Author Topic: Hello from UK - fan of light switches  (Read 1627 times)

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Offline mokeyjoe

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Hello from UK - fan of light switches
« on: Wed, 27 May 2020, 12:52:54 »
Hi there!

I've been interested in keyboards for quite a long time, lurking around, that sort of thing, watching YouTube videos, that sort of thing - so just thought I'd say hi.

I became more serious about keyboards when I started my postgrad studies a few years ago. I'd had RSI issues in previous work (mostly IT related), although mainly through mouse usage, and managed to solve them, largely through changing my mousing technique. When I started typing more and more for my MA and PhD i started getting some pain from that too so wanted to find a way to reduce this fatigue and some of the carpal tunnel issues that were flaring up again. The fact that I had taught myself to touch type a few years before, while doing a boring data entry temp job for a few months, was helpful (in fact it's probably been one of the best things I've done for both my productivy and health), but as my daily output increased I began to find my wrists and fingers were hurting anyway, and so started looking at the options that were out there.

So now I've got a few keyboards, mainly Cherry based, and one Unicomp Model M. It's nothing fancy but I always tend to fall back on my cheap little Magicforce with Gateron Reds, as it's the keyboard I can type on all day with no negative effects. I know that many wouldn't consider it a 'typists' switch, but the super light typing technique I've adopted after working with this board for a long time has worked wonders for me. Kind of curious about Topre, though, as although the reds mean I can type without any pain or fatigue, they can be a little easy to actuate if I'm being sloppy.

I guess I'm not really a hobbyist like some on here - a keyboard is very much a tool for me, but communities like this can really help when you're looking for something that works for you.

So I'll probably keep on lurking and learning and maybe chip in from time to time when I can think of something useful to say. Thanks for reading!

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Hello from UK - fan of light switches
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 27 May 2020, 16:46:46 »
Hi monkeyjoe. Welcome to Geekhack.

I'm glad to hear that you've found ways to work around that RSI. I don't seem to really ever encounter it myself, and I highly doubt my form is close to perfect.

Gateron makes some fantastic switches. If the reds are too light, which I have found myself when it comes to using them for gaming, you might like to try Gateron yellows, or look into swapping the springs if the housings can be opened relatively easily in that Magicforce. Yellows are a good middle ground between reds and blacks in weighting.

I have yet to try Topre myself, but I'll have a board to play with by the end of this week.

There are plenty of people on here that see keyboards entirely as tools, although I suppose there's overlap between people who are and are not hobbyists who all see them this way. I also imagine that almost everyone sees them as tools first, and a hobby second, which must be part of their overall appeal. They're good for both work and play.

Offline mokeyjoe

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Re: Hello from UK - fan of light switches
« Reply #2 on: Wed, 27 May 2020, 18:59:48 »
I've been curious about yellows for a little while. I love the way Gateron blacks feel, and have a board with them on, but they are just a smidge too heavy for marathon sessions. But I've also been curious about moving to something that isn't a Cherry derivative. I was looking at some of the Matias keyboards too, especially as I'm primarily a Mac user these days and they do Apple-based keyboards. I've heard some mixed things about their reliability.

And yeah, a tool I guess. But then I tend to use my interest in keyboards as a way of getting myself to write. If you've got a new keyboard, it's good to have something to type on it after all.  :)


Offline Maledicted

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Re: Hello from UK - fan of light switches
« Reply #3 on: Wed, 27 May 2020, 20:37:25 »
I've been curious about yellows for a little while. I love the way Gateron blacks feel, and have a board with them on, but they are just a smidge too heavy for marathon sessions. But I've also been curious about moving to something that isn't a Cherry derivative. I was looking at some of the Matias keyboards too, especially as I'm primarily a Mac user these days and they do Apple-based keyboards. I've heard some mixed things about their reliability.

And yeah, a tool I guess. But then I tend to use my interest in keyboards as a way of getting myself to write. If you've got a new keyboard, it's good to have something to type on it after all.  :)

If you want to move away from MX, I have heard good things about optical linears. They're supposed to be smoother because there's literally no contacts to rub against. It just so happens that I recently, finally, broke down and got a Matias mini tactile pro. I'm not an Apple user, but that's literally the only configuration board they still offer their clickies in. So far, my initial impressions are good. I'm glad another user on here showed it to me. The caps are thin, but the board has some heft, and the switches feel much closer to Alps SKCM blues than I have been lead to believe. I noticed chatter within the first 30 minutes, but it seems to have vanished as quickly as it appeared. I haven't had it again yet and I have typed on it for hours straight for multiple days already. I have read that it is more likely to occur on their quiet clicks, but those are also supposed to have fantastic tactility for their relative lack of noise. Matias' warranty is only 1 year, so if you didn't want to tinker, I would get one and use the hell out of it that first year. I liked the board enough to order a sample pack of all 3 Matias switch types from Ebay, and I imagine I can fix it if I do eventually encounter any problems.

People seem to either love or show indifference towards Topre. I can't yet form an opinion.

I'm not sure if you want to stick with linears and/or tactiles, or even clickies. If clickies are on the table, then I would look at Kaihua's box clickies, especially the box jades and navies, although those are too stiff for some. Gateron's linears are already just as good, or better. The box tactiles are nice if you ask me, but neither are fundamentally different designs like the click bar clickies.

How do you like the Model M? Because besides those mentioned above, you're mostly looking at vintage switches if you're divorcing MX. The capacitive buckling springs of a Model F, while higher-pitched, are smoother, lighter, and more consistent than the membrane buckling springs of a Model M. Almost everything in the complicated Alps family is fantastic, of course, from linears to clickies. NEC blue ovals are surprisingly nice clickies if you either enjoy, or don't mind, their musical twangs. Hi Tek 725 series "space invaders" switches are nice too.

