Mechanical failure of keyswitch

Tonight, a key has stopped responding. I’ve cleaned and oiled beneath the keycap, with no improvement. Is there any other possible quick fix? Or are serious repairs needed?

My Model 01 has seen heavy use in the last 18 months, but would Keyboardio repair it for a fee if that’s needed?

I think having a bag of spare Matias keyswitches around and occasionally replacing them when they die (and don’t respond even after isopropanol) is just a fact of life. I’ve just replaced my second one (first was space, second is e, so approximately the most used keys).

Matias switches have a great keyfeel but they clearly have some reliability issues.

Good news is it’s fairly easy process if you have a soldering iron and a solder sucker. Seven big screws to remove the case, seven small screws to separate the switch board from the rest of the circuitry, then desolder the two contacts of the bad switch, pull it off, pop the new one in, and resolder. Advice from Jesse: “The big issue is really to make sure you don’t rip out the electrical contacts when pulling out the switch after desoldering. Just making sure there’s a clear gap between the contact and the through hole for each of the switch’s two contacts before you yank it out ought to be enough for that”. Advice from me: when you come to put the case back on and find you only have seven screws for eight holes, don’t panic, you didn’t lose a screw, there never was one in the central hole.

(Or if you really don’t want to do it yourself you could email support@keyboard.io and ask if they’d be willing to do it for a fee)

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That’s disappointing. You’d expect at the bare minimum two years of reliability after investing into a “heirloom-quality” wooden keyboard. Most people don’t have soldering skills and are more likely to cause additional damage.

@jesse Any plans to change ketswitch suppliers for the next iteration?

I’ve had a couple of chattering switches which were easily fixed with isopropyl alcohol. Now I’ve got a switch that is completely unresponsive. I don’t think the alcohol trick will fix this one and I’ve stopped using the keyboard.

Can the switches be disassembled? I’m loath to de-solder it for fear of damaging the PCB and don’t have spares anyway.

I’m a little dissapointed as I’ve never had these problems with cherry switches or clones.

Indeed, this is not the experience we’d want anybody to be having with one of our keyboards.

At the time we needed to finalize our switch choice and selected Matias switches (more than 4 years ago), Cherry’s switches had an 18-month lead time, along with no guarantee that you’d get your full order. The various Chinese copies of Cherry switches were…very, very new. At that time, the quality was spectacularly bad. The ALPS-style switches we chose had a very good reputation in the market and among enthusiasts.

In late 2019, the market looks very, very different. If I were, say, designing a new keyboard today, I would make different choices than I did in 2015. But more on that another time.

With regard to this specific issue of a mechanical failure inside a switch: This is not the first time we’ve seen it, but it’s not, as far as we can tell, endemic to Matias switches. The switches are rated to 50 million presses and warrantied by the manufacturer for one year. To hit 50 million presses in a year, you would have to press the switch 1.5 times per second without a single pause.

We’ll talk a little bit more about this in the backer update we’re in the middle of writing, but the way we’re handling this currently is that we will not charge parts or labor to replace failed switches, even if your warranty has expired. (You will need to pay for the shipping.) If you’re competent with a soldering iron, we’re happy to send you replacement switches for the cost of shipping instead of you sending your keyboard to us. We can’t promise how long we’re going to be able to offer this service, but we’ll keep it up as long as we can.

If you’ve got a failed switch, please contact us at help@keyboard.io to arrange a repair.

@jesse, thanks for the response. I’ve sourced some switches from a UK supplier so it looks like the fix will be inexpensive and relatively straight forward.

I bought some spare switches and more isopropanol and planned to tackle it in this order:

  1. Rinse with alcohol
  2. Disassemble switch and clean it
  3. De-solder and replace the switch

The alcohol rinse fixed the switch in just a few seconds. This method should definitely be the first thing you try if you’re having switch issues.