Mechanical Keyboards: Andrei Yang


Norman Chow, Writer

For most people, keyboards are an essential tool used in their daily work conducted at a job or for school. However, they are often overlooked, and as vital as they are, people do not seem to give keyboards the respect that they deserve as an essential part of our daily lives. 

Tino student Andrei Yang seeks to change this, as he introduces people to the hobby of custom mechanical keyboards, where people build their keyboards from scratch. People who take part in the hobby usually seek a keyboard that gives them the best typing feel and aesthetics. This search for a perfect keyboard keeps people hooked on the hobby and motivates people like Andrei to spend hours on keyboards, whether it is to build or modify them.

Ever since picking up the hobby, Andrei has introduced both his parents to the hobby, as well as a few friends. On why he has decided to do this, he says that there are a variety of reasons, but mainly it was out of curiosity. He recounts that “the first time I [knowingly] dipped my toes into it was because the Computer Lab’s peripherals were entirely filthy, and I’d been looking at small form factor keyboards (which are keyboards that usually cut down on things such as the numpad for convenience)  I could take to school. There was nothing with arrow keys in the size I wanted and its slightly larger cousins that did feature arrow keys weren’t quite as prevalent yet. The cocktail of those requirements plus constantly looking at the Mechanical Keyboards subreddit created my first build.” This is the case for many of those who join the keyboard community, as they try to find a better alternative to more widely produced non-mechanical keyboards.

Regarding why people stay invested in the hobby, he says that “I think the interest comes from the technical aspect and the need to care about this sort of thing, especially now at such a pivotal point within the community. The revival of dead technologies or designs otherwise left in the past are coming back, and we’re re-learning a lot of the lessons that people thirty to fifty years ago learned and are improving upon that. There’s a rabbit hole that people enjoy and I think that people join the community because of that or eventually discover that and recognize quality.” 

In summary, he says that “I feel like what a lot of this can be distilled into is that you should carry around utensils and implements you enjoy using and looking at. Even if you never follow custom keyboards, that realization of using quality tools, whether pencils, pens, keyboards, or the paper you write on, is vital.”