Introduction: Keyboard LED Hot-swap Mod (and More) on a Ducky Shine II TKL
Hello everyone. This is my first instructable. I took my original post from Geekhack and Deskthority and modified it with more information where needed to make this instructable. My username there is Paranoid (just to clarify that the images are my property since its has that watermark on them).
The modification that I will be showing is mainly to have easily swappable LEDs so you wouldn't have to take apart your keyboard and de-solder/solder the LEDs in there if you wanted to change color layout. So as you might have guessed, this is a non-RGB backlit keyboard. To achieve this I also had to change the metal plate in the keyboard to a plate that allows the switches to be opened when the keyboard is assembled.
The modification is performed on a Ducky Shine II TKL. I pretty much only kept the PCB and the case.
Originally the keyboard had black MX switches, green LEDs and Swedish ISO key caps that come standard on the Ducky Shine II. After the mod it has stickered and lubed red Cherry MX switches with headers to swap the LEDs, a custom plate and new LEDs and a keycap set.
Below you can find tools and materials needed. For very specific items, product links will be provided in the steps where you need them.
- Assortiment of lubes
- Switch stickers
- Custom plate
- Female pin headers
- Soldering station
- Soldering wick
- Soldering pump
- Cutting mat
- Philips screwdriver
- Creditcard (or similar item)
- Keycap puller
- Switch opening tools
Step 1: Opening the Case
This is what the stock Ducky Shine II TKL looks like.
First we will gently remove the warranty sticker and remove the screw beneath.
Pop open the case with a credit card or anything similar that will do the trick. You will have to get in between the edges of the keyboard. As It is quite rigid, take your time and think before you act so you don't break any snapfits or damage the case.
When the case is open and the key caps are removed, unscrew the black screws on the left and right under the F-row.
Step 2: Removing the Keycaps
To remove the keycaps simply use your fingers or a keycap puller.
Now the top of your keyboard fully stripped.
Step 3: Removing the Internal Cable
Carefully turn and lift the keyboard out of the bottom case.
Remove the cable from both sides. It was really stuck on the white connector on the PCB so again, be careful.
Step 4: PCB ISO/ANSI Universal (information Only)
When checking the board I noticed that the PCB is a generic one, meaning it can be used for all layouts. ISO, ANSI, JAP. This can be useful if you ever want to switch layout or need spares.
Step 5: Desoldering LEDs, Switches
In my case I wanted to replace the original plate with a custom stainless steel plate purchased from a GroupBuy on Geekhack by the_Beast. This plate allows me to open up the switches without having to desolder them, which allows me to perform the swappable LED modification. It's also a lot thicker and heavier and just cool since it's stainless steel.
Before we can change the plate, we have to desolder the switches and LEDs using your soldering station and soldering pump/wick.
I have de-soldered keyboards before but I have to say this one took me forever! This solder was really deep into the holes. I first used a desolder pump but I had to use solder wick afterwards as well. So in total I'm talking about hours of desoldering here unfortunately. Good job on the quality tough, Ducky.
Step 6: Putting the Switches Back
You have two choices here. Either stick with the stock switches or put in brand new or modified switches of your preference.
For me, I changed the Cherry MX black switches to Cherry MX red switches which I will mod in a later step. So I had no need to take the black switches out of the original plate since I'm using another plate and switches anyway.
Time to pop the red MX switches into the SS plate. Double check the orientation before doing them all! These are mounted upside down for the LEDs.
After that's done, you should mount the plate assembly back onto the PCB and start soldering the switches.
Step 7: Modifying the Switches - Part 1
Before we can modify the switches, we need to take them apart. You can do this with tweezers but it's a lot easier opening 80+ switches with a switch opening tool (e.g. like this one)
Note: Be organized and sort the components for when you need to put them together.
Caution! When using cutters, make logical cuts or wear gloves so you don't cut yourself.
- Applying stickers: these can be bought from multiple sources (e.g. from gonskeyboardworks or techkeys). These add some dampening and stability (not that much though), but they do make the switches look a bit nicer. These come on a sheet, so use tweezers to install them onto the switch base.
- Making the LED swap mod. For this you will need 2.54mm round female pin headers (e.g. mechanicalkeyboards or Ebay). I bought the cheapest I could find (Ebay or Aliexpress). Unlike the example on mechanicalkeyboard.com, I completely stripped the female headers since I found the switch would close better that way.
After stripping them, you should insert them via the provided holes in the switches and solder them onto the PCB. The pins are just long enough to be able to solder them. Be sure to keep them as held down as much as possible because there is no extra room in the switch when closing them. You can always reposition them with a quick solder later on. This one also took me several hours. Don't take this lightly!
Step 8: Modifying the Switches - Part 2
- Lubing time! I used Victorinox Multi-Tool oil and a mixture of Krytox GPL-205 and GPL-103, based on a video by WhiteFireDragon (iluvbeanz) and feedback from the GH community. On how to apply the lube, I will have to refer to the tutorial by WhiteFireDragon, since it's very detailed already.
- During lubing you can put the switches back together step by step.
- Installing the LEDs is now very easy. I used 2x3x4mm rectangular LEDs. I bought blue, white and pink ones. You can play around with the configuration.
- Be sure to test the LEDs and switches before assembling the keyboard again. Check your soldering or LED orientation to check where the errors occurs.
Step 9: Case Assembly
Time to put the parts back into the case.
- Two extra holes needed to be drilled into the plate on the left side to make it fit into the case. The bottom and top part of the case both had an extrusion for screws.
- Don't forget to reconnect the cable. Be mindful of the wire color orientation.
- Finally put the screws back in
- There was a small difference between the stock plate and this plate. The stock plate has bended edges, which then rests onto stand-offs on the long edge on the inside of the case. Since the SS plate didn't have this I thought I had to provide some kind of solution but when I put the top of the case on it automatically pressed it flat so that worked out nicely.
Step 10: Final Assembly
Slap on your favourite keycaps, plug in the USB cable and you're ready to go!
Here are some examples in different LED colors with the original keycaps and the Deskthority R4 Retro key set with blanks.
Step 11: Conclusion and Lessons Learned
So this was quite a build. Each part consumed quite some time and it took me over a month to complete this build in between everything else.
Some things I could've done different:
- Drill holes in the metal plate before stickering. The metal of the drilling sticks onto the stickers so I had to replace a few.
- Drill holes in the plate before the switches are in. I bent a few switch plates while pressing down on the plate, making the switch not register anymore. You could bend them back but I just replaced them so that they don't feel different. This step can't always be done before putting everything together but still, this should be considered.
- Be ultra careful when de-soldering and soldering this much or you'll risk damaging the solder pads. I had to trace one patch on the PCB to make a LED work again.
- First do the LED headers, then sticker. It's a bit easier.
I hope you liked this instructable. Thanks for checking this out!