The ultimate self-assembled mechanical keyboard, prioritizing touch and personalization, is the top pick for avid keyboard enthusiasts. Numerous keyboard makers have introduced DIY kits and barebone keyboard models, enabling users to select their preferred mechanical switches and keycaps. Ducky from Taiwan unveiled its “ProjectD Outlaw 65” customizable keyboard at the International Computer Expo this year. Users are required to assemble it on their own and select the positioning plate and Gasket Mount securing technique to adjust the keyboard’s tactile response. The initial batch of pre-orders comes standard with Cherry MX2A red switches and tri-color PBT keycaps, making the DIY keyboard realm more accessible.
- Design Mechanism: Gasket Mount, CNC-machined aluminum casing, and a carbon fiber baseplate.
- Switch Support: Hot-swappable via yellow Kailh Socket.
- Positioning Plate: Made of FR4 and POM.
- Gasket Mount Securing Technique: Made of rubber and Poron Sandwich.
- Dampening Material: Poron sandwich foam, IXPE under-key padding.
- Lighting: RGB with a south-facing layout.
- Connection: USB-C 2.0 interface.
- Keys: 65% layout with USB N-Key Rollover.
- Firmware: QMK/VIA compatible, with ANSI/ISO layouts.
- Size: 333 x 128 x 48cm.
- Weight: Approximately 1105g (with a margin of ± 10g).
- Origin: Made in Taiwan.
Ducky ProjectD Outlaw 65 first wave Cherry MX2A, three-color PBT keycaps and USB aerospace cable
Ducky’s first wave of ProjectD Outlaw 65 customized mechanical keyboard, equipped with Cherry MX2A red switches, three-color PBT Horizon keycaps and USB aerospace cable. The “ProjectD Outlaw 65” is 65% configured, USB N-Key Rollover, supports QMK/VIA custom key functions and ANSI/ISO configuration, and uses a detachable USB-C connection.
The ProjectD Outlaw 65 keyboard body is made of CNC aluminum shell and carbon fiber base plate. The keyboard structure adopts Gasket Mount design, and provides FR4 and POM positioning plates, as well as rubber and Poron sandwich, allowing players to choose their favorite feel when assembling the structure. To match, in addition, the Poron sandwich cotton between the positioning plate and the circuit board, the bottom shell is padded with Poron bottom cotton, and the IXPE shaft underpad are other configurations, giving the keyboard the most uniform tapping feel.
When shipped, the ProjectD Outlaw 65 keyboard is securely packed in a unique hard case, including 70 Cherry MX2A red switches. These new switches come pre-lubricated at the base’s protruding points (specifically at the spring’s location) right from the factory. A revamped barrel geometry spring has been introduced to replace the conventional cylindrical spring. This design ensures the spring undergoes a non-contact linear movement when a key is pressed. Moreover, updates have been made to the cross-axis geometry, and the tracks on which the bottom and top covers move. Yet, the metal contact points conform to industry standards.
In a side-by-side comparison, the Cherry MX2A’s redesigned switch notably diminishes the typical noise associated with key presses. This is due to a significant reduction in switch friction. Coupled with the improved spring and mechanism, the feel is much smoother and more linear.
Ducky’s tri-color PBT horizon keycaps are crafted using a three-shot molding process. This allows the keycaps to simultaneously feature three colors when the PBT plastic is injected. This technique ensures that the legends on the keycaps remain durable and long-lasting. The PBT material also offers a subtle matte texture and a firm tactile sensation, making it a prime choice for premium keyboards.
Ducky ProjectD Outlaw 65 mechanical DIY keyboard unboxing and CNC aluminum case assembly
The ProjectD Outlaw 65 keyboard kit comes with an array of components, along with all necessary tools like hex screwdrivers, lubricants, brushes, and keycap pullers to assist beginners in the assembly process. It’s essential to take note when tallying the components; each bag containing parts is numbered. For screws, both the specifications and quantity are indicated, making it easier to identify and use the right parts during assembly.
To start with the assembly, the aluminum stand and the counterweight block from the keyboard’s bottom need to be attached to the carbon fiber base plate. This base plate has distinct front and back sides. When assembling, ensure to reference the countersunk screw hole positions provided in the diagram in the user manual.
