If you want the coolest custom keyboard on the block, be prepared to do some soldering. A lot of soldering. Even though this keyboard looks incredible, Imgur user “Prodigydoo” recommends just buying a keyboard rather than sinking about 40 hours of work into this project. I’ve tried to modify a keyboard into an arcade-style controller, and I can attest to the tediousness of keyboard hacking.
Regardless of the hesitation to recommend this project, the final result is quite nice. The final keyboard layout is a Dvorak simplified keyboard, and the wiring is hidden under the keys.
There were a few things that did simplify this project, including the fact that a fairly simple keyboard without a number pad was used. The other interesting trick was that a 12 volt power supply was used to power groups of four LEDs (plus a resistor) in series. These groups were wired up in parallel, leading to wiring that was much simpler than it could have been.
Seeing this project, I wonder if a custom PCB could be made with wire traces that go around each button. Space for the keys would have to be cut out, but with a laser cutter or CNC router, this should certainly be possible. I’m not a huge fan of soldering, so finding ways around it, even if I have to pay a little extra, is always appealing to me.