Did you know you can modify a tactile Alps switch to make it clicky in just a few very simple steps? This modification is a great way to breathe new life into some of our less well-loved switches (I'm looking at you, cream damped Alps!), or to get the clicky Alps keyboard you've always wanted without paying today's ridiculous prices for blue Alps switches.
A handful of click-modded, cream dampened Alps from an AEKII. These ain't your father's cream damped Alps.
So let's take a look at how to click-mod tactile Alps!
I first learned about click-modding in the Alps Appreciation Thread
a while back. It's a pretty simple modification: just take a tactile Alps switch, open it up and bend down some metal tabs on the tactile leaf.
It's so simple, in fact, that I actually had a hard time wrapping my mind around how it works.
To see how this works, I cut away the side of an Alps switch to observe what goes on inside. Let's watch a clicky leaf first:
Notice how the click-modified leaf pulls away from the wall of the switch housing as the slider is pushed down. Then as the slider gets past the bump, it rapidly forces the leaf back to its original position, slapping it against the switch housing resulting in an audible click.
Now let's look at the tactile leaf:
Notice how the tactile leaf does not
pull away from the wall. It's hard to see why this is by watching the video alone. But it actually has to do with the part of the switch housing that I cut away. The leaf is held in place by a slot in the upper housing. I've circled this slot in red below:
That's where the tabs come in. Let's go back to that tactile leaf cutaway:
This red line shows where the slot wall should be:
In our cutaway switch the slot wall on the near side has been removed, but the far side slot wall is doing a good enough job holding the leaf against the outer housing wall. But once you bend those tabs back, there's nothing to hold the leaf against that slot wall. And so that's how you make a tactile leaf clicky.
It's worth noting that when the leaf pulls away from the outer housing wall, it also changes the angle of the leaf's bump, thereby affecting the tactile feel of the switch and decreasing the necessary actuation force. This is why a click-modded cream Alps, which is normally a very stiff switch, ends up feeling a lot more like a clicky blue Alps.
I hope this was helpful to some of you who are interested in this mod. It certainly helped me understand my Alps switches, and it gave me a much deeper appreciation for the engineering behind them. I'm thoroughly impressed with the elegance of the design. The tactile/click leaf is completely separate from the electro-mechanical components, allowing for a single switch design to support click, tactile and linear action by simply changing or removing a tiny piece of bent metal. Compare this to Cherry MX switches, which require significant changes to the internals.