Part II – Polishing a turd? Turning a budget mechanical keyboard into a Cadillac with a Gateron switch transplant

My switches are here! Time to start breaking this keyboard down. 

Tools Used:

  • Desoldering iron
  • Soldering iron
  • Solder wick
  • Small screwdriver 

It took about an hour to remove all the switches, it’s certainly something I wouldn’t want to do often. Some switches were easily removed but others had some solder residue left on the pins making it necessary to reheat the pins to remove the switch. Complicating the process the switches are clipped into the plate. Upon the last switch removal looks like I was able to remove them all without damaging any of the solder pads. 

Here we go!
One down, 103 to go!
Getting there

A great feeling!
 

Cup-o-Switches!

I ran into a problem when I test fitted the new switches.. I didn’t buy switches with room for a LED. Well looks like that awful RGB lighting is going away! I used a small pair of white cutters to cut the LEDs from the board. 

Look mah no LEDs!
 
With the LEDs off we could move forward with the lengthy process of fitting each switch into the mounting plate and soldering them in. 

Making progress
 
After the first few switches were in on the number pad I connected the keyboard to my pc to ensure it was going to work without the LEDs. It worked so I finished installing the rest of the Gateron Browns. 

All done!
 
Once all the soldering was complete the board went back into its casing and I screwed it all together for final testing. 
All of those Gateron Brown Switches!!
I was so excited to get my key caps back on, then I connected it and started testing. My heart sank when the W A S and D keys weren’t working, and the arrow keys were these keys. Then I realized it must be in game mode, holding function and escape cleared the mode and all was good; with all keys functioning as they should. 

How does it feel? Worlds better! It’s not loud and clacky any longer, the Gateron Browns are amazing. They have a good tactile feel to them, you can feel the bump. Not like the generic brown switches my office keyboard has. I’ll be toting this to work on Monday to replace the other board there. 

Total cost for the project? About $45 for the switches from mechanicalkeyboards.com, which by the way were shipped extremely quick! The Aukey was around $30 on sale on Amazon I believe. If you’ve got the skills it would be a project I’d recommend to turn a cheap keyboard into something a little more solid. A side note- the Aukey logo is not painted on but laser etched, you won’t be able to remove it. 

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