Author Topic: Jailhouse blues (non-floaty, short throw, quiet blues)  (Read 7121 times)

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Offline Leslieann

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Jailhouse blues (non-floaty, short throw, quiet blues)
« on: Fri, 07 December 2012, 02:00:48 »
In my new member thread I mentioned these and was asked about them. Luckily, I documented the process when I made them (you will have to excuse the lousy cell phone pics).

A while back there was a thread about gluing blues to make them solid, creating "ghetto browns". I actually decided to try this after some research. First off, I can tell you creates a very  solid click early on, the problem is, this is the ramp engaging, not the switch triggering, which happens just before the switch bottoms out. In fact, if you run o-rings, it comes close to not activating at all as it creates a very long stroke. The secondary (actuation) click is actually far more subtle and as mentioned, almost at the point of bottoming out before it happens and compared to the first click, almost drowned out. Another thing I found was that CA glue (or Superglue) doesn't like ABS and takes quite a while to dry, this isn't really an issue unless you are in a hurry, but I figured it was worth mentioning as it caught me off guard. Personally, I disliked the long travel and the first click was disconcerting.

After brainstorming, I came up with a few methods to lock them down. My first idea was to simply glue them in the down position. While it worked, it was easy to get glue into the wrong places and it wasn't very secure. A good hit or snag and it could probably break loose. The second idea was to try and wrap it with something, thread or wire...  Thread would need glue, so I ruled it out right away, tying could work, but that could lead to snags.

Here is a shot of the first two methods. Glued (based on the "ghetto brows" thread, and wire wrapped.



Not only did it take a lot of time to wrap each switch and ensure it wasn't going to hang, of the 5 switches I did it to, almost all had a different feel. 4 hung on actuation and had to be tweaked. This was only the start of my problems. Below is an undershot of the wrapped, and why it had problems.  After fixing the snags, I had lots of issues with consistency of feel, what I realized is that while trying to fix the hangups by it sticking out too far, it was being pushed into the spring, and by varying amounts. In some instances, as the spring compressed, it was popping the wire out, giving a very strange and inconsistent feel. Needless to say, I wasn't happy, and promptly ordered some clear switches.




One night while waiting for my clears, I had an epiphany, and this is the result. I call these Jailhouse Blues, because they are locked down blues (locked, like a prison). This new method takes about 30 seconds per switch* to perform and not only is it nearly flawless compared to the other method (only 1 of every 2 dozen needed minor tweaking), it can be undone at any time. *This doesn't count disassembly or assembly time.

So how do they feel...
Combined with blue WASD o-rings, simply put... Fantastic!
It has a very positive click to it, moreso than browns, but quiet like browns. WhiteFireDragon also says "when it bottoms out, almost all of the noise and shock is taken out". His testing and mine sow the key travels about half as far before actuating (can vary depending on wire used), and it it doesn't "float" like blues do (again, depending on the wire used).  Too small of wire can result in some float as the wire doesn't fill the gap enough. Too large can give them a hair trigger.


Tools needed:
Angle cutters, wire,  blue switches, and a small flathead.
The wire is beading wire, you can get it in the craft section of Walmart, 4 of these coils (two silver, two copper) for $5. One coil will do a full keyboard. I believe it was 20guage wire.



It will take about 15 seconds per side, 2 switches per minut.
Feed it into the stem alongside the shaft (it takes a bit of pressure), then cut where shown. Make sure it goes all the way through, but does not stick out the other side. The wire inside mostly holds things in place, but you need it to go all the way through so that it doesn't lopside the spring. The part going around the outside is what actually holds the white part in the extended position, and even this doesn't need to be very precise.


Bend it around the outside, and use the screwdriver to press it into the gap. Make sure it doesn't overhang anywhere.


Flip the switch around and repeat. It should look like this when finished. Two "u" shapes, one per side. I don't think it matters if they run opposite, but I did mine that way.



For the astute,
Yes, it does increase the spring pressure because of the wire running over the spring perch. Initially I would have sworn they were similar, but putting them next to my browns, there is a marked increase. This does two things though, it limits the likelihood of hangups, something I've heard Ergo Clears can sometimes do, and the spring helps hold the wire wraps in place with pressure. Odds are they will not move anyhow, but this just ads a little insurance.


