PCB assembly Issues

Over the last week we’ve made a bunch of progress but encountered an issue with the PCB assembly.

We’ve bought 2000 Gateron switches (blue, brown, red and have a few hundred green and yellow), keycaps, electronic components, got the Shortcut configurator rolling with its documentation, ordered the test PCBs and finished the mechanical design.

Mechanical prototype

This is a fairly accurate 3D model of how the V5 will look:

Frosted methacrylate top to better diffuse the LEDs, black methacrylate base and black 3D printed thumb clusters and legs and white PBT blank keycaps. We haven’t found any good commercial option for the thumb cluster keycaps but we are working on a 3D printed one with  rubber coating for better grip.

During the week we should have a prototype assembled to test that everything works as intended. We’ll post pics on Twitter when it’s ready ;)

This is a 3D model of how the tilting, adjustable thumb cluster and adjustable wrist rest will work:

A hinge enables the tilting and the adjustable system is fairly simple. It all can be laser cut, reducing costs and easing assembly. We still need to test it to be 100% sure it’s robust and it doesn’t wobble.

PCB Assembly

V5 PCB Design

The next paragraph will get a bit technical but will help explain the issues we are facing.

When building electronics, there are two different ways of soldering components: Through Hole (cable or component leg through a hole and solder it on the other side) or SMT (Surface-mount technology). The switches are through hole (we will solder them by hand) but all the other components are SMT and although can be soldered by hand, it’s much faster and reliable when done by a pick and place machine.

PCBs can be manufactured in less than a week and components bought and sent in one day but the SMT factories say that require 2-3 weeks to assemble the PCBs and the components. Some of them have options to speed up the process but this doubles or triples the price, making it prohibitive. We are working on finding a manufacturer that can do the job in a few days without charging a ton but there is a very high chance that the PCB assembly will delay the whole process.

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