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Modding Your Mechanical Keyboard: A Comprehensive Guide to Tuning and Customization

Introduction

Mechanical keyboards offer a superior typing experience and customization potential compared to their membrane counterparts. However, to truly optimize your mechanical keyboard for comfort, performance, and aesthetics, you'll need to delve into the art of tuning. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the fascinating world of mechanical keyboard tuning, whether you're aiming for a silent, office-friendly keyboard or a clicky, tactile beast for gaming and typing, we've got you covered.

Modding Your Mechanical Keyboard to Perfection

By the end of this guide, you'll have the knowledge and skills to transform your mechanical keyboard into a personalized masterpiece that not only looks stunning on your desk but also provides an unparalleled typing experience tailored to your preferences. So, let's embark on this journey of discovery and refinement as we unlock the secrets to optimizing your mechanical keyboard to perfection.

 

Table of Contents:

 

What Does a Modded Keyboard Mean?

A modded keyboard, short for a "modified keyboard," refers to a mechanical keyboard that has undergone customization or changes from its original factory setup. These modifications are made to enhance the keyboard's performance, appearance, or functionality according to the user's specific preferences. Modifying a keyboard usually involves making alterations to various components such as switches, keycaps, stabilizers, and sometimes even the keyboard's firmware or layout.

 Modding Your Mechanical Keyboard

These are some common alterations or customizations that can be applied to a modded keyboard:

  1. Switch Replacement: Users may opt to replace the keyboard's original switches with different ones to achieve a particular typing sensation, actuation force, or sound.
  2. Switch Lubrication: Applying specialized lubricants to switches can make keypresses smoother and reduce friction, resulting in an improved typing experience.
  3. Stabilizer Modifications: Stabilizers can be adjusted or modified to minimize key wobbling and provide a more stable surface for typing.
  4. Keycap Exchanges: Custom keycap sets are frequently used to change the keyboard's appearance and tactile feel. Users can select various keycap materials, profiles, and colors to match their preferences.
  5. Sound Dampening: The addition of dampening materials like foam or silicone inside the keyboard's case can reduce the noise produced by keypresses, resulting in a quieter keyboard.
  6. Firmware Customization: In some cases, modded keyboards permit users to personalize the keyboard's firmware, allowing for functions like macro programming, key remapping, and other advanced features.
  7. Layout and Key Mapping Adjustments: Users may modify the keyboard's layout to better suit their requirements, including creating custom key mappings and layers.
  8. Case Modifications: For advanced modders, even the keyboard's case, shape, or materials may be altered to achieve a distinct appearance or feel.

Customizing a keyboard through modding empowers enthusiasts to tailor their typing experience precisely to their liking. The outcome is a keyboard that perfectly matches their individual preferences and requirements, often resulting in a unique and standout keyboard that goes beyond standard, store-bought options.

 

