Mechanical switches and actuation forces


#1

So, I’ve had an Ergodox for a few years now with Cherry MX Blues, and when I saw the keyboardio I decided to jump on board and back it (and have been eagerly awaiting it!).

In the last year though I have started dealing with more wrist pain, and have been debating ways to manage it. After getting some money for Christmas, I decided to get an Ergodox EZ, with Gateron White switches, which have an actuation force of 35g±15gf, and no actuation bump. Good Lord, it is beautiful, and having used them fairly extensively, going back to the MX Blue ergodox is like taking a step backwards.

All that to say, I’m a bit worried what will happen when I sit down at my Model 01 with Matias switches that have actuation forces higher even than the MX Blue. With the backlighting, I assume putting in different switches will not be terribly easy? Will the connections even be able to match up with another switch type? Can anyone comment on that?

I’m comfortable with a soldering iron, so I’d be willing to invest the time to change it, but curious to know whether it will even be possible.


Force for Matias Clicky keys
(Michael Richters) #2

One problem you’d have is that the keycaps for Matias switches won’t mate with the Gateron switches. Gateron switches have a cross-shaped male connector, whereas the Matias switches have a rectangular female one. So if you swapped out the switches, you’d have to also substitute keycaps, unless there’s an ALPS-compatible switch that has actuation forces that suit you.


(Michael Richters) #3

I didn’t search before I wrote that. Matias does make a switch that ought to work as a substitute: the “quiet linear” sounds like it would be just what you want.


#4

Ah, good call, that does look like the switch I’d want. Any ideas whether we can pay extra to have those installed instead, or to not have switches installed at all? I’m sure I can handle desoldering it all, but… desoldering does suck for so many connections.


(Jesse) #5

Possibly eventually, but it’s not something we’re able to offer early on. Special orders end up costing a lot more to put together, even if it’s “don’t finish the assembly” :confused:

I know it’s something a few folks want and I do want to do it.

-J


#6

Fair enough, thanks for responding! I’ll give it a spin once I’ve got it and see how it goes.


(Tom) #7

Somehow I didn’t realize that the only switch options would have a high actuation force. I also have pain in my hands and arms, and honestly I’m disappointed to learn that the two keyboardios I’m getting might hurt :frowning:


(Jesse) #8

That’s no good.

To be clear, though, they have a regular actuation force. Comparable to Cherry MX Blue or Brown keyswtiches and lower than a MacBook’s.

I myself have reasonably intense RSI issues and have found the force required for Matias Quiet Click switches to be pretty comfortable, though everybody’s hands are different.


(Gergely Nagy) #9

I’d like to second Jesse’s comment: I’m currently using an ErgoDox EZ as my daily driver, and the Model 01 prototype does not feel any less comfortable to type on. Maybe because the position of my hands is different on the two boards, the Quiet Clicks feel nicer. The tactile bump is more noticeable, so I bottom out less - and as such use less force.

This is a terribly unscientific opinion, mind you, based on not too much data.


#10

@fisofo check out my post here: Swapping out keyswitch mechanisms. Swapping out the switch internals is pretty doable. It took me maybe two hours. It is much better for my hands after doing the switch. I went to my old WASD with cherry MX browns for a while because the quiet clicks were killing my hands. Let me know if you’d like my extra quiet linear switches!


(kajsa.anderson) #11

I’m hoping that the better layout will counteract the activation force. My current work keyboard is a TEK with Cherry browns, and doesn’t generally bother me, but putting in too many hours gaming on a traditional-layout board with Cherry reds will leave my left hard aching from being twisted backwards (relative to the columnar layout).


(Björn Andersson) #12

I’ve had the Model 01 for a week now, and I love it in many ways. I also have two TEK keyboards; one with Cherry blue switches (at home) and one with Cherry brown (at work). I prefer the Model 01 over the TEK keyboard in every way, except that I think that the feel of both Cherry switch types are better than the Model 01’s Matias switches. The Model 01 requires more force and somehow feels scratchy compared to the TEK. I did a typing test on http://www.keybr.com typing a Wikipedia article. First I typed on the Model 01 and then on the TEK. The difference was considerable. It felt so easy and smooth to press the Cherry blues compared to the Matias, and I’m convined that this is not due to the fact that I’m used to type on the TEK. Of course, this is my subjective feeling, and I`m not trying to say that one is generally better than the other.

