Mechanical keyboards come in all shapes and sizes. From full size to gherkin, ortholinear and staggered, and ergonomic and staggered. The configurations of your keyboard are practically limitless. Reddit user /u//bakingpy pioneered the split 60% keyboard, known as the Nyquist board. It is a larger version of 40% split keyboard, known as the Let’s Split, by Reddit user /u/wootpatoot. This board was a super fun board to build, and below is my build log for it. Note: I followed these guides for building it, I can’t take the credit for it.
Parts and Tools
I got all the parts for this build aside from my tools and switches from keeb.io. They have a running inventory of all of the parts available and what you’ll need. This list includes the PCBs themselves, the diodes, the case, the TRRS jack, the TRRS cable, pro micros, micro USB to USB cable, and some switches.
As far as tools are concerned, I used a Weller WLC-100 Soldering Iron, a multimeter, some Kester Solder, a RadioShack Solder Sucker, Electric Wire, and screwdriver kit. Remember, always practice caution when holding a soldering iron, and wearing the proper facial protection.
The first part of the process is to figure out the orientation of your keyboard PCBs. Understand that since this board is a split board, you can have the TRRS jacks on the insides or the outsides. I like to do the insides since I can get by on a shorter cable. The diodes will be mounted on the top of the board, and the legs have to be bent. This can be a mundane process, but you’ll get into the rhythm of it soon in enough. Slide all the diodes in place, making sure that the black line on the diode is facing the square diode hole, and solder away.
TRRS Jack(s) Installation
After you solder all the diodes into place, up next is the TRRS jacks. These are the little headphone jacks that you have. You will mount the TRRS jacks on the bottom of the PCB (the side the diodes are NOT on). In the times that I’ve soldered TRRS jacks, they have stayed in place, but in case yours is a loose fit, a little bit of masking tape can keep it in place. Make sure it is a snug fit and that they are on the correct sides of the board and then solder the points.
Directly below the TRRS jacks, you can see 6 solder pads, 3 on each side, labeled VCC, [Blank], and GND. It is worth noting that these are for the first two revisions of the Nyquist PCB. This older concept is addressed in the most recent revision of the Nyquist, but in the case of this particular PCB, you will solder them like so.
This is the VCC and the middle jumper soldered together on the left, and middle and GND on the right. Both PCBs will need to be soldered in this particular manner. Again, this is only for the first two revisions of the PCB in addition to other split boards such as the Let’s Split.
Header Pins, Pro Micro And Beyond!
This next phase of the Nyquist build is the most important, the header pins/Pro Micro. The Pro Micro is where the keyboard firmware and such will be flashed. The first thing to do is to install the header pins. Place the short side of the header pins through the bottom of the PCB (the exact same side as the TRRS jack) and use a little bit of masking tape to keep it all in place. One thing I did in this build was to place the Pro Micro on the long side of the pins to make sure everything aligned correctly. BUT, make sure you do not solder the Pro Micro yet.
Flash Pro Micro
Now that the short pins are soldered in place, I’d take this time to flash your pro micro with the necessary firmware and make sure it runs. The multi meter can determine the voltage (5V) running through two points (in this case the VCC and RAW points on the pro micro) to make sure it works. Desoldering a Pro Micro is most likely my least favorite electronics related thing to do. I had to do it recently with a different keyboard and it was an awful experience. If you can avoid it, do so. Now, assuming your Pro Micro is in functioning condition (if it isn’t, you’ll have to buy a new one), set it aside.
Mount 2 Switches
You will now want to mount two switches in the spot where the pro micro short header pins are and solder them in. . Be sure to click them through the top part of your case and then into your PCB. Also, note that switches go on the same side as the diodes. The reason for selecting this spot is so that you can mount the Pro Micro AFTER these switches are in place, and prevent the switches from touching the Pro Micro, and ultimately shorting the PM out and causing more issues to solve.
Pro Micro Installation
This is quite possibly the most crucial part of the entire build, the installation of the PM. Flip your boards upside down and note that the Left PCB will have the PM’s smooth side facing you, and the component side facing you for the Right PCB. Note that when I say Left PCB, I mean this is the Left PCB that would have “QWERT” on it, while the Right PCB would have “YUIOP”. There are a couple tips for this installation as well.
- For the Left PCB, you may have to trip the switch pins since they might have contact with the component side.
- For the Right PCB, you’ll have the USB rubbing up against the switches, so try to leave a little clearance
- Make sure for both, they are as snug as can be.
- After all of these steps have been followed, trim off the header pins. If you flashed the firmware onto the keyboard like I mentioned earlier, you can plug your board in to see if two switches work.
This breaks down into two steps. Soldering the rest of the switches, and then assembling the case. For the switches, I like to click the four corners in first in order to stabilize the plate. After that, I solder them all in and assemble the case. The same is done for both sides. You can now connect the boards together via the TRRS cable, and then plug the Micro USB into the LEFT PCB.
Note: For the first revision of the Nyquist (and possibly the 2nd as well) you’ll need to add a jumper wire to each pro micro to get it running. You connect it from Pin 3 on the left to R2. The Right PCB gets the same treatment, just mirrored since the PM is flipped.