You're completely right. There's nothing quite like a wonderful keyboard to motivate you to do some typing.

Offline jamster

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Re: Hello from UK - fan of light switches
« Reply #4 on: Wed, 27 May 2020, 21:27:17 »
I guess I'm not really a hobbyist like some on here - a keyboard is very much a tool for me, but communities like this can really help when you're looking for something that works for you.

I completely see keyboards as tools. I just happen to enjoy owning tools that are pleasant to use and well made :)

On the ergonomics front- Topre 45 might be worth looking into. The 35g version struck me as "breathe too hard and you're going to get key presses." My RC930 board is a Topre clone with a factory-installed silence mod. The effect of this mod is that the switch is much lighter and closer to linear than my real 55g Topre board. It was also around half the price. It's out of production, but silenced clones (if they still exist?) could be an option if you want heavier than Red, only very slightly tactile, and incredibly smooth travel.

« Last Edit: Wed, 27 May 2020, 21:54:10 by jamster »

Offline mokeyjoe

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Re: Hello from UK - fan of light switches
« Reply #5 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 04:04:46 »


If you want to move away from MX, I have heard good things about optical linears.


I've been curious about the optical switches but I also read on some of them that they actuate at a higher point, which might not be great for for typing.


I completely see keyboards as tools. I just happen to enjoy owning tools that are pleasant to use and well made :)


Oh yeah, I'm sure lots of people do. I meant more that I'm not really a tinkerer or a collector. I tend to want to buy something off the shelf that 'just works', I think most of my keyboard purchases are out of curiosity, and a bit of a search for 'the one'. Which probably doesn't exist, but it doesn't stop me looking  :)



Offline Maledicted

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Re: Hello from UK - fan of light switches
« Reply #6 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 10:25:01 »


If you want to move away from MX, I have heard good things about optical linears.


I've been curious about the optical switches but I also read on some of them that they actuate at a higher point, which might not be great for for typing.

I'm not sure about opticals, but I do know that hall effect may be something you may want to look into then. They're in the same boat as opticals in that there are no contacts to rub against, making them very smooth, but the modern ones are also usually adjustable, through software, to tweak the point of actuation.

Personally, I also prefer lower points of actuation, both for typing and games. It decreases errors in my experience, unless there's a tactile event stiff enough to make that less relevant.

Offline mokeyjoe

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Re: Hello from UK - fan of light switches
« Reply #7 on: Sun, 02 August 2020, 00:16:05 »
Ended up pining for another keyboard and wound up getting a Niz Plum Atom 68. Thought I'd give EC a spin!

Pretty happy so far. Straight up I easily got 10wpm faster in a typing test than I average on any other keyboard I own. I think mainly because that little bit of tactility makes me so much more accurate.

It's got 35g switches, so nice and light for me. However, at first I found it more tiring at first than my reds, and as fatigue is my main concern I wondered why that was. Initially I thought it might be as I was bottoming out more frequently, but I also think that less 'spring' in the key return is making my fingers work a little harder.

So I experimented with the 10g springs that come in the box. I'd read that it kills the feel, makes them more linear feeling - but I can't say that's the case in my experience. They feel surprisingly similar to me, just a little... springier. I can still feel the tactility the dome imparts in just the same way.

I was going deck out the whole keyboard that way but then I thought I'd try a variable weight layout - rather like a Realforce, placing the springs under the keys near the centre of the keyboard according to the Topre force chart. Although unlike the RF I left the shift and backspace keys lighter, which makes more sense to me given that I hit them with my little fingers. It's working out really well for me so far, and my fingers are appreciating it. With that said I can see how it might tempt me into getting a real RF at some point down the line!

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Hello from UK - fan of light switches
« Reply #8 on: Tue, 04 August 2020, 11:21:28 »
Ended up pining for another keyboard and wound up getting a Niz Plum Atom 68. Thought I'd give EC a spin!

Pretty happy so far. Straight up I easily got 10wpm faster in a typing test than I average on any other keyboard I own. I think mainly because that little bit of tactility makes me so much more accurate.

It's got 35g switches, so nice and light for me. However, at first I found it more tiring at first than my reds, and as fatigue is my main concern I wondered why that was. Initially I thought it might be as I was bottoming out more frequently, but I also think that less 'spring' in the key return is making my fingers work a little harder.

So I experimented with the 10g springs that come in the box. I'd read that it kills the feel, makes them more linear feeling - but I can't say that's the case in my experience. They feel surprisingly similar to me, just a little... springier. I can still feel the tactility the dome imparts in just the same way.

I was going deck out the whole keyboard that way but then I thought I'd try a variable weight layout - rather like a Realforce, placing the springs under the keys near the centre of the keyboard according to the Topre force chart. Although unlike the RF I left the shift and backspace keys lighter, which makes more sense to me given that I hit them with my little fingers. It's working out really well for me so far, and my fingers are appreciating it. With that said I can see how it might tempt me into getting a real RF at some point down the line!

I have a Realforce 87u. It is certainly very nice for a tactile board. I would probably end up using it over just about all other alternatives that I have tried. Mine is 55g though. I haven't tried any of the others. Those NIZ switches sound very pleasant in videos, so I imagine I'll have some around eventually myself.

One thing I notice when significantly switching spring weightings and/or switch types, is that I may bottom out much harder on a lighter switch until I get more accustomed to the weighting again. I can't say that ever seems fatiguing to me, but it is jarring, to be sure.

I'm glad to hear you found something you enjoy that much.

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