Keyboard are different for everyone. Some people may need a numpad, others, don’t want the function row. For me, I’d been searching for what the community calls ‘endgame’. The final keyboard you will ever purchase because it has everything you want. For some that can be a HHKB, for others it can be a JM45. For me personally, I was looking for a 60% keyboard with arrow keys. After more research, I decided on the TADA68, and the search for a kit was on. I found a kit here, and a week and a half later, it arrived. Here is a build log of the board.
When I received the TADA68 kit, I was impressed not only with the presentation, but also what they offered. The kit includes the PCB (with all the components already soldered and stabilizers assembled), the case, feet, keycaps, keycap puller, the plate and the USB cable. The PCB look like your standard run of the mill PCB, nothing special about it. The case on the other hand, is absolutely heavy as hell. I purchased an aluminum case for my Pok3r, so I had an idea of the weight, but this blew me away. This case is around 4-5 pounds, versus the extra pound or two my Pok3er case added. Aside from that, the plate, feet, and USB cable are all run of the mill.
As always, make sure that you have a soldering iron, solder, solder sucker and a 2.0 Phillips head screw driver. This particular PCB is flashed with firmware already. As a result of that, you should plug in your keyboard to the PC and test the entire keyboard. The reason you do this is to make sure it all function and every key registers. With every keyboard, you can NOT return the PCB if you’ve made modifications to it. To test the PCB, download Elite Keyboards’ Switch Hitter. Grab a pair of pliers and touch two points for a switch a key should set off. If the key does not work, make sure it doesn’t work, and it if persists, request a refund. Make sure that the entire keyboard works. After that, you’re ready for the switches.
Switches are all subjective. I personally like heavy, tactile switches, so I picked up some Kalih Speed Heavy switches from Novelkey.xyz. I’d been dying to put them in a keyboard, and finally got a chance to in this board. Make sure you put the keys through the plate first, in the four corners, and then click it into the plate. From there, the soldering journey begins! Make sure you get a nice clean bump of solder on the switch legs.
After you install the switches across the entire board, it’s onto the keycaps. The default keycaps that come with this board are ok. I’d say that these keycaps are on the thinner side, and I’m personally not a fan of that. They don’t feel as high quality as they could be, but I understand that for the price of the kit, I should be happy I even got keycaps. I’ve used the board actively for a few weeks now, and the printing hasn’t worn off yet. I’d definitely switch them out over time, but I’m content for the time being. It is worth noting that the TADA68 does not adhere to a traditional keycap layout. The bottom row is non-standard because the CTRL,FN, and ALT keys are all 1u as opposed to 1.25. Also, the shift key on the right hand side becomes smaller as well to compensate for the arrow keys. A full 140 keycap kit will have suitable replacements for the TADA68, but be sure to do your research first.
Case, Feet and beyond:
Installing the now fully assembled PCB into the case is the next step. The case has 6 holes and KBDFans gives you plenty of screws. Line those holes up and screw it all into place. Make sure the USB port is fully accessible in the back. After that, add the adhesive rubber feet to the bottom of the board and you’re good to go. The keyboard is complete.
This board took me around an hour to build, and that is only because I got lazy towards the end of my soldering job. It’s probably the easiest board to assemble because all you need to do is add switches, the rest is provided. I’d recommend this as a first board, and also for fans of the the 60% format, but need arrow keys. Below is a photo comparison of my Pok3r compared to the TADA68. You can see you perceptively add 2 extra columns with the TADA68, but it might just be the angle since it’s only 1 column. Definitely check out this keyboard for a great purchase and potential endgame!