Author Topic: [Build Log] Filco Zero Modding to get DCS Alps Keycaps to Fit  (Read 7973 times)

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Offline CPTBadAss

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[Build Log] Filco Zero Modding to get DCS Alps Keycaps to Fit
« on: Wed, 29 March 2023, 22:40:32 »
I finished my second keyboard mod in the span of like 4 months so I feel like I'm finally back into the hobby. In this build log, I wanted to cover my adventure getting the stabilizers working with a SP DCS alps keycap set. Yup, if you remember my old nonsense, I am still into Alps. The board I'm modding is my Filco Zero that has SKCM Green Alps in it. I've had this Alpine Winter set sitting in boxes for so long, I forgot why I had them just sitting. So stupidly I was drooling over the Alps DCS 9009 set on Cannonkeys and I had an old Alpine Winter set sitting at home all this time! Time to toss it on a board.


Yes I know the caps are mismatched. I only have a 60% set of Alpine winter. Gonna get that 9009 set soon

Only one problem....the stabilizer wires don't fit properly. Ugh. So the board by default uses the wires and the little hook clips which are actually the same as Matias' stabilizer and hook set. For the default caps and the vintage ones I've been using, there's little costar-style inserts work. But when used with the DCS caps, the wire doesn't fit with the costar stabilizer insert. The position is wrong so the wire hits the insert and the stabilizers feel grindy.


Comparison from the top, clockwise: Random Vintage Set (Grey), OG Filco Zero Set (Black), SP DCS Alpine Winter (Blue)


Unfortunately, the DCS set uses Cherry stems for the stabilizers. So I thought just regular Costar stabilizers would work right? Well the little inserts do but the wires and inserts don't. Sad face. Keep this detail in mind for later. Those stupid inserts will come back to haunt me.

So all I have to do is to rebend some stabilizer wires to get them to work. I didn't do this previously because I didn't know the Matias stab wires would work so I was scared to ruin the only set of wires I had. Not anymore. I literally took the wires I had on hand (a few of the Matias wires and some of the ones from the board originally), bent them back into a U shape, then bent them into a shape that would actually work.


Look at the bending in action


Ugly but functional!

This took a little time (read 2 evenings of work) and I broke stuff but it worked.


RIP, I snapped this wire. o7


Oh also I had to clip the wires a bit so I sanded down the sharp bits.


Not sanded wire


Sanded wire

Then I wanted to check and see if the stab wire that came with the Zero was the same as the Matias space bar wire. Just remove the spacebar right? Sigh. Stupid me didn't realize how tight the default DCS spacebar fit into the switch. I struggled for 30 minutes to remove the spacebar. I ended up having to take the board apart and then popping off the little costar inserts so I could pop the spacebar off. I'm so glad I didn't destroy the spacebar switch. I think I tested with Via like 934587 times during these 30 minutes.


This pic only cost me 30 minutes of pain and panic...


The blue is a random modifier cap to show what the caps look like be default. The gray is the Alpine Winter after I sanded it.

So what do I do to prevent this in the future? I looked at the Zero spacebar and realize it has some chamfers. That's an easy fix. I just take some sandpaper and sand chamfers into the stem as well as sand down the spacebar a bit so that it's thinner. Fit check a BILLION times approximately...after I reassemble the Zero ugh.


The black is the stock spacebar from the Zero. The gray is the Alpine Winter after I sanded it.

Also I realize these costar inserts have a nub which causes them to hold on tightly. So I sand em off.


Sanded on the left. Unsanded on the right.

Ok cool. So now the stabilizer wires fit (even if they're a bit ugly), and the spacebar doesn't fight me. And I know that the wire clips and spacebar wire from the Matias set works. Last thing to do is to lube up the stabilizer wire where the clips are and the little costar inserts. My modified stab wires rattle a little bit.



205g0 and an old Army Painter brush

And it worked! Now to buy that 9009 set....even if it's beige.




I think the thing to do these days is to post a sample of me typing on it. No video but here's a sound sample. Oh and I should say that this was typed on the newly modded Zero with the Alpine Winter caps. Exactly what you see in the first picture.
« Last Edit: Thu, 30 March 2023, 08:21:49 by CPTBadAss »

Offline Soums

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Re: [Build Log] Filco Zero Modding to get DCS Alps Keycaps to Fit
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 29 March 2023, 22:53:57 »
Super sick! Love DIY stuff like this. Might have to refer back to this when I want aftermarket keycaps on my zero. Also damn didn't realize how big of a struggle the spacebar was. :eek: :thumb:
Filco Zero Camo TKL | HHKB Professional 2 | KMAC 2 | KMAC Pad | LZ RE | LZ XE | LZ REs | Koala | Ottantaquattro | Dodici | Kohaku | Nue

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Offline CPTBadAss

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Re: [Build Log] Filco Zero Modding to get DCS Alps Keycaps to Fit
« Reply #2 on: Wed, 29 March 2023, 22:57:08 »
Super sick! Love DIY stuff like this. Might have to refer back to this when I want aftermarket keycaps on my zero. Also damn didn't realize how big of a struggle the spacebar was. :eek: :thumb:

Please learn from my mistakes. That spacebar was such a pain. Worth the trouble of sanding and modding it if you feel comfortable doing so.

