Assembling Keybow MINI

In this tutorial, you'll learn how to assemble your Keybow MINI macro pad. Assembly should take 5 to 10 minutes, and the only tool you'll need is a Phillips screwdriver. We'll fit the Raspberry Pi Zero / W to the acrylic baseplate first, then fit the Keybow MINI PCB, and last of all fit the switches and key caps.

Assembled Keybow MINI

Attaching the metal standoffs to the Keybow MINI PCB

Take the four metal standoffs and screw them into the mounting posts at the corners on the underside of the Keybow MINI PCB, as shown below.

Standoffs mounted

Attaching the Raspberry Pi Zero / W

Note that you'll need a male 40-pin header to be soldered onto your Pi Zero or Zero W so do that now if you haven't already. If you're not too confident in your soldering skills then we'd recommend using a Raspberry Pi Zero WH with pre-soldered header.

Push your Keybow MINI PCB onto the header on your Pi Zero / W, making sure that all of the pins are lined up correctly. Push it on so that the standoffs on the Keybow MINI PCB sit flush and aligned with the mounting holes on the Pi Zero / W.

Raspberry Pi Zero W attached

(Note that the header in the photo above is one of our no-solder hammer headers. If you have a regular header then you should solder it!)

Attaching the acrylic baselplate

Now we'll attach the acrylic baseplate to the bottom of your Pi Zero / W. It stops the pins or pads on the bottom from shorting on metal surfaces.

Peel the protective film off both layers of the baseplate before attaching it.

The baseplate has a cutout along one edge that matches with the edge of your Pi Zero / W that has the solder joints of the header. There's also a little protruding part that should go at the right hand side of the Pi Zero / W when you're looking at the bottom of the board with the raspberry logo the right way up. This gives some protection to the micro-SD card which protrudes a little from its slot.

Attach the baseplate to the Pi Zero / W by screwing the four metal screws through the acrylic baseplate, Pi Zero / W PCB, and into the standoffs. Take care not to overtighten any of the metal screws, as you'll risk cracking the acrylic.

Acrylic baseplate mounted

Lastly, we'll stick the self-adhesive rubber feet onto the acrylic baseplate. You can see roughly where we've put them in the photo below, but put them wherever works best for you!

Rubber feet attached to acrylic baseplate

Mounting the switches and key caps

The switches push tightly into the PCB switch plate, and then the whole plate with switches mounted pushes down onto the Keybow MINI PCB, with the pins on the switches being gripped in the hot-swap sockets.

It's important that you orient all of the switches the same way when fitting them into the plate, or they won't fit correctly in the hot-swap sockets.

Push each switch into the plate, so that they sit flush. They're quite a tight fit, but they should click in and sit flush when they're properly fitted.

Switches mounted in plate

Next, we'll mount the key caps. It doesn't matter which way round they go, as they're completely symmetrical. Push them all the way down onto the stems on the switches.

Keycaps fitted on switches

Flip the switch plate with switches and key caps mounted and take a look at all of the pins on the switches. Sometimes, they can get bent slightly in transit, but they all need to be straight to fit correctly into the hot-swap sockets. You can gently bend them back into position if you need to.

Completed Keybow MINI

Turn your Keybow MINI PCB assembly and switch plate over. Align the two pieces with each other, and gently sit the switch plate and switches in the correct location with the pins on the switches in the sockets on the PCB. Once you're happy that they're all correctly aligned, then push the switches down into the sockets. It's best to push the switches rather than the plate, as you might dislodge it from the switches if you push it down. The bottoms of all of the switches should sit flush with the Keybow MINI PCB.

Next steps

The next step is to set up the Keybow software and customise your key mappings. We cover all of that in the Setting up the Keybow OS tutorial.

Shopping basket

Need something for this project? You can use the links below to add products to your Pimoroni Shop basket for easy checkout.

Keybow Kit (3-key)
Linear (quiet) keys £20.00
Keybow Kit (3-key)
Clicky keys £20.00
Want to checkout or change something? Click here to view your cart.

Raspberry Pi, Pi Zero

Sandy Macdonald
Formerly, Sandy worked at the University of York, in the biology department, analysing data and telling people that they should have used more replicates. Now a fully-fledged crew member at Pimoroni - head of digital content - working on learning materials and digital chunterings. Find him on Twitter and most everywhere else, as sandyjmacdonald.