Author Topic: Comparison: Different hot-swap options. What are your experiences?  (Read 945 times)

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Offline iammeuru

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Comparison: Different hot-swap options. What are your experiences?
« on: Thu, 13 September 2018, 04:14:27 »
I'm pretty darn new to keebs as any sort of thing that one would care about, but I'm certainly someone who dives into the details... I can't find any comprehensive data on what sockets are great, which are bad, and when one might be better than another... I am aware of Holetites and Winnja Sockets (the through hole type), and the Kailh and Outemu type, which I believe are both made for a custom PCB surface mount layout (I know the former is anyway).

Can anyone talk to the reliability of one over another option?

My basic understanding of things is that Kailh works for basically all switches, and has around 100 insertion cycles, and Winnja seems logically more likely to avoid a failure due to being soldered in place, but that makes a lot of assumptions that all other things are equal, and they rarely are...

Does anyone have real-world experience? I'd love to hear about how successful you've all been using each type, and common failure modes.

I have some experience with Kailh (on a GMMK), and will be doing some holetite installs into an existing keeb soon... I feel I might order some Winnjas just to have in case holetites fail miserably, and am ordering some Outemu SKY switches, which I'm going to take with the sockets for experimentation... I will gladly report back when I have experience, but surely some of you here have blazed this particular trail already.

Offline mounds

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Re: Comparison: Different hot-swap options. What are your experiences?
« Reply #1 on: Tue, 18 September 2018, 18:02:34 »
There was a relatively decent post sometime back on Reddit with some subjective data on experiences using holtite-branded sockets:

The 'Winnja sockets' appear to be Mill Max sockets which you can find a number of IC / GB for on Reddit as well:

Personal experience: I have only ever used Holtite-branded press-fit sockets successfully, and continue to use them. Ordered 10 Mill Max to try them out but didn't have much success.. not sure why really, board compatibility is a tricky thing, eg. holes are made to different QC.

I've seen on cheaper runs of boards that the holes vary significantly, which is fine for most soldered boards, but annoying for hotswaps. Mill Max might be a better option on an economy board, but in the case of loose Holtites, a small dab of solder keeps the socket in place.

For ALPS, LFKeyboards is the only supplier I know that is making an effort to fit 8134-HC-12P2-ND sockets, which is just epically brilliant. Just waiting on keycaps for my ALPS build...

Words of caution: do NOT buy the tin-lead holtites! If your board is in fact out of spec, lead holtites take solder like sponges, and result in much frustration. Gold-plated is the ONLY way to go! I use gold-plated on my builds exclusively now, after 2 annoying builds with the crappy lead sockets. So far I'm 5 builds for the Holtite-branded sockets and have no regrets - three 68-key, a GH60, one MiniVan (excellent QC), and one Planck.

Approach with loose hole tolerances: use painter's tape to hold in the sockets from the top-side of the board (where switches get placed), dab a small amount of solder onto the pad where the pin is closest. Check for firmness after doing a whole row, and QC along the way. If a socket fills with solder, you can fix it with patience and a steady hand.
« Last Edit: Wed, 19 September 2018, 20:49:34 by mounds »
Tada68 (Jailhouse Aristotles) / MiniVan (Jailhouse Aristotles) / Planck (Aristotles) / Teensy m0116 (Orange & Salmon) / ALPS64 ('Pine' SKCM White) / Teensy NeXT Non-ADB (SKCM Cream) / ALPS HHKB (SKCM Cream Dampened)