What's a donor keyboard for housing SMK 2nd Gen Blue Switches?

User avatar

15 Oct 2019, 15:29

I recently traded one of my old model Ms for a bunch of 2nd Gen Monterey SMK Blue Alps mount switches. At first, I had buyer's remorse about them. They sound and feel almost linear with a wee bit of tactility as a single capless switch. When I set up a few of them in a row with keycaps, however, holy good god! They have an orgasmic feel and sound that's way better than my ALPS orange keycaps!

Right now, I need a quick, cheap and dirty donor keyboard to house them, preferably something far less desirable. I considered the bespoke SMK PCBs, but they will require a lot of time, effort and expense. In the future, I may do a proper custom build. Any recommendations?

User avatar

15 Oct 2019, 19:19

They're compatible with cherry plates (but not universal plates) and have a unique pin arrangement (not compatible with cherry or alps pcbs).

So your options are limited. You can get a Monterey/SMK donor board (defeats the point a bit), or handwire.

I built one with this pcb https://www.lfkeyboards.com/smk-tkl/ in a CM Quickfire Rapid case/plate and I'm happy with it, but there was one unexpected issue -- the Cooler Master plate has these little extra cutouts:


This prevents the smk switches from clipping in properly (some of them clip in but just barely). Once they're soldered the whole assembly is sturdy enough though. I know there are a couple varieties of the QFR, I don't know if they're all like this or mine was an oddball.

Post Reply

Return to “Workshop”