Author Topic: Buckling Spring Capacitive Switches?  (Read 2666 times)

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Offline riverofwind

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Buckling Spring Capacitive Switches?
« on: Fri, 14 January 2022, 18:14:10 »
I'm just curious what people think of buckling spring capacitive switches. Scott Mueller in Upgrading and Repairing PCs 22nd Edition says they are the highest quality and his favorites. How do they compare to Cherry switches? Do most people prefer Cherrys?

Offline fohat.digs

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Re: Buckling Spring Capacitive Switches?
« Reply #1 on: Fri, 14 January 2022, 19:23:19 »
That is a very complex issue.

It can be argued that the IBM Model F does not really have "switches" at all in the usual sense of the word. The "switching" is capacative (ie not mechanical) and the buckling spring assemblies are merely mechanisms to make the capacitive action occur.
Catherine Glenn Foster, president and CEO of Americans United for Life, explains that these abortions become “bodies that are thrown away in medical waste bins,” and then she reveals something that no one in Washington, DC knew: Washington’s electrical grid is partially dependent on abortions. What, you say? Here’s Foster to explain that fetuses, “in places like Washington, DC, are burned to power the lights of the city’s homes and streets.”
- Walter Einenkel - 2022-05-19

Offline Zefix

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Re: Buckling Spring Capacitive Switches?
« Reply #2 on: Sat, 15 January 2022, 09:29:57 »
This comment is coming courtesy of a 1985 ibm model F AT, 1988 model m, and corsair gaming keyboard. So from having a model M, model F, and a gaming keyboard all infront of me here's the rub.

My normal gaming keyboard does not "snap" when I press down a key. Rather it just kind of silently moves downward and then makes a sound when the key bottoms out. With these cherry switches I could successfully press a key without making any noise if I did it slowly.

Ok now the model F is the complete opposite. This switch makes a very crunchy snappy sound/feel upon every key press. I find it extremely satisfying. Even if I try to press a key down as slowly as possible about halfway down it'll snap and then press all the way down making a high pitch metal sound.

The model m is similar to the model f with a couple differences. First off the sound the m makes is very different. The F makes a tick tack sound where the model m makes a thock thock sound. This is because the model F is nearly all metal under the case and the model m uses some more plastics and such. Another difference I feel is that the m comes across as having a shorter key travel. The keys also dont snap as aggressively which to me makes them feel more "mushy" and less "crisp".

So to summarize one way to think about these keyboards is what level of mush/snap do you want in your keys. Rubber domes are the most mushy, then modern switches, then the M, then the F.
PSA: once you get accustomed to the feel of a F you'll turn your nose up at basically every keyboard ever calling it "cheap feeling"

To answer your question specifically, Catastrophically Buckling Compression Column Switch and Actuator is designed for typests and has some cons as it is very loud, very expensive to manufacture (and buy), and misses high-tech stuff like variable key travel (where pressing a key down further makes a character move faster) and RGB. Also model Fs can fatigue your hands if you're not used to them/are typing for long hours. As a programmer I spend more time thinking than I do typing so it's great for me.
« Last Edit: Sat, 15 January 2022, 17:12:41 by Zefix »
my babies

Offline riverofwind

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Re: Buckling Spring Capacitive Switches?
« Reply #3 on: Sun, 16 January 2022, 14:38:44 »
Thanks guys.
@Zefix Looks like the model M is dirt cheap here https://www.pckeyboard.com/page/product/NEW_M . And the Model Fs are freakin expensive here. https://www.modelfkeyboards.com/store/ and medium price refurbished here https://www.clickykeyboards.com/
Where'd you get yours? Sounds like your fav is the Model F right?

Offline fohat.digs

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Re: Buckling Spring Capacitive Switches?
« Reply #4 on: Sun, 16 January 2022, 17:05:44 »
IBM Model F keyboards are the best of the lot, for sure, but the originals came in a handful of layouts that are "non-standard" in the modern world.
Ellipse has brought classic 1980s gear forward into today's world with high-quality, all-new components and some solid enhancements.

The 122-key terminal is a near-ISO configuration with some extra keys (easily re-mapped for whatever you need to be handy) and can be modified to a near-ANSI layout with some effort.

You will find much debate as to whether a new Model M from Unicomp or decades-old IBM gear is the way to go, and there are good arguments on both sides. My advice is to try a new Unicomp first to see whether and/or how much you actually like these beasts before going further down the rabbit hole.
 