Update...
Travel is actually halved, not just reduced a little as I originally stated. WhiteFireDragon also says they are much more quiet when bottoming out, a bonus for those who dislike the noise.  Also, consensus now is that it raises the spring rate quite bit more than I thought as well. Something more akin to a Black spring according to him.

Update 2...
Revised a bit, and I have plans to reduce spring pressure.

Update 3...
I cut the springs to bring pressures down, and they are AWESOME! I got my clear switches in, and plan to return to these as they feel just like short travel Ergo Clears.
« Last Edit: Tue, 01 January 2013, 17:03:45 by Leslieann »
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Offline WhiteFireDragon

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Re: Jailhouse blues (non-floaty, quiet blues)
« Reply #1 on: Fri, 07 December 2012, 02:44:58 »
Interesting mod. Based on the stem shapes now, you've effectively made something in between browns and ergo-clears. I'll have to try this to see how it actually feels. Thanks for sharing.

Btw, blue and red springs are the same springs based on how length, coils numbers, and tension.

Offline hashbaz

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Re: Jailhouse blues (non-floaty, quiet blues)
« Reply #2 on: Fri, 07 December 2012, 02:50:56 »
Nice!  Thanks for sharing this.

Offline WhiteFireDragon

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Re: Jailhouse blues (non-floaty, quiet blues)
« Reply #3 on: Fri, 07 December 2012, 04:26:04 »
I just tried this mod, and it has pretty unique characteristics:


1) The tactile bump is right when you start pressing the switch, not halfway down anymore.

2) Right after the tactile bump is where the key will actuate, which effectively makes the key register sooner than any other switch. It registers at roughly 1mm down instead of the standard 2mm down.

3) After the bump, the rest of the switch now feels like linear red or backs. It's also definitely not just a 5cN force increase in the spring. Much higher, almost feels like MX blacks at the linear section.

4) Lastly, I mounted this on a plate, and when it bottoms out, almost all of the noise and shock is taken out. It makes it feel like PCB-mounted switches

Offline Leslieann

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Re: Jailhouse blues (non-floaty, quiet blues)
« Reply #4 on: Fri, 07 December 2012, 04:44:15 »
Btw, blue and red springs are the same springs based on how length, coils numbers, and tension.
Every where I saw spring numbers showed red having a lighter spring, though it may be more due to the stem shape than the spring itself.
 

1) The tactile bump is right when you start pressing the switch, not halfway down anymore.

2) Right after the tactile bump is where the key will actuate, which effectively makes the key register sooner than any other switch. It registers at roughly 1mm down instead of the standard 2mm down.

3) After the bump, the rest of the switch now feels like linear red or backs. It's also definitely not just a 5cN force increase in the spring. Much higher, almost feels like MX blacks at the linear section.

I hadn't realized it shortened it that much, until I did side by side with my browns just now. 
As far as spring pressure, for me, it's only noticeable when side by side, but it is stiffer than I thought.

I'll update the first post with this info.

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Offline WhiteFireDragon

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Re: Jailhouse blues (non-floaty, short throw, quiet blues)
« Reply #5 on: Fri, 07 December 2012, 05:26:20 »
Maybe I was exaggerating just a tad. If I had to subjectively describe the stiffness, I would say it's somewhere between Korean 65g springs and vintage black springs. But it's hard to describe the overall stiffness because there is a non-linear tactile bump to it. Similar to how blues overall are stiffer than reds, even though they use the same springs.

One other thing is that you put in the OP I said they're quieter than browns. I didn't directly say this, but I guess you can infer from it. They're quieter than browns just in a sense that it greatly reduces the bottom-out noise. The small tactile bump in browns don't make any noise to begin with. So I guess if you're going to say they're quieter than browns, then they're also quieter than all stock MX switches.

One important thing I need to note is that on yours, there is still a very small space that the white stem piece can still move up and down. When I did the mod, I only had a wire that filled the whole travel gap, so the white stem piece is fully extended. That's why the tactile bump starts right when you press it down, and key actuation is reduced roughly in half. Maybe you can try to use a larger wire size to see if you get the same exact things I'm describing.

