Building a Keyboard 7: Kailh Master Switches, GK108 kit, Silicone + PBT Keycaps 17

Building a Keyboard 7: Kailh Master Switches, GK108 kit, Silicone + PBT Keycaps

Epomaker Skyloong Silicone Keycaps »

Epomaker Skyloong GK108 Kit

The Skyloong GK108 kit I have here appears to be a newer model, with the first-party packaging making it evident, rather than the simpler gray of the Epomaker we saw before on other such kits. The Skyloong mascot makes a re-appearance, with blue and yellow colors that take up the entirety of the product box. The company name is really all you see on the front; it is the sticker on the side that confirms the actual product inside. Two double flaps on the side keep the contents in place in transit, opening which we see the keyboard kit surrounded by more cardboard for further protection.

The included quick-start guide comes in both English and Mandarin and goes over the base layer of the GK108. It is self-explanatory on this full-size form factor kit, although it also informs us about three available layers that are saved onboard for added functionality. There is even software support with the GK6XPlus drivers, and you get an ad with photos of other Epomaker/Skyloong products. There is a second piece of paperwork, this time directly over the keyboard inside the plastic wrap, which is more of a cautionary note going over how to install the switches properly. The other accessories include a detachable USB Type-A to Type-C cable braided in black and a combo metal wire keycap puller/switch remover. I have no idea why some kits get the latter while others come with separate tools that are less effective.

As the name suggests, the GK108 is a full-size 108-key keyboard kit in the ANSI layout, measuring 400 x 139 mm and available in black or white. I have the black variant, and the color is carried over to the ABS plastic case, with the white version having a black Skyloong sticker instead. That is incidentally the only visible branding in use and again a clear sign that Skyloong (the factory) is boldly using its own brand rather than relying on Epomaker branding. Either color option uses the same white steel plate, which will help with RGB lighting. The case is a two-piece design, with the top separated into various compartments to split up the different keys.

Flipping the kit around, we see the usual certification sticker on the back and four long rubber pads adding friction against the resting surface. There are two sets of feet at the top, which can be raised for a total of three available elevation steps. These feet have fairly substantial rubber pads as well, which is nice to see. There are also three cable-routing channels, which is a feature I would at the very least like to see on all plastic case keyboards moving forward.

Following up on that, we see the actual Type-C port in an inset, centrally placed such that some aftermarket cables may struggle to fit in. The stock cable is decent enough, in a black, braided sleeve and terminated in two gold-plated connectors for oxidation resistance. Once inserted, the cable can be routed away from the mouse for both left and right-handed users, as well as the default of straight up and away. A full-size USB Type-A port is required on the source, and with the 5 V/380 mA rating, USB 2.0 will suffice for power and data alike.

The plate is powdercoated white on a steel base and only held in place with some screws. This allows for modding the plate color or even switching to a different plate should you be enterprising enough. Foam support under the space bar key dampens the keystroke there, and this is also the best time to take a look at the 5-pin hot-swap switch socket. It increases compatibility with Cherry MX-style mechanical switches, be it the 3-pin or 5-pin variety. Plate-mounted stabilizers with plenty of lube are used. While I didn't remove any or felt the need to re-lube, the amount applied is nearly excessive.

At this point, it was evident that the GK108 shared a lot of DNA with the recently covered GK87 kit, so much so that I decided to save time and not disassemble it further. I'll refer you to this page for more on what's powering the kit while noting that there is also a hybrid Bluetooth version, the GK108S, with a 1900 mAh battery and Bluetooth 5.1 transceiver inside.
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