Author Topic: The tale of the flexing plates.  (Read 1331 times)

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Offline T0mb3ry

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The tale of the flexing plates.
« on: Sun, 10 June 2018, 16:56:34 »
Hello fellow geeks.

In this thread i'd like to tell you about my experiment i did recently which had the goal to improve typing feel or at least make it different.

The subject for my experiment is a plate which i made for my CA66 keyboard. Before i introduce you the plate, i'd like to explain the idea.

The Idea
I got already few custom keyboards and most of them are 65% layouts. However compared to TKL Keyboard for example are smaller layouts like 65% stiffer in typing feel. This is actually not a bad thing but lets be honest larger layot keyboard have smoother typing feel. And the reason for this is the flexing of the plate. Sure there are other factors like switches, plate material, etc. Anyway i'd like to point out here particulary the size of the plate, which is crucial for the flexing and the typing feel. To say more precise its about the distance between mounting points. You can compare it to the guitar strings if you like. Short strings are stiffer and provide higher freqency sound where long strings are more flexible and have deeper sound.
So the idea is to increase the distance between the mounting points of the plate with extensions.

The plate
For this experiment i've decided to use CA66 keyboard, because it has plenty of space inside the case, which can be utilized for the plate extensions. PlayKeyboardTW provided me the cad file for the plate and i am very thankfull him for this. Otherwise i hade to recreate the original CA66 plate first and this would take some time.

Anyway let me show you the implementation of those extensions.

As you can see i made those extensions horizontaly in order to save space. To be honest this is not the optimal extension placements, because for optimal result the extension should begin at the mounting points in order to provide balance.
Anyway whole flexing moves are now done by those extensions. Say whole plate with pcb is now able to move up and down. The plate is made of carbon fiber because it does not bend like metal and is stiff enough for such extensions.


The extensions made the plate slightly larger but overall its actually acceptable increase in space. To utilize such plate in a keyboard you have to plan it from the start or provide some space inside the case. For example you cant make such plate for most already existing keyboards due to the missing space.

Now let me show you how flexible those extensions are:
Plate in its usual position

and here you can see how the extensions allow the plate to move down. Tho keep in mind i had to use some force to bend it this way and usually the plate will never go down that low. During the typing, the plate moves probably not more than 500 micrometers.


Conclusion
I've typed this whole topic on my CA66 with this plate and i had not the feel i am typing on a small keyboard. For refernce it has lubed retooled cherries with 50g springs. These are pretty light switches and this is how i like it. Compared to my Canoes (also retooled light cherries) the typing feel much softer, even softer than my tkl keyboard. I could even feel with the pinky how the plate flexes all the time of typing. Tho keep in mind it does not provide mushy feel. The typing feel is just about right. It softens downstroke in a pleasing way. Tray mounted keyboards do feel like typing on a brick or concrete in comparisson to this. Tho as i said there are some things which are not optimal. For example CA66 has almost no space for lower part of plate to move down. I think if it had more space the bottom row would feel much better.

Note: I've tested that plate only with linear switches and its designed for linear switches. How it may affect bumpy switches i dont know but i assume it might lower the bump feel of the switch.

So in the end i am pretty much happy with the result. And i recommend keyboard designers to consider such plate (tho optimized and improved) for their next possible projects.

If you has some questions feel free to ask.

Thanks for reading  :D

SVG File with the plate.

* CA66platewithextensions.svg (86.6 kB - downloaded 4 times.)

Keep in mind the plate covers only following layout.
IMG_6696 by T0mb3ry, auf Flickr
« Last Edit: Thu, 14 June 2018, 12:53:40 by T0mb3ry »

Offline crtexcnndrm99

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Re: The tale of the flexing plates.
« Reply #1 on: Sun, 10 June 2018, 17:29:37 »
Interesting read - thank you!

There is so much potential for mods like this with plates. I never tried carbon fibre, but it looks like it worked for you which is great :thumb:
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Offline tp4tissue

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Re: The tale of the flexing plates.
« Reply #2 on: Sun, 10 June 2018, 17:37:33 »
I don't understand the story..  Who is the villain, the hero, the victim, the support character w/untapped potential.

Offline pr0ximity

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Re: The tale of the flexing plates.
« Reply #3 on: Sun, 10 June 2018, 18:17:51 »
This is a really brilliant idea. One thing I don't think you mentioned: even with larger boards the typing feeling is much stiffer around the edges (F keys, arrow keys, bottom mods) where the switches are mounted near the plate mount points, while the alphas are usually the most comfortable as they are given the most leeway to flex. The genius part of this mod to me is that it allows all of the switches across the entire board to flex more, including the ones at the top and bottom edges. I think the middle row would still flex more than the outer rows, but depending on the material of the plate vs. the material of these expansion tabs, you might be able to even out the typing feel across all of the switches on the board.

