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How To Test A PCB Keyboard?

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Do you know what a PCB keyboard is? And won't you know how to test a PCB keyboard? If that’s the case, then you have come to the right place. We will explain all about the PCB keyboard and how to run it. It is imperative to know about the PCB keyboards before testing them. Keep reading this article to learn all about the Printed Circuit Board and how to implement them on a keyboard in the right way. Only then will you gain confidence in performing on a Printed Circuit Board. Read on!

What is a PCB Keyboard?

PCB stands for Printed Circuit Board, in which different switches are soldered directly into the keyboard so that if you press a key, the function will be implemented as there is nothing in between. There are various PCBs, all having different functionality according to the keys soldered. One thing that is common in all PCBs is that every PCB is the brain of the operation. But, the priority of the whole system should be to understand the working of a PCB on a keyboard.

Types of PCB keyboards:

Although they are a lot of different PCB keyboards, they can be categorized into types that users can easily handle and understand. There is not much difference in their functionality, but a few differences that they have makes the user decide which one they want according to the situation and need. Following are two types of PCB keyboards:

  • Standard PCB:

A standard PCB has its keys soldered to the keyboard. It is the most common PCB you might have observed. This PCB only requires its switches to be soldered. The standard PCB is recommended for builders of beginner skills or advanced skills. One advantage is that standard PCB gives you more flexibility in terms of layout and position of keys. In this way, the user, whether he is a beginner or professional, can practice on the standard PCB. Another advantage of the standard PCB is that it allows you to choose between ISO and ANSI, split backspace, split spacebar, split shift, etc. Furthermore, there are numerous different layouts, all having different rows and columns, for you to choose from.

  • Hot-Swappable PCB:

It can be observed from its name that the hot-swappable PCB comes with hot-swappable sockets that are already soldered into it. This type of PCB is mostly recommended for beginners as no soldering is required until and unless a socket gets plugged out. But, it can also be used by professionals. With these PCBs, all you need to do is install the stabilizers and push in each switch. If it is performed correctly, it will work great. Beginners can gain benefit from these PCBs as it does not require soldering. 

  • Through-Hole PCB:

This PCB will only function if it is soldered with useful parts. For example, you will have to solder different parts such as diodes, resistors, fuses, reset buttons, LED lights, the microcontroller, and a USB port for it to function as a complete PCB. This type of PCB is not recommended for beginners as it requires a lot of effort and time for the soldering part. The soldering can be quite frustrating if it does not work the way it is supposed to. 

What Are The Tools required to test a PCB keyboard?

Testing a PCB keyboard requires some tools. These tools are essential for testing as it increases the efficiency of the test run, and the resulting answer is more efficient. Following are some tools required for testing a PCB keyboard:

  • Metal Tweezers:

Metal tweezers are one of the first tools required for testing. These tweezers must be of metal. If, for some reason, you do not have metal tweezers, a paper clip can also be utilized for this purpose. All you need is pair of pliers and a paper clip.

  • Printed Circuit Board:

It is certain that if you need to test a PCB, then you need a board called Printed Circuit Board. All you need to do is handle the board gently and try not to damage any of its electrical components.

  • Compatible USB Cable:

You need a device that can connect your board to the computer. For such a method, a compatible USB cable can be used. Every USB cable cannot be used in every PCB, and you can check this by determining your PCB type. The most common cables are USB-C, Mini-USB, Micro-USB cable, etc. Sometimes, PCB can take all three of the USB cables, so to join all three USB cables on PCB, an interchangeable wire can be used.

  • Switch Testing Software:

On PCB, switch testing is essential. You can either use a Switch Hitter or a VIA if your PCB is compatible. If it is compatible, then download the VIA application as it allows its user to shorten the connection distance to complete the link in a shorter time. If it is not compatible, download Switch Hitter, as it allows the user to activate key testing and increases the difficulty in switch diagnosis.


How to test the PCB keyboard?

Testing on a PCB keyboard requires patience and stoicism. Because if anything goes wrong, you will not be getting the proper and accurate result. If the tools of the PCB keyboard are properly managed on the board, then it will provide you with the right result. Following are some ways and methods you can test your board correctly and appropriately:

  • Clean your surface:

While opening your PCB packaging, make sure you have a nice and clean workspace in which you can easily open your package without damaging it. You do not need an environment that could potentially damage your PCB. It is like working with computer parts; you have to be extra careful. Try to place a cloth or something under the PCB for its protection, and clean the surface whenever you are about to use the PCB. Although a PCB board is quite durable and can go on for years, that does not mean you should not take care of it. But no one knows when it might stop working.

  • Connect your PCB to your PC:

When you have thoroughly cleaned and removed everything that might damage the PCB, it is time to connect the PCB to your PC. As mentioned, connecting PCB to PC requires a cable called a USB-compatible cable. There is also a way to check whether the PCB is connected to your PC or not. If your PCB has RGB lights, you will observe the lights glow. If your PCB has LED lights, you will observe power running through the light. Every PCB has its way of showing whether it is connected to the PC or not. Even the ones that do not have LED or even RGB, these PCBs also have a method of showing whether it's turned on or not.

  • Open your switch testing software:

After connecting your PCB to your PC, it is time to open the software, whether Switch Hitter or VIA, whichever you have decided to use. If you are using VIA, it has a text matrix that provides you with the layout of the PCB. It also provides a feature in which you can turn on the sounds. In this way, whenever you perform a function like testing if the keys on the keyboard work, it will make sounds by which you will be able to identify which key works and which does not. For example, if you have a 70 percent board, it will not only show you the layout but will also give you the option of the split spacebar, backspace, etc. On the other hand, if you are Switch Hitter, it will only show you the full-sized layouts. But you can test other layouts as well.

  • Test each switch:

After setting up the right software for your PCB, you will need a pair of tweezers to check each switch. For every switch placement, you will connect one end of the tweezers to one pad and the other end to the second pad. If it is connected correctly, you will see a colorful light on your software that will change its color to other colors, indicating that it works. Test a switch, and for some reason, nothing happens; try again by changing its position. If it works, continue down each row and column, testing each switch that comes into its path. Sometimes, different PCBs have different positions of rows and columns. On such PCBs, you will observe the pads side-by-side.

  • Build a custom keyboard:

After going through the main guidelines for testing a PCB keyboard, you can now build your custom keyboard. It all depends on the user how they want to make their keyboard. 


This was all about PCB keyboards and how to successfully test on a PCB keyboard. The user must know all the guidelines and methods to test a PCB keyboard if they want to increase their expertise in this field and become a professional. We hope this information was helpful to you, and we hope you got all the answers you were looking for. If you have any more questions, please do not hesitate to contact Kinfordpcba.


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