Underglow mechanical keyboards are becoming a great alternative for those looking for something a bit different, and eye grabbing. And acrylic is the way to fully realise that lighting.
So today, we have the 5 degree acrylic case, and the DZ60 REV 2 PCB fom KBDfans to make this beauty of a keyboard.
The keyboard will be based around the DZ60 REV 2 PCB (we have the USB C version), therefore it's a 60% keyboard.
PCB : DZ60 REV 2 USB type C
CASE : 5° Acrylic case (frosted)
PLATE : Generic 60% silver aluminium plate
STABILISERS : Genuine Cherry stabilisers
KEYSWITCHES : 65g R10 Zealio's
KEYCAPS : BLANK DSA PBT grey/white
The DZ60 REV 2 PCB is one of a few PCBs that offer underglow lighting. On the underside of the PCB, there are 2 rows of 8 RGB SMD LEDs (16 in total).
The PCB does also support key backlighting. However, this is only for singular colour LEDs (no RGB)
There are a heap of layouts that are possible. So if you're in Europe, then you can have your ISO layouts without an issue.
The PCB uses the open source QMK firmware. Here you can customise the keyboard in regards to keymapping, macros, layouts, layers, and everything else. Make sure to do your research on QMK before you do anything!
THE KBDFANS 5° ACRYLIC CASE
To actually utilise the underglow LEDs, we have to have a case that somehow let's that light out. Some cases will have an acrylic layer or slit to show some light. Or the base of the case will be acrylic.
But to get the absolute full effect, we have to use a full acrylic case. This is CNC milled from a solid piece of acrylic. So even though it is plastic, it is quite solid with no flex, and still holds some weight to it. The 5 degree acrylic case is available in 2 different finishes. Frosted or transparent.
And the result is something quite special and unique. Acrylic is such an nice alternative to work with, and it’s a nice change from the more standard aluminium for custom builds. Acrylic has that softness to it, which is especially accentuated with the frosted finish. It’s an interesting contrast to the angular nature and hardness of the case design. When you look at the aluminium version, you definitely feel that sharpness, as it mimics that sort of crystallic shape.
But with the acrylic, it strips that back a bit, and you get that fusion between the two, as the hard lines are now much more subtle.However it’s angular design is still prominent. As said, in the past, I’ve worked with the simple rectangular acrylic cases, however this is much more complex in its shape, but it still manages to look clean.
Although of course since it is an acrylic case, we have to show the underglow. And this is where the keyboard really comes to life. One of the advantages of it’s angular design, is that the bezels are thicker. And this helps with the diffusion of the LEDs, in reducing the concentration points. Obviously on the bottom, you will still clearly see the LEDs. It’s difficult to get an accurate representation on camera, but around the sides, the spread of light is done quite well.
If you're interested in building one, go ahead and do it! I have tutorials and videos on many builds, and it's not difficult at all. The biggest hurdle is having the soldering equipment.