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- Walter Einenkel - 2022-05-19

Offline riverofwind

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Re: Buckling Spring Capacitive Switches?
« Reply #5 on: Mon, 17 January 2022, 14:38:21 »
Ooo rabbit hole... sounds fun

Offline Zefix

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Re: Buckling Spring Capacitive Switches?
« Reply #6 on: Mon, 17 January 2022, 23:43:36 »
The model m is the gateway drug of the vintage keyboard community haha!
I'm of the opinion that unicomp model m keyboards are trash compared to the original IBM ones. Watch some of chyros' videos if you want to go down this rabbit hole (do ittt). There's so much!
I used a model M for about 2 years and past 6 months I switched to a model F as my daily because it's ****ing awesome and also it's more satisfying/intense, but I would not start with a F as you can't really get any of them cheap (under $300) except for the XT layout which is pretty atrocious or broken/damaged ATs. It took me 2 years to muster up the courage to buy my AT as a college student but it was worth every penny to me!
Here's a good place to start with buckling springs:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=r5H58uudo1Y&t=894s
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=uKOWVKJRFX8

btw, I got both of mine off eBay but yes you can definitely find gems using more obscure means of shopping.
« Last Edit: Mon, 17 January 2022, 23:51:26 by Zefix »
my babies

Offline riverofwind

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Re: Buckling Spring Capacitive Switches?
« Reply #7 on: Wed, 19 January 2022, 18:17:06 »
Ooo gateway drug...sounds fun  ;D

Offline headphone_jack

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Re: Buckling Spring Capacitive Switches?
« Reply #8 on: Fri, 28 January 2022, 12:51:05 »
On your point of how they compare to Cherry switches, I don't even think there's a comparison to be made. The mechanisms are just so different, I can't think of a single other switch that feels even remotely like buckling springs. They feel extremely crisp, with increasing force towards the tactile event, and then a sharp, defined drop with a small bit of travel beyond that until bottom-out.

Offline Faceman76

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Re: Buckling Spring Capacitive Switches?
« Reply #9 on: Fri, 28 January 2022, 16:45:13 »


On your point of how they compare to Cherry switches, I don't even think there's a comparison to be made. The mechanisms are just so different, I can't think of a single other switch that feels even remotely like buckling springs. They feel extremely crisp, with increasing force towards the tactile event, and then a sharp, defined drop with a small bit of travel beyond that until bottom-out.

Box Navy is the closest thing to a buckling spring. 

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TKC 1800, Crystal Box Navy, Sprit 100g

Offline funkmon

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Re: Buckling Spring Capacitive Switches?
« Reply #10 on: Fri, 28 January 2022, 19:53:34 »
Maybe. I have two keyboards with Box switches, both navies and jades. I would consider the Jade closer to buckling spring, but even then, not much. They click on the way up if I recall correctly, and while they are sharply tactile, feel tighter and quite different. I would concur with headphone_jack that nothing feels like buckling spring.

I would also completely disagree with Zefix. The Unicomp Ms are fantastic. I should know. I have about a dozen Unicomp Ms, a dozen Lexmark Ms, and maybe 18 IBM Ms. And a Maxiswitch. While keyboard snobs can certainly look at the old IBM models and see slight differences like weight or print quality on the legends, or less key wobble, they're really really minor, and over the years, improvements have been made that people seem to ignore. In the Lexmark era, channels for spilled drinks were added. The plastic case was thickened. Unicomp added in Windows keys and USB, among other things. While there's an incredibly slight difference between an IBM M and a Unicomp M, it's the difference between store brand milk and the name brand milk: basically nothing. The differences pale in comparison to literally anything else. If you gave someone a test to figure out which a keyboard was, a New Model M or a 1992 Model M, and he was blindfolded and just felt the keys and not the case, I bet he couldn't tell. Some of the very old ones have a higher pitched sound, so I think you could tell that, and some of the mid 2000s Unicomps got wobblier on the keys, but they're still very much Models M.

While I also think capacitive buckling springs are a superior feeling switch to the membrane buckling springs in the Model M, I do not think that they're far and away better. Yes. I main an F. Yes, I have 2 XTs, an AT, a 4704, 2 F122s, and 2 repros. However, I switched to typing to a New Model M from Unicomp the other day for a few days and it was very good. Very nice. I like it. And I occasionally bring my Matias out, which I love as much as any F.

To me, a Model M with the membrane buckling springs feels very similar to an F with capacitive except it's a little bit heavier, a little bit tighter, and a little bit smoother. I think the F has a jingly jangly loose feeling with a significantly worse sound. However, if you learn to enjoy that, then you will like an F. If you're worried about it, buy from Unicomp on pckeyboard.com. These are brand new Models M under factory warranty. They feel like Ms. They ARE Models M!

