Building a Keyboard 8: Akko Acrylic Gasket Mount Kit, ASA Low Profile Keycaps, CS Sponge Switches 4

Building a Keyboard 8: Akko Acrylic Gasket Mount Kit, ASA Low Profile Keycaps, CS Sponge Switches

Akko Prunus Lannesiana ASA-Low Profile PBT Keycaps »

Akko ACR 75 Kit: Closer Examination

The Akko ACR 75 DIY keyboard kit may surprise you if you are new to acrylic kits, especially with its lower profile and weight. At this time, this is the largest of the three Akko ACR kits and adopts an 81-key, 75% form factor compliant with the US ANSI layout. It comes in either white, black, blue, or the pink seen above. No matter which color you go with, it is a stack of multiple acrylic panels screwed together, which allows Akko to precisely CNC-cut to shape the panels that fit around and over the other components making up the ACR 75. The finish is quite good otherwise, with a smooth finish given to the translucent acrylic that also gets rounded corners. I will mention that the kit will come with two random Akko switches pre-installed in the top-left and bottom-right corner, and for those new to DIY keyboard kits, these are there to indicate switch alignment.

Flipping the kit around, we see more of the translucent acrylic in play. This will no doubt make for a bright light show, especially with what appear to be several additional side-mounted RGB LEDs. There are six rubber pads, with three larger ones at the top for keyboard elevation in the absence of feet and three smaller circular pads at the bottom. The middle pad at the top is far more substantial than any on keyboards in general; this kit isn't moving around anytime soon. Also notice the screws used to hold the keyboard together, which we will remove soon enough to examine the individual parts. On the bottom right is the Akko logo along with the ACR 81 name, so if this isn't soon changed to ACR 75, early adopters may get a one-off production run unit.

A look from the side reveals the four acrylic panels making up the stack, and the small amount of play keeping the stacks from lining up perfectly throughout. It's not necessarily a deal breaker, just something to be aware of when going for the more budget-friendly acrylic case option to get a gasket mount kit in place. A cutout on the front facing away from the user provides access to the Type-C port on the keyboard PCB, with the cutout too small to accommodate many aftermarket cables. Good thing then that Akko provides a color-matched, coiled cable out of the box even if it's otherwise basic, using standard PU insulation rather than something sleeved and braided, if not also with a split section in the middle as with some replacement cables. I personally think this combination looks cute, and the other three colors should have matching cables as well.

A closer look at the kit confirms the use of hot-swap switch sockets, and a 5-pin one at that, so you don't have to clip plastic pins off 5-pin mechanical switches. There is an SMD 6028 RGB LED for backlighting in each switch socket as well. The ACR 75, as with the other Akko acrylic kits, uses plate-mounted stabilizers with purple stems, and the bar itself is lubed manually to assist with the up and down movement. Further inspection is best done by disassembling the kit, which is easily done by removing nine screws on the back. At this point, you can completely disassemble the kit layer by layer.

The acrylic panels are relatively thick, especially compared to the other items they support. This includes the white fiberglass FR4 plate that will no doubt reflect lighting further, and it is a durable plate that is still flexible to aid in modding. The ACR 75 is a gasket mount kit, and we see the use of high-density EVA (ethyl vinyl acetate) foam strips on either side of the plate and at seven locations all around. The gaskets are 3 mm thick and dampen pressure on the plate from typing, which in turn supports the typing experience and reduces switch "pinging" off the plate. I also removed one of the stabilizers for a closer examination, which confirms the greased steel rod you can no doubt re-lube yourself easily at this point if you so desire.

Under the plate is a similar 3.5 mm-thick high-density EVA foam sheet, this time for downstroke noise-absorption while also minimizing reverberations in the case. It is also no doubt CNC-cut to fit around the individual switch sockets, and this is where you can remove the PCB from the bottom panel to examine both separately. There is no foam sheet under the PCB, but this is mostly because there is no space to add one practically.

The PCB is white, as the plate, and chock-full of components, while also marked "HongShi Design." I couldn't find any useful information with a cursory Google search, and there is no way of directly telling whether this PCB is made for the ACR 75 only or not. Solder quality is exceptional; this is clearly a machine-assembled product. We see the use of TTC hot-swap sockets, and notice all the edge-mounted RGB LEDs for side lighting through the acrylic case. Powering the functionality of the PCB is a combination of an EVision VS12L17A and the VS11K28A USB microcontroller, both of which were used on other such keyboards to middling performance in terms of customization and feature set. Don't expect much in the way of programming then, and perhaps only some preset lighting effects. As per usual, all the soldered components are on a multi-layer PCB.
Next Page »Akko Prunus Lannesiana ASA-Low Profile PBT Keycaps
View as single page