Keyswitch swapping a Model 01 with Alps SKCMs

After a lot of time spent typing on my PVT Model 01 (including replacing two switches that had too much lube), I’ve gotten to the point where I just can’t use a normal keyboard anymore. Every time I consider a new mech keyboard I realize that the layout will never be as good as what Jesse and Kaia came up with.

But I still don’t love the simplified Alps clones. I do love complicated Alps though, and have a lot of old ADB keyboards, so I harvested some Oranges from an AEK:

And transplanted them into my Model 01:

It feels amazing. I even took the locking switch from caps lock and installed it under the num key to act as a numpad lock. The only downside is that the black shells block the LEDs.


Neat! What was it like to swap the switches? I’ve come to realize I don’t like the switches either.

I have a desoldering gun with a built in vacuum pump so removing the switches from the Model 01 was a breeze, but a lot of the switches in my AEK had bent leads which made things more difficult.

My wife enjoys soldering, so I only had to do the harvesting. All told it took two evenings.


Interesting! I’ve cannibalized one of my old Kinesis Evolutions to make a chair mount for a Model 01, so I guess I could harvest the ALPS switches from it as well. I don’t know at the moment whether I want to do this, though — I’m actually halfway through a Matias Quiet Linear conversion, and I think I’m going to like the result better. I do love the switches on the Evolution, though. Nice to know I could do this if I wanted. Thanks for posting!

Hey, could you please elaborate on which soldering gun you have? I have a Hakko FX-888D and tried to desolder my M01’s switches but found the PCB’s holes to be too small to work with. I have a bunch of NOS yellow Alps that I would love to swap my Matias linear switches for. :slight_smile:

My Hakko came with maybe 5 different sizes tips…

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The FX-888D is a great iron, but to desolder with it you’ll at least want a vacuum pump. Using a wick for something like this is a huge pain.

My desoldering gun is the FR-300. It combines the iron and an electric pump into one package. It’s super effective, but probably not worth the money over an iron & pump unless you’re planning on using it again after this project.

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Hello Jesse, I am cautious of damaging the lining inside of the solder joints. I suppose the experience that sparked my precautions was once when I tried an orange alps keyboard 3 times and ended up throwing out three PCBs. Later on I realized that the majority of my orange alps switches were actually defective but I still feel a bit uneasy. I will do the switch swap this week.

Hello numist, thank you for your recommendation. I thought you were using some kind of expensive hot air rework station or something but now I see that I should be able to tackle this job with what I have (I own both wick and a vacuum pump).

Hello everyone! I have desoldered all of my Matias Linear switches and soldered NOS yellow SKCL Alps switches in their place. It took many hours but when I did the key tests before putting the case back together, all the switches registered.

Overall, I am happy I made the switch. I really prefer the feel and sound of these switches. Probably the most dubious change is that there are no longer rubber dampeners preventing me from bottoming out. I may lube these switches or add some form of dampening in the future.

A 30s video of testing the switches with one hand:

A 60s typing audio recording:
Model 01 Yellow Alps SKCL typing test


Yeah I’ve been having the same experience wrt damping. Lubing won’t help, but I experimented with swapping in damped white sliders from an AEK II that I have lying around and it worked pretty well.

I guess next month’s project is to top-mod all my orange switches with damped cream sliders (bought on mechmarket so I don’t have to cannibalize yet another vintage board).

I’ve seen people call this mod “creamsicle alps”, which makes me love it even more.

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Hey numist, it’s been quite a while and I suspect people come and read this thread to read our experiences with swapping out all the switches. So now I’m giving an update one year later.

The yellow alps were great but my apartment+office get really dusty. I found myself replacing the key switches every 4-5 months because the keys would get stiffer. For this reason and the loudness, I swapped Matias linear switches into my keyboard again. I thought it was too much trouble to be opening up ~160 alps housings to perform dampening mods every 4-5 months.

Also, eventually after swapping all the switches on my Model 01 4-5 times, I have finally broken the right side of the keyboard. I have ordered a new keyboard and this time I will protect the keyboard from dust while it’s not in use. Also, I will use a lower temperature while desoldering.

I’ll probably be modding my new keyboard at some point in the future as well.


Hi folks,

I’m trying to remove the space key switch from my Model 01. I have one from the early kickstarter batches, and some of the switches are super sticky and/or stutter making the keyboard unusable. Unfortunately I only really discovered this long after the warranty expired.

@jesse kindly sent me a free pack of a couple switches. I’m having some trouble removing the switch.

As you can see in the photo below I’ve used my soldering iron and pump to remove the solder, yet the switch is still pretty tightly held in place. There is a little bit of give when I wiggle it but not much.

The contacts from the switch (visible sticking out of the hole in the photo) bend and move when I poke them.

Is there just more solder to remove, or is the switch clipped in place somehow? I’m being careful not to break anything obviously.

It’s clipped in place from the front. I’d recommend wiggling it out from the front side. That looks like you’ve done a good job desoldering.

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Thanks @jesse

Today I finally got round to soldering the replacement key switch. Then I tried to reassemble the keyboard, but the plastic base with the PCB attached does not fit into the wood enclosure anymore.

It seems the wood has shrunk by a half mm or so (it has laid out, disassembled for several months while I got distracted with other projects). I can get one side of the base in without problem, but the other one won’t go in.

Do I just need to force it in?

Any tips here? I’m stuck with my keyboard in a few pieces like this :confused:

I think this deviates from the thread’s topic. Anyway, your enclosure might have shrunk a tiny bit. Make sure to have the pieces perpendicular, inserting it at an angle as shown in video may take up the space that is needed. You could warm up your enclosure to have it expand a little. If nothing else helps, you might have to file / sand one of the parts a bit to make them fit.


Thanks @alfalfasprossen . I warmed up the enclosure in the oven at the lowest temperature (~ 50C) for an hour or so. Then I could fit a little bit more of the base inside. A little sanding on the inside of the corners and the gentle application of my rubber mallet later, and I finally got it back together. Typing from it now!


Hi sorry to dig up an old thread but I just got some SKCM orange switches to swap in and after just putting a key cap on the switch it looks like the thumb cluster keys are too narrow for the SKCM switches and just ever so slightly scrape against the side of the switch housing. Did you encounter this problem or come up with a solution? Also, how’s the durability of the orange switches in this case? Do you have any advice for someone who’s gonna use this setup?

They’re a little tight but I don’t notice it in use.

Still using mine every day at work, I expect the oranges will last another 20 years before I have to think about them again.

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