Update: After several months I decided to change the switches to 67g Zealios V1. Box Royals tactility is awesome but the sudden drop and strong bottom-out eventually got tiresome during long typing sessions. Waiting now for Zealios V2 to get strong but rounded tactility!
Most tools come from recommendations by Input Club and Top Clack:
- Base WhiteFox kit
- TS100 Soldering Iron (B24 Tip helps with wide through-holes like switches)
- Indium Wire Solder, .032 in., Sn63 Pb37
- Super Lube Sportsman Kit. Super Lube is a common (cheaper) alternative to Krytox. The Sportsman kit packaging is great and has more than enough for several keyboards.
- Engineer SS-02 Solder Sucker
- Neoprene Roll. Cheaper alternative to the often mentioned Sorbothane sheets
Box Royals are one of the most recent creations by NovelKeys x Kailh. An extremely tactile switch designed for people that want a strong tactile event and don’t mind bottoming out.
How do they feel? Like snapping a small branch every time you depress a switch so… awesome!
As always, it’s important to test the PCB. Everybody has their method but I favour the small solder thread to check if the keys fire on Aqua Key Test.
I’ve read that plenty of enthusiasts are having issues opening BOX switches. My recommendation is to use something similar to a watch link remover that allows you to get under the switch flaps immediately.
Using the link remover, it took me ~15 min to open all the switches and get them ready to lube.
To learn how to lube switches I like Krelbit’s Lubing Guide.
For BOX Royals it doesn’t make sense to lube most areas since factory lube is OK and additional lubricant gets flushed by the BOX mechanism so I focused mostly on the springs to remove ping.
After spending a couple of hours lubing switches, it’s time for the stabilizers. There are two amazing guides for this:
- Nathan Kim’s video guide. A demo from the channel with arguably the best sounding keyboards on YouTube.
- Top Clack’s The Stab Lab: A living stabilizer modification guide. A very detailed write-up on how to do the lubing and what materials to use.
As both guides mention, there are things like clipping that aren’t necessary for plate mount stabs (like the GMK ones that come with the WhiteFox kit) but I went through all the motions for this build.
Lubing is done! It is time to put the LEDs (1.8mm) that I’ll use to indicate layer changes and Caps Lock. Since BOX switches don’t have holes for LEDs it’s necessary to put them first and then put the switches on top. Soldering is slightly more annoying but not too bad.
Soldering done! The TS100 heats fast and the two tips are great to work on both types of through-holes. After soldering, I tried to fit my 1⁄8” neoprene sheet but turned out that my plate flexed way more than expected.
To avoid the flex without buying a new sheet I used a precision knife to carve the extra width out. If I had to buy another roll for a thin case like the WhiteFox I’d go for 1⁄16”.
KLL and the online configurator are the normal way to program WhiteFox keyboards but QMK has new tools to help you with your layouts and can control everything including the LEDs. This makes it a no-brainer to use QMK, especially if you are interested in some of its advanced keycodes.
After playing with the available options, my keymap ended up with the following:
- Four Layouts:
- Windows/Linux for programming/typing with Space Cadet Shift, Ctrl/Backspace in Caps Lock, PgUp/PgDown through Tap Dance and Grave Escape
- Windows for gaming which is pretty vanilla only changing Caps Lock for backspace
- OSX which is very similar to #1 but with the appropriate changes for the Command key. e.g. putting L_GUI in Caps Lock
- Colemak in case I connect it to a computer where I can’t change the layout through software.
- Two very similar function layers with the difference being using the right media keycodes depending on the OS.
- The whole keyboard lights up while Caps Lock is on.
IGNORE_MOD_TAP_INTERRUPTis enabled to quickly press backspace + letter without accidentally triggering Control and
GRAVE_ESC_GUI_OVERRIDEto use Grave Escape without messing up OS shortcuts.
If you haven’t used QMK before, check their Complete Newbs Guide and make sure you follow the instructions referring to
dfu-util. At the end, you should be able to flash your layouts with just one command (e.g. on OSX you just need to run
Typing sounds after lubing and applying the neoprene:
Building this keyboard was lots of fun and although I don’t think it’ll be my end-game it’s certainly my new favourite!