Author Topic: Alps switches vs the others  (Read 1453 times)

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Offline treeleaf64

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Alps switches vs the others
« on: Tue, 26 November 2019, 20:29:35 »
Hi all,

Is it really worth getting used Alps switches over good BOX switches/CBS? I've just spent the better part of six hours desoldering, taking apart, and cleaning Green Alps, which were of horrendous quality before. First of all, there has to be a way to find Alps, which are already rare by themselves. Second, they fetch high prices, even if they are not in good condition, which means finding in-good condition Alps for a low price is very hard. And lastly, even ultrasonic cleaning of 5/10 switches does not even restore them to 10/10 quality, so there is no way to "repair" damaged switches. NOS Alps or good-condition Alps fetch 150+ dollars on Mechmarket or Ebay for the switches themselves, and I haven't even mentioned the poor availability of boards to house them. I've never tried BOX switches or CBS (two ~$100 options), and I want to know if the difference in feel is actually worth the hundreds of dollar difference. Now, of course, I will buy cheap good-condition Alps at the first chance I get, but people have now understood how well sought out these switches are, and have accordingly priced them in the $100+ mark, even for keyboards of subpar quality. Why would I take so much time and money to buy Alps when I can get smooth, tactile, and consistent alternatives in CBS and the BOX lineup?

tl;dr Alps take a lot of time and money, is it still worth getting them?

Thanks for reading,
treeleaf64

Offline chyros

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Re: Alps switches vs the others
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 27 November 2019, 03:00:08 »
Alps are quite different from the other designs, and feel it accordingly.

The linear ones are probably the least remarkable. I like them a lot, but mainly because for me they combine smoothness, nice travel distance and perfect weighting. Other than that, contactless switches really own this market segment.

The clicky ones are great, but clicky switches are the hardest market segment to shine in because of the incredible competition. Blue Alps IMO feel on par with CBS, but not better, and lose to beamsprings.

The tactile ones are probably the most ahead of competitors in the market, simply because no-one else seems to be able to make decent tactile switches. You'd think that SOMEONE would've figured out a tactile leaf works by now :p .
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Re: Alps switches vs the others
« Reply #2 on: Wed, 27 November 2019, 03:11:58 »
Alps are quite different from the other designs, and feel it accordingly.

The linear ones are probably the least remarkable. I like them a lot, but mainly because for me they combine smoothness, nice travel distance and perfect weighting. Other than that, contactless switches really own this market segment.

The clicky ones are great, but clicky switches are the hardest market segment to shine in because of the incredible competition. Blue Alps IMO feel on par with CBS, but not better, and lose to beamsprings.

The tactile ones are probably the most ahead of competitors in the market, simply because no-one else seems to be able to make decent tactile switches. You'd think that SOMEONE would've figured out a tactile leaf works by now :p .

As a fan of tactile switches, this is why I'm more than happy to put the labour and money into orange/salmons. AEKs are not all that difficult to come by in decent condition.

Offline Sup

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Re: Alps switches vs the others
« Reply #3 on: Wed, 27 November 2019, 04:29:31 »
The reason up here i kinda gave up on Alps. They feel much better to the MX counter parts. But yeah finding good alps switches is hard and expensive. And no custom key caps other then scavenging from other super sought after expensive keyboards.

Filco Zero -  NOS Yellow Alps | Canoe R1 Gateron Red | AEK II JP Cream dampend |Filco Majestouch 2 Tex case Gateron Yellow | HHKB Pro 1 2003 Rev AO Serial 000171 | HHKB Pro 1 2003 Rev A1s|DZ60 OG Panda's with Fei spring and stem. | Sentraq S65_Plus OG Invyr Panda's | A17 Gateron Black TX 65G 3204
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Rest in peace Billy

Offline chyros

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Re: Alps switches vs the others
« Reply #4 on: Wed, 27 November 2019, 07:07:24 »
If I hadn't been in a hurry when typing that, I would have also added that of course Alps all have a great soundtrack :D .
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Offline fohat.digs

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Re: Alps switches vs the others
« Reply #5 on: Wed, 27 November 2019, 07:15:54 »

And no custom key caps other then scavenging from other super sought after expensive keyboards.


