BYO Keyboard Soldering

Safety From the Start

  • Never Leave the Soldering Iron Unattended
  • Wear Safety Glasses
  • Soldering Produces Lots of Heat – Be Careful what You Touch
  • Solder in a Well Ventilated Area – Open a window, turn on the fan

Before You Start

First Time Soldering?

Check out this great tutorial from Adafruit on soldering basics.

Need help?

If you need help, please come stop by Discord.

Soldering Time!

First we’ll solder the Adafruit ItsyBitsy M0 Express.

The package includes three rows of male header pins and the ItsyBitsy M0 Express itself. You will only need two rows of pins. Additionally, those two rows have two more header pins than needed. You can break them off after you finish soldering.

To make soldering easier, we’ll use a breadboard to hold the male header pins in place. Place the header pins into the breadboard, with the longer silver side pointed down, and space them apart so that the ItsyBitsy can sit on top.

Place header pins in breadboard then rest Adafruit ItsyBitsy M0 Express on top

Note: The the five pins in the middle of the ItsyBitsy M0 Express are not soldered. (See photo above)

Next, we’ll solder the diodes. Bend the Diode wires at 90 degree angles to form an U shape. Pass the diodes through the breadboard. Be sure the black notch on the diode aligns with the black notch on the PCB or else your circuit won’t work.

Align Diode Correctly

Bend the wires on the bottom side slightly so that they hold in place.

Bend wire to hold diodes in place

Solder diodes and trim the excess wire.

Solder and Trim

Check the mechanical switches and make sure the metal pins coming out of the bottom of them are sticking straight out. Press each of the Mechanical switches into the PCB. The mechanical switches should be flush with the surface of the PCB – you might have to push a little bit.

Only solder the metal pins.

Only solder the metal pins. Do not solder the black plastic parts. You’ll need more solder than you used for the diodes.

Place the female header pins into the PCB. For stability, place the Adafruit ItsyBitsy M0 Express’s header pins that you soldered earlier into the female header pins.

Solder the female header pins. You don’t have to remove the ItsyBitsy, but just for reference, below is a photo of what it’ll look like without it.

Attach the keycaps now my pressing them down onto the + symbol on the mechanical switch.

If you don’t have a wooden case, you can attach the sticky pads, one to each corner.

Congrats, you’re all done!

Safety Until the End

  • Turn off your soldering iron