Assembling a keyboard can be a fun weekend activity. Assembling isn't hard when you use the proper tools.
The tools you buy don't have to be top of the line: each tool can be bought relatively affordably. When you decide this is going to be something you'd like to do more often, it can make sense to splurge for more expensive tools.
These are the tools you'll need at a minimum:
- A soldering iron is needed to heat up the tin which forms the joints between the printed circuit board (PCB) and the components. You won’t need a special one for this build, though a soldering iron with controllable temperature can make it easier.
- Soldering tin is the actual material that forms the joints. Leaded tin is the easiest to work with. I recommend getting tin with a flux core, as this makes the job much easier. Thin soldering tin, such as with a diameter of 0.5mm, gives you more control, making it easier to form correct joints.
- A flush cutter allows you to clip off the legs from diodes, resistors and headers.
- Tweezers make it easier to pick up and hold tiny components while soldering them. These are only needed when you solder the SMD underglow LEDs, you won’t need them if you use an RGB strip.
- A screwdriver makes case assembly a breeze. You’ll need either a slotted (flat head) or hex screwdriver for m2 screws. Kits purchased directly from splitkb.com will include slotted screws.
Next to the tools above, I can also recommend having these tools nearby:
- A solder sucker makes it easier to desolder a component if you made a mistake or if the component turned out to be defective. A solder sucker doesn’t need to be expensive: The ones that cost a couple of dollars are already good enough.
- Desoldering braid can also help with desoldering. I personally only have had to use the solder sucker, but what you want to use is up to your preferences.
- A lead bender is a cheap and effective tool to easily bend the leads of diodes and resistors with. If you have a 3D printer, you can easily print this tool instead of buying it.
- Copper wire is necessary to use a LED strip may you decide to not use the surface mount LEDs.
- (Isolation) tape helps keep certain components in place while soldering. In some builds, it's required to isolate certain overlapping components such as OLED displays.
- A hobby knife can be used to cut traces in the event that you mistakenly soldered the wrong jumpers, as described in the chapter about OLED jumpers. You probably won’t need them, but it’s a handy tool to have around.