Glossary of Important Terms

Mechanical Keyboard Mods

  1. Switch: The individual keys on a mechanical keyboard have switches underneath them. Switches come in various types, each offering different tactile feedback and actuation force.
  2. Keycap: The visible and often removable part of a keyboard key that you press. Keycaps can be customized for aesthetics and feel.
  3. Stabilizer: A mechanism used under larger keys (like the Enter or Spacebar) to prevent wobbling and ensure a consistent keypress.
  4. Lubing: The process of applying lubricant to switches and stabilizers to reduce friction, making keypresses smoother and quieter.
  5. Hot-Swappable: A feature that allows you to change switches without soldering, making customization easier.
  6. Layout: The arrangement of keys on the keyboard, such as QWERTY, AZERTY, or Dvorak.
  7. Function Layer: A secondary layer of keys that can be accessed using a modifier key (usually labeled Fn). This expands the keyboard's functionality without adding physical keys.
  8. Keycap Profile: The shape of the keycaps, which can affect typing comfort and aesthetics. Common profiles include OEM, SA, DSA, and Cherry.
  9. RGB Lighting: Customizable backlighting with a full spectrum of colors, allowing you to personalize the keyboard's appearance.
  10. Sound Dampening: Techniques or materials used to reduce the noise produced by keypresses, making the keyboard quieter.
  11. Tactile Feedback: The physical response you feel when a keypress is registered, often described as a bump in the keypress.
  12. Customization: The process of modifying various aspects of the keyboard, such as switches, keycaps, and firmware, to suit personal preferences.
  13. Modding: Short for "modifying," it refers to making custom changes or enhancements to the keyboard to improve its performance or appearance.
  14. Switch Lube: Lubricant applied to switches to reduce friction and create a smoother keystroke.
  15. Keymap: The layout of keys on a keyboard, including which characters or functions are associated with each key.
  16. Thock: Used to describe a deeper sound when typing.
  17. Clack: The opposite of thock, used to describe a high-pitched sound while typing.
  18. Ping: A resonating metallic sound heard when pressing down most stock switches. Lubing the spring inside the switch can oftentimes fix this problem.
  19. Stem: The plastic piece in the center of a switch that the keycap slots onto. Usually in the shape of a cross known as “cherry mx style”
  20. PCB: Printed Circuit Board. Think of this as sort of like your motherboard on a PC. Everything makes its electrical connection through this board.
  21. Flex: How much the keyboard will flex while pressing down a switch all the way. Most noticeable with gasket-mounted keyboards as they provide more actual room for the plate and PCB to move under pressure.
  22. Plate: There are two main types of plates that the switches lock into. Polycarbonate plates are typically softer and provide a deeper sound while a metal (usually brass) plate will have a more clacky, higher pitched sound profile.
  23. Mounting Style: How the PCB and plate attach to the case of the keyboard. Popular mounting styles include: gasket mount, top mount, tray mount, and friction-fit (o-ring mount).
  24. Linear: The most popular switch archetype. Linear switches has a smooth up and down travel without any other feedback until you bottom out. 
  25. Tactile: The 2nd most popular switch archetype. Tactile switches have a bump somewhere in the travel range of the stem. The bump can be at the very beginning or even all the way at the end and anywhere in between depending on the switch. The bump does not indicate switch actuation. 
  26. Clicky: Clicky switches are pretty self-explanatory. Somewhere in the travel of the stem, there will be both a physical bump as well as an audible “click”. Neither the bump nor the click indicate switch actuation.

 

Reasons to Modify Mechanical Keyboards

Modifying a mechanical keyboard can offer a range of benefits and advantages tailored to individual preferences and needs. Here are some common reasons why people choose to modify their mechanical keyboards:

Should You Modify Your Mechanical Keyboard?

 

This customization is driven by a desire to align the keyboard with our personal preferences. For instance, some users prefer a keyboard with almost effortless keystrokes, often achieved by installing a "speed" switch, typically identifiable by its silver color. These switches require minimal stem travel before registering a keypress and are paired with a light spring for easy actuation. On the contrary, others, including myself, favor a more robust tactile switch that demands greater force to depress. The advantage of such switches lies in their reduced likelihood of accidental keystrokes, as they necessitate a deliberate commitment to actuate.

In the keyboard market today, you can find a variety of options catering to enthusiasts who wish to enhance their typing experience. Brands like Redragon design keyboards with the intention of allowing users to perform modifications, thus making them even better than their original configurations. Additionally, there are keyboards available that come pre-equipped with popular modifications right out of the box, ensuring users can immediately enjoy a tailored typing experience without the need for further adjustments.

Should You Modify Your Mechanical Keyboard?

Modding Your Mechanical Keyboard

Modifying a mechanical keyboard can be a rewarding endeavor, but it's essential to consider the associated risks and factors before diving into the world of keyboard customization. Below, we've outlined important risks and factors to bear in mind:

