Laurie got me a CannonKeys Ortho48 Keyboard Kit for my birthday this year and I decided to spend my Saturday afternoon building the kit.

The kit comes with all the parts you need to make a keyboard except the keyswitches, LEDs, and keycaps. You have to use a soldering iron and solder the parts onto the keyboard.

I started by soldering all of the diodes to the board.

Getting Started

Then I soldered the resistors for the backlight LEDs.

The leads of the resistors before snipping them off

It was a fun project. To enable backlighting with LEDs, you have to install a little Surface Mount MOSFET that's about 2.1mm tall with three leads.

Tiny SMD MOSFET required for the backlighting

At first, I wasn't going to install it and the 48 resistors needed for LEDs, but I decided that it was just too much fun and that it wouldn't be too bad. I got it all soldered in and I'm glad I did.

I didn't have enough blue LEDs to cover the entire board, but luckily I had the three I needed to install under the controller board as they can't be added after the board has been soldered on.

Three LEDs that needed to be soldered on before the control board could be added

Once I had the diodes, LEDs, and resistors soldered in, I soldered the switches. I decided to use some spare Cherry MX Browns that I had. Unfortunately, my lubricant had not come in from New York, yet, so I didn't lube the switches (I ordered it in May, but the Covid situation there shut down the businesses and it didn't ship out until June).

All the switches soldered in

I ordered the remaining LEDs, some Blue keycaps, and some Underglow RGB LED strips, but those haven't arrived yet. I stole my YMDK Carbon keycaps off of my GMMK (I put some LED compatible keycaps on it so I could play with the RGB backlighting on it).

Here's the finished product:

The legends are all wrong because those were the only 1U keycaps I could get. I did replace the F10 with the actual single quote key and replaced the other ones with profiles that fit better on those rows.