You do have some options, although more limited.

https://mechanicalkeyboards.com/shop/index.php?l=product_list&c=430
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Offline TheInverseKey

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Re: Alps switches vs the others
« Reply #6 on: Wed, 27 November 2019, 09:09:06 »
Even though it takes time and money to find good Alps switches for sure it's worth it at the end because there is nothing that feels the same.

Recently, I have been looking at collecting all of the weird and rare switches. I can say that Alps has some of the best clicky and tactile switches out there. Granted it does take some time to clean and get them in great condition.
« Last Edit: Wed, 27 November 2019, 17:17:32 by TheInverseKey »

Offline Sintpinty

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Re: Alps switches vs the others
« Reply #7 on: Wed, 27 November 2019, 11:54:16 »
Even though it takes time and money to find good Alps switches for sure it's worth it at the end because there is nothing that feels the same.

Recently, I have been looking at collecting all of the weird and rare switches and I can say that Alps has some of the best clicky and tactile switches out there. Granted it does take some time to clean and get them in great condition.

Truly, your answer should be correct.

Offline treeleaf64

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Re: Alps switches vs the others
« Reply #8 on: Sat, 30 November 2019, 12:41:40 »
Thanks for all the help guys. I think I'm going to replace my Blues and Greens with CBS and contactless switches. Really, I can't deal with the fact that numerous hours of cleaning/lubing doesn't even get Alps to 10/10 if they are in bad shape. It really takes NOS or best-quality Alps to shine more than other switches.

Plus, they are going to go for a lot of money :)

treeleaf64

Offline _rubik

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Re: Alps switches vs the others
« Reply #9 on: Sat, 30 November 2019, 13:00:00 »
Personally, I love my alps boards, but, if I could go back and do it all again, I wouldn't have stripped down some of the boards I had. Sure the donor boards are odd layouts and have odd connectors, but there is something unique in both their feel and appearance that you can't find anymore. If I had some kick ass board to drop them in, maybe it would have been worth it, but making some generic 60% with nice oranges wasn't really my shining moment.


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Re: Alps switches vs the others
« Reply #10 on: Sat, 30 November 2019, 13:51:56 »
Personally, I love my alps boards, but, if I could go back and do it all again, I wouldn't have stripped down some of the boards I had. Sure the donor boards are odd layouts and have odd connectors, but there is something unique in both their feel and appearance that you can't find anymore. If I had some kick ass board to drop them in, maybe it would have been worth it, but making some generic 60% with nice oranges wasn't really my shining moment.

Yup, I have a sad looking empty AEKI, and while I was glad to use the pristine salmons in an ISO AEKII Im not sure Id butcher another usable vintage board.

I keep telling myself that one day Ill do an ISO plate for the AEKI and handwire it, I have the spare caps.

Its not hard to get reclaimed alps from popular community marketplaces, so Id rather do that and not get my hands dirty.

Offline Sup

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Re: Alps switches vs the others
« Reply #11 on: Sat, 30 November 2019, 14:33:28 »

And no custom key caps other then scavenging from other super sought after expensive keyboards.


You do have some options, although more limited.

https://mechanicalkeyboards.com/shop/index.php?l=product_list&c=430
'

Yeah but it's one ugly and for some reason they only support the modern new lay out. I guess DCS alps of signature plastic would be a option but again way to expensive.
Filco Zero -  NOS Yellow Alps | Canoe R1 Gateron Red | AEK II JP Cream dampend |Filco Majestouch 2 Tex case Gateron Yellow | HHKB Pro 1 2003 Rev AO Serial 000171 | HHKB Pro 1 2003 Rev A1s|DZ60 OG Panda's with Fei spring and stem. | Sentraq S65_Plus OG Invyr Panda's | A17 Gateron Black TX 65G 3204
Coming soon 2X Lubrigrante in wonderland.

