy idea. Custom TKLs are ridiculously expensive, but a lot of people love the form factor. What if we could take an existing platform and convince a manufacturer to sell the half finished boards as a kit with no support other than a basic guarantee that they left the factory in working order.
  • Coolermaster Masterkey S PBT as the base without switches, MCU, stabs or keycaps
  • Add Unloved Bastard MCUs with EasyAVR and eventually TMK/QMK
  • Profit
Enthusiasts could get a completely custom programmable platform to build a custom TKL at low cost, estimate this to be ~100USD even at retail prices; 65 for the PCB with switches at Amazon and 40USD for the MCU from 1upkeyboards.
If MD decided to pick it up, they could create packages with switches, stabs and keycap bundles to go with the base kit. Then if this took off, people could standardize around the CM M S PCB and offer aftermarket cases in Acrylic and Alu.
Anyone else think this is a workable idea or just plain stupid?
thumb_upDemonic77, JonathanPetr, and 21 others
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yanfali
1526
Mar 19, 2018
https://meckeyalpha.com/products/ma87v2diy now has a 70usd tenkeyless sandwich case kit available. Bootmapper based, but it looks pretty good with RGB underglow support.
Spangly4sho
27
Mar 5, 2018
I like this idea, my biggest wants have been to build some sort of hot-swappable tkl with a hefty case & Backlighting. while I don't think this idea addresses the hot swappable idea(maybe if the chosen pcb supports holtites or zeal pc's hot swap sockets) it does at least let me use switches of my own choice which is big.
yanfali
1526
Mar 5, 2018
Yes, I think that's an opportunity in the market. A hotswap TKL PCB with kailh sockets. Holtites are a bit finicky so they are for the adventurous.
yanfali
1526
Jan 25, 2018
Since MD is dropping the V80, I asked KBP if they were able to sell some V80 kits. Their response was interesting. They have enough in stock to satisfy MD but aren't planning on making any more until Q2 of 2018. All they have right now are 10 ALPS kits and plates, so if people wanted to build Alps TKLs you could potentially order one and get a kit.
To get MX kits, there would need to be enough volume. Their MOQ is 200 units before they'll kick off production again. I don't know if there is enough demand for 200 MOQ for a group buy. They suggested I contact mk.com and ask them if they were interested in taking that on.
Otherwise, I'll wait until 2nd quarter of 2018 and try again.
Primyds
20
Apr 4, 2019
Wondering if you have a link to the alps kit from kbparadise.
yanfali
1526
Jan 25, 2018
Since powder coating is a thing in keyboard cases, I wondered what a powder coated plate would look like. Turns out not half bad. This used to be a Coolermaster Quickfire Rapid plate. It's sitting on a LFK TKL PCB right now. Now to find a new case for it.
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DaveIsAFish
4
Jan 17, 2018
I‘d be very interested in this. I was looking at the Masterkeys Backlit option, but a), I disliked the stock Cherry MX switches, and b), it was out of stock. I should hope, however, that they don't mark up the price from the full keyboard (switches, key caps, etc.).
yanfali
1526
Jan 16, 2018
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LFK87 arrived today. Had a small heart attack when I saw how crushed the box was. PCB was in good condition though. Plate fits perfectly. Some mods are needed to plastic case, but nothing difficult.
I have to cut a hole in plate for split space.
yanfali
1526
Jan 14, 2018
Kbdfans 8x GB is now open. 225 for a case and PCB. Not cheap but at least it's QMK.
https://kbdfans.myshopify.com/collections/new-arrival/products/gbkbdfans-8x-mechanical-keyboard-kit
yanfali
1526
Jan 13, 2018
Wet sanded the plate to 800 grit. I'm pondering polishing it to a mirror finish before clear coating. Next up, make room for a split space bar.
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yanfali
1526
Jan 10, 2018
Not necessarily cheap but here comes kbdfans again https://kbdfans.myshopify.com/blogs/news/kbd-8x-aluminum-keyboard-kit
yanfali
1526
Jan 10, 2018
I finally had time to harvest the plate from the CM QFR I picked up from eBay. The PCB is sweet, it's old school and uses actually diodes and what looks like a simple 2 layer design. The off board controller is really awesome.
Here's the real prize though, the plate. It's what makes it compatible with a wide variety of Filco cases.
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Until I'm ready to buy one though the existing case will a fine home for an lfk87.
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