How to Make Hot-Swappable Mechanical keyboard PCB?

Hot-swappable mechanical keyboard allows you to replace switches and LEDs on the go without soldering and without even powering off the keyboard. In this short video tutorial I explain how to make hot-swappable any printed circuit board for a mechanical keyboard with footprints for Cherry MX plate switches. Other brands such as Gateron and Kaihl are compatible with the Cherry MX switches so this solutions is universal.

Hot-Swappable Sockets for DIY Mechanical Keyboard

The video has been created with a maker kit of the open source mechanical keypad ANAVI Macro Pad 8. I have customized it by adding holtite sockets to make it hot-swappable.

Required Hardware

ANAVI Macro Pad 8 with holtite sockets for hot-swap of Cherry MX and Gategron mechanical switches

Step 1


Using the tweezers place the holtite sockets into the PCB. The sockets are small so be careful not to lose any of them. Turn on the soldering iron. Heat each socket and gently push it. So we are using a soldering iron but in this case not for soldering. We are just mounting the sockets using its heat.

It looks easier than it is. It took me some time to do it for all switches and LEDs. Each key has 2 holes for the switch and 2 holes for the LED so basically you need 4 sockets with appropriate sizes for each key.

Step 2

Next step is optional and specific for ANAVI Macro Pad 8. The maker kit includes WS2812B addressable LED strip which should be soldered on the back of side of the keyboard. Please note the arrow that indicates the direction of the LED strip and make sure you are placing it properly as shown in the video.

Step 3

Cut the legs of the 3mm LEDs to make sure they will fit well in the hot-swappable holtite sockets that we have already mounted.

Step 4

Assemble the switches, the LEDs and the key caps. Once you are done with steps 1 this is easy because you already have a hot-swappable printed circuit board for your mechanical keyboard.

Custom ANAVI Macro Pad 8 with blue Cherry MX switches and green 3mm LEDs for backlit

By default ANAVI Macro Pad 8 is with Gateron red switches, red LEDs and white translucent keycaps. However, in this case with the hot-swappable version I am experimenting primary with blue Cherry MX switches, green LEDs and dark translucent keycaps. I have purchased several different mechanical switches: Gateron Red, Cherry MX blue and Cherry MX brown. Please note that these particular Cherry MX brown switches in the video do not have slots for the 3mm LEDs.

Although in this video I am using the maker kit of ANAVI Macro Pad 8. The same approach with holtite sockets can be applied on any other PCB for mechanical keyboard with footprint for Cherry MX switches.

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You Can Now Order Gateron Red Mechanical Switches, Keycaps and Red LEDs with the Maker Kit of ANAVI Macro Pad 8

After the launch of the crowdfunding campaign we received a lot of positive feedback about ANAVI Macro Pad 8 and great ideas from the community. Based on the recommendations of several backers a new option has been recently added. Now you can order a maker kit with an extra add-on: Gateron red mechanical switches, translucent keycaps and 3mm red LEDs.

Gateron red mechanical switches with 3mm red LEDs and translucent keycaps

Basically with this optional add-on, you can get the same parts as in the developer kit, but not soldered. In some use cases, having all the parts in one package is a convenient option for advanced users with soldering skills. This way they don’t need to purchase separately the keycaps, the LEDs and the switches. Furthermore, they can still make advanced modifications before using them with ANAVI Macro Pad 8.

ANAVI Macro Pad 8 mechanical keyboard/keypad

As part of the stretch goals that the crowdfunding campaign has already met, all kits of ANAVI Macro Pad 8 will also include 32 transparent Emoji stickers to customize further the keycaps!

Translucent keycaps for mechanical keyboard with emoji stickers included in all ANAVI Macro Pad 8 kits

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ANAVI Macro Pad 8 – (Not) Yet Another Mechanical Keyboard

After several months of development, the crowdfunding campaign for ANAVI Macro Pad 8 has been launched at Crowd Supply!

ANAVI Macro Pad 8

ANAVI Macro Pad 8 is an open source, programmable, eight-key mechanical keyboard with backlighting, underlighting, and OLED screen. The popular open source QMK firmware allows you to easily configure custom keyboard layouts and macros, even directly in a web browser.

The crowdfunding campaign has a very modest goal of just $1. We have 3 stretch goals! If we raise $500 or more we’ll add super cool 32 transparent emoji keyboard stickers to all kits. You can stick them to the top or the sides of the key caps.

Transparent stickers for the translucent keycaps on ANAVI Macro Pad 8

The crowdfunding campaign will help us manufacture it in a local factory in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, EU. We hope you’ll jump in and help us bring this entirely open source project to life!

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