Rest in peace Billy

Offline treeleaf64

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Re: Alps switches vs the others
« Reply #12 on: Sat, 30 November 2019, 21:49:18 »
Half the boards I get are broken anyway. I got my green alps in a board which had the backplate removed, so it was unusuable. It literally had rocks and dirt in the keyboard itself!! That should tell you how much I want to use it  :( :(

Offline powwu

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Re: Alps switches vs the others
« Reply #13 on: Sun, 01 December 2019, 14:59:48 »
I think alps are more of a novelty than anything. People like them because they aren't plentiful, similar to how people like limited edition artisans.

Offline Leslieann

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Re: Alps switches vs the others
« Reply #14 on: Sun, 01 December 2019, 15:32:29 »
I think alps are more of a novelty than anything. People like them because they aren't plentiful, similar to how people like limited edition artisans.
Okay, sure.
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Offline Sup

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Re: Alps switches vs the others
« Reply #15 on: Sun, 01 December 2019, 15:32:42 »
I think alps are more of a novelty than anything. People like them because they aren't plentiful, similar to how people like limited edition artisans.

Then you should maybe try some good Alps switches before prejudice.
Filco Zero -  NOS Yellow Alps | Canoe R1 Gateron Red | AEK II JP Cream dampend |Filco Majestouch 2 Tex case Gateron Yellow | HHKB Pro 1 2003 Rev AO Serial 000171 | HHKB Pro 1 2003 Rev A1s|DZ60 OG Panda's with Fei spring and stem. | Sentraq S65_Plus OG Invyr Panda's | A17 Gateron Black TX 65G 3204
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Offline powwu

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Re: Alps switches vs the others
« Reply #16 on: Sun, 01 December 2019, 15:54:20 »
I think alps are more of a novelty than anything. People like them because they aren't plentiful, similar to how people like limited edition artisans.

Then you should maybe try some good Alps switches before prejudice.
Fair enough. My experience with alps has been admittedly very minimal. What switch would you recommend?

Offline Sup

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Re: Alps switches vs the others
« Reply #17 on: Sun, 01 December 2019, 17:40:26 »
I think alps are more of a novelty than anything. People like them because they aren't plentiful, similar to how people like limited edition artisans.

Then you should maybe try some good Alps switches before prejudice.
Fair enough. My experience with alps has been admittedly very minimal. What switch would you recommend?

If you don't want to break the bank try to look for some good condition black alps,Cream damped. You can also get NOS linear Yellow Alps from taobao for pretty cheap.

If you have some money to spare look for some Orange Alps for tactile and Green Alps for linear.
Filco Zero -  NOS Yellow Alps | Canoe R1 Gateron Red | AEK II JP Cream dampend |Filco Majestouch 2 Tex case Gateron Yellow | HHKB Pro 1 2003 Rev AO Serial 000171 | HHKB Pro 1 2003 Rev A1s|DZ60 OG Panda's with Fei spring and stem. | Sentraq S65_Plus OG Invyr Panda's | A17 Gateron Black TX 65G 3204
Coming soon 2X Lubrigrante in wonderland.

Rest in peace Billy

Offline Kevadu

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Re: Alps switches vs the others
« Reply #18 on: Sun, 01 December 2019, 19:17:13 »
Eh, there's really no reason to bother with Alps for linear switches.  Linears are linears.  Best linears are probably the completely contactless Hall effect or optical designs anyway.

You should really only be thinking about Alps for clicky or tactile switches.  Blue Alps are great but highly sought-after and fetch some ridiculous prices.  Amber Alps are even worse...they're extremely rare.  Simplified clickies are OK and easier to find but at that point you might as well save yourself some trouble and buy Matias switches.

