Featured image of post Alps Plate Spring Custom Keyboard

Alps Plate Spring Custom Keyboard

Alps plate spring keyboard build with triple dye sublimated keycaps


This is a write-up summary of my thread about this keyboard build on Deskthority.

Having never built a custom keyboard from the ground up, this was a fun experience for me. Well, close to an entirely custom keyboard. I didn’t design the case or the switches and caps. But I’d consider it pretty close.

Keyboard Window Timelapse



The first thing I had to learn about was PCB design. Previously I’d made very minor changes to a few existing designs, but had never done one myself. Luckily Hasu has a library of PCB parts which included the footprint for an Alps plate spring switch.

Alps Plate Sprint PCB Footprint

I was initially confused why my switches had 2 pins but the cut-out had 6. Until couple of people pointed out that there are a few varieties of Alps plate spring switches.

Delirious: … There are 3 types of alps plate springs but they are mostly just the usual inconsistency of Alps Electric. They function exactly the same from one to another. So you have:

  1. 2-pins Plate mount APS
  2. 6-pins Square pcb-mount APS, sometimes the top housings are black, sometimes they are grey
  3. 4-pins Battleship pcb-mount APS

Switch Varieties Pin Differences

Since mine were the plate mounted variety, I removed the exra 4 pins from the switch cutout hoping that it might give me more room for routing the traces.

Edited PCB Footprint

I intended to build this keyboard around a special set of triple dye sub keycaps, which meant that I wouldn’t be able to adjust the layout. So making a decision on that part was easy. Once I had my layout and dimensions, I placed all the key cut-outs in their spots. I also needed to arrange and place the board components and map out the schematic. There’s plenty info out there about how to design a keyboard PCB but anything that I could speak to now would probably be outdated (I was using Mini USB). So I won’t go into depth on the topic.


One fun experiment that I did during this process was try out auto-routing. That’s software that tries to automatically route all of the traces on the board. But I eventually came to the conclusion that doing it manually wasn’t that difficult and that the software just ended up confusing me.

Auto-Routing Spiderweb

Manual Routing


To have to PCB made I used Gold Phoenix’s PCB Pool service, since I only wanted 1 board and it was possible with that option. I was really pleased with the quality.

Finished PCB With Components



Designing a plate is something I had done a few times before. But it was still difficult to make sure the details were were correct like the placement and size of the stabilizer cut-outs. I used the plate that the case came with as a stencil for the outside measurements.

Keyboard Plate Design


Since I was a bit hesitant about the things I just mentioned, I ended up ordering a prototype made from much cheaper PETG plastic. It was thing and flimsy but at least let me know that the measurements were good. I was really happy with how the final plate turned out. Ordered from LaserBoost.

Plate and Case

Plate and Case Switches Mounted in Plate Plate, PCB, and Case


The keycaps come from an IBM 5576 keyboard. They’re 2-part caps, which I guess is common for Alps plate spring.

IBM 5576 Keyboard

Triple Dye Sub Keycaps Two Part Keycaps


I don’t recall where exactly the switches came from, but I’m thinking that I bought them.

Alps Plate Sprint Switch

Switch Inside View Switch Slider View Switch Components View

Final Keyboard


Finished Keyboard

Keycaps Profile View Top View

Typing Video

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