4 sets of satellite dummy shaft lubrication assembly
The “stabilizers,” crucial for the feel of longer keys, can make or break the typing experience. The ProjectD Outlaw 65 incorporates yellow stabilizers with a black housing and a gold-colored wire. The keys on the keyboard that utilize these stabilizers are: Space, Left Shift, Enter, and Backspace. As directed in the manual, it’s advised to lubricate both sides of the stabilizer, the interior of its housing, and the points where the wire interacts with the stabilizer. This ensures a consistent tactile sensation and quiet operation when keys are pressed.
PCB, under-axis pad, sandwich cotton and FR4/POM positioning plate
First, position the PCB so it aligns with the opening of the IXPE under-key pad. Subsequently, secure the newly assembled stabilizers to the circuit board in the proper order. While assembling, note the direction of the wire: ensure the front groove of the stabilizer housing aligns with the PCB’s hole before securing the screw on the upper gasket.
Next, we arrive at the initial choice: the “positioning plate.” There are two options: FR4 and POM. The FR-4 plate is made of fiberglass, the same material used in PCB circuit boards. It boasts an impressive balance between rigidity and weight. When used as a positioning plate, it offers a firmer bottom out and a more distinct tactile sensation. On the other hand, POM positioning plates are lighter with a notably elastic quality.
Neither positioning plate is categorically better than the other; the distinction lies in the tactile and auditory feedback upon key press. The beauty of a DIY keyboard lies in its flexibility: after some use, enthusiasts can experiment by swapping out positioning plates to find their preferred typing experience.
Gasket Mount fixing method: rubber, Poron sandwich
The second choice pertains to the “Gasket Mount” fixation technique. This design involves the keyboard casing clamping the positioning plate, with the bottom casing of the keyboard and the PCB maintaining a non-contact design. The choice of gasket affects the typing experience. Firstly, the Poron sandwich functions like a sleeve, fitted over the protruding parts of the positioning plate. When force is applied, this design disperses it slightly to the Poron sandwich sleeve, enhancing the tactile feedback and making it more resilient. In contrast, the rubber gasket allows the casing to press directly against the positioning plate, resulting in a sturdier feel.
Southbound RGB, Cherry MX2A Red, tri-color PBT keycaps
The assembly of the ProjectD Outlaw 65 is nearly complete. All that’s left is to insert the mechanical switches and attach the keycaps. At this stage, you can also plug in the USB-C cable, and the keyboard’s south-facing RGB lights will illuminate, showcasing the default RGB wave lighting effect.
To wrap things up, simply insert the mechanical switches into their respective slots and place the keycaps on top. With that, the ProjectD Outlaw 65 is ready for use.
The ProjectD Outlaw 65 features a sleek, narrow bezel design encased in CNC-machined aluminum. It boasts a carbon fiber base plate, complemented by an aluminum stand and a weight block at its base. This results in a notably hefty feel to the keyboard once assembled.
The Ducky ProjectD Outlaw 65 keyboard body is quite stable. It is assembled with a carbon fiber base plate and CNC aluminum parts to form a shell. The interior is a Gasket Mount structural design, with FR4 or POM positioning plate, rubber or Poron sandwich fixation, as well as under-axis pads, sandwich cotton and The bottom cotton and other designs allow players to choose different combinations to fine-tune their favorite keyboard feel.
ProjectD Outlaw 65 supports the customization function of QMK/VIA. It can customize the function of each key and layer it with Fn Key to combine more key functions. For example, editing the commonly used Print Screen keys can be customized. The Del button on the second layer supports configurations such as macros and special buttons, and you can also directly adjust the keyboard’s RGB lighting effects.
DIY keyboards empower enthusiasts to experiment with a myriad of tactile experiences, from the foundational choices of keycaps and switches to detailed elements like positioning plates, fixation techniques, and various padding materials. The ProjectD Outlaw 65, specifically, employs the FR-4 positioning plate and a Poron sandwich, delivering a crisp, clear keystroke sound combined with a touch of elasticity and a firm bottom-out sensation.
Ducky’s inaugural release of the ProjectD Outlaw 65 is tagged at NT$9,290 in Taiwan. While the price might be on the higher side, it upholds the Made in Taiwan (MIT) essence. Bundled with Cherry MX2A switches, tri-color PBT keycaps, and a premium USB aerospace-grade cable, it truly captures the aspirations of enthusiasts looking for top-tier customized DIY keyboards.
If this article is helpful for you, please share this article with your friends on social media. Thank you!
This article is based on the personality of the reviews. You are responsible for fact-checking if the contents are not facts or accurate.
Title: Ducky ProjectD Outlaw 65: The Pinnacle of DIY Mechanical Keyboard Customization