Vanguard65 Build Guide

Before you begin

Upon receiving your keyboard, please carefully inspect the unit for any damage during transit. While we tried our hardest to prevent any damage, you may never know! If you notice any damage to the unit itself, please contact us and we’ll sort it out.

Any modifications done to the PCB including swapping switches should only be done after the PCB has been tested. No replacement PCBs will be provided after modification to the unit.

Download Files

  • Keymap (JSON): Download
  • Firmware: Download

What you'll need

  • Precision screw driver set
  • Keyboard keycap set
  • Keyboard stabilizers
  • Keyboard mechanical switches

What's in the box

  • 1 Keyboard case
  • 1 Brass weight
  • 1 Hotswap PCB
  • 1 plate
  • Case and plate foam
  • 4 Case feet
  • 12 Gasket socks
  • 8 Case screws
  • 1 Knob screw
  • 1 Slider screw
  • 2 diffusers
  • 4 daughter board screws
  • 1 Aluminum knob
  • 1 Aluminum slider handle
  • 1 Daughter board
  • 1 JST cable

Decide on the layout

Before inserting switches to the PCB, decide on the layout that you would like to have configured. Note, you can always change this at a later time, hence the luxury of a hotswap keyboard.

Build Steps

Setup Hotswap PCB

#1 Install Stabilizers

Depending on your decided layout, this may vary slightly.

#2 Install Gasket Socks

#3 Add Plate Foam (optional)

If you do not wish to add your foam then you can skip this part. You can always add it later.

#4 Install Switches (with plate)

Because a hotswap socket can be damaged by inserting a switch incorrectly, don't attempt to insert switches with bent pins into the hotswap socket, as that can push the socket off of the PCB and damage it. If you have a switch with a bent pin, unbend the pin. Sometimes it helps to have something like a pair of tweezers to straighten out the pin.

Once you've ensured that the legs of the switch are straight, insert it through the switch plate and into the hotswap socket on the PCB. While doing so, make sure the bottom of the socket is supported by your thumb so the socket does not accidentally get pushed out of place. Also, make sure the switch is fully seated and is level with the top of the switch plate.

If you find that you need to apply too much force, recheck that the switch pins are straight. After you've installed the first few switches successfully, insert the ones for the thumb area in to make sure they'll fit in properly. As before, make sure you are supporting the the bottom of the socket while pressing the switches in.

Prefer to go plateless?
If you choose not to use your plate, then you can ignore using the plate included in your kit and install switches direct to PCB.

#5 Add Keycaps

Once you have completed the steps for setting up your Hotswap PCB, we can start the assembly of the keyboard case.

Setup the keyboard case

#6 Disassemble case

The first thing that you'll need to do is unscrew the bottom frame. Flip your board over and unscrew the 8 screws.

#7 Install daughter board

Unscrew the 4 daughter board screws from the bottom case.

Place daughter board, align the holes, and re-fasten the 4 screws.

Install the JST cable and connect to the PCB.

Be careful to not apply excessive force when JST cable is connected as it may rip and break due to the short cable length.

#8 Add case foam (optional)

If you do not wish to add your foam then you can skip this part. You can always add it later.

#9 Install PCB

Gently align and place the PCB on top of the bottom case.

#10 Install diffusers

Add the 2 diffusers to the cutouts located underneath the top case. There is an insert located on each side.

Do not peel off the thin white layer as it is intended to help diffuse the LED.

#11 Install top case

Take the top frame and place on top to close the keyboard case. Flip your board over and fasten the 8 case screws in order to lock everything in place.

#12 Install knob & slider

Flip your keyboard back to normal position and install both the knob and slider handle using your screw driver.

The screws for both the slider and knob are already stored inside. Ensure you remove before trying to insert to the rotary and slider shaft. If you are struggling to get both the knob and slider handle installed then loosen the screw(s) more.

#13 Install case feet

Peel adhesive side from the case feet and install to the 4 areas located at the bottom case. And you're done!

Configure Layout using VIA

Before you can use VIA to configure your keyboard layout, you must perform the following steps to have it all setup:

  1. Open VIA
  2. Click the Settings (Cog icon)
  3. Enable "Show Design Tab"
  4. Click the Design tab (paint brush icon)
  5. Click the Load draft definition
  6. Upload the JSON file.

Slider Functions

We built a VIA extension that allows users to easily adjust the function of the slider.

Using MIDI mode

When in MIDI mode, the slider can be compatible with the following apps after setting up some plugins.

Here is a listing of suggested plugins to check out:

Using Layer Switch mode

Switch between your assigned keymap layers.

  • 0-25%: Layer 0
  • 26-50%: Layer 1
  • 51-75%: Layer 2
  • 76-100%: Layer 3

Using RGB Brightness Control

Set the brightness levels of the case underglow.