  1. Voiding Warranty: Most keyboard manufacturers have warranties that may be voided if you open the keyboard or make significant modifications. Check your keyboard's warranty terms and understand the potential consequences of voiding it.
  2. Technical Expertise: Many keyboard modifications require technical skills such as soldering, desoldering, and firmware programming. If you lack these skills, you may need to invest time in learning or seek professional assistance.
  3. Time Investment: Modifying a keyboard can be time-consuming, especially if you're new to the process. Be prepared to dedicate time and effort to achieve your desired results.
  4. Risk of Damage: Mistakes can happen during the modification process, leading to damage to your keyboard, switches, or other components. Careful handling and attention to detail are crucial to avoid costly errors.
  5. Compatibility: Ensure that any replacement parts, keycaps, or switches you purchase are compatible with your specific keyboard model. Not all components are universal, and compatibility issues can arise.
  6. Experimentation: Modding a keyboard often involves experimentation to find the perfect combination of switches, keycaps, and modifications for your preferences. Be prepared for trial and error.
  7. Resale Value: Modifications can impact the resale value of your keyboard. If you plan to sell it in the future, potential buyers may have different preferences regarding customizations.
  8. Budget: Consider your budget for modifications. High-quality keycaps, switches, and other components can add up in cost. Ensure that the improvements you make align with your budgetary constraints.
  9. Soldering and Desoldering Risks: If you're soldering or desoldering components, there's a risk of damaging the keyboard's printed circuit board (PCB) if not done correctly. Precision and patience are essential.
  10. Firmware and Software: Firmware customization can be powerful but may also introduce software-related issues if not properly configured. Make backups of your original firmware and proceed with caution.
  11. Community and Resources: Joining online communities or forums dedicated to keyboard enthusiasts can be helpful for guidance and troubleshooting. Many experienced modders are willing to offer advice and assistance.

Can you mod a regular keyboard?

Modifying a regular or non-mechanical keyboard is possible to some extent, but it's important to note that the level of customization and the types of modifications you can make are limited compared to mechanical keyboards. Here are some common modifications you can consider for a regular keyboard:

  1. Keycap Replacement: Many regular keyboards allow you to remove and replace keycaps. You can find aftermarket keycap sets with various colors, styles, and materials to change the keyboard's appearance and feel.
  2. Sound Dampening: You can reduce typing noise on a regular keyboard by adding dampening materials like foam or silicone inside the keyboard casing. This can help make it quieter.
  3. Stickers and Decals: For aesthetic customization, you can apply stickers or decals to the keyboard's surface. This is a non-permanent way to personalize the look of your keyboard.
  4. Key Labels: You can add or replace key labels with custom keycap labels or stickers to create a unique key layout.
  5. Cleaning and Maintenance: Regular cleaning and maintenance can improve the overall condition and performance of your keyboard.

However, there are limitations to what you can do with a regular keyboard:

limitations to what you can do with a regular keyboard

 

How to Modify Mechanical Keyboards?

Modifying a mechanical keyboard allows you to tailor it to your specific preferences for aesthetics, typing feel, and performance. Here are some common modifications you can make:

1. Upgrade Your Keycaps:

Upgrade Your Keycaps

Redragon's blog post dives into the diverse world of custom keycaps, offering valuable insights for those looking to personalize their keyboards. Let's explore the key aspects of choosing and replacing keycaps.

The Visual Impact of Keycaps

Keycaps are the most noticeable feature of a keyboard. While the case frames the overall look, the keycaps are what you interact with and see the most. When selecting keycaps, consider their translucency, especially for backlit keyboards. Some keycaps are designed to allow light through the sides, others evenly diffuse light, while some only illuminate the legends (the characters on the keys). Beyond functionality, there's a wide range of aesthetic choices, from novelty designs encased in resin to keycaps themed around popular memes.

Design, Material, and Texture Variations

Keycaps come in a plethora of designs, colors, textures, and materials, each affecting not just the keyboard's appearance but also its sound and tactile feel. Heavier keycaps might facilitate easier key presses but could be slower to return to their original position if too heavy. They might also absorb more sound, leading to a quieter typing experience. You can even find keycaps with unique textures, like velvet, for a distinct touch.

Fitting and Compatibility

Most keycaps have a plus-shaped hole on the underside, fitting snugly over the switch's plunger. Larger keys, such as the spacebar, come with additional sockets to accommodate stabilizers, ensuring consistent action across the key's surface.

Removing and Replacing Keycaps

For keycap removal, a keycap puller is essential. These tools vary in design and quality, with higher-end wire pullers being a worthy investment. They securely grip the keycap from underneath, minimizing the risk of damage, especially to softer plastic keys. To remove a keycap, slide the puller down over it until it hooks under the cap, then pull straight up. In some cases, the switch might come up with the keycap, which can be easily reinserted into the keyboard.

