Most CLICKEYbits come fully assembled. If you are adventurous or want to use your own switches you can get an un-assembled version and put it together yourself.
This guide will help you through the process. Let us know if you have any questions or problems so we can improve this guide for everyone.
Please read all the instructions first. Some optional steps are spelled out further down.
What's in the Box?
The kit includes:
- The CLICKEYbits outer shell
- Six switches
- Six keycaps
- Two center stabilizers (optional)
- Two O-Rings (optional)
- Your own switches
- Your own keycaps
- Glue (something like crazy glue)
Optional tools (for taking apart again)
- Kepcap puller (a cheap wire one), or other fine tool to remove keycaps
- A small flat-head screwdriver (to release or push out switches)
- Large needle nose pliers (to directly pull out a switch)
Locate a face of the shell that has four smooth walls where the switch goes. The opposing sides will also have smooth walls whereas the four other sides let you see more of the inner structure of the shell. This picture shows the a smooth walled cavity and the picture in the next step shows one of the four other sides.
Press in the first switch into the a smooth walled side until you hear a "click".
This is an optional step! If you add the stabilizer the switches will be far less likely to come out, on the other hand the switches will be much harder to remove. The shape of the shell already eliminates much of the lateral stress, this extra stabilizer option makes it even more solid. Use the stabilizer if you don't intend to take it apart again. If you are using the stabilizer see the optional glue step below.
You have 2 stabilizers. The second one is an extra just in case the first one has problems or wears out. The center stabilizer is 3D printed and is intended to flex and to be a tight fit for the switches. The stabilizer isn't designed to survive multiple insertions and removals so two are provided.
Take one of the center stabilizers and put it into the center of the shell. It will fit through the shell holes but not if you force it, the best method is to just drop the center stabilizer down from above.
Using your index fingers and thumbs, orient the center stabilizer to align with the first switch and press them together. This is the most challenging step in the build.
After the switch and center stabilizer are together you may need to rotate the stabilizer a bit to align with the side holes. Use your index fingers and thumbs in the side holes and turn the stabilizer slowly until aligned.
Start with the opposite switch. Press in firmly until you hear the "Click". If you are using a center stabilizer press on the opposite switch (the first switch already added) at the same time to make sure it doesn't pop out. It may require some force.
Important! Look at the remaining 4 holes. Two of the plate edges are squared and two are rounded. The 4 remaining switches must be oriented towards the two switches you inserted first so they clip onto the squared edges of the plate. If they are rotated 90 degrees then they will not "click" in place and will be prone to falling out.
Press in each switch in turn. If using the center stabilizer, press firmly on the opposite switch to make sure they are fully inserted.
Press the keycaps into the switches. Note they can be quite stiff, if they don't go on easily try rocking the keycap into place (see picture).
Once you have two opposing keycaps in place press on both firmly at the same time to ensure they are on all the way.
To add an O-Ring: Turn over the keycap and work the O-Ring of the shaft of the keycap. Then place the keycap on the switch as described above. The distance the keycap travels will be slightly reduced, and the impact of the keycap hitting the bottom feels softer.
Warning: Just like building an old-school model airplane gluing can be a messy business and is often a learning experience. If you want a permanently assembled CLICKEYbits consider buying it pre-assembled. That said, here's how to do it yourself.
Start with the "Center Stabilizer" step above. The first switch is not glued at first.
Add one drop of crazy glue (or something similar) into a stabilizer hole on one of the other sides (not the opposite side which is the last remaining side with the smooth walls). Press in the switch until it "clicks". Continue around and repeat the process for the other three sides, leaving just the smooth walled side open.
From the one remaining hole use something like a small screw driver to push out the opposite switch which was the first switch you added (the one that doesn't have any glue).
For each of the last two switches, add a drop of crazy glue to the stabilizer hole and then insert the switch.
Press firmly on the switches. Press switches from opposite sides to make sure the switches are fully seated.
Use just a drop. Don't fill the stabilizer slot with glue or it will squirt out when the switch is inserted and the glue might get inside the switch causing it to no longer work smoothly.
Note about the stabilizers: They are intentionally an overly tight fit, and are best as 3D printed pieces. When glue is added and the switch is inserted the 3D printed piece will strain, expand, and even crack some. This is good - the glue attaches itself to the switch and permeates the stabilizer's imperfections, making for a very strong bond. Don't worry about some cracking, this is normal, and for this use case it is actually a good thing. Plus we give you a second one just in case :-)
Note about box switches: This type of switch is designed to be liquid resistant from above. However the under side is more open than most other MX switches. Box switches should not be glued to the stabilizer since the glue will get inside the switch.
You can also optionally add a drop of glue for each keycap. But be careful, it is easy to get the glue into the inner workings of the switch.
Taking It Apart- keycaps
To be clear we don't recommend this. But we know many of you will do it anyway so we might as well give you some advice.
The keycaps are more difficult to remove than in a typical keyboard due to the tight tolerances. High quality keycap pullers with thicker metal pulls don't fit into the tight space between the CLICKEYbits shell and the keycaps. Plastic ring pullers generally will not fit. If you have a cheaper keycap puller with thinner gague wire this is the best. After getting the puller sides in place, twist it 45 degrees so the pulls are under the corners of the keycap, then pull up slowly.
Without a dedicated tool The easiest way to get going is from the keycap corners. Use a stiff thin object and slowly pry the keycap off. Ideally do this from opposite corners at at the same time and use something that won't mark the shell or keycaps. A metal tool like tweezers or thin screwdrivers works but metal can leave a mark. Something like a pair of wooden skewers works great with strength, leverage, and the wood is soft enough to not cause damage.
Another technique is to feed in a piece of dental floss starting in a corner and going all the way around, go more than 360 degrees (typically all the way around plus one more face, so 450 degrees) then slowly pull up. However feeding in the dental floss can be difficult.
If you are taking out the switches too just take off the first keycap followed by the first switch (described below). Then remove the remaining five switches by pushing on the inside with a thin screwdriver, after which removing the five remaining keycaps is trivial.
Taking It Apart- Switches
Note that the factory assembled CLICKEYbits have the switches glued down. Don't try to pull them out, it won't go well.
If you didn't use the central stabilizer then it is a bit easier. Use a flat-ended tool (small flat-head screw driver, tweezers, etc) to disengage where the switch clips into the shell's frame. The clips are at the top and the bottom of the switch, not the sides. You don't need to disengage both clips, after releasing one the switch will then be at an angle and can easily be removed.
Removing the first switch is difficult if you've used the center stabilizer. We recommend long needle nose pliers to do the job. These allow you to grip the sides of the switch and then pull straight out. Small needle nose pliers don't work well because the angle of the blades is too steep to get a good grip.
Once the first switch is out, use a screw driver through the hole in the shell and push out the opposing switch from underneath. It may require some force to release the switch. The third switch is pushed out at an angle (since the opposing switch is still in place) so be careful not to put pressure on the shell, the shaft of the screwdriver could leave a mark. Repeat until all switches are removed.
Questions and Comments
Got a question? Found an error in our instructions or something that could be more clear? Got a tip to make this process easier for everyone else? Did you do something cool with different switches or caps than those included in the kit? We want to hear from you. Let us know so we can improve our products and keep this guide up to date.
How Did It Go?
Got a favorite sub-reddit, Instagram, or other great way to share? We're still a young company trying to get the word out, any and all shares and reviews are greatly appreciated.
Want to build one again or get one for a friend? Use offer code "DIY15" when you check out to save 15% on another DIY Some Assembly Required.