If you really like it, go ahead and buy from clickykeyboards.com for a model that will outlast the apocalypse. He runs a good service. I have bought from him 5 or 6 times, mostly weird Unicomp models when they show up, but some weird others in the past. I just picked this one up from him a few days ago. https://www.clickykeyboards.com/product/2001-ibm-model-m-51g8572-made-by-unicomp-may-21-2001-with-speaker/ Look at that, a refurb by Unicomp in 2001, bolt modded with a ****ed up case. I'm going to put it in an industrial case and then I'll have likely one of the weirdest keyboards ever made, even weirder than my all black Unicomp with the MSR, a Unicomp with a speaker in an industrial case. Very cool. To me.

Some people suggest that you should bolt mod your keyboards. Maybe you should. I have never done it, and I have a Lexmark made Model M from my childhood still clicking happily along after 30 years. I have no reason to believe it won't last another 30 if treated well. That said, clickykeyboards does the bolt mod. The idea behind this bolt mod is that you can replace pieces of plastic holding the keyboard assembly together for greater longevity with screws. You can get one from him to be definitely sure you'll always have a working model.

I would not suggest blowing $400 on a keyboard from modelfkeyboards unless you know sure shooting what you're doing. This is not a project for a non computer nerd. You're gonna have to do some ****. Same for getting a Model F XT for a cheap price. You'll have to convert it, which means either paying some guy some money and writing a config file in notepad, or building your own converter, where you will need proper computer experience. If you're a tinkerer, go for it. If you just want a working keyboard, get a Unicomp from pckeyboard.com and plug it into your USB hole. That's it.

In regards to the Cherry switches. I guess the buckling spring is vaguely similar to the blue, but the mechanism for creating the sound is different. With most modern switches, the sound and the tactile event, that is, the resistance you feel when typing, are divorced from each other. At the beginning we talked about Box Jades and Navies. Those mechanical switches have the tactile event and the sound together in the clickbar. That is not the switch actuation, though and you have a tactile event, sound, and switch actuation (when the letter is pressed) often occurring at different times. The deep satisfaction of a buckling spring keyboard is that the sound, tactile event, and actuation are the exact same thing, the catastrophically buckling spring.


Anyway, get a Unicomp. Don't listen to the naysayers about them. We're keyboard nutters who like to pretend we can tell very subtle differences, who have thousands of keyboards, and can pick between 5 dozen IBMs to type on, where things like "build quality" matter when the Unicomps are still built like ****ing tanks, if not aircraft carriers like the old ones. It's fine.

The Classic is the standard Model M. It's a little bit creaky since it has that thicc boi plastic housing, but it's your basic Model M. You'll want a 104 to get the Windows and menu key.
The New Model M is broadly similar to the old Model M, but it's in a black housing which has been redone and feels a lot better, since it isn't being made with nigh on 40 year old machines, however, from the moment you're typing, you won't notice.

Both are fine.

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Buckling Spring Capacitive Switches?
« Reply #11 on: Mon, 14 February 2022, 09:46:05 »
I'm just curious what people think of buckling spring capacitive switches. Scott Mueller in Upgrading and Repairing PCs 22nd Edition says they are the highest quality and his favorites. How do they compare to Cherry switches? Do most people prefer Cherrys?

What switches have you used? There's a lot more out there for clickies than MX and capacitive buckling spring.

Capacitive buckling spring may be the very best balance between rugged reliability, availability (currently) and switch feel.

Box and Matias switches are MUCH cheaper and are still among the best clicky switch mechanisms ever made in terms of feel and sound. Matias switches have had some historical issues with reliability (chatter, mostly) ... but they're also some of the cheapest switches around, so you could just swap them out if you've got decent soldering equipment if you really had to (I never have). Box switches have the benefit of not only being cheap, but being compatible with any MX board and MX caps. They should prove to be very reliable over time since they have an IP56 rating to help prevent the ingress of debris. Box pinks, jades and navies (in order of stiffness from low to high) are the most popular of their novel clickbar design.

Maybe I'm just weird, but I tried a Model M and just went right back to MX blue at the time. Nothing got me into vintage switches until I picked up a cheap F XT. I wouldn't say don't try a Model M, but I also wouldn't say it is necessarily a good indicator of whether or not you'll like other weird/hipster clickies if you try one. All other previous advise in this regard is sound. Unicomp has come a long way recently and the biggest (functional/tactile/audible) difference between old and new production Ms is the difference in rubber material used in the plate sandwich.

