Author Topic: Exotic switch types with MX-style PCB mount and keycap compatibility?  (Read 226 times)

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Offline NoteMakoti

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Seeing the explosion of near-identical MX style switches and Chryosan's rant in his Holy Panda review, I'm wondering if it's possible to, say, make an Alps that was compatible with MX style PCBs. What's standing in the way of that, IP rights or just plain engineering?

Offline pixelpusher

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Re: Exotic switch types with MX-style PCB mount and keycap compatibility?
« Reply #1 on: Sat, 21 November 2020, 16:20:23 »
Seeing the explosion of near-identical MX style switches and Chryosan's rant in his Holy Panda review, I'm wondering if it's possible to, say, make an Alps that was compatible with MX style PCBs. What's standing in the way of that, IP rights or just plain engineering?

Not enough demand from the market is the largest reason. As you probably know, "Alps" does not make their mechanical keyboard switches anymore.  There are several companies that have cloned them.  Every clone has been of simplified alps, and has resulted in a less than stellar switch.  It's going to be EXTREMELY difficult to convince a company to invest in time and resources to create a switch that doesn't have a lot of demand.

Next up in difficulty is engineering.  It's not as easy as simply moving the pins in the switch.  Those pins are straight lines out from the switch plate and contact leaf.  You would have to create a new switch if you move the pins, essentially.

Then you have the issue of the switch footprint.  You would have to narrow the alps switch to fit into an MX footprint.  I'm not sure how that's going to work out with the current stem design.  I suppose you could try to thin the switch housing walls and the stem walls to the point where the total package is narrower? 

If you go through all of that, you would want to ensure good keycap compatiblity to keep the market interested in your stuff for longer.  The only good compaitiblity in Alps keycaps is in thin DCS caps from Signature Plastics.  I'm okay with that, but most people in the community want something that feels more premium.

So do you scrap the Alps stem and find a way to make MX stem support?  This has been worked on a lot.  I think the new zeal switches will be the closest to MX stem with Alps type leaf on the market.  So maybe it's doable, but is it really and Alps switch now?

Thats a few of the issues that come to mind.  None of them can be tackled without some good time and money invested.  I don't know of a company willing to invest that time and money without much demand from the market.