I wonder how much the key caps affect the feeling. There is probably some resistance between the caps and the switch housing? Taking of a cap and pressing the switch directly feel smoother, but it is hard to say how big the difference is.

Still, overall, I like the Model 01 much more than the TEK, and I am very pleased with it. I just hope that I’ll get more used to the feeling of the switches.


(Nathan Howell) #13

That is exactly what I’ve been thinking about the feel of the switches… scratchy and plastic-on-plastic. My primary keyboards for the last few years have been Ergodoxes with a mix of Cherry reds and clears, and I find them to still be “smoother”. I’m loving the Model 01 otherwise, so I’ve been giving it some time (a week for me so far as well) and hoping that some combination of my getting used to them and maybe them “breaking in” a bit will help.


(James Cash) #14

I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how much I like the Matias switches. I was using Cherry Blues before and was afraid the quiet switches would feel as mushy as Browns feel to me, but I’m actually very happy with how nice they feel (and the people around me appreciate the reduction in volume :stuck_out_tongue:). They definitely don’t feel “scratchy” to me…I wonder if that’s an issue that Jesse & Kaia should know about?


#15

This is slightly off-topic, but has anybody of you noticed a faint spring noise when you release a key? On my keyboad, it’s only on the right half, and only on a few keys. It’s a very faint metallic noise and it sounds very… mechanical?

It doesn’t bother me, in fact, I might even like it (though I wished the spring noise came from all the keys).

I’m just wondering what’s causing it.

@jesse: you might be interested in this phenomenon.


(Björn Andersson) #16

I can hear a faint springy sound on some keys on the right half as well. All keys on the right half, lower row, and some other. None on the left half, except the prog key. I hadn’t noticed it, though, until you mentioned it.


(kajsa.anderson) #17

I had been blaming the keycaps for seeming “rattly”, but I just pulled one and did some experimentation, and the rattle I’m noticing is actually in the switch itself. I’ve also noticed that combination of keycaps and wood frame increases the sound of a keypress, compared to my Atreus which also uses Mathias quiet-click keys. I’m considering layering in a thin sound-dampener of some sort, with cutouts to match the switches.


#18

Now hold on there for a minute! We haven’t properly analyzed this yet. The rattling and springy sounds may not be that bad. Hear me out…
Since the Model01 has a wooden body, it serves as a wooden sound box for the vibrating springs to disturb the air within the keyboard to produce a more audible sound. Just like a guitar! This is what’s happening right now.
Still, it’s no use to us if it’s almost too quiet to hear. However… if we were to plug an amplifier into the keyboard, we might turn it into a musical instrument.


(Björn Andersson) #19

I’m having a hard time to get over this. When I have been using the Model 01 for while, I think “Maybe the keys aren’t that bad after all”. Then I type on my Cherry browns and blues that I have hooked up to other computers, and realize how much better they feel than the Model 01’s keys. I enjoy the Model 01 so much otherwise, that this is not going to be deal breaker, but if it had the same superb quality feeling as the Cherry’s the Model 01 would have it all. I still suspect that “problem” is at least partially related to some friction between the caps and the switches. Maybe I should try to switch out the springs to lighter ones, as is discussed in another thread, but I still don’t think the actuation force is the main issue for me, it is some scratchy friction. I don’t think I would have been bothered by this if hadn’t anything to compare with.


(Björn Andersson) #20

I removed the key caps on one half of the keyboard, and typed directly on the switches. The swiches themselves feel good. They are smooth and there is no scratchy feeling. Also, with the caps loosely on, but not fully pushed down into the switch, does not seem to generate that scratchy feeling. I am pretty convinced now that caps are just that little too tight, scratching against the switches. I think this is good news, as it means that it is most likely fixable by replacing the caps (maybe a generation 2 set of the caps in the future) or by removing just a little from the inside of each cap (which might be pretty difficult and laborous). Or maybe, hopefully, the caps will naturally wear and get smoother over time.