Offline ankit

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Re: [Build Log] Filco Zero Modding to get DCS Alps Keycaps to Fit
« Reply #3 on: Wed, 29 March 2023, 23:59:23 »
Super sick write up CBA! Thank you for documenting  :cool:
You and Pogurt have been making me want to dive into the ALPS rabbit whole  :-\
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Offline kyuut

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Re: [Build Log] Filco Zero Modding to get DCS Alps Keycaps to Fit
« Reply #4 on: Thu, 30 March 2023, 00:18:06 »
Filco Zero.... need :eek:
short write up but really nice, i think alpine winter looks pretty good, too bad it doesn't have the tkl keys
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Offline LightningXI

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Re: [Build Log] Filco Zero Modding to get DCS Alps Keycaps to Fit
« Reply #5 on: Thu, 30 March 2023, 08:18:21 »
Good to see a post around here - nice!

Btw I don't think the sound sample at the end of the post is working (sharing permissions probably)

These stabilizers sure look like a pain to work with though T_T

Offline CPTBadAss

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Re: [Build Log] Filco Zero Modding to get DCS Alps Keycaps to Fit
« Reply #6 on: Thu, 30 March 2023, 08:50:42 »
Super sick write up CBA! Thank you for documenting  :cool:
You and Pogurt have been making me want to dive into the ALPS rabbit whole  :-\

Do it! it's fun and pretty accessible right now. The vintage stuff has gone up in price a bit but I see that Salmons and Creams are still affordable. Also don't sleep on Matias' switches. I still feel that they are VERY underrated. Their boards aren't my thing (just the style and layouts) but their switches really impressed me. I'm also learning there's so many options to get it into modern boards. Can't wait to build another custom Alps board myself lol.

Filco Zero.... need :eek:
short write up but really nice, i think alpine winter looks pretty good, too bad it doesn't have the tkl keys

Yeah I forgot Alpine Winter was a 60% kit when I bought it. I think it'll look nice mix and matched with the 9009 set or I'll just swap over the 9009 set onto the zero and save Alpine Winter for a future 60% alps board.

Good to see a post around here - nice!

Btw I don't think the sound sample at the end of the post is working (sharing permissions probably)

These stabilizers sure look like a pain to work with though T_T

You were right, I think I fixed the sharing permissions now. The stabs were annoying but it was fun getting it to work out!

Offline Booper

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Re: [Build Log] Filco Zero Modding to get DCS Alps Keycaps to Fit
« Reply #7 on: Thu, 30 March 2023, 11:56:59 »
Ohh a CPTBadAss build log!? Alpine Winter?! What year is it!? Can this be true!?!!

Thanks for sharing, I'm sure you will save some folks trouble down the line! Great write up and documentation as usual!  :-*
omniclectic@gmail.com if you need me!


Offline CPTBadAss

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Re: [Build Log] Filco Zero Modding to get DCS Alps Keycaps to Fit
« Reply #8 on: Thu, 30 March 2023, 21:57:12 »
Ohh a CPTBadAss build log!? Alpine Winter?! What year is it!? Can this be true!?!!

Thanks for sharing, I'm sure you will save some folks trouble down the line! Great write up and documentation as usual!  :-*

It's 2014 apparently lol. Feels nice getting back into keebs  :-*

Offline CPTBadAss

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Re: [Build Log] Filco Zero Modding to get DCS Alps Keycaps to Fit
« Reply #9 on: Sun, 10 December 2023, 20:28:06 »
This is semi related to the OP but I'm adding it here because future me will refer to this if nothing else. And it'll be nice to have it all in one place.

So there were some remaining issues with my Zero. The major one being I was stuck using EasyAVR instead of Via. EasyAVR is S tier but also really really ancient. And also it required I boot up my Windows VM every time I wanted to change the layout. It'd be so nice to just change my layout on the fly in Linuxland. But I was too dumb to know how to do that so I just left it alone for now.

Until one night, I was chatting in LightningXI's discord server about the Pegasus Hoof and it led to me learning how to get the controller working in Via! I wanted to document that here. Thank you so much speedycake for teaching me.

Here's the steps that I followed:


I confirmed that I have a 2013 Pegasus Hoof from my old build log when I modded my Zero. And it was running an EasyAVR firmware. I grabbed the 2013 Pegasus Hoof firmware from Caniusevia.com.

Next I booted up my Windows VM and installed QMK toolbox. Then reset my controller with a magnet and passed the USB input into the VM. I set the MCU type to atmega32U2 and then flashed the hex file from Caniusevia.com. Once it's done, I just booted up Via and it worked!

I'm very happy to have my decade old controller and keyboard in the modern age XD.