What mods can i do to an ASUS Strix Keyboard with CMX Blue Switches?

User avatar
razzlesama

29 Sep 2017, 06:57

Hi, i'm Razz, and i'm very very VERY new to the whole custom keyboard scene. So apologies in advance if i sound dumb af in the post below.

With that said, i have a new found interest in custom keyboards and want to try to get into the scene.
I've been using the Cherry MX Blue version of the ASUS Strix Tactic Pro keyboard for the better part of an year now and i've been loving it since the day i bought it. But a few days back i broke the stem of the space key raging too hard. (i know). I have to desolder the broken switch and replace it to get the keyboard running again, which is straight forward enough. But since it's been a while since i did anything DIY, i wanted to try messing with it.

Image

Is there some way i can mod this keyboard?
IE:
One of the things i hate about this keyboard is the Orange LEDs. Can i replace it with white ones? (Or maybe RGB ones)
Or, does this keyboard have a standardized layout so i can switch the casing for a better looking one (i really don't like the tacky look)
If this is not the case, i'm perfectly fine with sawing off the M key sections (and the num pad) if it makes it compatible in any way with a standard casing...

If everything fails, i'm even down with desoldering every switch from the board to use it in another project.

What do you think i could do here?

Thanks!

User avatar
hoaryhag

29 Sep 2017, 08:48

I would just solder in a new switch and call it good, sell it on ebay, and buy a different board. You aren't going to find a compatible case for that funky layout. Cutting the ten key off would mean cut traces on the pcb. Changing leds would also likely be way more work than you would want to do on that keyboard. I would do some research on this site and geekhack and try to figure out what keyboard you would really like to have. I started out with a new 60% board with mx reds, and now I'm typing on a large IBM Model F made in the 80's. There are so many kinds of mechanical keyboards out there. As you get more knowledgeable your horizons will broaden. Consider the quality of the keycaps and keyboard construction before you buy, as they will greatly impact the key feel.

Findecanor

29 Sep 2017, 08:59

No, the media keys and function keys make this very non-standard case layout. You could perhaps replace the keycaps, but replacement keycaps with all 1.25 modifiers on the bottom row is much more common.

If you saw off a section then you would saw through both a metal plate and a circuit board - and then you might need to replace sawed-off circuits with wires. That is unless there are electronics on that section. Circuit boards are made of fibreglass - and you would need to take precautions when sawing fibreglass so as not to inhale glass dust.

If you are good at building plastic models then perhaps you could saw off the ugly horns at the top of the case, fill the gaps with plastic and putty, sand it nice and flush and give it a few coats of spray paint.

andrewjoy

29 Sep 2017, 10:57

Wow that things ugly ... :P sorry.

I would replace the spacebar with a genuine cherry MX green ( green is the spacebar equivalent of blue) . Normally i would shy away from genuine cherry as they are not the best quality nowadays but it will hold the keyboards value better.

You could replace the LEDs but you may also have to replace the series resistor ( if there are any ) to change the colour but RGB will be allot of work.

User avatar
razzlesama

29 Sep 2017, 11:25

andrewjoy wrote: Wow that things ugly ... :P sorry.

I would replace the spacebar with a genuine cherry MX green ( green is the spacebar equivalent of blue) . Normally i would shy away from genuine cherry as they are not the best quality nowadays but it will hold the keyboards value better.

You could replace the LEDs but you may also have to replace the series resistor ( if there are any ) to change the colour but RGB will be allot of work.
Man all these sounds like i shouldn't be doing anything to this other than fix it and sell it. :(
hoaryhag wrote: I would just solder in a new switch and call it good, sell it on ebay, and buy a different board. You aren't going to find a compatible case for that funky layout. Cutting the ten key off would mean cut traces on the pcb. Changing leds would also likely be way more work than you would want to do on that keyboard. I would do some research on this site and geekhack and try to figure out what keyboard you would really like to have. I started out with a new 60% board with mx reds, and now I'm typing on a large IBM Model F made in the 80's. There are so many kinds of mechanical keyboards out there. As you get more knowledgeable your horizons will broaden. Consider the quality of the keycaps and keyboard construction before you buy, as they will greatly impact the key feel.
Haha i used an old IBM Kb-9910 for 14 years before i made the switch to my first gaming keyboard. It was such a nice keyboard though i don't know anything about what was it made of.

