For I have tasted the rainbow – Ghetto MX Backlight

Discussion in 'Overclocking & Hardware' started by ravescar, Apr 21, 2012.

  1. ravescar

    ravescar Member

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    Ghetto backlight colour mod for Cherry MX Keyboard with Backlight.

    Some pics of result:

    Click to view full size!


    Click to view full size!

    All above was taken at second lowest brightness setting - 2, there are 4 level of brightness on ducky shine.

    Tried to capture the colour as best as i could, but stilll reckon these look better in person.

    How it works:

    Very simple, a coloured film cut to size is installed behind the keycap covering the letter, using the same installation method as O-ring/silencing pad mod.

    Ingredient:

    1. A Cherry MX mechanical keyboard with backlight, ideally with white LED for obvious reason. I used Ducky Shine with White LED for this.

    2. Thin, coloured films with the following properties:

    a. Thickness: ideally no more than 0.5mm thick so you can stack it in each keycap for more colour control. Eg use 1 red for pink, stack 2 red for bright red colour, 1 yellow and 1 red for orange. Also stacking can be used to keep the overall brightness even(some colour are brighter than other)

    b. Material: ideally soft, rubbery like silicone as the film can and does affect key feel depends on how good your cutting job is. I used Polypropylene sheets from folder($6 from newsagency), as they are easily available, and I did not have any luck sourcing coloured silicone that thin.

    c. Transparency: actually doesn’t matter too much, as LED on mechanical keyboard is usually powerful enough to shine through iintransparent material as it is. However transparency affect brightness for some colours, which sometimes cannot be resolved properly even by stacking(in my experiment I stack 3 at most in one keycap). So it is something to watch out for.

    d. Colour suits to your taste, I used Red, Yellow, Blue, Purple, and Green for purpose of this experiment.
    3. Pencil for marking, Rulers, Scissors and Hole puncher, nothing special about them as long as they do the job.

    4. Keycap pullers

    5. Some containers /small bottles for film storage, as you may need to fabricate a lot of them depending on your colour scheme.

    Method:

    note: I cut film to 15mmx15mm +-2mm, and then make small adjustment (round off corner, shave edge if necessary) to fit it in keycap. Feel free to experiment with different sizes, just keep in mind it is better to have it slightly too big than too small because you need to control the edge bleeding to keep colour accurate.

    1. Cut all the film to 15mm long strips,

    2. Stack about 4-6 strips together for hole punching.

    3. Punch the hole roughly in the middle(an inaccurately punched hole actually works better, as keycaps stems are not in the middle of keycap) at one end of the strip.


    Click to view full size!


    4. Cut the end of the strip by about 15mm, to make a square with hole in middle.

    The resulting film should look something like photo below, as you can see I didn’t do good job of it either, doesn’t affect the outcome though.


    Click to view full size!


    I fabricated about 120+ of each colour, 600+ in total, took 2~3 hours.
    Which is about enough to reskin all my keys in one colour.

    Then it is a simple matter of pull off the keycap and apply these film, you may have to restack them to experiment with brightness and colour control, through trial and error. Also make sure it is not affecting keypress, i have to cut corner off and shave edge because i make pieces slightly too big.


    Click to view full size!


    Some comment and further point of improvement:

    · For the long key such as backspace and enter, using normal sized film seem to still work, so there is no need to cut film specifically for them.

    · I am pleased with how it looks and how flexible it is considering the low cost(spent $6 and about 4~5 hours of my time), also the colour is perfectly visible even at the lowest LED brightness, just don’t expect no brightness loss compared to an un-modded one.

    · The colour turned to be quite reasonable IMO, I am forced to stack multiple for some colour though. If I only put in one blue film, the colour turned cyan. I have to stack 3 of them to get them somewhat blue. Still not as good as blue LED though, I blame it on the sheet used.

    · The biggest problem I have with it is that the mod affected the key feel somewhat, as key press feel a bit more noticeably stiffer and mushier. The polypropylene film I use is a bit big for keycap and is also very stiff. In theory use softer material like silicone and more accurately cut the sheet to exactly match the keycap should resolve this issue.

    I hope this post will inspire further improvement and innovations from other posters, and also inspires companies to produce something similar, as a cheap and universal way of personalizing the bling on Cherry MX keyboard.
     
  2. Huggy_Bear64

    Huggy_Bear64 Member

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    Psh, amateur.

    Click to view full size!


    I kid, I kid, nice work mate. Would definitely do that to my shine if I didn't buy the one with red LEDs :upset:
     
  3. KriiV

    KriiV Member

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    Good end result! Something different :thumbup:
     
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    ravescar

    ravescar Member

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    Thanks! and actually that is where i got colour theme from :)
     
  5. Huggy_Bear64

    Huggy_Bear64 Member

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    Heh, I did notice the similar pattern :thumbup:
    Although with this keyset the numpad has diagonal stripes too, whereas your numpad has horizontal stripes...
     
  6. iNoob

    iNoob Member

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    Lol awesome :thumbup:
     
  7. Menthu_Rae

    Menthu_Rae Member

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    Pretty awesome. Next time you want to cut those things - use a laser cutter! :lol:

    We have one at my work and what took you 2-3 hours would take 2-3 minutes and would be super super accurate/pro edge and hole-wise :Pirate:
     
  8. mtma

    mtma Member

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    Pff laser cutter

    30 seconds in a punching machine with razor edges :lol:
     
  9. auApex

    auApex Member

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    So the colours are fixed? Awesome stuff but I couldn't handle a permanently mixed colour keyboard...
     
  10. fuller2002

    fuller2002 Member

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    Looks really good man, nice work:thumbup:
     
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    ravescar

    ravescar Member

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    The colour film can of course be removed from keycap, i use a ballpoint pen tip to remove them.
     
  12. xpantz

    xpantz Member

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    I like it.

    I wonder if you could use ink/paint (to get around the mushy key issue)... as long as you didn't mind permanence.
     
  13. BlueRaven

    BlueRaven Member

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    Nice idea.

    Don't know if i'd do a whole keyboard in gay pride colours :p, but could definitely be cool for picking out WASD, numbers/functions etc. from the rest of the board.
     
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    ravescar

    ravescar Member

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    nothing shows colour range and flexibility of this mod better than the rainbow though, that said I am not actually expecting anyone to follow suit on the theme, lol, unless they also have a 3yr old daughter who is into rainbow and unicorns.

    Pretty obvious IMO what the mod can lead to.

    :)
     
  15. Huggy_Bear64

    Huggy_Bear64 Member

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    It is pretty much the coolest theme.
    You're all clearly homophobes :Paranoid:
    Well anything that gives your keyboard such a sexy colour scheme is going to lead to sex. Right? :weirdo:
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2012
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    ravescar

    ravescar Member

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    too late for me, but totally, chicks digs that shit.

    should not be a bad gift idea, and nothing shows how much you love them other than spending hours personalizing a KB specifically for her.
     

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