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Re: Jailhouse blues (non-floaty, short throw, quiet blues)
« Reply #6 on: Fri, 07 December 2012, 08:31:27 »
This sounds great.

I never understood why there needed to be 2 pieces, and now, obviously, they can be combined.

Now I can add another project to my lengthy list, and start looking for a cheap blue board. I have never made any mods to Cherry switches beyond O-rings or pads.
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Offline esoomenona

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Re: Jailhouse blues (non-floaty, short throw, quiet blues)
« Reply #7 on: Fri, 07 December 2012, 08:59:31 »
Thanks for posting this. I'm going to have to give this a go and see how I like it.
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Offline alaricljs

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Re: Jailhouse blues (non-floaty, short throw, quiet blues)
« Reply #8 on: Fri, 07 December 2012, 09:19:23 »
I never understood why there needed to be 2 pieces, and now, obviously, they can be combined.

The 2 piece stem is purely to create the audible feedback as the slider slaps into the bottom housing immediately after actuation causing the click sound.
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Offline Leslieann

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Re: Jailhouse blues (non-floaty, short throw, quiet blues)
« Reply #9 on: Fri, 07 December 2012, 18:13:39 »
One other thing is that you put in the OP I said they're quieter than browns. I didn't directly say this, but I guess you can infer from it. They're quieter than browns just in a sense that it greatly reduces the bottom-out noise. The small tactile bump in browns don't make any noise to begin with. So I guess if you're going to say they're quieter than browns, then they're also quieter than all stock MX switches.

One important thing I need to note is that on yours, there is still a very small space that the white stem piece can still move up and down. When I did the mod, I only had a wire that filled the whole travel gap, so the white stem piece is fully extended. That's why the tactile bump starts right when you press it down, and key actuation is reduced roughly in half. Maybe you can try to use a larger wire size to see if you get the same exact things I'm describing.

Sorry, I didn't mean to imply anything, it's what I get for updating right before going to sleep.  I cleaned it up a bit in hopes it more accurately reflects your comments.


Mine engage fairly fast as well, and I'm pretty sure I know why I can't feel the slack (see image below). 
Changing the wire size will alter how soon it actuates, but could also be used to "tune" the sound and slack to some degree. We just happen to be using thick enough wire to put us on the tactile bump eliminating all slack. Your thicker wire is putting you higher up the bump, making yours engage a little faster than mine. 

Oh, and I think I know how to reduce the spring pressure back to normal


« Last Edit: Fri, 07 December 2012, 18:21:53 by Leslieann »
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Offline Burz

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Re: Jailhouse blues (non-floaty, short throw, quiet blues)
« Reply #10 on: Fri, 07 December 2012, 18:53:52 »
Wow, this sounds great:

* No more annoying click
* Higher actuation point
* More tactile than browns
* Less bottoming out

This sounds as good as if Cherry actually hired a haptic engineer to design a new switch.

I'd be interested to hear how slightly thinner wire affects them, too.
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Offline WhiteFireDragon

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Re: Jailhouse blues (non-floaty, short throw, quiet blues)
« Reply #11 on: Fri, 07 December 2012, 18:55:29 »
Oh, and I think I know how to reduce the spring pressure back to normal

I already tried this. Basically just don't insert the wire into the stem's shaft/hole and it won't prematurely stop the spring from going all the way up the stem.

I used very fine wire and wrapped it around like 6-8 times instead of one thick wire with 1 wrap around. With thinner wires, you can also "tune" the amount of slack between the white and blue stem parts. Hopefully that's what you were thinking too.

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Re: Jailhouse blues (non-floaty, short throw, quiet blues)
« Reply #12 on: Fri, 07 December 2012, 19:02:15 »
I'll have to try this on my Poker.

Welcome to Geekhack Leslieann.  6 posts and you've already contributed more than I have in 2400 posts.  You'll make for a great addition to the community! ;D
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Offline Leslieann

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Re: Jailhouse blues (non-floaty, short throw, quiet blues)
« Reply #13 on: Fri, 07 December 2012, 19:06:07 »
I already tried this. Basically just don't insert the wire into the stem's shaft/hole and it won't prematurely stop the spring from going all the way up the stem.