I just got interested in custom keyboards after watching a build video from Mekanisk. Lets see how this goes. If any mods to this isn't possible, i'll probably build an entirely new keyboard later this year.
Findecanor wrote: No, the media keys and function keys make this very non-standard case layout. You could perhaps replace the keycaps, but replacement keycaps with all 1.25 modifiers on the bottom row is much more common.

If you saw off a section then you would saw through both a metal plate and a circuit board - and then you might need to replace sawed-off circuits with wires. That is unless there are electronics on that section. Circuit boards are made of fibreglass - and you would need to take precautions when sawing fibreglass so as not to inhale glass dust.

If you are good at building plastic models then perhaps you could saw off the ugly horns at the top of the case, fill the gaps with plastic and putty, sand it nice and flush and give it a few coats of spray paint.
I thought so. And unfortunately i don't know the first thing about plastic casting. Though i could model and 3D print a case if i have time. For now i'll just fix the switch and use it while trying my luck at my first build.

Only problem i have right now is it's pretty impossible to find key switches in Sri Lanka. Only a handful of people here know about it, much less have them for sale. So my options are to import it through eBay. And the problem with that is, i'm not really sure of their quality.

Can i maybe ask advice on picking a good listing at eBay?
Thanks so much!

User avatar
razzlesama

02 Oct 2017, 11:04

Update:

I have decided on the mods i'm going to do on this keyboard.

1. LED Replacement. - Because this is quite easy and all it takes is time and soldering skills. Both of which i have.
2. Key cap replacement - This is something i'm not sure about, since i don't know about different types of them and i'm still learning about key caps.
3. I'll replace the broken switches
4. Make a wooden casing with a semi transparent acrylic base for some custom under-glow lighting - Only if i feel like it at the end.

I have a quick question before i decide on PCB modifications tho.
There are 3 portions of the keyboard N E V E R use.
1. 10 Macro keys on the left side - This section of the PCB doesn't appear to have any sort of components besides the mounting points for the switches and the LEDs for switches and logo. So i think this is removable
Image
2. Number pad - There are a bunch of components on the PCB on the right side and a connector for the media controller, so i don't think it's possible to be removed - i may be wrong.
Image
3. These 3 DUMB push button switches (DPBS) at the bottom - I pretty sure there's nothing else in that small protrusion
Image

Will the keyboard be functional if i cut off the macro keys and the DPBS part?

Also, about the key caps, this is an ANSI keyboard. Can i use an off the shelf set of PBT/ABS key caps to replace the OEM ones? Here is a picture of the default ones.
Image

Thank you for helping me out with this. I'm glad to have found a new nerdy hobby to spend my time on. ^_^

rich1051414

02 Oct 2017, 19:22

I would worry that the macro buttons are part of the matrix and severing them will disconnect the whole rows they are connected to from the matrix. With that black solder mask, I cannot see the traces to see how the matrix is laid out.

User avatar
razzlesama

02 Oct 2017, 20:51

rich1051414 wrote: I would worry that the macro buttons are part of the matrix and severing them will disconnect the whole rows they are connected to from the matrix. With that black solder mask, I cannot see the traces to see how the matrix is laid out.
Too bad. If i could get rid of the macro section and the num pad this would have been a perfect TKL board.
How about the three buttons at the bottom? Will they cause trouble if i took them out?

Also, what about he key caps? Would any cherry stem compatible ANSI keycap work on this?

Thanks.

rich1051414

03 Oct 2017, 02:53

Yes, any cherry mx compatible cap will do. Same story as before as far as removing sections from the board. No one can answer that without seeing a schematic and seeing what the consequences would be.

andrewjoy

03 Oct 2017, 18:28

Its MX brown , not blue ?

You want MX tactile grey for the spacebar then

wiki/Cherry_MX_Tactile_Grey

Or are they stock photos ?

User avatar
razzlesama

04 Oct 2017, 05:24

andrewjoy wrote: Its MX brown , not blue ?

You want MX tactile grey for the spacebar then

wiki/Cherry_MX_Tactile_Grey

Or are they stock photos ?
These are stock photos. I have the blue variant. Got some pictures too but i cant upload them in my network. All image hosting sites are blocked :(

Btw, do you think ASUS would share the schematics if i ask them politely and send a picture of a cute cat attached in the inquiry?

