Perfboard for keyboard key switches

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22 Aug 2015, 23:15

Perfboard and other boards like that won't accept Cherry and most other key switches
because the boards are on 0.1" / 2.54 mm centers.

For those of us with less money and not as electronically astute (at making PCB boards, etc.),
it would be nice to have a perfboard, with or without copper cladding like some have,
that has holes in it set to 1/8" centers or whatever would be best to have,
so we can play around more easily with making our own keyboards.
(using wire wrap or whatever -- making pretty much any format keyboard we want)

Maybe someone who knows more about this can design a "generic keyboard perfboard"
that can be somewhat mass produced by someone somewhere for this purpose.

You can always put a small regular perfboard on this board with electronics on it.

The size should either be large enough to create a "super-sized" board, or I suppose
it may not matter, because you can probably cut the boards and use two to make
as big a keyboard as you want, or small if you want to create a special "two-piece"
keyboard like some do. You could also make a smaller, long board to be angled across
the top for those kind of keyboards. And you could use it to make specialty keyboards,
like a keypad, or a hex keypad, etc.

It may require some specialty configurations for keys being offset.

I think this is a pretty good idea, but I'm not the person to do it.
I would definitely buy some boards like this, though.

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24 Aug 2015, 10:54

For better understanding, you mean a PCB with a lot of holes, to put switches at different positions but no tracks, so you can try almost every possible layout?

Just let me know the size and I can generate it within a few hours. The difficult part is always to place the tracks around those many holes. Making the holes for several switch positions is the easy task.

There is one little problem, though ...
HyperPerf_001.png (16.81 KiB) Viewed 1315 times

This would be no problem for Alps switches. But Cherry MX have those big holes in the center, which make sure that the PCB will be very labile.

Maybe, some switch positions can be left out, to make it a little more stable.


24 Aug 2015, 11:52

This is a great idea! Even you can build a complete keyboard with your new layout in conbination with ... he-enabler

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24 Aug 2015, 16:02

I don't know enough about all this to know what problems there are or may be.

Are you saying that Cherry keyswitches need a big middle hole to seat into because they have a protrusion at the bottom?

I'm not sure what the image is that you are showing. Is that an existing board example?

Because it doesn't look like a perfboard.

If Cherries do need a larger middle hole (larger than the perf holes), it may not be terrible to drill a hole
once you figure out your layout.
Maybe one of the perf holes would be the location of where the bigger hole would need to be?
So you could basically use it as a positioner for the drill?

I figured in this kind of a situation you might want to glue the key switches down to make them more stable anyway.
And a tight wire wrap would help, as well.

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24 Aug 2015, 16:55

Instead of Swiss cheese, you might be better off making single row, regularly spaced PCBs. We almost always want to make something with adjacent caps, after all. Several slim "boards" like that could then form modular building blocks for whatever you have in mind. They could even include tracks and positions for diodes, as each would be one row of your matrix. Stagger etc. is left for the builder. For the mods at either end, use something different.

Not that I would want this! I've built enough customs for now.

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24 Aug 2015, 18:06

In this case, just let me know how long these stripes should be and I can make them for at least 3 types of switches (more if you like).


26 Aug 2015, 17:14

I think the best way of doing this are stripes for 1u, 1.25u and 1.5u and making enabler-like single switch segments for other sizes.

As for sizes, I think 4 or 5 key stripes would be the the most flexible.

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26 Aug 2015, 19:52

I want to be able to make this keyboard.
If I can't then it's worthless to me. ... t9879.html


26 Aug 2015, 20:41

It just struck me: instead of mini-pcb's, why not make switch to perfboard adapters? Sure, they're probably gonna be a bit wobbly, but you wouldn't need to care about layout restrictions or pcb segment size. And any non-prototype design can't be supported by a segmented pcb anyway so you'd need a plate.

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26 Aug 2015, 23:18

That would probably work. It might be harder. I'm not sure.

Based on that, I was thinking, what about a "key switch socket" (basically what you're talking about), like an IC socket, that fits into a .1" perfboard, and then you just snap the key switches into them. I don't know if that would give you enough flexibility for configuration (offsets), but it might. But that's a huge manufacturing process for probably not a very large market.

They do have those single key switch "PCB's", but I can't find the link to them or the page. I think they cost about $0.40 each, or maybe cheaper in bulk.

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26 Aug 2015, 23:38

I have made adapters for individual Cherry MX and ALPS SKC keys to 0.1 inch spacing. They allow for 0.75″ spacing by rotating successive units 90°.

For the Cherry MX, a matrix diode can be installed either in the switch (through hole) or on the breakout board (surface mount); the ALPS board only has room for an SMD matrix diode. Both allow mounting an LED of the appropriate type — 3mm round for Cherry MX, 2mm × 5mm rectangle for APLS. (APLS variants with click plates have no room for an LED.)

The boards also have pins that bypass any installed matrix diode.

Except for the LED, all connections are duplicated at two or three points to simplify building a matrix.

Cherry and ALPS boards at OSH Park; Eagle files.

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18 Dec 2015, 07:58

kps wrote: I have made adapters for individual Cherry MX and ALPS SKC keys to 0.1 inch spacing.
I didn't and don't understand what you are saying here, so I ignored your post.
After re-reading it, it sounds interesting.
I think photos would help to make your explanation understandable.

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18 Dec 2015, 08:02

We had some interesting discussion and ideas mentioned here.
It's too bad it stopped and nothing was ever done.
I would try to encourage it to continue, but I don't know enough about this stuff
to know or say if one way is better or best or doable or what.

User avatar

18 Dec 2015, 08:14


This was one option i had planned on, before I realized MX switches have that big clunky protrusion on the bottom. The idea still stands though... If you make PC board strips, then you can have the top and bottom either join flush, or separated with headers to create custom key angles.

The idea I sketched would have used either drilled proto board or hand etched boards (I actually have copper clad large enough to do a TKL or my 75%+1 design easily). The intermediate layers int he rear were literally just extra layers of proto board, with headers soldered to structurally support the whole thing. In the end, I just had a custom plate cut.

I clicked the link to that post with the programmer's keyboard...
That post is like... There is NO middle ground in that post!
ALL the keys or none of 'em! no middle ground at all! :lol:
What is this 40%, a keyboard made for ants?!
And this programmer's keyboard... for the ant...arctic?
It's like pitting a canoe vs an aircraft carrier! And it's BEAUTIFUL! :mrgreen:

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18 Dec 2015, 12:26

I think this is an interesting idea if I understand what he did. ... #msg751840

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