Offline jb1830

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Re: The tale of the flexing plates.
« Reply #4 on: Sun, 10 June 2018, 19:37:51 »
This is a super interesting concept. Would love to see it on a purpose built board or a least try this in person.
               
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Online p_blaze

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Re: The tale of the flexing plates.
« Reply #5 on: Sun, 10 June 2018, 20:02:34 »
How would you compare this typing feel to that of a polycarb plate in the same situation?
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Offline T0mb3ry

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Re: The tale of the flexing plates.
« Reply #6 on: Mon, 11 June 2018, 00:04:17 »
This is a really brilliant idea. One thing I don't think you mentioned: even with larger boards the typing feeling is much stiffer around the edges (F keys, arrow keys, bottom mods) where the switches are mounted near the plate mount points, while the alphas are usually the most comfortable as they are given the most leeway to flex. The genius part of this mod to me is that it allows all of the switches across the entire board to flex more, including the ones at the top and bottom edges. I think the middle row would still flex more than the outer rows, but depending on the material of the plate vs. the material of these expansion tabs, you might be able to even out the typing feel across all of the switches on the board.

Your are absolutely right. The closer the switch to the mounting point is - the stiffer it gets.

Yeah this approach allows also to make flexing evenly. Whats why i was saying what the plate i did is still not optimized. There should be done some math in order to balance whole flexing evenly across the plate. But that can only be done for completely new board.

How would you compare this typing feel to that of a polycarb plate in the same situation?

I've never typed on a polycarb plate before. Cant say really. Tho i got pcb mounted board but thats very different in feel if you ask me.

Offline ctrl

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Re: The tale of the flexing plates.
« Reply #7 on: Mon, 11 June 2018, 05:48:43 »
Very interesting experiment! I hope there'll be follow ups because I'd like to see where this is going. :thumb:

Do you think carbon fibre is best suited for this type of plate or could it also work with more traditional materials such as steel and brass?

Offline T0mb3ry

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Re: The tale of the flexing plates.
« Reply #8 on: Mon, 11 June 2018, 11:04:17 »
Do you think carbon fibre is best suited for this type of plate or could it also work with more traditional materils such as steel and brass?
Probably only stainless steel would work. But i highly recommend CF because stainless still may deform anyway. CF does not deform because it breaks if you bend it over its limits.

Actually i see not a minor reason not to use CF for such plate. The force put on those extensions is actually big other time. Imagine 360+ keystrokes per minute. Thats a lot.
Also you want to make main plate as stiff as possible and let the extension do the flex work. That way you will be able to provide more consistent type feel over all keys regardless their postion.


CF is the way to go.



In case for aesthetics. You can color CF plate as you like. If you like brass then you can make also double layered plate. Brass plate on top of CF plate (actually very nice idea ;) ). As i said the properties of a CF plate are here important and it has nothing to do with coolness factor of CF material.
« Last Edit: Mon, 11 June 2018, 11:23:07 by T0mb3ry »

Offline neemajon

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Re: The tale of the flexing plates.
« Reply #9 on: Mon, 11 June 2018, 12:13:40 »
Have the same problem with my plate, arrived bent :(

Offline PerniciousPony

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Re: The tale of the flexing plates.
« Reply #10 on: Mon, 11 June 2018, 14:14:51 »
I love the idea behind this!

I'd love to see a board built around this idea.  One of my favorite MX builds I've done was a pcb mount linear 60%.  I used an FMJ case which does not have any center standoffs.  This allows the pcb to flex quite a bit when typing, and I love the feel of it other than the fact that it was so uneven as the edges were stiff and the middle was more flexible.

Looking forwards to more updates on this  :thumb:

Offline T0mb3ry

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Re: The tale of the flexing plates.
« Reply #11 on: Tue, 12 June 2018, 13:31:22 »
Did some short video on my instagramm acount about the experimental plate in action.
https://www.instagram.com/p/Bj7ztsFjyXp/?taken-by=t0mb3ry_gh

Offline ctrl

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Re: The tale of the flexing plates.
« Reply #12 on: Tue, 12 June 2018, 16:19:39 »
Do you think carbon fibre is best suited for this type of plate or could it also work with more traditional materils such as steel and brass?
Probably only stainless steel would work. But i highly recommend CF because stainless still may deform anyway. CF does not deform because it breaks if you bend it over its limits.

