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[Build Log] Filco Zero Modding to get DCS Alps Keycaps to Fit

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I finished my second keyboard mod in the span of like 4 months so I feel like I'm finally back into the hobby. In this build log, I wanted to cover my adventure getting the stabilizers working with a SP DCS alps keycap set. Yup, if you remember my old nonsense, I am still into Alps. The board I'm modding is my Filco Zero that has SKCM Green Alps in it. I've had this Alpine Winter set sitting in boxes for so long, I forgot why I had them just sitting. So stupidly I was drooling over the Alps DCS 9009 set on Cannonkeys and I had an old Alpine Winter set sitting at home all this time! Time to toss it on a board.

Yes I know the caps are mismatched. I only have a 60% set of Alpine winter. Gonna get that 9009 set soon

Only one problem....the stabilizer wires don't fit properly. Ugh. So the board by default uses the wires and the little hook clips which are actually the same as Matias' stabilizer and hook set. For the default caps and the vintage ones I've been using, there's little costar-style inserts work. But when used with the DCS caps, the wire doesn't fit with the costar stabilizer insert. The position is wrong so the wire hits the insert and the stabilizers feel grindy.

Comparison from the top, clockwise: Random Vintage Set (Grey), OG Filco Zero Set (Black), SP DCS Alpine Winter (Blue)

Unfortunately, the DCS set uses Cherry stems for the stabilizers. So I thought just regular Costar stabilizers would work right? Well the little inserts do but the wires and inserts don't. Sad face. Keep this detail in mind for later. Those stupid inserts will come back to haunt me.

So all I have to do is to rebend some stabilizer wires to get them to work. I didn't do this previously because I didn't know the Matias stab wires would work so I was scared to ruin the only set of wires I had. Not anymore. I literally took the wires I had on hand (a few of the Matias wires and some of the ones from the board originally), bent them back into a U shape, then bent them into a shape that would actually work.

Look at the bending in action

Ugly but functional!

This took a little time (read 2 evenings of work) and I broke stuff but it worked.

RIP, I snapped this wire. o7

Oh also I had to clip the wires a bit so I sanded down the sharp bits.

Not sanded wire

Sanded wire

Then I wanted to check and see if the stab wire that came with the Zero was the same as the Matias space bar wire. Just remove the spacebar right? Sigh. Stupid me didn't realize how tight the default DCS spacebar fit into the switch. I struggled for 30 minutes to remove the spacebar. I ended up having to take the board apart and then popping off the little costar inserts so I could pop the spacebar off. I'm so glad I didn't destroy the spacebar switch. I think I tested with Via like 934587 times during these 30 minutes.

This pic only cost me 30 minutes of pain and panic...

The blue is a random modifier cap to show what the caps look like be default. The gray is the Alpine Winter after I sanded it.

So what do I do to prevent this in the future? I looked at the Zero spacebar and realize it has some chamfers. That's an easy fix. I just take some sandpaper and sand chamfers into the stem as well as sand down the spacebar a bit so that it's thinner. Fit check a BILLION times approximately...after I reassemble the Zero ugh.

The black is the stock spacebar from the Zero. The gray is the Alpine Winter after I sanded it.

Also I realize these costar inserts have a nub which causes them to hold on tightly. So I sand em off.

Sanded on the left. Unsanded on the right.

Ok cool. So now the stabilizer wires fit (even if they're a bit ugly), and the spacebar doesn't fight me. And I know that the wire clips and spacebar wire from the Matias set works. Last thing to do is to lube up the stabilizer wire where the clips are and the little costar inserts. My modified stab wires rattle a little bit.

205g0 and an old Army Painter brush

And it worked! Now to buy that 9009 set....even if it's beige.

I think the thing to do these days is to post a sample of me typing on it. No video but here's a sound sample. Oh and I should say that this was typed on the newly modded Zero with the Alpine Winter caps. Exactly what you see in the first picture.

Super sick! Love DIY stuff like this. Might have to refer back to this when I want aftermarket keycaps on my zero. Also damn didn't realize how big of a struggle the spacebar was. :eek: :thumb:


--- Quote from: Soums on Wed, 29 March 2023, 22:53:57 ---Super sick! Love DIY stuff like this. Might have to refer back to this when I want aftermarket keycaps on my zero. Also damn didn't realize how big of a struggle the spacebar was. :eek: :thumb:

--- End quote ---

Please learn from my mistakes. That spacebar was such a pain. Worth the trouble of sanding and modding it if you feel comfortable doing so.

Super sick write up CBA! Thank you for documenting  :cool:
You and Pogurt have been making me want to dive into the ALPS rabbit whole  :-\

Filco Zero.... need :eek:
short write up but really nice, i think alpine winter looks pretty good, too bad it doesn't have the tkl keys


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