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Keyboard Builders' Digest / Tips & Tricks

Handwire without soldering

The Crokoboard system by u/random_bytes is a set of PCBs that lets you handwire your keyboard without soldering.

KBD.news
Published February 6, 2022

The Crokoboard system is a set of PCBs that lets you handwire your keyboard without soldering, thus to try various layouts and "change your keyboard on a whim".

The PCB holds a MCU such as a Pro Micro and dispatches its IOs to pinch connectors. A copper wire sits tightly in these connectors and lets you connect the MCU to each switch or to a rotary encoder.

How durable are the contacts?

The IDC connectors that grip the wire copper are much harder than the copper, so they cut through the isolation and the wire but they don't seem to wear all that much – random_bytes.

The monoswitch PCBs hold one switch on a hotswap socket. To keep the system solderless, each monoswitch has one diode and the hotswap socket pre-soldered.

The Crokoboard PCB has only the connectors soldered, plus a spreader PCB is provided that allows mounting the Pro Micro with headers that are pushed against the sides. Holds quite tightly, the author's daily driver from the last 4 months hasn't had a connection problem with this solution. The spreader is the green piece on the first picture of the imgur album:

All the pieces can be assembled in a few minutes without soldering, even the Pro Micro on the Crokoboard PCB.

In total, it takes me less than 2 hours to wire a keyboard. Since I can lasercut plates in my local fablab, I can design and build a new layout within an afternoon – random_bytes.

Check out the whole imgur album.

The designer has an Interest Check to see if a production run would be doable.

Published on Sun 6th Feb 2022. Featured in KBD #64 (source).


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