Post thumbnail

Keyboard build - va69m with Zealios switches

keyboardbuild log

I've always loved Varmilos keyboards and their amazing build quality. Unfortunately the firmware is often really bad and leave a lot to wish for, especially the lack of programmability. As with most mass produced keyboards the selection of switches are also quite slim. As for me who like tactile switches the choice is often only between brown and clear switches. The solution is easy, a custom build with a Varmilo case but with better switches and support for programming.

Here's a teaser picture of the finished keyboard.

Custom va69m black build - finished keyboard

Here's the part list.

  • Case: Varmilo va68m/va69m v2 black aluminum
  • PCB: LFK78 - 68Key revK from LFKeyboards
  • Plate: VA68M ISO (which actually is a 69 key) from LFKeyboards
  • Switches: Zealios v1 65g
  • Keycaps:

    • Varmilo Mac White ISO
    • Varmilo Dark Gray ISO
    • Nordic layout PBT keycaps from KBDfans
    • Companion Cube artisan from Clackeys
  • LEDs: Varm white 1.8 mm - Random China bulk
  • Stabilizers:

    • ZealPC clear PCB mounted
    • Cherry original Plate mounted

Enough with the writing, let's look at some pictures 😍

Custom va69m black build - build parts The (almost) complete setup before the build.

Custom va69m black build - plate painted black Sprayed the plate black to better match the case.

Custom va69m black build - sound dampening For a better sound dampening I cut foam rubber to be placed between the plate and PCB.

Custom va69m black build - sound dampening A perfect fit! Still some adjustments needed but overall it looks good.

Custom va69m black build - lubing stabs Putting together and lubing the stabs. Unfortunately the PCB didn't support PCB mounted stabs (only PCB mounted switches for some reason) so I had to use parts from different sets.

Custom va69m black build - mounted stabs It worked out pretty good anyway. I needed to put some hot glue to keep the stabs in place but other than that they are smooth as butter.

Custom va69m black build - protecting the plate To reduce noise and protect the PCB I put electric tape where the stabs hit the PCB.

Custom va69m black build - testing the PCB Before soldering all the switches a good idea is to make sure the PCB works. That is easily done with a pair of tweezers and an application showing activated keys.

Custom va69m black build - soldering When all keys work it's time to pull out the soldering iron 👍🏻

Custom va69m black build - foam rubber fits All corners and the top row done. The foam rubber still fits perfectly.

Custom va69m black build - almost done Almost done.

Custom va69m black build - recut foam rubber Had to cut the sides of the foam rubber between the plate and PCB to make it fit in the case but the size was just perfect. This will contribute to a nice and deep sound inside the aluminium case.

Custom va69m black build - installing LEDs Now it's time for the LEDs.

Custom va69m black build - all LEDs installed A nice anode and cathode forest.

Custom va69m black build - cutting of the LED legs Unfortunately it wouldn't fit nicely in the case without being cut off.

Custom va69m black build - more sound dampening It probably doesn't do much for the sound but I fill all cavities with dampening material.

Custom va69m black build - reduce acoustic resonance in case I put electric tape where the plate is laying against the case for decreased acoustic resonance.

Custom va69m black build - foam rubber in bottom of the case A piece of foam rubber was put in the bottom of the case for... you guessed it! Decreased acoustic resonance.

Custom va69m black build - installed in case Installed in the case, all nude without caps.

Custom va69m black build - another view installed in case Another view.

Custom va69m black build - adding keycaps Start adding the keycaps. Also added some tape at the space bar to avoid dust getting in the case.

Custom va69m black build - finished build All done!

Custom va69m black build - programming with QMK Programming the keyboard running QMK.

Some more pictures

Custom va69m black build - finished build

Custom va69m black build - finished build

Custom va69m black build - finished build with companion cube artisan

Custom va69m black build - finished build