I think tp4 might be the only person on earth who would advocate for MX blue over alternative mechanisms. I can't use it at all anymore. It sounds and feels like typing on plastic grocery bags. You need to go out of your way to find a worse clicky mechanism. This is the gateway drug for most clicky enthusiasts though, due to their availability and extremely low cost (when buying Chinesium boards with clone switches). Conversely, I feel like a lot of people abandon the idea of clicky switches entirely based merely on how terribly Cherry bungles clickies. If you go this route, I would get the cheapest board you can find with Outemu blues. I think they're much more consistent and crisp than Cherry. You can routinely find these boards on Amazon for $30-40.

If you have not previously tried any clicky switches, you're probably best served with a relatively comprehensive switch tester. They basically never have the more exotic options (usually just MX compatibles), but it is a starting point without investing in something you could be stuck with and find out you don't like at all. You may even find that clickies may not be your calling (if you don't even like box clickies).

All this said, my favorite mechanisms of all time are IBM's capacitive buckling spring and ALPS SKCM blue (precursor to simplified Alps, from which Matias switches descend). Unfortunately, good examples of either are now increasingly financially prohibitive (and used SKCM is a quagmire of despair).

Offline Faceman76

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Re: Buckling Spring Capacitive Switches?
« Reply #12 on: Mon, 14 February 2022, 10:50:28 »
I may be in the minority as well, but having boards with Cherry Blue and Green, Unicomp and Kailh Box Navy, I prefer the Box Navy switches by a wide margin.  As a disclaimer, on my shared home PC's, I lett the switches alone.  But at work, I have 100g(140 bottom) springs installed in the Navy switches.  If I type on anything lighter, I bottom out. 

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Offline Maledicted

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Re: Buckling Spring Capacitive Switches?
« Reply #13 on: Mon, 14 February 2022, 11:01:18 »
I may be in the minority as well, but having boards with Cherry Blue and Green, Unicomp and Kailh Box Navy, I prefer the Box Navy switches by a wide margin.  As a disclaimer, on my shared home PC's, I lett the switches alone.  But at work, I have 100g(140 bottom) springs installed in the Navy switches.  If I type on anything lighter, I bottom out. 

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk

If limited to those options, I would also choose box navies. Hands down.

Offline headphone_jack

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Re: Buckling Spring Capacitive Switches?
« Reply #14 on: Mon, 14 February 2022, 21:42:01 »
Agreed. Unicomps are nice boards, don't get me wrong, but I love my Wyse box navy boards with a passion ;)

Offline c.a.t.

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Re: Buckling Spring Capacitive Switches?
« Reply #15 on: Sun, 20 February 2022, 05:54:06 »
Was perplex, but after try a model F... OMF, they are so much snapier and high pitch than model m buckling spring! So much better!
JS - aka c.a.t.

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Buckling Spring Capacitive Switches?
« Reply #16 on: Mon, 21 February 2022, 08:20:29 »
Was perplex, but after try a model F... OMF, they are so much snapier and high pitch than model m buckling spring! So much better!

Some people prefer the more muted tones of the M, the high-pitched ping of the F usually being the biggest beef. Some have tried to address this with things like the floss mod. I don't care myself and actually prefer the whimsical/musical ping of the Models F. There's no arguing that capacitive buckling spring is smoother and more crisp. It also seems significantly lighter and less fatiguing to me, although the numbers on paper aren't supposed to be all that different.

Some people even prefer the feel of the rubber mats in the Models M. I like mashing keys like a psycho on boards with just steel plates myself. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The fact remains that buckling spring still may not be for everyone. It isn't the de facto best mechanism ever devised. It is certainly way better than anything Cherry has ever made.   ;)

Offline c.a.t.

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Re: Buckling Spring Capacitive Switches?
« Reply #17 on: Mon, 21 February 2022, 09:27:46 »
Haha could not say better!!
JS - aka c.a.t.

Offline ander

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Re: Buckling Spring Capacitive Switches?
« Reply #18 on: Sat, 26 February 2022, 07:40:40 »
Hey guys,

Sorry I’ve been so short on time for the last year or so (mostly, managing to buy a house here in Vancouver, BC—whew!). But being almost as big a buckling-spring fanatic as fohat and SamirD, and I had to weigh in on this. (Is Snowdog993 still around? He was the other BS maniac I knew here... Has he seen this thread?)

I'm just curious what people think of buckling spring capacitive switches. Scott Mueller in Upgrading and Repairing PCs 22nd Edition says they are the highest quality and his favorites. How do they compare to Cherry switches? Do most people prefer Cherrys?

Others have answered that, but maybe I can put an extra spin on it.

There are always people who prefer one type of switch over another (or here, even one micro-variant of the same type of switch—how lubed it is, whether the spring has been switched, etc.—LOL). So even if you get answers about “[this one’s] better than [that one]”, all you're learning is what that person prefers.

