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Tag: keyboards

The Power of Tinkering

Warning: if you don’t like nerdy things and/or keyboards, better skip this one.

I’m not good with anything fiddly. Lego, IKEA furniture, arts and crafts. I last about two minutes before I throw it across the room. God help any future children of mine who ask me to put the stickers on their Christmas presents.

I usually describe myself as a big-picture thinker. Pedantic details don’t interest me. That’s good for being creative, but not for finding pleasure in the simplicity of small things.

For me, finding a hobby often sounds more like a should-do than a want-to — which we are trying to abolish, remember.

Keychron K6 Keyboard
The Keychron K6 Wireless Mechanical Keyboard, one of the best keyboards from under £100 on the market right now.

Turns out the answer is keyboards

Right now there’s a craze of DIY mechanical keyboard modifying. I love a good keyboard, so I decided to try it despite my general dislike of anything requiring physical dexterity and patience.

You need a few things:

  • anti-static tweezers,
  • lubricant and a little paintbrush to apply it,
  • a key-puller (for pulling off the keycaps),
  • a screwdriver.

The basic idea is to take the keyboard apart, including dismantling the mechanical switches, lubricate and dampen them, then reassemble it. This (hopefully) improved the typing experience. I also got some foam padding to reduce the vibration inside the casing, and some thick plasters (band-aids) to soften the impact of the stabilisers (pins in the big keys such as the spacebar and enter key).

It’s a whole thing. I definitely don’t know what I’m talking about. If you’re interested you can read all about it here. I used this Youtube guide by Tech Hyped as my primary reference, which uses the same Keychron K6 keyboard I was modifying.

This keyboard has what are called “hot-swappable” switches, meaning you can simply lever out the switches from the board and take everything apart completely (*nervous groan*).

The Process

There’s no way of getting started other than diving in, so that’s what I did. At first I really thought I would give up, especially when I took the first switch apart and a bunch of tiny pieces flew across the room.

But once I settled down into the labour of it, I realised that there was no rush. Nothing was riding on my success of failure besides my enjoyment of the tinkering. I put on my headphones and listened to The Hobbit audiobook as narrated by Andy Serkis (excellent, you should try it), and I just got lost in it. I worked my way through all sixty-something keys over about a week, probably spending about 6 hours in total on it.

I’m just coming to the end now. I don’t know the outcome of it yet, but I’ve realised that it doesn’t matter. I thoroughly enjoyed just sitting there and… fiddling, with fiddly things – the thing I usually hate so much.

The inside of a switch. Imagine painting every piece of over 60 switches with lubricant, then reassembling the pieces without getting lube everywhere. Yeah.

So many pieces! Aaaah.

Verdict: Pass the lube

So often we bang our heads against a wall, trying to find our way through and blaming ourselves, only to realise that we just had to find the path that’s right for us. I’ve always been jealous of how other people focused and relaxed when they do something simple repetitive. But I had been focusing on what other people spent their time on, rather than finding what relaxed me.

Depending on the outcome when I put everything back together, I’ll either be looking for some new things to try, or I’m going to need more keyboards.