I used very fine wire and wrapped it around like 6-8 times instead of one thick wire with 1 wrap around. With thinner wires, you can also "tune" the amount of slack between the white and blue stem parts. Hopefully that's what you were thinking too.
My thought was to cut off 1 or two of the flat coils at the end of each spring. They provide stability, but don't actually provide tension.
Good idea on the thinner wire.

I'll have to try this on my Poker.

Welcome to Geekhack Leslieann.  6 posts and you've already contributed more than I have in 2400 posts.  You'll make for a great addition to the community! ;D
Thanks, but I'm sure you have done more than you realize.  :)
« Last Edit: Fri, 07 December 2012, 19:07:50 by Leslieann »
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Offline WhiteFireDragon

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Re: Jailhouse blues (non-floaty, short throw, quiet blues)
« Reply #14 on: Fri, 07 December 2012, 19:21:09 »
I already tried this. Basically just don't insert the wire into the stem's shaft/hole and it won't prematurely stop the spring from going all the way up the stem.

I used very fine wire and wrapped it around like 6-8 times instead of one thick wire with 1 wrap around. With thinner wires, you can also "tune" the amount of slack between the white and blue stem parts. Hopefully that's what you were thinking too.
My thought was to cut off 1 or two of the flat coils at the end of each spring. They provide stability, but don't actually provide tension.
Good idea on the thinner wire.

I thought about that too, but doing this is irreversible. Most keyboard mods are reversible if you don't like it, but cutting coils can't be undone. And second, the two ends of the springs are coiled so that it sits flat with the surface. In spring jargon, these are called "ground" or "closed" ends. if you cut these off, the spring might bend weird when they're compressed. It might even have a semi buckling spring effect.

Offline WhiteFireDragon

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Re: Jailhouse blues (non-floaty, short throw, quiet blues)
« Reply #15 on: Fri, 07 December 2012, 19:21:46 »
Anyways, this pic will better illustrate what I mentioned about using thinner wires. I wrapped it around a few times so there's no slack left to move. The ends of the wires were not inserted into the blue shaft.


Offline Leslieann

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Re: Jailhouse blues (non-floaty, short throw, quiet blues)
« Reply #16 on: Fri, 07 December 2012, 19:57:16 »
I thought about that too, but doing this is irreversible. Most keyboard mods are reversible if you don't like it, but cutting coils can't be undone. And second, the two ends of the springs are coiled so that it sits flat with the surface. In spring jargon, these are called "ground" or "closed" ends. if you cut these off, the spring might bend weird when they're compressed. It might even have a semi buckling spring effect.

I have plenty to experiment with after using parts from my BW Ultimate, looking closely at the springs, they don't seem to be "ground", which was why I figured I could get away with it. I may have to give a few a try and see, then decide if it will be easier to re-wrap all of them as you did, or cut the springs. I'm leaning towards re-wrapping, but I need to find some wire before I can, and I worry it could have the same issues I had with my first wrap method where they got into the spring perch to varying degrees and throwing all of them off.

Have you setup a whole keyboard yet, or just playing with one switch? And thanks for assisting with info and ideas. :)

I'm quite happy with how it is, but there is still room for improvement.
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Offline WhiteFireDragon

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Re: Jailhouse blues (non-floaty, short throw, quiet blues)
« Reply #17 on: Fri, 07 December 2012, 20:12:30 »
I don't have any extra blue/red springs right now, so if I cut one, that switch won't feel the same as the rest. You can try and see if there are any problems.

"Ground" means those end coils don't have the slight angle that gives the springs their pitch between each coil. Ground or closed ends are flat coils so that the spring can stand up nearly perpendicular. All these mx springs should have ground ends. At least that's how I've always understood what grounded spring ends mean. If you snip out these 2-3 end coils, then the spring can't stand up on the table straight anymore. How much this will affect the switch is what I'm unsure of.

I've only done 1 switch. No time to do the whole keyboard right now. This wrapping method I did took like 2-3 minutes to get it right, but it's still pretty consistent.

