so as promised... here's the Q&D on my little Saturday morning project... I had some nice doubleshots on a MY board that I hated, so I figured what better to do with them than to put them on a good keyboard? I bought a Filco off of the classifieds here and told the seller that if it'd save a couple bucks he could keep the keycaps, because I wasn't going to be using them. The plan is to make this board my take to work board, although after comparing it to my WASD I think that a WASD with browns, clears, or ergo clears might be quieter than a Filco, so that might be a more appropriate plan. I wanted to use the doubleshots because a) I had them and they were free b) I liked the profile of the Cherry Corp. keycaps better than the Filco etc. ones - the shorter keycap at least to my fingers makes the switches feel less wobbly and c) they really do look cool. But anyway a Filco does no good unless you can type on it, right? So I had to mod the keycaps and make them work...
Unfortunately, the board that I was starting with was a G81 space saver style board; there's some keys on that that just won't work. These ones, to be precise - so if you're starting off from nothing and decide that you want doubleshots on your standard 104-key board, this is a really bad way to go about getting them. If you have a tenkeyless Filco and a moogle kit, you might think you're good, but the del/end/pgdown keys are a different profile than they would be on the 104-key board; on the space saver they're Row 4 profile while on the 104 they should be Row 3. The More You Know etc.
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I knew that ahead of time though but still wanted to use the keys - they were just starting to shine a little but it was all honest wear and imposed by Yours Truly - I actually used this board at work for a while, which is really a good part of what prompted my current keyboard geekery - because it's really a crap board to type on. I don't like linear switches, and they're very heavy (and this coming from someone who likes clears.) I'd gone ahead and bought some other boards off eBay that are more suited for this exercise - these are G81-8000s. I ASSumed that because I had a G80-8200 and all the keycaps would interchange with a standard 104-key board that the G81 board that uses the same case and looks almost identical save for the relegendable caps would be interchangeable as well... not so much! I was able to use the del/end/pgdown keys, right shift, numpad plus and numpad zero from it without modification, but the entire bottom row needs modification, as does the caps lock. The caps lock and all of the bottom row keys save the space bar have off center stems; the space bar itself has a big molded-in stabilizer thing that needs to be cut/ground out of there to make it usable on a MX board, even a Cherry one. You may notice that I have two of the larger boards... one of them has very shiny caps, and the other looks near-new. Fortunately most of the caps that I needed were in good shape on the very shiny board, but wherever these boards were used must have been somewhere were the numpad was used almost exclusively - the numpad zero on the shiny board is pretty bad so I passed on using that one, and the one on the "almost new" board is still the shiniest key out of the whole set. But it's not horrible, I don't mind a little honest wabi as long as it's not silly, and doesn't noticeably clash with the rest of the board.
To add insult to the injury of this whole exercise, the Control and Alt keys aren't even doubleshots but pad printed. But they were the only black keys I had the right size, so I was stuck either buying more crap or making these work. (I've seen that there apparently are some boards that have those keys in doubleshot - but still not the windows key - but they apparently are rare and/or expensive and/or don't come up for sale that often. I'll just use what I have until the next moogle kit GB comes around.)
If you want brand new doubleshots with minimum of hassle - just buy these from 99hk.bizhttp://geekhack.org/showthread.php?20459-Second-Group-of-Brand-New-Official-Cherry-Double-Shot
you'll still need to mod the space bar to add the center Filco post and also mod the caps lock key to have the post centered, but those should be the *only* mods you should have to do to that set. Same goes for Das or WASD (so I'm told. I'm sure about WASD; don't have a Das but I've been told that they switch/key layout is identical.) Honestly, by the time i bought the two boards off eBay, I probably spent about the same amount of money as just buying the set, and I would have been done with my modding a lot sooner. But on the flip side, I have lots of spare parts now, and some d'shots that could conceivably be sandblasted if anyone were so inclined.
Now what I *forgot* about was stabilizers... as soon as I got the Filco and realized that the previous owner hadn't included the stabilizers I should have tried the MY ones and realized that they were completely different although kinda-sorta similar looking... but I didn't, not until I'd already glued up the space bar and went to install it. Fortunately WASD Keyboards in CA sells them as separate parts, and even better, were able to ship a bag of them to me in only two days, so it was barely a holdup in this project. Props to Weyman for offering little parts like that and also for having such great service.
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I started by making myself a gluing jig for the keys. How I did this was just to take a reasonably straight scrap of 2x4, and drilled some 1/2" holes in them. I took some old MY stems and shoved them into some old Cherry keycaps, mostly filled the holes in the 2x4 with epoxy, and waited. Then I traced the outline of the keys in pen so that I could line the new ones up appropriately. I also drilled another hole for the space bar, took the space bar from my WASD, and glued in another MY stem for that style space bar.
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One thing that I found interesting was that it didn't seem to matter what row the keys were on when jigging them up like this. It makes sense when you think about it, but I didn't realize it until I tried the "Ctrl" key on the stem that I'd glued in place to do the Caps Lock key - but yeah, the PCB is flat, so the stems are all going to be oriented the same and at the same elevation. Means that you only need as many stems in your jig as you can glue caps at one time - which if you're using 5-minute epoxy, I've found to be about four, unless you work faster than I do.
So we prep the switches for gluing by grinding away all the old stems and taking a very thin amount of material from under the keycap. I found two bits to be the ones that I used for everything for this project.
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Then take an old Cherry keycap and cut the heck out of it.I pushed it all the way down on the stem glued into the board until it bottomed, then took material off the top of it and/or a little more from the underside of the keycap until it fit.
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Now it fits! So once I had a batch ready I just mixed up some epoxy and put a little in the keycap and a little on the stem.
I think I'm out of space for pics on this post so to be continued...