Someone good at electronics agreed to have a look at the board and he says it would be better if he had the schematics too.

User avatar
consolation

04 Oct 2017, 13:47

TBH, I'd leave the strix alone until you decide to sell it at some stage.

I'd start by going on aliexpress and getting a GH60 Satan PCB, plate and a simple acrylic / bent metal case; then look into some switches that interest you. I'd recommend trying some Matias clicks or if you want cherry stems, make some gatistotles - by combining Gaterons and Aristotles. Top if off with a set of thick but generic PBT caps. It should cost you under 100$, that you don't have to spend in one lump and get you making your first keyboard, switches and 60% layout. If you really need a TKL that will cost you little bit more; you can always get fancy doubleshots or aluminium case later. It will get you into the hobby on a budget and you will have a really neat keyboard with cool switches.

As far as vintage boards go, isn't there a starter kit being run by some members?
Last edited by consolation on 05 Oct 2017, 00:12, edited 1 time in total.

andrewjoy

04 Oct 2017, 18:52

Wait ... you can get generic TKL layout alps compatible PCBs and plates from aliexpress ?

Why have i not been told this ????

User avatar
Nuum

04 Oct 2017, 20:53

razzlesama wrote: [...]

Also, what about he key caps? Would any cherry stem compatible ANSI keycap work on this?

Thanks.
Careful with that, this keyboard has a 6u spacebar, which is very hard to come by. Also the bottom row mods are not exactly standard, but you should be able to get some keycaps for them.

User avatar
consolation

05 Oct 2017, 00:08

andrewjoy wrote: Wait ... you can get generic TKL layout alps compatible PCBs and plates from aliexpress ?

Why have i not been told this ????
Look at the 87 key kit ;) I was suggesting a GH60 based 60% as a starter for OP, but if you need a tkl, you need a tkl. GH60=60%, 84 key=75%, 87 key = TKL...

User avatar
razzlesama

05 Oct 2017, 16:49

consolation wrote: TBH, I'd leave the strix alone until you decide to sell it at some stage.

I'd start by going on aliexpress and getting a GH60 Satan PCB, plate and a simple acrylic / bent metal case; then look into some switches that interest you. I'd recommend trying some Matias clicks or if you want cherry stems, make some gatistotles - by combining Gaterons and Aristotles. Top if off with a set of thick but generic PBT caps. It should cost you under 100$, that you don't have to spend in one lump and get you making your first keyboard, switches and 60% layout. If you really need a TKL that will cost you little bit more; you can always get fancy doubleshots or aluminium case later. It will get you into the hobby on a budget and you will have a really neat keyboard with cool switches.

As far as vintage boards go, isn't there a starter kit being run by some members?
Actually, the budget isn't a problem. I would spend as much as required for my outcome to be as high quality as possible. And Since i already replaced the Strix with a new keyboard, i'm not in a hurry to repair or sell this for money at all.

Besides, i actually want to do a 'mod', because that's where my expertise are (probably around 10 years of PC modding). I kinda get i could repair this thing and sell it... but i'm really not pressed for money at the moment.

I have designed everything needed for the mod, and waiting to purchase everything including the key caps, wood, acrylic, metal, paint, paint stripper, sandpaper, new LEDs, replacement switches, O rings and an addressable LED strip for a little surprise... All my power tools are ready, I have made the custom key layout... so as of yesterday, everything is set for this to be done. :D

Only thing i'm still not sure about is if cutting the board to make it TKL will break the circuit. I'm handing over the PCB to one of my electrician friends tomorrow so he could test the board and tell me for sure. IF cutting isn't possible, i'll probably repair and sell.
Nuum wrote:
Careful with that, this keyboard has a 6u spacebar, which is very hard to come by. Also the bottom row mods are not exactly standard, but you should be able to get some keycaps for them.
How is it different from a standard ANSI key cap? This is what i wanted to know. Good thing i didn't order the keycaps yet :D