Offline Leslieann

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Re: Jailhouse blues (non-floaty, short throw, quiet blues)
« Reply #18 on: Fri, 07 December 2012, 23:01:01 »
I tried cutting one, but the springs are so small, you can't get anything in there to cut without distorting it to the extent that it's going to sit crooked no matter what. Some really small and very sharp wire cutters might do it, but mine certainly can't. At least not up on the flats, but it can do down in the normal coils, so I may try that. If i put the cut coil at the top of the stem, the shaft should hold it straight.

A close inspection on your method tells me it will have the same issue as my early attempt did (look at an unwrapped one from the side). the problem is that the spring is actually wider than the legs , so the wire will hit the spring no matter what we do. You will end up with a softer spring, but an inconsistent feel. My first felt fine, in fact all did, until I compared them to each other.

I did find another method to shim these, but it requires destroying a second blue stem to make each one (shave it down to just the top area where the spring passes through), which is not an economical way of doing it.

Still on the hunt, but I plan on try the spring cut method later tonight. I have heard of at least one other cutting them with no ill effects (and getting down to 20cnm(?) of force). Like you said it's permanent, but if it works, I don't mind.
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Offline Leslieann

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Re: Jailhouse blues (non-floaty, short throw, quiet blues)
« Reply #19 on: Sun, 09 December 2012, 03:34:07 »
I did some measurements using nickels to get actuation force.

Stock was 40-45 grams.
JB's were up around 80 grams(!)

I started cutting the spring and re-measuring:
JB's with 3 flat coils cut off 55-60 (closer to 60)
JB's with 3 flat coils and one normal cut off 50-55 (closer to 50)
JB's with 3 flat coils and two normal cut off 40-45

Note that lube lowers another 5grams and the closer you get to 40grams, if things aren't perfect, they can stick due to the tactile bump being so pronounced.  Mine all worked great at 80 (of course) but when I reached 45, my R and M needed a slight touch up to keep from sticking on occasion. I cut mine down to 3 flat coils, plus 1 normal coil, and then lubed them. If you cut them, you want the cut end down in the switch itself as it has a thick post that will keep it aligned better than up top.
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Offline Leslieann

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Re: Jailhouse blues (non-floaty, short throw, quiet blues)
« Reply #20 on: Tue, 01 January 2013, 17:09:34 »
Just an update on this.
Yes, I did cut all of the springs to bring pressures down, and they are simply AWESOME!

I got my Clear switches in, and immediately installed my Red springs to make Ergo Clears, which are really nice. My cut spring Jailhouse Blues actually feel the same, except with a shorter travel, which I prefer (and was exactly what I expected).

Odds are I will be putting the cut spring JB's back in and selling the Clears.
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Offline vorn

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Re: Jailhouse blues (non-floaty, short throw, quiet blues)
« Reply #21 on: Thu, 28 February 2013, 02:11:01 »
HA! Since I've come from a background of using Mac laptops and Apple wireless keyboards I've become very accustom to the short travel and actuation of scissor switches. Blues are my favorite switch type by far, but I've always wondering about getting rid of the "float" before the bump/click. Definitely going to give this mod a try! Though I do love the click AND solid bottoming out ;) So gonna do some experimenting. Thanks for the share!

Offline speedkills

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Re: Jailhouse blues (non-floaty, short throw, quiet blues)
« Reply #22 on: Thu, 25 April 2013, 21:23:17 »
Has anyone tried putting an o-ring in there instead of wire?  Seems like it could be easier to do on a whole keyboard.  If not I will try it in a couple of days when I get some o-rings in.  This mod interests me as I love the feel of Cherry switches in general except I hate the fact that the activation point is a couple of mm down.

Offline Leslieann

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Re: Jailhouse blues (non-floaty, short throw, quiet blues)
« Reply #23 on: Thu, 25 April 2013, 22:24:53 »
I spent weeks trying to figure out a cheap, simple solution ranging from dental bands to o-rings to glue. I thought about o-rings, but they would need to be VERY thin. The wire I used is .8 mm or something like that. Dental rubber bands might work.

