Why Buy it When You can Build It?

Let's review an overly simple example of our new product process, and the unavoidable truth of fun over efficiency in my life...

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Working at SparkFun has all kinds of perks, many of which appeal to my need to constantly have a project in process. There are multiple 3D printers on each floor of the building; access to an entire warehouse of electronics prototyping parts; shipping that's better than Prime, since I'm already here every day; and a manufacturing shop that essentially serves as a members-only maker space on nights and weekends (provided you put the tools back and clean up afterward).

Recently, I spilled coffee on my keyboard, and now some of the buttons don't work (I brought home the Multimedia Wireless Keyboard that same day, causing minimal delay in access to full-screen typing). While chatting with my team, they floated the idea that I should build a keyboard to replace the damaged one. We had recently discussed how our Cherry MX Breakout and Cherry MX Switch sell really well, but we didn't sell any keycaps. For in-house projects we 3D-print them, but not everyone has access to 3D printers any hour of the day. Sometimes new product decisions are easy, and everyone loves when meetings end early, so if you haven't already noticed, SparkFun now has everything you need build a full mechanical switch: a breakout, a switch, keycaps and a hookup guide.

Cherry MX Keycap - R2 (Opaque Black)

Cherry MX Keycap - R2 (Opaque Black)

Cherry MX Switch Breakout

Cherry MX Switch Breakout

Cherry MX Switch

Cherry MX Switch

Cherry MX Keycap - R2 (Translucent Black)

Cherry MX Keycap - R2 (Translucent Black)


Cherry MX Switch Breakout Hookup Guide

April 21, 2016

How to assemble and use the Cherry MX Switch Breakout, allowing you to turn a matrix of mechanical switches into a full-size keyboard!

Now building a custom mechanical keyboard breakout is on my list so I can put the wireless keyboard away for emergency use only – it's too small for my fingers anyway, and has no satisfying clicky sound. This brings to mind a question many makers are familiar with: "Why buy for $X, when you can build it for $10X and a week of your time away from all your other projects in progress, like that half a bike in the garage, the IoT doorbell and the four different prototypes of the SparkFun JetBot AI Kit Powered by NVIDIA Jetson Nano sitting on you desk at work?" Thankfully, the team and I dismissed these thoughts and got down to ordering and soldering. Thank you to those who choose to build incredible projects using SparkFun hardware – we are humbled by your enthusiasm, and we appreciate it!

Comments 2 comments

  • A sandwich by any other name would taste as sweet / about 4 years ago / 3

    The title of this blog is how I live my life. I'm just sad when I have to buy things that I don't have time or money to build.

    • Tariq / about 2 years ago / 1

      I know right and buying stuff just takes the fun out of building things yourself especially since you'll basically have control over the whole entire project instead of having to worry about customer service and/or taking said product in for repair ya know.

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