A Tip for Keycap Replacement

When replacing keycaps, it's a good practice to take a photo of your keyboard layout beforehand. This reference can prevent confusion about where each keycap belongs, avoiding mix-ups like swapping the "+" and "-" keys. As someone who has made this mistake, I can attest to the usefulness of this tip, even for touch typists.

Choosing the Right Keycap Puller

There are typically two types of keycap pullers: a more common red plastic one and a superior black handle wire puller. The wire puller is preferable for its gentle yet secure grip, especially important for delicate or expensive custom keycaps. If you're investing in high-quality keycaps, opting for a better puller is a small but significant step to protect your investment.

Installing New Keycaps

Once you've chosen your new keycaps, installation is straightforward. Press them firmly onto the switch, ensuring they slide on securely. This simple process can dramatically transform your keyboard's look and feel.

Note on Switch Pullers

The metal horseshoe-shaped tool mentioned alongside the red keycap puller is a switch puller, which will be covered in more detail in a separate section. This tool is specifically designed for safely removing switches from the keyboard.

In summary, customizing your keyboard with unique keycaps is an exciting way to personalize your typing experience. With the right tools and knowledge, switching out keycaps can be a simple yet impactful modification.

    2.Upgrade Your Switches:

      Upgrade Your Switches

      In the dynamic landscape of mechanical keyboards, switches play a crucial role in defining the typing experience. Redragon's blog post delves into the intricacies of different switch types, each harboring unique qualities. Let's explore these types further.

      Clicky Switches: The Audible Performers

      Clicky switches are renowned for their distinct audible click upon actuation, signaling the completion of an electrical circuit. These switches are known for their tactile feedback, though some variants may offer a more linear feel. They are the noisiest among switch types, favored by gamers for the instant audio feedback correlating with the circuit completion.

      Tactile Switches: The Quieter Cousins

      Tactile switches offer a quieter typing experience compared to clicky switches. They contain an internal component that adds resistance, noticeable as a ridge during actuation. This resistance point allows for a smooth bottoming out of the key if desired. Combining tactile with clicky switches can create a unique experience, offering both tactile and audio feedback - ideal for gaming keyboards that demand precision input and feedback.

      Linear Switches: The Smooth Operators

      Linear switches are characterized by their consistent feel from the start of the press to bottoming out. Unlike membrane keyboards, they actuate around the halfway point without the resistance of tactile switches or the sound of clicky switches. The actuation is typically silent, with the computer response being the only indicator of a successful keypress. Linear switches are often favored for typing due to their ease of pressing.

      Beyond Switches: Keycaps and Foam Gaskets

      The sound of a keyboard is influenced not just by the switches but also by keycaps and other components like foam gaskets. These gaskets, placed between the keycaps and the backplane, can further dampen sound, especially in combination with linear switches, potentially creating a near-silent keyboard. However, custom-fitting these gaskets can be a challenging yet rewarding task for keyboard enthusiasts.

      Redragon's Range of Switches

      Redragon offers a variety of switches, each with its resistance level:

      • Red, yellow, and black switches are linear with light, medium, and heavy resistances, respectively.
      • Brown and clear switches are generally tactile with medium and heavy resistance.
      • Blue and Green switches are clicky, also with medium and heavy resistances.

      Brown switches are a common inclusion in mechanical keyboards due to their balanced tactile feedback, neither too noisy nor too quiet, and are widely regarded as pleasant to type on.

      Switch Replacement and Modification Tips

      When replacing switches, using a switch puller is essential. This tool, often included with new switches like those from Redragon, helps remove switches safely. It's vital to pull straight up to avoid bending the pins. Compatibility with 3 or 5-pin backplanes is another consideration, with the possibility of modifying 5-pin switches to fit 3-pin configurations.

      For enthusiasts looking to further modify switches, lubrication is a common approach. It can enhance smoothness but may also reduce tactility if overdone. Excess lubricant can be removed with rubbing alcohol. Tools like switch openers are handy for such modifications, allowing users to access and alter the switches, including converting tactile switches to linear or applying lubricants for smoother action.

