Custom Mechanical Keyboard â Bauer
Building a PC was a satisfying triumph for me, but one thing that I did not anticipate was it sending me down the rabbit hole of custom mechanical keyboards. There is a wealth of knowledge on various forums, YouTube channels, and Discord servers just waiting to be read and absorbed. Having no experience at all until October 2019, I took quite a bit of time reading up on the various layouts, switches, and materials that all affect the feel and sound of the typing experience. Ready to take the plunge, here's what I decided on for the build.Case â Bauer by Dixie MechThe Bauer is best summarized by its listing: it's a custom 65% WKL keyboard, with split backspace, five degree typing angle, and isolation mount. Originally sold as 20 first come, first serve units followed by 20 raffled units (plus four B-stock raffled units), I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase one of the 12 8008 special edition Bauers through the site's Vickrey auction. The case is a very stunning navy blue and pink combination, which matches (and is inspired by) Dixie's own GMK 8008 keyset.For my needs, I prefer a 65% layout. As I frequently open up the Microsoft suite of programs for work, the arrow keys help tremendously with the various document manipulations I am required to do. I hardly use the F row and I am quite fond of the vertical navigational cluster on the right for the few keys I do use. I also PC game a little bit and although the numpad would be nice, I am absolutely open to sacrificing that for a smaller form factor on my desk.Most keyboard cases (and keysets) are available through Group Buy (GB) â that is, they are sold and money is collected in advance, with the GB runner delivering on the promised goods much later. This timeline depends on a variety of factors, but I've learned it's best practice in the hobby to show a forgiving level of patience. Switches â Roselios by ZealPCMy previous experience with mechanical keyboards included Cherry MX Blues (on a Filco Majestouch), followed by Cherry MX Browns (on a Cooler Master MK750). Nowadays, my PC setup lives in the master bedroom, so it's a necessity to have a quieter typing experience. Fortunately, there are many different silent switches to choose from. Coming from both clickies and tactiles, I wanted to try out a linear switch. After a bit of YouTube research on silent linears, I preferred the sound of Zeal's Healios. In a recolored release of the Healios, ZealPC also has the lighter Sakurios (with a 62g spring) or the heavier Roselios (67g spring). I originally decided on the Roselios to go with a potential Olivia-themed build, knowing full well that switches are not at all visible on a fully built keyboard. Alas, my inner voice called out and I found that these pink stemmed silent switches were a great match for the Bauer's pink aluminum plate.I also considered several other silent linear switches: Gateron Silent Inks (saved for future build), Silent Alpacas (out of stock at PrimeKB but hoping to nab some in the next restock), and MX Zilents (in the process of building). Stabilizers â Transparent Gold Plated V2 by ZealPCPrior to my research, I did not know much about the stabilizers that existed on the larger keyboard keys. The Bauer's fixed plate requires 2x 2u and 1x 7u PCB mounted stabilizers. I know I did not want any of the retooled GMK stabs, but the stock of stabs is either low or non-existent at many domestic sites I checked. ZealPC has a full suite of stabilizers available, though it also has a reputation within the keyboard community for creating good products that are a little bit on the pricier end. Ultimately, I did go with these from ZealPC, as it just made a lot of sense to order both the switches and stabilizers from one place.There are a ton of options for stabilizers in addition to Zeal: durock, everglides, C3s, and pre-retooled GMKs. You can also order from overseas, though shipping may be unpredictable due to the state of the world today.Lubricant â Krytox 205g0 ( dielectric grease on stabs)Lubing is a common occurrence in the custom keyboard world. When done properly, switches can become less scratchy, stabilizers less rattly, and both buttery smooth. Krelbit of Switchmod Keyboards is a great resource on all things keyboard lube. I went with his recommendation of the thick 205g0 for the Roselios, which should make these silenced linears even quieter. The stabilizers would also be tuned with a combination of 205g0 and dielectric grease. I also considered Tribosys 3204 and switch films, but ultimately decided to stick with just the 205g0. For the springs, I also went with 205g0.Build Service â Minterly StudiosI commissioned the build service of Minterly Studios to put the Bauer together. Minterly is the designer behind Bliss and Eternal, and she also streams keyboard builds and keyset design on her Twitch channel. I packaged all the parts lube and nervously shipped them to her via USPS. Luckily, everything arrived safely to and from her.As part of the service, Minterly lubed each switch spring, tuned the stabilizers, popped the switches into the plate, did the soldering work on the PCB, and assembled the case. Throughout the entire process, she was very helpful, upfront, and friendly. I definitely recommend her if you are looking to get a build service done.Here's the build video from Minterly's YouTube channel (build starts at 55:50):Huge thank you to Minterly for the great experience and wonderful build!Keycaps â GMK 8008 (with RAMA WORKS Pink Silicone Cap)I do not think there was ever another option to go on this Bauer. An amazing blue and pink set that matches exactly to Dixie's vision and inspiration. Add in the nub homing keys with the silicone RAMA and I just do not see this set being removed any time soon (if ever!).Fun fact: the extras sale for the base set (300 non-GB units) sold out in 67 seconds on dixiemech. store. Definitely worth it to get in during GB stage for any future keysets you have your eyes on.Now, for some finished shots of the Bauer.(Note: I am not a photographer by any stretch of the imagination. I took my wife's camera and snapped a few photos using some auto-settings on her Sony a6000.)It's been almost a week since I've had the Bauer in hand and the typing experience is drastically more satisfying than any previous keyboard I've used. After all the planning, waiting, and then watching the build unfold, I am extremely happy with how everything turned out. This will be my daily driver/main keyboard for the foreseeable future.Thanks so much for taking the time to read! I really enjoyed documenting this build and sharing my thought process for each part. For the *next* one, I am determined to solder the build myselfâ¦.