Nate Beck knows more about keyboards than your average guy.
The IT Generalist, who joined the Mid-States team in January 2018, is a member of a niche community of hobbyists who build their own computer parts. His specialty is computer keyboards – which he describes as the saddle of your computer.
“You make it something you like and can customize it,” Beck said.
When it comes to building a keyboard, people generally start with mechanical keyboards. There are even basic keyboard building kits to get started with it. And when it comes to the customization, there are a couple things to consider. The first is the shape of sliders. The different shapes can give you a different feel as you type on the keyboard. The three choices are linear, tactile and clicky. Beck prefers tactile sliders.
The next thing to consider is the different spring weights, which can vary from light to heavy. The spring weight impacts how much pressure you must use to press the keys down. The different spring weights typically range from 40-to-200 grams. Beck has his keyboard set at 67 grams.
After you get through the mechanics, the customization really comes in to play when examining the shape of the keys, colors and other aesthetics. This is the part of customization that Beck really enjoys. Beck’s keyboard has boxy, stepped keys, in a mixture of cream, black and orange. His keyboard also features LED lights underneath, capable of showcasing multiple colors.
“I’ve always been one of those hobbyists that likes to customize things and make them personal,” he said.
Beck has put about $230 into his current keyboard, and he built half-a-dozen keyboards before it to really learn what he likes. Luckily, he was able to sell those off. Beck has been building keyboards for about two years and has learned most of his skills through an online Reddit forum. One skill Beck had to learn for keyboard customization was soldering electronic pieces. Luckily, YouTube has videos for everything.
Beck’s advice to anyone interested in taking up the hobby is to start cheap. He said you can get a mechanical keyboard for $20 on eBay. Kits are also available, which start at about $100. The additional cost comes in to play depending on how far you want to go with customization. Since the hobby is gaining in popularity, Beck said there are several Chinese manufacturers where he is able to find parts.
Although Beck’s background is in music, he has always been a tech guy who enjoyed playing video games and building computers. This hobby is just another facet of that. The next keyboard he’ll be working on? One to use here at Mid-States. Might we suggest a red and grey theme?