        3. Stabilizer Modifications:

          Stabilizer Modifications

          In the realm of keyboard customization, beyond the well-known switches, there's a world of stabilizers available. These components, much like switches, can be modified to suit your specific preferences and needs. A key aspect of stabilizers is their design where pressing one stabilizer often activates another, courtesy of a connecting bar. This ensures that large keys, typically those with a switch in the middle, press down evenly and activate the switch consistently regardless of where you press.

          The Art of Lubricating Stabilizers

          A common practice in stabilizer optimization is lubrication. Applying lube to the stabilizers facilitates a smoother movement, enhancing both the upstroke and downstroke of the key. However, it's crucial to tread lightly with lubrication. Over-lubrication, or using a lube that's too thick, can lead to a gummy mechanism, causing keys, especially wider ones like the spacebar, to stick.

          A Practical Approach to Lube Application

          When lubricating stabilizers, it's advisable to start with a very thin layer. This can prevent the issues associated with excessive lubrication. If you encounter a situation where a key sticks due to over-lubrication, a simple solution is to use rubbing alcohol. This can help remove some of the excess lube. Starting fresh after this cleaning process can make a significant difference.

            4. Sound-Proof Your Mechanical Keyboard:

            Sound-Proof Your Mechanical Keyboard

            In the world of keyboard customization, enthusiasts continuously seek methods to refine their typing experience. One prevalent approach is enhancing the keyboard's auditory profile. While the choice of switches plays a pivotal role in defining the sound, the keyboard case can often be a source of undesirable noise. This noise may manifest as echoes, harsh pings, or sharper tonal qualities.

            Effective Solutions for Sound Optimization in Keyboards

            To combat these auditory issues, two popular modifications are widely employed. The first involves integrating sound-dampening foam within the keyboard's case. The second, known as the "tape mod," is a simpler but effective technique.

            The Role of Sound-Dampening Foam in Keyboard Acoustics

            High-quality keyboards like the Redragon K673 Pro often include pre-installed foam, designed to mitigate excess sound. However, enthusiasts seeking a personalized sound profile may opt to add extra foam. This not only tailors the acoustic output to personal preferences but also enhances sound dampening. When adding foam, it’s advisable to use the existing foam as a template for tracing and cutting. This ensures a perfect fit, especially in cases with complex internal structures like standoffs and batteries.

            Budget-Friendly Modifications for Improved Keyboard Sound

            One cost-effective solution for sound dampening is utilizing the packaging foam that comes with the keyboard. It's essential to ensure that the selected foam is safe and non-conductive, particularly if it contacts the keyboard's PCB. This precaution is crucial to avoid short-circuiting the keyboard or, in extreme cases, causing a battery fire.

            The Tape Mod: A Trending Sound Enhancement Technique

            Popularized by the Youtuber "Tempest," the tape mod is an increasingly popular method for reducing hollow sounds in keyboards. This mod involves applying multiple layers of tape, preferably painter’s tape for its reversibility, to the underside of the PCB. Care must be taken to accommodate any wires or cables. This mod not only refines the sound but also serves as a protective layer against metallic-backed foams.

              5. Get a Custom USB Cable:

              Get a Custom USB Cable

              A custom USB cable can add a unique touch to your keyboard setup. You can find a variety of colors and designs for USB cables.

              Steps:

              • Purchase a custom USB cable from a reputable supplier.
              • Connect the custom cable to your keyboard and computer.

              Remember to carefully research and follow specific instructions for your keyboard model, as the modification process can vary. Additionally, consider the compatibility of the keycaps, switches, and other components with your keyboard before making any modifications. Modifying your mechanical keyboard can result in a personalized and satisfying typing experience tailored to your preferences.

               

              Using the FIZZ K617 White & Pink Keyboard as an example for modification:

              K617pink_blog_10

              Step 1: Choosing the Right Switch

              My go-to mods for a new keyboard that just doesn’t quite feel exactly how I need it to are first the switches. In my honest opinion, the switches in the keyboard are the most crucial component that makes the largest impact on if someone will like their purchase.