It’s like asking, “Which movies are better? Dramas, comedies, action, mystery, sci-fi...?” People may prefer one kind over the other, but none of them can actually be “better” than the other, because there’s no meaningful way to compare ‘em.

The only way you find out what you like about typing on one switch vs. another is to try them. It’s the same with practically anything.

That is a very complex issue... It can be argued that the IBM Model F does not really have "switches" at all in the usual sense of the word. The "switching" is capacative (ie not mechanical) and the buckling spring assemblies are merely mechanisms to make the capacitive action occur...

Esteemed Dude: My Merriam-Webster's says a "switch" is "a device for making, breaking, or changing the connections in an electrical circuit". So no, it doesn’t have to be mechanical.

Besides, are you claiming Model F’s aren’t mechanical keyboards?? Heresy! (LOL)

This comment is coming courtesy of a 1985 ibm model F AT, 1988 model m, and corsair gaming keyboard. So from having a model M, model F, and a gaming keyboard all infront of me...

You've hit it on the head! The secret to keebly happiness isn’t trying to decide which switch is “best”, or “better” than others—it’s having at least one of everything (within reason, that is—you don't want to break any laws, end your marriage, end up a social pariah, etc.) and typing on one of them after the other.

Model M’s and F’s are my "desert island" keebs. And they're all BS boards, but I can’t say any of them are “better”—they feel, respond, and sound much differently, even though they're all the same basic mechanism. Using an 8-pound 122-key Model F behemoth is much different than using a 3-pound Unicomp Ultra Classic. And typing on a first-gen Model M is different than typing on a 2nd-gen Lexmark M. But they’re all wonderful, because they're all variations on something wonderful. (I’m not mentioning my AT&T BS board, BTW, as it’d sound elitist.)

But I also have boards with the various Cherry MX switches, and with various Cherry-inspired switches, and Alps and Mattias (related), Topres and Korean Topre-knockoffs (much different sounds and feels despite their similarly beehive-shaped springs), Space Invaders, NEC switches, Hall Effect, IBM beam spring, Logitech Romer-G, optical...

I know I’m leaving out a few. But my point is, you can get accustomed to anything. Even your favourite switches seem “normal” after a while. So you “switch up” (aha, that’s where that expression came from) and type on the others. Then when you return to your favourites—whichever they are—you appreciate them anew, because you experience what makes them different from the rest. It’s contrast.

So dude, this may not be what you wanted to hear—but if you’re going to be serious about MKs (and it sounds like you already are), start building a collection, so you can “rotate” and enjoy as many types as you can.

Sure, you’ll like some more than others. But they’re all mechanical, lightyears better than the mushy, thuddy, short-lived cheap-o rubber-dome and membrane boards that came flooding in about 30 years ago, that most people figured were “good enough”. (I vaguely remember something about reduced noise complaints, too...?) If you ask me, even the worst MK (say, one with Futabas or Mitsumi Minatures) is superior!

As a programmer I spend more time thinking than I do typing...

Man, I wish you'd written my music software! (I've known coders who considered copying and pasting existing subroutines a form of “thinking”, BTW.)

I'm of the opinion that unicomp model m keyboards are trash compared to the original IBM ones. Watch some of chyros' videos if you want to go down this rabbit hole...

Now now, let’s not be too hard on the guys in Lexington. Ever since that group of former Lexmark employees bought the factory rather than see it close forever, theirs has been largely a labour of love. They've had some good success recently with their TKL and "new" Model M. But for the most part, you can imagine what a small, specialized market they've been trying to keep alive.

You also have to realize that original Model M’s cost some serious dough. AFAIK, Model F XT’s/AT’s were $350–400, and Model M’s were $200–250. And that’s in ‘80s–‘90s dollars, so you could double or triple it today.

When the Unicomp guys resolved to keep making BS boards, they knew no one would want to pay that much. To keep "the best keyboard ever" from fading away, their business model required them to figure out how to make them for under $100. Naturally, they had to economize on the design, but I think they did an amazing job.

And personally, after I’ve been typing on an older Model M for a while, I enjoy switching to a Unicomp. Everything about it is lighter, in a good way. The action's lighter; and because the case is lighter, it sounds different. And any Model M is going to outlast me—so how tank-like does it need to be, y’know?

Chyros is an excellent guy—but he’s a reviewer, and somewhat an entertainer, and he derives much of his entertainment value from reacting to things he doesn’t like. He’s great at it, with fans around the world (including me).