User avatar
Nuum

05 Oct 2017, 17:42

So the keyboard you have has a bottom row like this: 1.5u - 1u - 1.25u - 6u - 1.5u - 1u - 1u - 1.5u, where 'u' designates the Size (Unit) of a standard keycaps like the ones used for the alpha keys.
Normally standard ANSI sets have a 1.25u - 1.25u - 1.5u - 6.25u - 1.25u - 1.25u - 1.25u - 1.25u bottom row, some times they also have keycaps for a 1.5u - 1u - 1.5u - 7u - 1.5u - 1u - 1.5u bottom row.
Bottom row styles.PNG
Bottom row styles.PNG (9.91 KiB) Viewed 1080 times
Last edited by Nuum on 06 Oct 2017, 11:24, edited 1 time in total.

andrewjoy

06 Oct 2017, 01:31

consolation wrote:
andrewjoy wrote: Wait ... you can get generic TKL layout alps compatible PCBs and plates from aliexpress ?

Why have i not been told this ????
Look at the 87 key kit ;) I was suggesting a GH60 based 60% as a starter for OP, but if you need a tkl, you need a tkl. GH60=60%, 84 key=75%, 87 key = TKL...
And they work with alps ?

Mind ...... blown

User avatar
consolation

06 Oct 2017, 01:34

And... they are fully programmable!

User avatar
razzlesama

06 Oct 2017, 08:19

andrewjoy wrote:
consolation wrote:
andrewjoy wrote: Wait ... you can get generic TKL layout alps compatible PCBs and plates from aliexpress ?

Why have i not been told this ????
Look at the 87 key kit ;) I was suggesting a GH60 based 60% as a starter for OP, but if you need a tkl, you need a tkl. GH60=60%, 84 key=75%, 87 key = TKL...
And they work with alps ?

Mind ...... blown
Actually, i'm thinking of putting off a 60% build until i feel comfortable enough with TKL. That's because as a gamer that plays for a team and that's been playing on 100%+ keyboards ( :P ) for a while, i'm a bit afraid function layers would hinder my performance in some indirect way.

User avatar
razzlesama

06 Oct 2017, 08:20

Nuum wrote: So the keyboard you have has a bottom row like this: 1.5u - 1u - 1.5u - 6u - 1.5u - 1u - 1u - 1.5u, where 'u' designates the Size (Unit) of a standard keycaps like the ones used for the alpha keys.
Normally standard ANSI sets have a 1.25u - 1.25u - 1.5u - 6.25u - 1.25u - 1.25u - 1.25u - 1.25u bottom row, some times they also have keycaps for a 1.5u - 1u - 1.5u - 7u - 1.5u - 1u - 1.5u bottom row.
Bottom row styles.PNG
I see. And how can I go about buying key caps for such a configuration? Would i have to get it custom made?

User avatar
Nuum

06 Oct 2017, 11:23

consolation wrote:
andrewjoy wrote: Wait ... you can get generic TKL layout alps compatible PCBs and plates from aliexpress ?

Why have i not been told this ????
Look at the 87 key kit ;) I was suggesting a GH60 based 60% as a starter for OP, but if you need a tkl, you need a tkl. GH60=60%, 84 key=75%, 87 key = TKL...
Are you sure that those work with Alps switches? The pin layout looks like it's made just for Cherry MX style switches.
razzlesama wrote: I see. And how can I go about buying key caps for such a configuration? Would i have to get it custom made?
Your only problem is the 6u spacebar, all the other keys should be readily available in most shops. I honestly don't know where to get a 6u spacebar outside of specialized group buys. Custom manufacturing will be very expensive!

User avatar
razzlesama

06 Oct 2017, 11:41

Nuum wrote:
consolation wrote:
andrewjoy wrote: Wait ... you can get generic TKL layout alps compatible PCBs and plates from aliexpress ?

Why have i not been told this ????
Look at the 87 key kit ;) I was suggesting a GH60 based 60% as a starter for OP, but if you need a tkl, you need a tkl. GH60=60%, 84 key=75%, 87 key = TKL...
Are you sure that those work with Alps switches? The pin layout looks like it's made just for Cherry MX style switches.
razzlesama wrote: I see. And how can I go about buying key caps for such a configuration? Would i have to get it custom made?
Your only problem is the 6u spacebar, all the other keys should be readily available in most shops. I honestly don't know where to get a 6u spacebar outside of specialized group buys. Custom manufacturing will be very expensive!
ugh that means i'll have to use that god awful OEM key cap... :( Sadness.

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