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The GK61 is one of the best budget boards you can buy right now, and with some basic mods you can really turn this into a cheap endgame keyboard. So today I’ll be taking my stock GK61 and doing some mods to improve the typing experience and sound.
Our first step is removing the keycaps and switches. The GK61 comes with a keycap and switch puller, which is perfectly fine to use. Try to keep your keycaps and switches organised in separate containers.
So the most impactful mod you can do is lubing your switches. Even if it’s the only thing you do, you’re going to get a big improvement. Gateron Yellows offer good stock performance (show), however they do have a fair bit of metal ping which is more pronounced on a tray mount board like this. Lubing your switches will not only remove the metal ping, but give them a deeper and richer sound, not to mention a smoother feel when typing. To open these Gaterons you can either use a switch opener or the top housing of a Gateron switch. I just use the top housing because it’s easier and quicker for me. Just be careful of damaging the housing when using this method. My lube of choice is Krytox 205g0, but right now I only have Grade 2 on hand. For linear switches it’s fine to use a higher viscosity lube, like the Grade 2 I’m using here, but take note that a higher viscosity lube will mute the sound more muted. If you have tactile switches, ideally you want to use something thinner like Krytox 205g0 or Tribosys 3204. The most important thing when lubing is don’t overlube, especially when using a higher viscosity. Try to apply a thin and even layer. Overlubing can completely kill the sound of a switch and even make it feel mushy.
Next we look at the stabilisers. The stock performance was actually really good here, so this mod is optional. You can definitely get away without any stab mods here. I did some minor rebalancing on the space bar wire, and all the other wires were fine. It’s not necessary to clip the stem legs, as the contact area is already flat. The stems are actually prelubed, so you don’t really have to lube the housing like I’m doing here. Then I just applied my own dielectric grease, however the factory lube was more than adequate, so again this is optional. You can also go further and do the band-aid and Holee mods, however I won’t be doing that here.
I was going to use some case foam for the GK61, but the case has some really extensive ribbing, so that kind of dettered me. This isn’t a problem though as we’re going to perform two more sound dampening mods. The first of these is putting a sheet of polyethylene foam between the PCB and mounting plate. The PE foam mod not only reduces vibration, but it should give us a more poppy and marbly sound. Polyethylene is used as packing material, and I’m just going to be using the sleeve my GK61 came in.
So what we need to do now is get access to the assembly, and this is very easy as we only need to remove the standoff screws. There are four more screws on the bottom of the PCB, so after we removing those we can take the assembly apart
Now we place our PCB on the PE foam, and trace the outline. Once finished, we can go ahead and make a cutout that will go on the PCB. Our final step is to mark off the stabilisers, and then cut the appropriate holes. Now we can place our PE between the PCB and plate, and pop on the PCB screws. When installing the switches, you should hear a little pop sound as the pins are going through the foam.
The second sound dampening mod I’m going to do here is the Tempest tape mod, which involves applying tape to the back of the PCB. I’d recommend using something that comes off easily, like masking tape. If you use something like duct tape you could actually damage the PCB when removing it. Masking tape might leave some residue, but nothing that can’t be fixed with isopropyl alcohol. I’m going to apply two layers here, and take note that more layers means more sound dampening. The tape mod should also give the keyboard a more poppy sound. I’m using 48mm masking tape for this mod.
Now our assembly is ready to go back into the case. Before putting the assembly back, you’re going to need to poke some holes through the masking tape for the case’s standoffs. If you have one layer only, you should be able to just press the assembly down without having to make holes. All we need to do now is pop on the standoff screws, and then we can go head and put on the stabilisers and keycaps.
Another optional mod is replacing the stock keycaps. I was initially planning to use some ASA caps, but the stock OEM keycaps sounded surprisingly good after the mod, so I just stuck with those.