When I enjoy my keyboards, I don’t spend time dwelling on why I think one's “better” than another. I just use the ones I feel like using. When I get tired of one, I switch to another. It’s all fun. And if I gave up my Unicomps because someone convinced me that earlier M’s were “better”, I'd be quite sad. It’d be like having my ice-cream flavour choices restricted.

I must have around a dozen Unicomps, BTW—including the GE Healthcare variant, with its plethora of obscure sub-legends and bright yellow numpad... Was a cooler-looking M ever made?



Some people suggest that you should bolt mod your keyboards. Maybe you should. I have never done it, and I have a Lexmark made Model M from my childhood still clicking happily along after 30 years... You can get one from him to be definitely sure you'll always have a working model...

IMHO, the only real reason to bolt- or screw-mod a BS board is if too many of its rivets have broken off, and it’s either affected the touch, or some of the keys have actually stopped working. And rivets usually come off not from use, but from rough handling (e.g. shipping w/o proper packing).

If you get a vintage unrestored Model M you intend to use, you really want to open it and clean the barrel plate, which will probably contain decades of dust, hair, lunch crumbs, office supplies, and [rest of list omitted in the interests of taste]*. So you’ll need a thin-walled hex wrench. And that’s when you get to see how many broken rivets it has. Maybe I’ve just been lucky, but very few of the M’s I’ve received have had enough to make any difference.

So sure, if you have an extra $100 or so to spend on an M, order one from someone who's done everything for you. Or have the fun and satisfaction of restoring one yourself (and yes, putting in some screws, if necessary—but if you can handle basic tools, it’s not hard), and transforming a cast-off piece of yesterday's office gear into a shining, clickety-clackety classic typing machine that looks and works like it just came off the assembly line. Because that’s how well it was made.

(*And removing and cleaning the keys, of course.)

If you have not previously tried any clicky switches, you're probably best served with a relatively comprehensive switch tester. They basically never have the more exotic options (usually just MX compatibles), but it is a starting point...

Testers are fun. They’re swell conversation pieces—when people see them who don't know MKs, they haven't the slightest idea what they could be. They look great on your desk or coffee table. And you can use them like little percussion devices, tapping along with tunes.

But IMHO, if you’re trying to decide what switches you prefer, they’re useless. Typing isn’t about pressing one key down, trying to feel how heavy it is, or how it bumps or clicks (or doesn’t bump or click). Typing is about typing—experiencing how a whole keyboard responds under all of your fingers, to your unique typing style. (Did you know there are security devices that work by analyzing typing rhythms? Typing is as personal as fingerprints.) It’s the difference between looking out a window and imagining what it’d be like to take a walk, and taking a walk.

Well, this turned out to be pretty long. (But what better use is there for keyboards than typing about keyboards, right?) Thanks for reading, if you got this far. And riverofwind (OP), try to gather as many different keebs as you can. It may take a few years (I don’t know how much disposable dough you have), and it may limit your social life (LOL), but it’s worth it. Just enjoy all of ‘em—and don’t worry about comparing them to each other, any more than you feel it's necessary to compare your friends to each other. They’re all different, and all have good things about them. Cheers, A.
We are not chasing wildly after beauty with fear at our backs. – Natalie Goldberg

Offline fohat.digs

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Re: Buckling Spring Capacitive Switches?
« Reply #19 on: Sat, 26 February 2022, 08:18:04 »

It can be argued that the IBM Model F does not really have "switches" at all in the usual sense of the word. The "switching" is capacative (ie not mechanical) and the buckling spring assemblies are merely mechanisms to make the capacitive action occur ....


My Merriam-Webster's says a "switch" is "a device for making, breaking, or changing the connections in an electrical circuit". So no, it doesn’t have to be mechanical.

Besides, are you claiming Model F’s aren’t mechanical keyboards?? Heresy!


Please note that I referred to "switches" in quotes and specified "in the usual sense of the word".

Regardless of whether the "switches" are themselves mechanical, a Model F is certainly a mechanical "keyboard".




Model M’s were $200–250. And that’s in ‘80s–‘90s dollars, so you could double or triple it today.
When the Unicomp guys resolved to keep making BS boards, they knew no one would want to pay that much.


That was what drove mechanical keyboards out of the mainstream market in the first place - as soon as ordinary users started assuming that a keyboard was a cheap giveaway that was automatically included in a "computer purchase" - they refused to pay extra for one.
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Offline Maledicted

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Re: Buckling Spring Capacitive Switches?
« Reply #20 on: Tue, 01 March 2022, 11:47:00 »
Hey guys,

Sorry I’ve been so short on time for the last year or so (mostly, managing to buy a house here in Vancouver, BC—whew!). But being almost as big a buckling-spring fanatic as fohat and SamirD, and I had to weigh in on this. (Is Snowdog993 still around? He was the other BS maniac I knew here... Has he seen this thread?)