              Follow this guide to decide on a style of switch. You’ll also need a selection of tools and materials on hand. A quality switch opener for cherry and Kailh style switches will make your life easier. A decent wire keycap puller will preserve the finish of your keycaps. A lube brush, stem holder and lubing station can often be purchased as a kit.

               

              Step 2: Recommended Switches

              I’ll also link some of my personal favorite switches.

              Redragon Crystal Panda

              Redragon Bullet-F A113 Wukong

              Redragon Bullet-R A113 Neon

              Redragon Bullet-S A113 Silver

               

              Step 3: Lubricating Your Switches

              After finding a switch you’re fond of, (I used the Bullet-S A113 Silver for this article) you can take it a step further and lube them if they didn’t already arrive pre-lubed. When lubing a switch take note of the style of switch it is as the process is slightly different depending on if it's a linear or a tactile for example. Linear switches you can lube the entire stem whereas on tactile and clicky switches, you want to avoid getting any lube on the small legs of the stem as that will mute the tactile bump and/or click. You only need a slight layer of lube on the stem and bottom housing. Just enough to where you can see the clear sheen on the plastic but not enough to where the lube is white. If you see the color of the lube on the components, you’ve put too much.

              K617_pink_blog

              K617pink_blog_1

               

              Step 4: Upgrading Keycaps

              After lubing your switches, swapping your keycaps to a higher quality and normally thicker walled keycap will help dial in the sound profile you’re after. Most people prefer keycaps between 1.2mm and 1.5mm thick. Keycaps also come in a wide variety of profiles so it may take you a couple tries to find the perfect shape. Take a peak at this guide to help make an informed decision. I kept most of the stock keycaps from my K617 since it matched the theme well and just added some accent pieces.

              K617pink_blog_2

              K617pink_blog_3

              K617pink_blog_4

               

              Step 5: Stabilizers: Modify or Replace

              After deciding on a new keycap set, you will take a look at the stabs. Sometimes you can get a better result by simply replacing the stock stabs with reputable aftermarket ones. Other times you can simply modify your stock ones by clipping the extra feet on the stabs and lubing them with dielectric grease. You can also take it a step further by doing the Holee mod with a few pieces of fabric bandaid.

              K617pink_blog_5

              K617pink_blog_6

              Clipped feet on the left, stock on the right. The second image is what your stabilizer bar should look like after dipping it into the tube of dielectric grease.

               

              Step 6: Adding neoprene rubber sheets and PE foam

              Start by unplugging your computer or removing the keyboard's batteries if it's wireless.

               

              Step 7: Stabilizers: Modify or Replace

              Next up if your keyboard is like mine and doesn' t have any sort of dampening inside, you can add your own to the bottom casing. I used some black neoprene rubber sheets that have adhesive on one side. Cut to size and then stuck into the bottom of the keyboard. Doesn' t need to be perfect or to cover every inch of space. All we' re trying to do is make the board sound less hollow by taking some of the open space away so there's less room for sound waves to bounce around.

              K617pink_blog_7

              Another popular mod to help with dampening is to add PE foam that often will come wrapped around your keyboard as you open the box. You can place it between the PCB and the top plate while poking holes into it for each switch and the stabs. Helpful tip would be to do the 4 corners first. That way you can use 4 switches to hold the foam in place while you do the rest without it sliding all over the place. Be sure to cut the foam to size so that there isn' t any overhang.

              K617pink_blog_9

               

              Step 8: Reassembly and Cable Upgrade

              Now reassemble your newly modified mechanical keyboard and if you’d like, add a new shiny coiled cable to finish it off.

              K617pink_blog_8

               

              The Transformed K617 Fizz

              When all's said and done, we’ve now taken a bone stock pink K617 Fizz and done many of the more common modifications to it and it now feels very smooth and creamy one may call it. The Bullet-S switches make the board sound quite poppy and the keys are easy to press with light force. I might switch up the keycaps in the future with some sort of cherry blossom themed ones that are thicker walled. Due to the dampening we added, the keyboard doesn’t have that painfully hollow sound even when you tap on the bottom of the case. I’m going to play around with this setup for a couple weeks and make a decision on if these switches need to be hand-lubed or not. I’m quite happy with how this board turned out!

