Author Topic: O-Ring mod: dampen noise and shorten bottoming-out distance  (Read 29118 times)

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Offline WhiteFireDragon

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O-Ring mod: dampen noise and shorten bottoming-out distance
« on: Mon, 02 January 2012, 06:56:51 »
I got my first real mechanical keyboard with MX blue switches, and I love typing on it... for the most part. I've been use to typing on a laptop keyboard and a Logitech Illuminated keybaord for a long time, where they both have a lot less noise and the bottom-out distance was a lot shorter than my Filco MX blues. Although the feel of the keys was great, I still needed to find a way to reduce noise and make the keystrokes shorter. This O-ring mod killed 2 birds with one stone.



Basically putting an O-ring around the stem of the key caps reduces noise because of the rubber material, and reduces bottoming-out distance because of the thickness of the rubber. I believe the amount of noise it reduces depends on the softness of the rubber and how large the O-rings are. The hardness of rubber is measured in the Shore A scale. The bigger the Shore A number, the harder the rubber is. The smaller the number, the softer and more flexible the rubber is. Theoretically, the softer the rubber, the more it can dampen vibrations and noise from keystrokes, especially bottoming out. As for the other factor, the more material the O-ring has (basically the size), the more it can dampen shocks and noise. For O-rings in this application, the inner diameter must be 3/16" (4.76mm), or very close to that. The outer diameter can vary, and it's proportional to the thickness, which means the O-ring thickness can vary too. If the outer diameter wasn't proportional to the thickness, it would be more of a washer rather than O-ring. As for the last part, bottoming out distance is solely dependent on the O-ring thickness. A thicker O-ring will reduce key travel more than a thinner one.

Enough with the background, here is my small review. I tested two O-ring sizes shown in the picture, both were silicon 40A durometer with inner diameters of 3/16" (4.76mm). The smaller ones have an outer diameter of 5/16" (7.94mm) and thickness of 1/16" (1.59mm), while the larger ones has an outer diameter of 6/16" (9.52mm) and a thickness of 3/32" (2.38mm). Both of them does an amazing job at dampening the noise, it's hard to describe, but the best subjective description is that it "muffles" all noise associated with the bottoming-out. Under normal typing conditions, it nearly eliminates all bottom-out noise. For testing purposes, I hit the keys a lot harder than I normally type to purposely generate noise: without any O-rings, the noise was a loud "clack" when it hit the bottom, with the O-rings it was more like a a "thud". Since I had a MX blue switch, the click noise from the keys actuating was unchanged. Again, this mod only eliminates bottom-out noises. It seems like the larger fat O-rings has a higher degree of noise dampening, but not by much. And also there is a very noticeable difference in the amount of "shock" felt between no O-ring and with the O-ring mod. 40A durometer seems like the perfect sweet spot for softness. Anything harder would be less effective in dampening noise and the harsh shock, but anything softer might feel too "gummy" and not crisp enough.

The main reason why I also did this O-ring mod was to shorten the bottom out distance. I read that the O-rings currently sold only had a negligible impact on the bottom out distance. From my experience with the smaller ones, this is true. Although it did have a slight noticeable effect on bottom-out distance, for me personally this was not enough because I've been too use to typing on notebooks and thin Logitech keyboards with a short bottom out distance. I wanted to replicate this on my Filco by using larger thicker O-rings, and this did the perfect job. Although the larger ones were only 50% thicker, it made a huge difference. With the smaller O-rings, there is still enough key travel after the actuation point before the key bottoms out. With the fatter O-rings, the bottom out is nearly right after the actuation point. Both O-ring sizes did not affect the key distance for the actuation point. This reduction in bottoming out distance with the larger O-rings made the perfect keyboard I wanted: The nice feel of a mechanical switch on the old keyboards I had been so accustomed to type on. When I type, I always bottom out regardless of the key travel distance. This mod made it more comfortable and actually increased my typing speed by around 5wpm averaged over many runs on hi-game.net. I'm guessing this is because my fingers travel a few millimeters less for every keystroke and it adds up after many sentences.

I know this mod is not for everyone, I'm sure most on here has had their mechanical keyboards for years are quite use to the noise or key travel distance. But for some like myself, this upgrade made a rather big difference in comfort and feel of the keys. In the context of mechanical keyboard costs, I think for only $5-$20, this O-ring mod is definitely worth it to at least try out. Here are a few places where you can get some O-rings:

- wasdkeyboards.com: 50A (~$17shipped) or 40A (~$20shipped)
- mcmaster.com: 50A $9shipped
- kaiserreich: 50A $4shipped
- me: 40A $10shipped

Offline sordna

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O-Ring mod: dampen noise and shorten bottoming-out distance
« Reply #1 on: Thu, 12 January 2012, 02:51:57 »
Please update the prices on wasdkeyboards' o-rings, they ar $14 and $17 for the 50A and 40A respectively:

http://www.wasdkeyboards.com/index.php/products/keyboard-accessories-2/cherry-mx-rubber-switch-dampeners.html
Kinesis Contoured Advantage LF with Cherry MX Red switches / Extra keys mod / O-ring dampening mod / Dvorak layout. ErgoDox with buzzer and LED mod.
Also: Kinesis Advantage Classic, Kinesis Contoured Model 110, Data911 TG3, Fingerworks Touchstream LP, KBC Poker (Cherry MX Red), IBM Space Saving keyboard (Buckling spring), Goldtouch GTU-0077 keyboard

Offline WhiteFireDragon

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O-Ring mod: dampen noise and shorten bottoming-out distance
« Reply #2 on: Fri, 20 January 2012, 16:26:52 »
Well the prices I put at the bottom were out the door prices (including shipping) on all of them. Was $20 shipped not accurate? I guess I just didn't put the two separate ones from WASD. I'll specify it for 50A or 40A in the article.



edit: lol I just realized someone already made that correction. I didn't realize someone else can freely edit the original article.