Keep in mind you have very little space on the long faces between the spring and walls of the housing, anything that fills the gap in one wrap, will interfere with the spring or the housing. The dual wire wrap I use serves as a new spring perch, which is why you need to trim the springs, but, you end up with a consistent feel. If you have an o-ring rubbing the spring, you end up with varying amounts of rub/friction, not just from one switch to the next, but also at varying points of being pressed.

No matter what you use, be vary cautions about this.
I took a spare switch top and cut off the lock tabs so I could experiment and test every stem before inserting it into the actual keyboard and I'm glad I did. I had to tweak a few.
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Offline Photoelectric

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Re: Jailhouse blues (non-floaty, short throw, quiet blues)
« Reply #24 on: Fri, 21 June 2013, 19:43:06 »
What about using very thin silicone o-rings from IMSTO?  They seem to be 1mm thick and not more.  Also, I saw Glod here using solder wire instead.  I'm wondering how these materials will withstand prolonged use and lubrication.  I'm afraid the Walmart wire can oxidize and rust and cause trouble.  Perhaps solder is nicer, since it's soft and will probably withstand lubrication.  Silicone o-rings?  Not sure.
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Offline Leslieann

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Re: Jailhouse blues (non-floaty, short throw, quiet blues)
« Reply #25 on: Fri, 21 June 2013, 20:06:29 »
Solder works, but is hazardous (and this is a lot hands on). The wire I used was a fraction of the cost of solder.

O-rings will not work. Look at the white part and you can see it thins out where it passes the spring. If it rubs anything, it will be chaos.

Even if the wire I used were to rust (it needs moisture), it can do no real harm to the rest of the switch. I believe mine was chrome or brass plated wire, it was meant for jewelry making. Neither will rust easily.
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Offline kmiller8

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Re: Jailhouse blues (non-floaty, short throw, quiet blues)
« Reply #26 on: Fri, 21 June 2013, 20:07:36 »
Have you thought about printing some plastic clips that would fit in as the inserts, something like what SP offers as switch blockers, but much smaller?
ayy lmao

Offline Leslieann

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Re: Jailhouse blues (non-floaty, short throw, quiet blues)
« Reply #27 on: Fri, 21 June 2013, 20:09:56 »
Have you thought about printing some plastic clips that would fit in as the inserts, something like what SP offers as switch blockers, but much smaller?
I already have them designed and printed some, but my machine wasn't accurate and they are too weak.

I need to refine the design and get my printer working better, but that is the plan.
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Offline Zifle

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Re: Jailhouse blues (non-floaty, short throw, quiet blues)
« Reply #28 on: Wed, 26 June 2013, 17:42:51 »
I've previously made some jailhouses, which I've yet to use, however I suddenly thought, why not use o-rings for this mod?

So I tried it out, and it actually works pretty well. A few pictures can be seen here.

I used a 40A o-ring I had, which gave a good result. I did have to cut it, though, as it's way too big otherwise.
A quick comparison to the wire-modded jailhouses:

 - The O-ring-modded ones (will be) much more consistent compared to the wired ones. It might just be the way I did the wire, but the greatest difficulty for me, was to get the switches somewhat consistent (some had click, others hadn't, some felt gritty, etc.).
 - These are heavier
 - These have a slight O-ring feel at the bottom

Both former of the above can be attributed to the spring being completely blocked from the top, and not just partially, as with the wire mod (which could possibly be avoided by doing it some other way).
The bottoming out o-ring feel is quite limited, at ~.5mm at the bottom, and that part does require some force to push down, so it's not in a particular a soft landing.

To place the o-ring in the first place, one has to take the white, clicky, part of the stem off first, though. "Breaking" it off with a nail seemed to do the trick, and it's quite flexible plastic, so I'm not too concerned about breaking it. It's almost harder to get back on, than off.
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Offline Leslieann

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Re: Jailhouse blues (non-floaty, short throw, quiet blues)
« Reply #29 on: Wed, 26 June 2013, 19:24:59 »
Interesting idea.

However, I wouldn't try a whole keyboard as you will be amazed at how inconsistent it will be. The o-ring will cause friction in the housing. If you lighten the springs after, you will have a TON of sticking keys. The mechanism has to be absolutely as friction free as possible if you want light springs.
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