               

               
              Redragon K617 Fizz Budget Modding Guide (Step by Step Tutorial)

               Get the FIZZ K617 Keyboard here.

               

              Redragon K552 Modding Guide (Beginner Friendly)

              Get the KUMARA K552 Keyboard here.

               

               

              Redragon K530 Modding Guide

              Get the DRACONIC K530 PRO Keyboard here.

              Redragon DRACONIC K530 PRO Keyboard Modding Guide

               

              K530_d2a8ff97-70e3-42bb-b0aa-fb4a2a2446c0

              Having experience in building two keyboards and being familiar with the keyboard modification process. For this project, I specifically chose to customize the Draconic K530 Pro keyboard and paired it with the A113 Bullet-F Wukong switches.

               

              Right Out of the Box

              The Draconic K530 Pro, priced at $59.99, is an impressive keyboard offering brown, red, or blue switch variants in sleek black or clean white. I opted for brown switches with a 55g operating force, providing a softer, gaming-friendly feel. The keyboard supports USB for charging and regular use, and its typing sound is naturally muted, a feature we'll explore later.

              In the package, you'll find stickers, an instruction manual, four replacement switches, a USB cable with a right-angle USB-C, and a USB C with a USB A adapter. Additionally, there's a quality keycap pulling tool.

               

              Additional Materials

              I also acquired Wukong switches, an automotive sound deadener foam mat (priced at around $20), and JRX 205 G0 lube. Automotive insulation, like Kilmat padding, is a common choice, and you can consider reusing the foam that came with your keyboard.

              K530-1

               

              Opening the Keyboard

              My first step was to open the keyboard to understand its internals. I started by carefully removing the keycaps, preserving their order using a reference photo. The keycap pulling tool, though effective, slightly marred the matte surface, highlighting the importance of a quality wire-based keycap puller.

              K530-4

              Afterward, I proceeded to remove the switches using a metal switch remover tool, a task more time-consuming than expected. Following this, I unscrewed the keyboard using a small Philips screwdriver. The keyboard's user-friendly design avoided the need for removing all switches unless a full lubrication process was intended.

               

              Exploring the Internals

              The model featured a USB connection, a 2.4GHz wireless dongle, and Bluetooth, indicating the presence of a battery. Care was taken during the opening to avoid damaging the wire connecting the battery to the board. The keyboard even came with its foam pad, contributing to its acoustic profile.

               

              Modding the Keyboard

              Foam Customization

              To optimize the keyboard's acoustics, I carefully cut and added automotive sound deadener foam. This foam filled the empty spaces, enhancing sound insulation. I traced the existing foam to create a template for the new layer, ensuring a snug fit.

              K530-5

              Tape Mod Experiment

              Intrigued by the "Tape Mod," I used painter's tape to alter sound waves, achieving a slightly muted keypress sound. The process involved stretching tape strips over the PCB, being cautious not to tape over the battery wire. After pressing the tape down and trimming the edges, I secured the keyboard back together. Despite a minor unevenness, subsequent tests confirmed no adverse effects.

              K530-6

              K530-8

               

              Switch Replacement

              I decided to experiment with a mix of brown and Wukong switches for a personalized typing experience. Letter and number keys retained brown switches, while the remaining 15 keys featured Wukong switches.

               

              Lubricating the Switches

              Despite limitations with the switch opener, I successfully lubed the switches for a smoother action. The lubrication process involved applying lube to the plunger's sides, significantly reducing resistance in both types of switches.

               

              Testing and Keycap Placement

              After a quick test with four keys, I confirmed subtle differences in feel between lubed and unlubed switches. Following the test, I placed the keycaps back on, noting that the matte finish required a high-quality puller to avoid any potential damage.

              K530-7

               

              Full Switch Installation

              Carefully installing each switch, I ensured they were straight to avoid bending pins. Although one pin needed adjustment with needle-nose pliers, it seated back into the keyboard without issues.

               

              Successful Testing

              After securing the keycaps, the fully assembled keyboard underwent testing. Although unconventional, the order of testing ensured everything worked perfectly, providing confidence in the successful modding process.