Actually i see not a minor reason not to use CF for such plate. The force put on those extensions is actually big other time. Imagine 360+ keystrokes per minute. Thats a lot.
Also you want to make main plate as stiff as possible and let the extension do the flex work. That way you will be able to provide more consistent type feel over all keys regardless their postion.


CF is the way to go.



In case for aesthetics. You can color CF plate as you like. If you like brass then you can make also double layered plate. Brass plate on top of CF plate (actually very nice idea ;) ). As i said the properties of a CF plate are here important and it has nothing to do with coolness factor of CF material.

Thanks for the informative reply! Sure sounds like CF is the way to go then. The double layered plate with CF+brass sounds very interesting! Do you think your experiments will take you down this path as welll for further investigations? ;D

Offline T0mb3ry

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Re: The tale of the flexing plates.
« Reply #13 on: Tue, 12 June 2018, 16:43:24 »
Thanks for the informative reply! Sure sounds like CF is the way to go then. The double layered plate with CF+brass sounds very interesting! Do you think your experiments will take you down this path as welll for further investigations? ;D

Oh i think this particular experiment is done for me. I got this idea some years ago and i was always curious if it will make it what i am expecting. And it did. I am satisfied with the experience and i am glad i was able to share it with you. Tho i wish you all could test it in person and make your own conclusion. In the end i am hoping some of the keyboard makers will implement this feature in their projects. Atleast they are aware of it.

In case of the brass plate (on top of CF plate): I think it does not need any testing. Its obvious the main plate (excluding extensions) will gets stiffer and heavier. The additional weight from the brass will have minor effect since 1.5 strong cf extensions will handle it easily. For example i've unscrewed some mounting points from the keyboard and the plate is held only by 4 screws and four extensions. And it still provides solid and robust hold. The extra stiffnes is actually very positive for this approach because in the best case scenario the main plate should be stiff as possible and flexing moves should be done only by extensions in order to provide consistent typing feel.

Offline jcoffin1981

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Re: The tale of the flexing plates.
« Reply #14 on: Wed, 13 June 2018, 14:58:49 »
This is a really brilliant idea. One thing I don't think you mentioned: even with larger boards the typing feeling is much stiffer around the edges (F keys, arrow keys, bottom mods) where the switches are mounted near the plate mount points, while the alphas are usually the most comfortable as they are given the most leeway to flex. The genius part of this mod to me is that it allows all of the switches across the entire board to flex more, including the ones at the top and bottom edges. I think the middle row would still flex more than the outer rows, but depending on the material of the plate vs. the material of these expansion tabs, you might be able to even out the typing feel across all of the switches on the board.

Your are absolutely right. The closer the switch to the mounting point is - the stiffer it gets.

Yeah this approach allows also to make flexing evenly. Whats why i was saying what the plate i did is still not optimized. There should be done some math in order to balance whole flexing evenly across the plate. But that can only be done for completely new board.

How would you compare this typing feel to that of a polycarb plate in the same situation?

I've never typed on a polycarb plate before. Cant say really. Tho i got pcb mounted board but thats very different in feel if you ask me.

I  had one board that had PCB mounted switches.  I loved the feeling/flex of he board but I gave it away because it was too big.  I wonder if you wouldn't be happier with this type of board vs. a plate mounted type switch.
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Offline typischt

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Re: The tale of the flexing plates.
« Reply #15 on: Wed, 13 June 2018, 16:09:36 »
This sounds really interesting! Did you also try the default plate that (supposedly) came together with the board to see the difference or do you think it's the same for all boards of this size?
Really love DYI works like this and while I myself am not (yet?) a big "customizer" (except for maybe switches), I really enjoy at least reading about this aspect of this hobby!

Would it be possible to get that plate file? As far as I've seen, the regular CA66 plate is already linked in the OP of the GB.
I understand of course, if you'd rather not share it..! (pretty cautious at this point, since I already annoyed others by asking for source files..  :-X)
Thanks for taking your time for this write-up!

Offline T0mb3ry

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Re: The tale of the flexing plates.
« Reply #16 on: Thu, 14 June 2018, 00:10:13 »
I  had one board that had PCB mounted switches.  I loved the feeling/flex of he board but I gave it away because it was too big.  I wonder if you wouldn't be happier with this type of board vs. a plate mounted type switch.

This is not comparable with pcb mounted board. It feels different. To compare switches for example, are very stable because of plate so it will never feel like pcb mounted.