Offline Input Nirvana

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O-Ring mod: dampen noise and shorten bottoming-out distance
« Reply #3 on: Sat, 21 January 2012, 05:32:28 »
The McMaster-Carr pricing reflected in your article is too low. It shows the -008 Soft Buna-N O-rings as $9 shipped. I bought from there originally and they were just over $9 BEFORE shipping. PART #24218T114
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Offline zirb

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O-Ring mod: dampen noise and shorten bottoming-out distance
« Reply #4 on: Fri, 02 March 2012, 04:19:26 »
Thanks for the informative review!
I'll definitely try them out, but I try to get some from a local DIY-store before ordering them :)

Offline Nighted

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O-Ring mod: dampen noise and shorten bottoming-out distance
« Reply #5 on: Fri, 02 March 2012, 06:53:49 »
I used 75 durometer o-rings and it makes my blue cherries a lot quieter. 75 is harder than 40 or 50 but there is no mushy feel and there is certainly more solid feeling on depressed keys as side-to-side motion in the post is significantly reduced. Great for gaming. :)

I stuck a grommet on my esc key to shorten the travel a bit more.

Overall a great mod, simple and cheap. I recommend everyone try it.
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Offline BigDov

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O-Ring mod: dampen noise and shorten bottoming-out distance
« Reply #6 on: Fri, 02 March 2012, 21:06:08 »
Anyone willing to post a sound clip of with and without? I'm somewhat limited in my late-night typing / gaming / anything because of key noise, and the fact that my computer is my bedroom and the wife can tend toward being a light sleeper.
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O-Ring mod: dampen noise and shorten bottoming-out distance
« Reply #7 on: Fri, 02 March 2012, 21:33:39 »
You have not been married for long, and/or your wife does not use sleeping pills.

Unless you live in a one-room situation, the late-night computer station must be in a different room from the bedroom.

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Offline sordna

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O-Ring mod: dampen noise and shorten bottoming-out distance
« Reply #8 on: Sat, 03 March 2012, 00:29:12 »
Quote from: BigDov;533553
Anyone willing to post a sound clip of with and without? I'm somewhat limited in my late-night typing / gaming / anything because of key noise, and the fact that my computer is my bedroom and the wife can tend toward being a light sleeper.

[video=youtube;lFkl1Vet1eU]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFkl1Vet1eU[/video]
Kinesis Contoured Advantage LF with Cherry MX Red switches / Extra keys mod / O-ring dampening mod / Dvorak layout. ErgoDox with buzzer and LED mod.
Also: Kinesis Advantage Classic, Kinesis Contoured Model 110, Data911 TG3, Fingerworks Touchstream LP, KBC Poker (Cherry MX Red), IBM Space Saving keyboard (Buckling spring), Goldtouch GTU-0077 keyboard

Offline omuerte

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O-Ring mod: dampen noise and shorten bottoming-out distance
« Reply #9 on: Sat, 03 March 2012, 03:16:46 »
Quote from: BigDov;533553
Anyone willing to post a sound clip of with and without? I'm somewhat limited in my late-night typing / gaming / anything because of key noise, and the fact that my computer is my bedroom and the wife can tend toward being a light sleeper.

Seriously, move your computer into another room - your marriage will thank you.

My Ex and I got together when we lived in student co-op housing, she spent the better part of two years sleeping in my bed in my single room in our co-op - so she got used to the noise and with sleeping with a pillow over her head to cope. Within 3 months of moving from the co-op to our first apartment she could no longer sleep in the same room I was gaming/typing in at night. Once we moved my computer out of the bedroom and into the living room everything was totally fine.

Earplugs go a long way, but the light and vibration are an equally important issue.

edit: Something I learned the hard way- if one, or both, of you have any kind of sleeping disorder (insomnia, light sleeper, restless leg syndrome) make sure you have a second comfortable/quiet/dark place to sleep away from the other partner. There's nothing worse than being stressed out at 4am because you have to get up at 7 and OH GOD HE/SHE/IT IS KEEPING ME AWAKE AGAIN RAAAAAAGE ITS ALL THEIR FAULT I'M NOT PERFORMING AT WORK/SCHOOL. You'll skip so much butthurt that you'd otherwise direct at each other (even though neither of you is truly at fault.) Don't "take one for the team" make the problem irrelevant instead.
« Last Edit: Sat, 03 March 2012, 03:25:00 by omuerte »
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