I have seen Snowdog993 around a few times, usually defending buckling spring. Have you been following Ellipse's 4704 reproductions while away? It looks like production may wind down soon.

If you have not previously tried any clicky switches, you're probably best served with a relatively comprehensive switch tester. They basically never have the more exotic options (usually just MX compatibles), but it is a starting point...

Testers are fun. They’re swell conversation pieces—when people see them who don't know MKs, they haven't the slightest idea what they could be. They look great on your desk or coffee table. And you can use them like little percussion devices, tapping along with tunes.

But IMHO, if you’re trying to decide what switches you prefer, they’re useless. Typing isn’t about pressing one key down, trying to feel how heavy it is, or how it bumps or clicks (or doesn’t bump or click). Typing is about typing—experiencing how a whole keyboard responds under all of your fingers, to your unique typing style. (Did you know there are security devices that work by analyzing typing rhythms? Typing is as personal as fingerprints.) It’s the difference between looking out a window and imagining what it’d be like to take a walk, and taking a walk.

Well, this turned out to be pretty long. (But what better use is there for keyboards than typing about keyboards, right?) Thanks for reading, if you got this far. And riverofwind (OP), try to gather as many different keebs as you can. It may take a few years (I don’t know how much disposable dough you have), and it may limit your social life (LOL), but it’s worth it. Just enjoy all of ‘em—and don’t worry about comparing them to each other, any more than you feel it's necessary to compare your friends to each other. They’re all different, and all have good things about them. Cheers, A.

I always suggest testers to people who may literally still be stumbling around in the dark. OP's comparison between CBS and MX made me guess this was likely the case.

Some people can't be maniacs like us and just buy dozens of weird old boards just to try switches. Prices keep going up and pickings continue to get slimmer. Testers narrow down someone's taste, then hot swap boards and a selection of switches that made the short list further sift down preference. A meetup is better than either option, but I have still yet to see one near me ever even materialize, and I imagine that people hauling in a bunch of 80s mechanisms (as opposed to boring MX clone tactiles and linears) will be in the minority.

Testers don't help directly with exotic/vintage switches totally incompatible with MX, but it does help them at least narrow things down without buying random boards and later discovering that that $100+ purchase was a complete waste.

I bought some loose Matias switches to play with before I ever decided it was worth pulling the trigger on boards full of the switches (I already had some Alps boards).

Offline ander

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Re: Buckling Spring Capacitive Switches?
« Reply #21 on: Tue, 08 March 2022, 03:26:32 »

It can be argued that the IBM Model F does not really have "switches" at all in the usual sense of the word...

My Merriam-Webster's says a "switch" is "a device for making, breaking, or changing the connections in an electrical circuit". So no, it doesn’t have to be mechanical... Besides, are you claiming Model F’s aren’t mechanical keyboards?? Heresy!

Please note that I referred to "switches" in quotes and specified "in the usual sense of the word"... Regardless of whether the "switches" are themselves mechanical, a Model F is certainly a mechanical "keyboard".

Fair enough, m’dude. I like to give you a hard time sometimes.  :D

Model M’s were $200–250. And that’s in ‘80s–‘90s dollars... When the Unicomp guys resolved to keep making BS boards, they knew no one would want to pay that much.

That was what drove mechanical keyboards out of the mainstream market in the first place - as soon as ordinary users started assuming that a keyboard was a cheap giveaway that was automatically included in a "computer purchase" - they refused to pay extra for one.

Yes, sadly. Sound was another big factor, though. For years, (mechanical) computer keyboards were accepted as noisy things—they were certainly not as loud as the typewriters that preceded them, and offices were full of those! But quiet rubber domes gradually displaced them.

As many peeps here know, IBM even made RD Model M variants, most of whose p/n’s start with 7. Here at GH, we regularly saw them on eBay, usually with no mention that they were RD’s. (The sellers either considered it the buyer’s responsibility to know, or they assumed they were BS boards—many were actually described as “clicky”!) That said, they were probably the best RD boards ever made, and lasted quite a bit longer than most.

Then when the flood of $5 membrane boards arrived, no one wanted to bother with anything else. So what if they started feeling like s*#@ after a few weeks? Before I rediscovered MK’s 20-odd years ago, I was buying a new Microsoft Natural Keyboard every month, because they felt so much better each time. Oh, how little I knew.
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Offline Zefix

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Re: Buckling Spring Capacitive Switches?
« Reply #22 on: Thu, 17 March 2022, 04:28:02 »
Okay haha I see what yall are saying about the Unicomp model Ms. You make a good point that the keyboard is a good value for what it is (a brand new keyboard without any missing buttons for $100). So if price is the largest factor in one's decision making the Unicomp is actually the most economical option. Before covid I purchased a screw modded model M for $90 and its really a dream. With that being said, I looked at ebay and it seems the prices have gone up with the average prices going from $100 to $175. So yes you are now going to be paying a premium for "on-brand milk."