Orange Alps are probably one of the better tactile options and not that hard to find simply because they were used in the AEK which was relatively common for its day.

Offline mounds

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Re: Alps switches vs the others
« Reply #19 on: Sun, 01 December 2019, 20:13:41 »
My favorite board is a rare NeXT Non-ADB Cream Undampened ALPS board, with a ridiculous space bar. A reputable Deskthority user put it up on Mechmarket for about $200 and it was worth every penny - switches, caps, and chassis were pristine.

That being said I've also sourced other ALPS boards that look like a fresh 2 liter of cola was freshly poured on them before shipping. It is a tough scene, for sure, but you can get extremely lucky from time to time.
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Offline treeleaf64

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Re: Alps switches vs the others
« Reply #20 on: Mon, 02 December 2019, 12:28:07 »
Eh, there's really no reason to bother with Alps for linear switches.  Linears are linears.  Best linears are probably the completely contactless Hall effect or optical designs anyway.

You should really only be thinking about Alps for clicky or tactile switches.  Blue Alps are great but highly sought-after and fetch some ridiculous prices.  Amber Alps are even worse...they're extremely rare.  Simplified clickies are OK and easier to find but at that point you might as well save yourself some trouble and buy Matias switches.

Orange Alps are probably one of the better tactile options and not that hard to find simply because they were used in the AEK which was relatively common for its day.

That's very true. I don't know what price to sell my Alps at, though, because they aren't in the best condition. Blue alps usually go for 1.5-2 bucks a switch, but that's for the clean ones, right? Greens go for around 1.25 a switch, which I am comfortable selling mine at since they have been ultrasonically cleaned.

For everyone who reads this: MAKE SURE TO FIND CLEAN OR BARELY USED ALPS!!!!!!!! It really makes a huge difference. Even when ultrasonically cleaned, my Greens don't feel like they should.
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Offline powwu

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Re: Alps switches vs the others
« Reply #21 on: Mon, 02 December 2019, 13:21:50 »
Even when ultrasonically cleaned, my Greens don't feel like they should.

What do you mean by this? How do they feel off?


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Re: Alps switches vs the others
« Reply #22 on: Mon, 02 December 2019, 14:06:25 »
Even when ultrasonically cleaned, my Greens don't feel like they should.

What do you mean by this? How do they feel off?

Yeah, Id inspect the tracks inside the top housing, sometimes they have stubborn dirt and take a few cleans.

I find that a good ultrasonic clean, and then using isopropyl alcohol and some cuetips, repeatedly swab them with wet then dry tips until the tracks look clear.

Alps are only beyond saving when those tracks have scratches in them, which is unusual.

I like to put a trace of lube on the sides of the slider too, but, getting them clean is the main thing.

Offline treeleaf64

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Re: Alps switches vs the others
« Reply #23 on: Mon, 02 December 2019, 15:32:13 »

Yeah, Id inspect the tracks inside the top housing, sometimes they have stubborn dirt and take a few cleans.

I find that a good ultrasonic clean, and then using isopropyl alcohol and some cuetips, repeatedly swab them with wet then dry tips until the tracks look clear.

Alps are only beyond saving when those tracks have scratches in them, which is unusual.

I like to put a trace of lube on the sides of the slider too, but, getting them clean is the main thing.

What do you mean by "tracks"? Can you pm me a picture please :)


Offline treeleaf64

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Re: Alps switches vs the others
« Reply #24 on: Mon, 02 December 2019, 15:32:41 »
Even when ultrasonically cleaned, my Greens don't feel like they should.

What do you mean by this? How do they feel off?

They are scratchy, and I can't feel the bump at the bottom.

Offline powwu

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Re: Alps switches vs the others
« Reply #25 on: Mon, 02 December 2019, 15:46:34 »
Even when ultrasonically cleaned, my Greens don't feel like they should.

What do you mean by this? How do they feel off?

