Alexa build guide
Testing your PCB
Check that your PCB and daughterboard are working by connecting the PCB to your computer, visiting the Remap website or installing the VIA application if your browser does not support Remap, clicking on the
... dropdown menu and clicking
Test Matrix mode in Remap or navigating to the
Key Tester tab and enabling
Test Matrix in VIA, and bridging each key on the PCB by touching the two gold rings for each switch on a solder PCB or the two pads beside each hotswap socket with a pair of metal tweezers, or by inserting a switch into a hotswap socket and pressing on the switch stem. This will validate that every key on the PCB is functional.
If the PCB is not recognized by Remap or VIA, begin troubleshooting steps by first flashing the VIA firmware onto the PCB using the QMK Toolbox application. If QMK Toolbox does not detect the PCB after entering DFU/reset mode either by holding down
esc while plugging the PCB into your computer or by shorting the two gold
RST pads on the bottom of the PCB, then either the microcontroller on the PCB has failed, the JST cable is defective, or the USB-C daughterboard is defective. If you require further help with troubleshooting, feel free to ask in our Discord server or contact us directly.
menu and other QMK-specific keycodes will not be detected by Remap or VIA's key tester unless
Test Matrix is enabled as these keycodes are processed locally on the PCB and no inputs are sent to your computer.
Warning: be careful not to insert the JST cable into the PCB's JST connector at an angle. Replacements will not be offered due to damaged pins inside the JST connectors.
Install your stabilizers into the PCB with the included stabilizer shims on top of the PCB, sandwiched between the PCB and stabilizer. Placing the shims below the PCB increases the risk of damaging them. For clip-in stabilizers, it is recommended to insert the shim onto the stabilizer first, then install the stabilizer into the PCB. This will reduce the risk of damaging the shims. Stabilizers are required for
full backspace. It is recommended to insert switches and keycaps for each stabilizer to test them for rattle and other undesirable stabilizer noise as they cannot be uninstalled after assembly if a plate is installed, making tuning and other modifications more difficult or impossible without disassembling the PCB assembly.
Note: although some stabilizer models do not require shims, we recommend installing shims for
full backspace to eliminate interference between the stabilizer hook and the Kailh hotswap sockets.
Warning: Staebies stabilizers are known to have design flaws that cause binding, wire popping when inserting and removing keycaps, and cracked keycap stems. We do not recommend using Staebies stabilizers as they risk degrading the typing experience or permanently damaging your keyboard. We recommend Cherry clip-in (but not Cherry screw-in), Gateron V2, Durock V2, and TX stabilizers.
Alexa can be assembled with or without a plate. Plateless configurations offer the softest and most comfortable typing feel. Insert your switches into the plate and PCB, ensuring that the switch is fully seated into the plate and clipped in, and that the PCB is resting up against the switches for maximum contact with the hotswap sockets. When using a soft plate material such as POM and polycarbonate, it is recommended to insert the switches into the plate and then push the PCB onto the switch pins. The flexible nature of plastic plates causes them to bend downwards as switches are inserted, preventing switches from clipping into the plate.
While the Alexa PCB reinforces the hotswap sockets by adhering them to the PCB using an epoxy, it is still recommended to support the sockets by holding them using your index finger while inserting the switch with your thumb. This will prevent any forces from pushing the socket away from the PCB and maximize the lifespan of your hotswap PCB.
Note: the multi-layout hotswap PCB requires certain switches to be flipped upside-down in a North-facing orientation. These switches include
regular caps lock and
Installing the daughterboard
Take the USB-C daughterboard and insert one end of the JST cable into the JST connector on the daughterboard. Place the daughterboard into the bottom case with the USB-C connector facing downwards, route the JST cable under the daughterboard and out the left cable channel, then fasten it to the case using the included silver M2x4mm screws. The other end of the JST cable should be inserted into the JST connector on the bottom of the Alexa PCB.
In the event that the daughterboard needs to be replaced — such as a loose USB-C connector — any C3-revision Unified USB-C daughterboard will work. The earlier C2 revision may be compatible with Alexa; however, it lacks features such as ESD, over-current, and over-voltage protection.
Warning: remember to be careful when disassembling the keyboard as you can accidentally pull the JST connector off the daughterboard or main PCB if you pull too quickly and with too much force.
Mounting: leaf-spring top mount
After installing your stabilizers and switches into the PCB, the PCB assembly will need to be mounted to the case. For a soft typing experience and higher pitched sound signature, the PCB can be screwed to the top case using the included silver M2x4mm screws.
Burger mount is not recommended in Alexa due to its low PCB clearance on the bottom row and low screw clearance for the mounting system.
Mounting: gasket mount
For a balanced typing feel, soft and creamy sound signature, and minimal case reverb, the PCB can be mounted using sandwich gasket mount. Place the poron foam strips into the six slots along the north and south of the bottom case, then place the PCB on top of the poron foam strips. Gaskets are not needed on top of the mounting tabs. Ensure that the plate is not screwed to the top case as this will prevent the gasket from cushioning the keystrokes. The top case is then placed over top, pushing the plate down and securing the PCB assembly in place.
Note: remember to hold the two case halves together when flipping the keyboard over to fasten the case screws. Because the PCB and gaskets are not secured to the case, the keyboard will come apart.
The poron strips do not have any adhesive on them, allowing you to switch between leaf-spring top mount and gasket mount quickly and non-destructively. Due to this, it is recommended to be careful and accurate when placing the PCB on the poron strips to avoid moving them around when making small adjustments to the position of the PCB afterwards.
For an even deeper sounding and softer feeling spacebar, the poron strip below the spacebar can be omitted.
Assembling the case
Place the top case over the bottom case and flip the case over. It is recommended to use the ledge on the sides and rear of the case for more leverage and easier handling. Fasten the four included black M2x6mm screws from the bottom. Next, apply the four included silicone feet to the slots on the bottom case.
Installing your keycaps
The final step is to install your keycaps.
The keycaps shown in the render is not based on any real keycap set. Similar looking keycap sets include ePBT Samurai, GMK Originative Japanese, GMK Originative Cyrillic, and JTK Classic Cyrillic.
Customizing the keymap and macros
The Alexa PCB firmware is compatible with QMK, VIA, and Remap, allowing you to customize your keymap and macros without the use of proprietary software. Use VIA for on-the-fly key remapping and macro customization, or use Remap to perform all of those functions in a browser, removing the need for a dedicated application.
Note: Remap is currently limited to browsers that support the WebHID API.
You have assembled your Alexa keyboard kit and it is now ready for use. We hope you enjoy this keyboard, and encourage you to experiment with custom plate materials and mounting styles to tailor the sound and typing experience of Alexa to your personal preferences.