Also i said it does not make typing "better". It makes it different. For my personal preference the bottoming out does feel better. ;)

This sounds really interesting! Did you also try the default plate that (supposedly) came together with the board to see the difference or do you think it's the same for all boards of this size?
I've described the cause previously. In general the smaller the distance between mounting points of plate the stiffer it gets. Its physics. So smaller keyboards are stiffer. Depens also on how the mounting points are implemented.

Would it be possible to get that plate file? As far as I've seen, the regular CA66 plate is already linked in the OP of the GB.
I understand of course, if you'd rather not share it..! (pretty cautious at this point, since I already annoyed others by asking for source files..  :-X)
Thanks for taking your time for this write-up!

Yeah i will share the SVG File during this week. I have to correct something before.

Offline Puddsy

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Re: The tale of the flexing plates.
« Reply #17 on: Thu, 14 June 2018, 00:40:33 »
how does it sound

i might add this to my tkl plate
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has puddsy gotten an award for person most involved with things hes not involved in at all, yet?

Offline T0mb3ry

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Re: The tale of the flexing plates.
« Reply #18 on: Thu, 14 June 2018, 12:10:43 »
I've added SVG File to the first post in this thread. Usually every serious CFK online shop will be able to make the plate for you from this SVG file.

Keep in mind the plate covers only following layout:
IMG_6696 by T0mb3ry, auf Flickr

how does it sound

i might add this to my tkl plate

I made an video on my instagram which i posted here already. But that is not a reference since you need to hear it in person in order to get proper conclusion. Afaik from sources CA66 is a loud keyboard. Tho i did not heard the default plate in person. However with this plate the typing sound deeper as you would expect from small layouts.

By the way how you would add that plate to your tkl keyboard? As i said you need some space inside for extensions...
« Last Edit: Thu, 14 June 2018, 12:54:28 by T0mb3ry »

Offline Puddsy

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Re: The tale of the flexing plates.
« Reply #19 on: Thu, 14 June 2018, 13:39:24 »
how does it sound

i might add this to my tkl plate

I made an video on my instagram which i posted here already. But that is not a reference since you need to hear it in person in order to get proper conclusion. Afaik from sources CA66 is a loud keyboard. Tho i did not heard the default plate in person. However with this plate the typing sound deeper as you would expect from small layouts.

By the way how you would add that plate to your tkl keyboard? As i said you need some space inside for extensions...

i'll make a case that works with it

i'm already designing a case, so can't hurt to do some prototyping

i might be able to do it so that it doesn't flex QUITE as much as your version

we'll see
QFR | MJ2 TKL | Realforce 87U | G81-3000 "Schumiboard" | Varmilo Bulgogiboard (Keycon 104) | KBD75 | MIRA (Clearsuns) | Weaven (MOD-M) | TGR Alice (soon!) | A secret board

has puddsy gotten an award for person most involved with things hes not involved in at all, yet?

Offline T0mb3ry

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Re: The tale of the flexing plates.
« Reply #20 on: Thu, 14 June 2018, 14:44:55 »

i'll make a case that works with it

i'm already designing a case, so can't hurt to do some prototyping

i might be able to do it so that it doesn't flex QUITE as much as your version

we'll see
My plate does not flex as much as you say. I push it down with my hand to show off how far it can go down but during typing it flexes very little but effective. Keep in mind shortening extension may make your plate too stiff. Say your extension would give you nothing.

I suggest you to make adjustable extensions. You just need to add few mounting points per extension.

Offline Puddsy

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Re: The tale of the flexing plates.
« Reply #21 on: Thu, 14 June 2018, 22:29:40 »

i'll make a case that works with it

i'm already designing a case, so can't hurt to do some prototyping

i might be able to do it so that it doesn't flex QUITE as much as your version

we'll see
My plate does not flex as much as you say. I push it down with my hand to show off how far it can go down but during typing it flexes very little but effective. Keep in mind shortening extension may make your plate too stiff. Say your extension would give you nothing.

I suggest you to make adjustable extensions. You just need to add few mounting points per extension.

i want it to be jane mounts, i expect to make like 4 or 5 different revisions to the plate before i settle on a final version

this project is at least 6 months out from being ready for the IC phase so i'll test some things and see what works

the money from RR and yolch is probably going into this project
QFR | MJ2 TKL | Realforce 87U | G81-3000 "Schumiboard" | Varmilo Bulgogiboard (Keycon 104) | KBD75 | MIRA (Clearsuns) | Weaven (MOD-M) | TGR Alice (soon!) | A secret board

has puddsy gotten an award for person most involved with things hes not involved in at all, yet?