They are scratchy, and I can't feel the bump at the bottom.
To fix the scratchiness, I'd recommend lubing them. Use a thin lube, such as 3203. I'm not sure what to do about the loss of tactility, though.

Offline treeleaf64

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Re: Alps switches vs the others
« Reply #26 on: Mon, 02 December 2019, 19:41:47 »
Ok, I scrubbed them with a toothbrush, and now they are actually smooth. They feel good now !!!! :)

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Re: Alps switches vs the others
« Reply #27 on: Tue, 03 December 2019, 03:09:56 »
What do you mean by "tracks"? Can you pm me a picture please :)

Where I'm pointing to with the toothpick, that's the main source of friction in an alps switch, it's very easy to clean the siders, and there's rarely much of a need as dirt doesn't stick to them, it does stick to those tracks a you can see with this dirty housing. I think it gets compressed into the housing by the slider repeatedly over time making up a tough deposit and often it's too much for a single ultrasonic clean to get rid of.

Ultrasonic baths are good for giving everything a clean evenly, but it's not a silver bullet for tough dirt, a focused manual clean is better for that. The most important thing is you get those tracks clear.

It's also worth doing another ultrasonic bath after the manual clean to mop up any particulate dirt, cue tips work decently well for fitting in that groove, but they can leave little specs. I'll try a brush some time though, that may well work better.

« Last Edit: Tue, 03 December 2019, 03:12:28 by mode »

Offline Sup

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Re: Alps switches vs the others
« Reply #28 on: Tue, 03 December 2019, 03:16:03 »
Eh, there's really no reason to bother with Alps for linear switches.  Linears are linears.  Best linears are probably the completely contactless Hall effect or optical designs anyway.

You should really only be thinking about Alps for clicky or tactile switches.  Blue Alps are great but highly sought-after and fetch some ridiculous prices.  Amber Alps are even worse...they're extremely rare.  Simplified clickies are OK and easier to find but at that point you might as well save yourself some trouble and buy Matias switches.

Orange Alps are probably one of the better tactile options and not that hard to find simply because they were used in the AEK which was relatively common for its day.

If Linears are Linears why do people pay premium for zeals linear instead of getting cheap Gateron stock linears + spring swap? I actually enjoy linear Alps to MX counter part. So no linears = linears. You can't put all the Linears in one basket and say they are all the same.
Filco Zero -  NOS Yellow Alps | Canoe R1 Gateron Red | AEK II JP Cream dampend |Filco Majestouch 2 Tex case Gateron Yellow | HHKB Pro 1 2003 Rev AO Serial 000171 | HHKB Pro 1 2003 Rev A1s|DZ60 OG Panda's with Fei spring and stem. | Sentraq S65_Plus OG Invyr Panda's | A17 Gateron Black TX 65G 3204
Coming soon 2X Lubrigrante in wonderland.

Rest in peace Billy

Offline nickaster1

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Re: Alps switches vs the others
« Reply #29 on: Tue, 03 December 2019, 05:14:15 »
Eh, there's really no reason to bother with Alps for linear switches.  Linears are linears.  Best linears are probably the completely contactless Hall effect or optical designs anyway.

You should really only be thinking about Alps for clicky or tactile switches.  Blue Alps are great but highly sought-after and fetch some ridiculous prices.  Amber Alps are even worse...they're extremely rare.  Simplified clickies are OK and easier to find but at that point you might as well save yourself some trouble and buy Matias switches.

Orange Alps are probably one of the better tactile options and not that hard to find simply because they were used in the AEK which was relatively common for its day.

If Linears are Linears why do people pay premium for zeals linear instead of getting cheap Gateron stock linears + spring swap? I actually enjoy linear Alps to MX counter part. So no linears = linears. You can't put all the Linears in one basket and say they are all the same.