Another thing to mention is that part of my perspective on vintage keyboards is the cultural implications of using one. As a programmer, I look to the 1980s as the dawn of modern computers which was mainly pioneered by IBM (and also Apple and a few others). For example, I will chuckle to myself when I remember that the model F does not have a matching mouse because they were not commercially invented yet. It's a real feeling typing on these keyboards knowing that people have been using it and passing it down to the next guy (eventually to me!) for the last 35 years! I bet you anybody who daily drives a vintage IBM keyboard is at least somewhat fangirling over the legacy of IBM. But if you don't care about that, the Unicomp is nowadays probably a better bang for your buck. But for me the extra 50 bucks or so is a game changer.
« Last Edit: Thu, 17 March 2022, 04:34:23 by Zefix »
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Offline Maledicted

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Re: Buckling Spring Capacitive Switches?
« Reply #23 on: Thu, 17 March 2022, 08:21:11 »
Okay haha I see what yall are saying about the Unicomp model Ms. You make a good point that the keyboard is a good value for what it is (a brand new keyboard without any missing buttons for $100). So if price is the largest factor in one's decision making the Unicomp is actually the most economical option. Before covid I purchased a screw modded model M for $90 and its really a dream. With that being said, I looked at ebay and it seems the prices have gone up with the average prices going from $100 to $175. So yes you are now going to be paying a premium for "on-brand milk."

Another thing to mention is that part of my perspective on vintage keyboards is the cultural implications of using one. As a programmer, I look to the 1980s as the dawn of modern computers which was mainly pioneered by IBM (and also Apple and a few others). For example, I will chuckle to myself when I remember that the model F does not have a matching mouse because they were not commercially invented yet. It's a real feeling typing on these keyboards knowing that people have been using it and passing it down to the next guy (eventually to me!) for the last 35 years! I bet you anybody who daily drives a vintage IBM keyboard is at least somewhat fangirling over the legacy of IBM. But if you don't care about that, the Unicomp is nowadays probably a better bang for your buck. But for me the extra 50 bucks or so is a game changer.

When I first started looking at Models M, I couldn't find them for under $100 then either. $90 for one that was already screw modded is awesome. They go up and down. I have seen metal badge Ms sell for well under $100 from time to time on Ebay. I have resisted the urge to buy at least 2 or 3 more of them. There's so many of the things that you're bound to find a good deal from time to time.

The fact that the F initially existed with no mouse is an interesting thing to ponder yes. A glowing green phosphor monochrome display with a DOS prompt and that capacitive buckling spring goodness just in front of it.

I don't think any M can replace the F though myself. Which is what makes the Mini M particularly compelling. Relatively faithful reproduction of the SSK, for no more than your average M.

Offline fohat.digs

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Re: Buckling Spring Capacitive Switches?
« Reply #24 on: Thu, 17 March 2022, 08:48:10 »

A glowing green phosphor monochrome display with a DOS prompt


I had a computer (a "PCs Limited" 80286) for a couple of years before I got a mouse. Although I personally love the color green, I opted for an amber monitor because it seemed more crisp.
Catherine Glenn Foster, president and CEO of Americans United for Life, explains that these abortions become “bodies that are thrown away in medical waste bins,” and then she reveals something that no one in Washington, DC knew: Washington’s electrical grid is partially dependent on abortions. What, you say? Here’s Foster to explain that fetuses, “in places like Washington, DC, are burned to power the lights of the city’s homes and streets.”
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Offline Maledicted

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Re: Buckling Spring Capacitive Switches?
« Reply #25 on: Thu, 17 March 2022, 10:08:58 »

A glowing green phosphor monochrome display with a DOS prompt


I had a computer (a "PCs Limited" 80286) for a couple of years before I got a mouse. Although I personally love the color green, I opted for an amber monitor because it seemed more crisp.

Amber and blue phosphor are the coolest, hands down. Amber should be a lot better than the others for night vision as well. I have an amber monochrome display and an old Bluechip XT clone, 8088 I believe, with the math coprocessor. I can't find a version of DOS that will run on it though. I tried various 80s iterations of M$-DOS, DR. DOS, etc. It has a Hyundai motherboard I believe, but not the exact same model number as any other I have found.