Here's our step-by-step walkthrough on how to put together a Portico keyboard. To briefly summarize it, the steps are:
- Assemble and attach stabilizers to PCB.
- Screw together the PCB, plate, and felt dampening mat.
- Put these into the polycarbonate case and screw together.
- Insert switches and test that they work in VIA Configurator.
- Add on keycaps.
- Customize the keymap with VIA.
Note: photos here feature a Portico prototype unit in Mint. Switches pictured are Dragon Fruit switches.
Before You Begin
Gather all that parts you’ll need, and make sure you have a clear surface to work on. We recommend having a few containers handy to place screws and such so they don’t get lost.
Download VIA Configurator, which you'll be using to test your switches.
- Polycarbonate Case – top and bottom
- Gold screws for the case (x9)
- Black screws for the standoffs (x10)
- Standoffs (x5)
- Silicon dampening mat
- Felt dampening mat
- Stabilizers (Portico uses three 2u stabs and one 6.25u stab)
- Switches (x67)*
- USB-C cable
- Protective carrying case
*Switches and keycaps are not included in the Portico Build Kit, and need to be bought separately.
- Switch puller
- Keycap puller
- Tweezers (optional)
Portico will be packed in its protective carrying case. It will come assembled, and you'll need to disassemble it in order to install stabilizers.
First, disassemble your Portico.
- Remove the 9 screws from the bottom, and store them somewhere secure.
- Take out the top and bottom case. Note: Once taken apart, the top case will appear warped. This is normal and expected. Once screwed back together, it will be straightened.
- Unscrew the standoffs and screws that are holding together the plate, felt mat, and PCB. Take care while doing this, as they're very small parts. Store the screws and standoffs in a safe container. There are 5 standoffs, and 10 black screws that go in them.
- Take apart the PCB, felt mat, and plate.
Pictured above, from left to right: bottom case, silicone dampening mat, PCB, felt dampening mat, plate, and top case.
Assemble and attach stabilizers
Next, you need to assemble and attach your stabilizers to the PCB. Portico uses three 2u stabilizers (Left Shift, Backspace, and Enter) and one 6.25u stabilizer (spacebar).
Assemble the stabilizers:
- Insert the stem up into the housing. The stem side with two holes should face outward where the wire will sit.
- Insert the wire into the housings. The wire should go into the bottom hole.
- Snap the wire securely into place.
Attach the stabilizers to the PCB. Stabilizers sit on the top side of the PCB, which is the flat side, and screw in through the bottom.
- Locate the PCB holes. The switch positions are bracketed on the PCB. The keys that require stabilizers have extra holes on their left and right. The orientation of these (i.e. whether the smaller hole is on the top or bottom) can vary.
- Optional: add the included stickers between the two stabilizer holes, to fit under where the housing sits. This is to help dampen the sound.
- Align the stabilizer housings and attach them to the PCB. The screw should go into the smaller hole. The washer acts as a cushion between the screw and the PCB.
Pictured above: how the stabilizers attach to the PCB, as seen from the bottom.
After attaching the stabilizers for the Left Shift, Backspace, Enter, and Spacebar, your PCB will look like this:
Put together the PCB, Plate, and felt mat
Screw the standoffs (x5) onto the PCB. The standoffs sit on the top side of the PCB and the screw goes through the bottom. Standoffs go in the four corners, and one goes in the middle.
Note: the standoffs and screws are very small. The screws go in quite shallowly, and are easy to knock loose. Take care when handling the PCB as to not drop anything.
Put the felt mat on PCB, and the plate on top of the mat. These line up with the PCB one way, so if something is misaligned, rotate or flip it over. You can align it by paying attention to the spacebar section and the right column of keys (a 1 x 5 column). The top of the plate is the side that says 'Portico.'
Screw together the plate to the PCB. The screws go through the top of the plate where the five standoffs are.
Put it all into the case
Now, we’ll assemble the polycarbonate case. Put the silicone mat into the bottom case. It only fits in one way—the hexagons face up, and the cutouts on the mat’s bottom edge match up to the screw holes on the edge of the case.
Put your Plate-Mat-PCB sandwich on top of the mat. The gaskets from the plate line up with the bottom case. The USB hub faces towards the back.
Put the top case on carefully so that encloses everything. You might need to wiggle it into place.
Hold this all together firmly and flip it over to the bottom side. Screw together the top and bottom cases with the 9 gold screws.
Insert switches and test in VIA
Time to put in switches and test them! Plug your keyboard into your computer and open up VIA Configurator. You’ll be using this to test that your switches are registering keypresses.
- VIA will automatically detect that the Portico is plugged in and compatible.
- In the Key Tester tab, you'll see a standard keyboard layout. When you press a switch on the Portico that corresponds to a key, it will light up in the Key Tester. For example, when you press the top left key on the Portico, the Esc key in the Key Tester will light up to show that the switch is working.
Insert your switches. Portico uses 67 switches.
- Before inserting each switch, check that the pins are straight. If a pin is bent, you can gently straighten it with a pair of tweezers.
- Insert the switch straight down. The two switch pins match up to the switch pin holes in the PCB.
Troubleshooting: If your switch isn't registering, pull it out with your switch puller and check the pins on the bottom. It's easy to accidentally bend switch pins. You can gently pull it straight with some tweezers.
Once you've confirmed all your switches are working, you can add on your keycaps! Portico is a 65% keyboard, which makes it easy to outfit with many keysets.
Carefully peel off the protective plastic on the badge on the bottom case.
Congratulations 🎉 you've built a Portico keyboard! Take some glamour shots.
Customizing the Keymap
The default Portico layout can be adjusted in VIA Configurator.
You can adjust the RGB settings by holding down the Layer key (the key immediately to the right of the spacebar, labeled 'Menu' here) and pressing:
- Q - On/off
- W - Mode
- E - Hue up
- R - Hue down
- T - Saturation up
- Y - Saturation down
- U - Brightness up
- I - Brightness down
- A - Speed up
- S - Speed down
The 'Reset' key boots the keyboard into the mode to flash new firmware. The 'EEPROM Reset' key resets the keyboard back to firmware defaults.