               

              As for cost, let’s add it all up:

              1. Draconic K530 60% Keyboard from Redragon: $60
              2. Bullet-F Wukong Switches (24-pack) : $13
              3. Keyboard Lube: $15 (Optional)
              4. Insulation: $16 (Optional)
              5. Scissor, marker, screwdriver: Free (already had these)
              6. GRAND TOTAL: $104 with all extras, $73 if just replacing switches.

               

               

              Bottom Line

              In summary, a modded keyboard is a customized and personalized version of a standard keyboard, typically a mechanical one. Keyboard enthusiasts and users with specific preferences take their keyboards and modify various components to enhance their performance, aesthetics, and overall typing or gaming experience.

              Modifications can include upgrading keycaps, switches, stabilizers, and even soundproofing the keyboard to reduce noise. Some enthusiasts may also opt for custom USB cables to add a unique touch to their setup.

              Modded keyboards reflect the individuality of their users, with each modification serving a specific purpose, whether it's for improved keypress feel, reduced noise, or purely for aesthetic appeal. The world of modded keyboards offers endless possibilities for customization, allowing users to create a keyboard that perfectly suits their needs and preferences.

               

              Frequently Asked Questions:

              What mods should I use on my keyboard?
              The choice of keyboard mods depends on your personal preferences and goals. Some common keyboard mods include lubing switches, adding dampeners, changing keycaps, and soundproofing the case. The specific mods you should use depend on whether you want to make your keyboard quieter, more tactile, or have a different typing feel.

              How Do I Make My Keyboard Thock?
              Achieving a "thocky" sound in a keyboard often involves using dampeners or soft landing pads on key switches, lubing switches and stabilizers, and choosing a keyboard case that enhances acoustics. Lubing can also make the keystrokes smoother, which may contribute to the thocky sound.

              What is the most important mod for keyboards?
              The most important mod for keyboards varies depending on individual preferences. Lubing switches is often considered a fundamental mod as it can significantly improve typing feel and sound. However, what's most important ultimately depends on whether you prioritize sound, feel, or other factors.

              What does modding a keyboard do?
              Modding a keyboard involves making various changes to improve its performance, sound, or aesthetics. These modifications can include lubing switches for smoother keystrokes, dampening keypress noise, changing keycaps for a different look or feel, and modifying the keyboard's case to enhance acoustics.

              How do I mod keyboard sounds?
              Modifying keyboard sounds typically involves lubing switches to reduce friction and noise, adding dampeners or O-rings to cushion keypresses, and using a case or plate material that enhances sound resonance. Each of these modifications can impact the sound produced when typing.

              How do I make my keyboard clicky?
              To make a keyboard clicky, you can use clicky switches, such as Cherry MX Blue or equivalent switches. These switches have a distinct tactile bump and an audible click sound when pressed. Additionally, using keycaps that amplify the sound and selecting a case that allows for better sound resonance can enhance the clicky feel and sound.

              How do I make my keyboard quieter?
              To make a keyboard quieter, you can use dampeners or O-rings on the key switches to reduce the impact noise when keys bottom out. Lubing switches and stabilizers can also minimize friction and noise. Choosing quieter switches, like Cherry MX Red or silent switches, can further reduce keyboard noise.

              How Do I Mod Switches On My Keyboard?
              Modding switches typically involves disassembling them, applying lubricant (lube) to reduce friction, and reassembling them. You can also swap out the springs or stems to change the switch's tactile feel and actuation force. However, switch modding requires precision and can be challenging for beginners.

              How Can I Make My Keyboard Sound Better For Free?
              If you're looking to improve the sound of your keyboard without spending money on aftermarket mods, you can try adjusting the way you type. Typing with a lighter touch and avoiding bottoming out keys can make your keyboard sound quieter and potentially "thockier." Additionally, experimenting with different keycap profiles and layouts may also affect the sound.

              Is it difficult to modify a mechanical keyboard?
              The difficulty of modifying a mechanical keyboard depends on the specific mods you want to perform. Some modifications, like changing keycaps, are relatively straightforward and beginner-friendly. Others, like lubing switches or soldering in new switches, can be more challenging and require precision and patience. It's a good idea to research and start with simpler mods if you're new to keyboard customization, or seek guidance from experienced keyboard enthusiasts.

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