Agree. One more point that Id like to point out is that Blue Alps are cheaper today already so its a good time to get some and fall in love with Alps. Also try the spend the money for Alps since there is a world of difference between complicated, simplified, and Matias

Offline 4sStylZ

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Re: Alps switches vs the others
« Reply #30 on: Tue, 03 December 2019, 08:31:03 »
About cleaning, I have seen a post somewhere where this was explained that some alps boards have differents spring depending on the switch location.
Another thing heared is that keeping a housing with his own slider is better because they have been used many times.

So my question is : I have two Apple Standard keyboard with orange. I want to clean them and lube them. Are the springs size different on those boards ? Can I disassemble them completly, and mix parts with ultrasonic cleaner or is it completly stupid ?
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Re: Alps switches vs the others
« Reply #31 on: Tue, 03 December 2019, 09:27:57 »
About cleaning, I have seen a post somewhere where this was explained that some alps boards have differents spring depending on the switch location.
Another thing heared is that keeping a housing with his own slider is better because they have been used many times.

So my question is : I have two Apple Standard keyboard with orange. I want to clean them and lube them. Are the springs size different on those boards ? Can I disassemble them completly, and mix parts with ultrasonic cleaner or is it completly stupid ?

I believe all of the orange switches are the same, it's just the capslock which is a lockswitch so the spring might be a little different.

I've mixed up switch parts while cleaning them a bunch of times and I've not noticed any downsides to it. You could take each apart and do a light clean and lube putting them back together again as you go if you prefer to keep it original. If it's really dirty I'd recommend just taking them all apart and ultrasonicing them.

I'd take one of the alphas apart first to gauge how dirty the board is, the switch top I posted above couldn't have been cleaned with just a light airdust/brush down, so if it's as bad or worse than that, I'd definitely recommend taking them all apart.

Offline treeleaf64

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Re: Alps switches vs the others
« Reply #32 on: Tue, 03 December 2019, 11:08:02 »
What do you mean by "tracks"? Can you pm me a picture please :)

Where I'm pointing to with the toothpick, that's the main source of friction in an alps switch, it's very easy to clean the siders, and there's rarely much of a need as dirt doesn't stick to them, it does stick to those tracks a you can see with this dirty housing. I think it gets compressed into the housing by the slider repeatedly over time making up a tough deposit and often it's too much for a single ultrasonic clean to get rid of.

Ultrasonic baths are good for giving everything a clean evenly, but it's not a silver bullet for tough dirt, a focused manual clean is better for that. The most important thing is you get those tracks clear.

It's also worth doing another ultrasonic bath after the manual clean to mop up any particulate dirt, cue tips work decently well for fitting in that groove, but they can leave little specs. I'll try a brush some time though, that may well work better.

What I did:
1. Ultrasonic clean
2. Put them in a ziploc bag and shake them around
3. Toothbrush cleaning in running water
4. Q-tip cleaning with Isopropyl alcohol

Between all these steps, I let them dry on paper towels before I did the next step. Now, all the dirt is removed from the switches and I will just have to reassemble when I finish all of them. Toothbrush and Q-tip steps take a long time, since it is basically cleaning one by one. I found that the Ziploc bag cleaning helps get a lot of dirt off, and I stopped when the water was clear after shaking.

Offline Sintpinty

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Re: Alps switches vs the others
« Reply #33 on: Wed, 04 December 2019, 11:10:13 »
Alps are quite different from the other designs, and feel it accordingly.

The linear ones are probably the least remarkable. I like them a lot, but mainly because for me they combine smoothness, nice travel distance and perfect weighting. Other than that, contactless switches really own this market segment.

The clicky ones are great, but clicky switches are the hardest market segment to shine in because of the incredible competition. Blue Alps IMO feel on par with CBS, but not better, and lose to beamsprings.

The tactile ones are probably the most ahead of competitors in the market, simply because no-one else seems to be able to make decent tactile switches. You'd think that SOMEONE would've figured out a tactile leaf works by now :p .

Clicky and Linear was once or finally possible?