If you are an engineer, gamer, or hardware enthusiast, you have probably heard of or come into contact with a keypad-printed circuit board. However, these keypad PCBs often present themselves in a manner that makes them feel and look like complex components. Therefore, most people in the tech industry usually prefer to purchase ready-made keypads instead of producing their own. But what if there was a way to produce your keypad-printed circuit board?
A keyboard-printed circuit board sets aside the mechanical keypad from a regular keypad. Therefore, no matter the type of keypad you are planning to generate, a traditional membrane or mechanical keypad, you’ll need in-depth knowledge of the different kinds of keypad printed circuit boards. Moreover, you should be able to answer simple questions such as, what is a keypad PCB? What is the difference between traditional membrane keypads and mechanical keypads? And so much more.
What is a Keypad?
Keypads are generally sets of keys or buttons bearing digits, alphabetical letters, and/or symbols placed in perfect order on a simple pad. These components are usually utilized as input devices on various gadgets, which include personal computers or PCs.
Keypads can bear numeric digits exclusively; for example, keypads found in calculators or digital doors. Moreover, they can also bear alphanumeric values, for instance, the keypads on various cellular phones.
Desktop computers mostly come with keyboards with various keys that users utilize to input data onto a computer. For instance, a standard desktop computer keyboard comes with two variations of input keys for numerical digits:
- One variation is found on the upper part of the keyboard in row-form
- The second variation is on the right portion of the keyboard, and it tends to be more efficient in terms of data entry
However, for more compact computers, for example, notebooks and laptops, users sometimes have to insert external plug-in keypads to gain all the features that come with the standard desktop keyboard.
Keypad Printed Circuit Boards in a Nutshell
A keypad-printed circuit board is basically a sheet or a panel in a PC that acts like the keypad’s foundation or main component. Typically a keypad printed circuit board senses and defines whatever happens when users press keys in a keypad.
Using a keypad-printed circuit board, you can easily determine the key that was pressed on the computer. Moreover, you can also transfer information to your PC using the keypad in a matter of seconds.
A keypad has two main parts, which are the following:
- The physical keys – these are the keys that the users see
- The controller part – this is the part that carries out all the processing. Unfortunately, it is usually in the background; therefore, users can’t see it while using the keypad.
Most technicians use thin plastic sheets and metal or epoxy components to generate keypad circuit boards.
Main Differences between membrane and Mechanical Keypads
Membrane and mechanical keypads have multiple differences, which include the following:
Size and Cost
Membrane keypads, which also go by the name traditional keypads, are generally light and affordable. On the other hand, mechanical keypads are bulky and expensive.
However, even though membrane keypads are affordable and lightweight, they tend to have a shorter life span when compared to mechanical keypads.
Membrane keypads have rubber underneath. Therefore, you get a mushy feel whenever you press a key when using this type of keypad. Moreover, this rubber feature makes these keypads relatively silent. On the other hand, mechanical keypads have spring-loaded switches beneath the keypads that effectively trigger whenever you press a key. As a result, mechanical keypads tend to respond with pretty loud clicking sounds.
Due to the design of the mechanical keypad, it provides more efficient feedback compared to the membrane keypad.
Mechanical keypads tend to have a vital feature known as rollover which helps them spot essential key presses simultaneously. Due to this feature, the mechanical keypad tends to be great in the following:
- Fast typing
- Playing games
- Crouch jumping and much more
On the other hand, the membrane keypad lacks this crucial rollover feature. Therefore, these keypads tend to lag your input due to limited processing.
When using a mechanical keypad, you don’t have to apply much pressure to the keys to input data. By gently clicking on the keypad keys, the board’s mechanism automatically detects the keystroke and registers it into the processing unit. However, when working with a membrane keypad, you must apply a lot of pressure on the keys to register the keystroke. That is because the rubber layers on the membrane keypad must touch the circuit for the data to be submitted effectively.
Mechanical keypads are super easy to customize, unlike membrane keypads which require a lot of effort and time.
How can you generate a Custom Mechanical Keypad?
In this section, we will effectively discuss all the steps you must follow to generate a custom mechanical keypad.
First, you’ll have to gather various components you will use on your mechanical keypad. These components include:
Combining the Parts
To combine all the parts and generate a functional keypad, you should follow the following steps:
- First, check whether or not the keypad printed circuit board is working.
- Next, carefully mount the keypad’s cherry stabilizer on the circuit board.
- After attaching the keypad’s switch to the circuit board, flip the printed circuit board over and solder the components.
- When the soldering process is over, you must connect the keycaps.
- Once you are done mounting the keycaps, you can move on to the testing phase, which involves testing the keypad to ensure it is functioning according to your specifications.
To test the keypad, connect it to your PC using the USB port, then check whether the keys function accordingly.
Keypads are vital components in any desktop, laptop, or simply any computer setup. Without a keypad, users can’t be able to input critical information into a computer. Moreover, the entire industry shifted since keypad-printed circuit boards hit the market. These components basically make keypads more efficient compared to traditional membrane keypads. Therefore, if you want to try out keypad-printed circuit boards, we hope this article has helped you with all the information you were looking for regarding keypad PCBs.