Mechanical Keyboards: Wilson Lu


Kevin Jia

Thousands of students at Cupertino High face extreme cases of boredom, cooped up in their home for almost 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, that’s not the case for sophomore Wilson Lu who has taken an interest in custom mechanical keyboards.

Said Lu, “I had a friend, and he was into mechanical keyboards, and ended up giving me a mechanical keyboard which opened my eyes to the world of custom mechanical keyboards.”

Custom mechanical keyboards are different from the traditional keyboards seen on laptops and desktops. Unlike laptop keyboards, custom keyboards use moving plastic parts under each key unlike the keys found in the average laptop which have no moving parts. Mechanical switches tend to provide a deeper travel distance while pressed with either a clicky, tactile, or no physical feedback midway through the press.

Said Lu, “Mechanical keyboards also come in many different sizes from a full size with a number pad, arrow keys, and function keys to a smaller 60% keyboard with only numbers on top with simple shift and control keys.”

The process of building a keyboard is similar to stacking legos. Each key switch have a keycap on top which are then placed into each mounting plate to help align each key to the printed circuit board and then soldered in. After that, it is screwed into a case, plugged in, and ready to use.

Many keyboard enthusiasts build keyboards to find the ideal typing experience for them. Most builders lubricate each key switch internal with oils to help improve the smoothness and audio of each keypress.

Those who want to save money and receive the best product possible would tend to look towards modifying, or modding, a cheaper mechanical keyboard that has been prebuilt.

Lu has built three custom mechanical keyboards and modded the one that his friend has given him. Most of Lu’s free time has since been replaced from boredom to building.

Said Lu, “I like to spend my free time lubricating keyboard switches to give a more premium feel and sound when pressed.”

Although his love for mechanical keyboards may have kept his hands busy, it has also created new problems.

Said Lu, “Financially, I have probably invested around eight to nine hundred dollars, it’s quite an expensive hobby. Each keyboard being roughly around 250 to 350 dollars.”

Lu has said to have spent more money on this hobby than any other hobby he has tried. Even surpassing the cost of which it took to build his customized desktop.

With students indoors all day, working on schoolwork could increase the risk of cramps and strains. Custom mechanical keyboards are more ergonomic/efficient and comfortable than the traditional keyboard, with key switches being lighter than average, making it easier to type on for long periods.