This might be your new favorite hobby
The pandemic has birthed a renaissance of hobbies. After all, travel doesn’t seem like it would be the soundest investment anytime soon, and we’ve got a lot more time in our hands, so now is the perfect time to dive into a new interest. Maybe you’ve been swept by the plant therapy wave or gave into creating crochet and resin pieces as fashion statements-slash-side-hustles.
Since going back to the office seems unlikely, we’re zeroing in on improving our home spaces and workstations. We’re now spending on items to improve the ways we work, zhuzhing up our spaces in the hopes of increased productivity.
Part of the hobbies-slash-tech improvements rising in popularity is the art of customizing mechanical keyboards. This industry has been thriving even before the pandemic, but the community grew as people spent more time online and saw how gamers, only a fraction of these keyboard enthusiasts, treat these devices as prized possessions. Some maybe even go to the lengths of creating art on it.
Now let’s explore the world of customized mechanical keyboards.
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Lately, one’s first encounter with customizing mechanical keyboards is the multitude of custom builds on the internet. Mechanical keyboards are like empty canvases waiting for an artist to paint on them. Custom builds show the user’s interests and personalities. Others take the time to create cute and pastel-colored mechanical keyboards while some have the sleekest builds custom-made. Famous mechanical keyboard builder Taeha Types has a large following of people who tune in to his Twitch streams where he tests, builds and reviews different keyboards.
But the hobby isn’t daunting as it seems, especially after some thorough research. Beginners on a budget can opt to purchase an existing mechanical keyboard and begin customizing with the keycaps. Copping unique keycaps isn’t a challenge either, as the growing community made it more accessible. You can buy new sets of keycaps and even have your own custom-made ones from Shopee, Lazada and some good-reviewed Instagram shops. For those with some more cash to spare, you can get one built or try your hand in fully building your own keyboard.
The practical side as to why people are into building mechanical keyboards is functionality. First is the ease in customizing, not just for the look but also for certain needs and preferences. There are different switches that offer varying response speeds, audible clicks and tactile bumps. Gamers have a preference for red switches that have a fast response rate. Meanwhile, regular content creators and users can opt for brown or blue switches that have an audible ‘click’ when pressed. You can have a keyboard that isn’t too loud for late-night shifts and game sessions and have another one that can fulfill the ASMR video of your dreams.
Another advantage of mechanical keyboards, in general, is that they last a lot longer than your regular keyboards. Membrane and scissor keyboards—like the ones included with PCs and in laptops—wear out faster with time and use. Mechanical keyboard switches are said to last 30 to 70 million keystrokes compared to a membrane keyboard’s lifespan of five million. This is why PC builders, gamers and some content creators go all out and spend on a good mechanical keyboard.
Think of customizing keyboards as the bullet journalist’s love for taking time in creating spreads and shopping for the best stickers and stationery accessories. Some might prefer using a planner as it is. Others decorate theirs for relaxation and an extra push to deliver. Building a keyboard from scratch or replacing keycaps brings the same satisfaction and excitement to those who are part of the hobby.
At the end of it all, there’s an enthusiastic and ever-growing mechanical keyboard community that’s open to beginners. From YouTubers to Reddit threads, Discord servers and Facebook groups, there's a community waiting to guide you through this cool world.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver