Author Topic: Naked Alps  (Read 3986 times)

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Offline Whiskey in the Jar-o

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Naked Alps
« on: Sat, 01 December 2007, 22:48:20 »
So I've pulled off the keycaps of my Northgate board, and just type directly on the switches. They feel so much softer and tactile this way. Using way less force, and no noise except for the click - none of that hitting bottom thud. I think I figured it out. The keycaps have way to much horizontal play in them. So if you don't hit precisely in the middle, the down motion becomes stiff. When there are no keycaps, you are forced to hit in the middle, else you won't  make it at all. My PLUM board with Cherry ML keys has the same problem, except it's much worse. The keycaps are oversized and the connection between the keycap and slider is not very solid. When hitting the corner of the key, it feels like the keycap will yank off the slider. Hmm... maybe I should try one of those new Apple aluminium keyboards. Anyway, typing directly on the switches is probably not a good idea. The internals are exposed to dust and lint, and may actually gum up after a while.

Can anyone suggest a name for what I'm doing? How about, bareback typing, capless typing, naked typing, bare typing, skinny typing, etc...  

P.S.
Perhaps the tactiliy has something to do with physical sharpness of the sliders themselves. Maybe I should just type on nails (the blunt end).

Offline iMav

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« Reply #1 on: Sun, 02 December 2007, 08:29:37 »
Sounds like a perfect use of a member poll.

My vote?  Bare-hacking.  ;)

Offline xsphat

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« Reply #2 on: Sun, 02 December 2007, 11:38:51 »
Dirty typing

Offline ashort

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« Reply #3 on: Sun, 02 December 2007, 12:27:53 »
Typing Wide Open

or

Going Commando
Andrew
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Offline xsphat

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« Reply #4 on: Sun, 02 December 2007, 15:05:59 »
I second Going Commando, that's the best one so far.

Offline Whiskey in the Jar-o

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« Reply #5 on: Sun, 02 December 2007, 16:32:13 »
Is this too weird? Am I the only one doing this? Feels great, BTW. I will decap all the keys on this board, and the PLUM as well. I'm also thinking that perhaps keycaps are too big in general, and the keys can be put closer together. Keyboards could be made much smaller that way.

Offline mr_sf_applet

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« Reply #6 on: Sun, 02 December 2007, 17:28:03 »
Quote from: Whiskey in the Jar-o
Is this too weird? Am I the only one doing this? Feels great, BTW.

Pervert!

(I vote for Going Commando too.)

Offline Whiskey in the Jar-o

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« Reply #7 on: Sun, 02 December 2007, 18:06:14 »
Quote from: mr_sf_applet
Quote from: Whiskey in the Jar-o
Is this too weird? Am I the only one doing this? Feels great, BTW.

Pervert!

(I vote for Going Commando too.)


No seriously, I was disappointed with this board. It's been gathering dust for quite a while now. The keys felt stiff, the click negated by the bottoming-out and key return thud.  The board feels like and echo chamber.  I even decided that I don't like clicky boards. Actually what I don't like is the thud of the keys hitting bottom. I'm not sure about this, but I think that the base of the keycap stem does not allow the full range of motion that the slider is capable of. Or perhaps the click is overwhelmed by the "play" of the keycap and it's general noise. Typing without the keycaps, the click feels awesome. I'm not overhitting the keys at all. The most tactile typing experience I've ever had. All I hear is the quiet rustle of keys clicking punctuated by the thud of the still capped (but not for long) space bar and modifier keys. If I could only find small keycaps with no play in them, I'd be set. Something like the keycaps on the Steampunk Model M.

P.S.
Now that I hear that the blue Cherry sliders are softer than the white Alps, I'm seriously considering the Scoripus M10. If anything, Cherry MX switches should have a wider variety of keycaps.

Offline Nonmouse

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« Reply #8 on: Sun, 02 December 2007, 19:29:07 »
Quote from: Whiskey in the Jar-o
If I could only find small keycaps with no play in them, I'd be set. Something like the keycaps on the Steampunk Model M.

I was actually going to suggest something like that myself.  I'm working on a keyboard mod using an old Wang keyboard with white ALPS sliders, and I'm planning on gluing typewriter keys directly on the sliders, without all that keycap boring that Von Slatt did.  

You can always find sets of keys on ebay- they usually run around $15-25 for a set, with 45-50ish keys per.  So you'd need at least two typewriters' worth.  A cheaper, though more hit and miss approach is Craigs List- I've picked up a couple typewriters for $10-15 on there.

Offline xsphat

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« Reply #9 on: Sun, 02 December 2007, 22:00:14 »
Quote from: Nonmouse
I'm planning on gluing typewriter keys directly on the sliders, without all that keycap boring that Von Slatt did.


I have been thinking about doing that to my HHKB Pro 2 for a little bit now. The stems are round and black they end in at the switch, so it would look just bad ass. Why did you ruin it for me?

Offline Whiskey in the Jar-o

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« Reply #10 on: Sun, 02 December 2007, 22:48:48 »
Quote from: Nonmouse
Quote from: Whiskey in the Jar-o
If I could only find small keycaps with no play in them, I'd be set. Something like the keycaps on the Steampunk Model M.

I was actually going to suggest something like that myself.  I'm working on a keyboard mod using an old Wang keyboard with white ALPS sliders, and I'm planning on gluing typewriter keys directly on the sliders, without all that keycap boring that Von Slatt did.  

You can always find sets of keys on ebay- they usually run around $15-25 for a set, with 45-50ish keys per.  So you'd need at least two typewriters' worth.  A cheaper, though more hit and miss approach is Craigs List- I've picked up a couple typewriters for $10-15 on there.


I'd rather not mess with the switches themselves. I think boring the stem out of the keycap sounds like a good idea. My worry is that the Alps slider-stem interface is just that: wobbly, so original stems will not help, large caps or not.  I'm thinking of finding some kind of rubber plugs that would fit into the sliders. Of course then there is the possibility of whatever you fit into the slider deteriorating and falling into the internal mechanism. The same problem exists with typing on naked switches, as I do now. Any small crumb can potentially ruin a switch.

Offline Whiskey in the Jar-o

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Givinig up... for now
« Reply #11 on: Mon, 03 December 2007, 02:53:21 »
The soft click unobscured by any other sound... Tis bliss I tell ya's.  But while my finger joints are much relieved by this new (to me) form of typing, my fingertips are quite the opposite. A few more weeks of this and I will have no fingerprints (or fingertips). I could probably get some of those finger condoms that clerks use, but that still leaves the problem of having the Alps all exposed to the (dusty) elements. I'll let the board rest for now... When I have the time, I shall mould new keycaps out of rubber or soft plastic. Then I shall rule the keyboard realm for real.

P.S.
Another idea came up.  After recapping the sliders with new mininmal caps, why not add another plate at the level of the switch, so that just the sliders stick out above its plane? It would be like a MacBook keyboard with real switches. The space between the planes and the switches filled with foam to stop it from becoming an echo chamber.

Offline ashort

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« Reply #12 on: Mon, 03 December 2007, 06:01:05 »
Would it be possible to grind down the underside the of the original keycaps by 1/8" or so, so they didn't bottom out, either?
Andrew
{ KBC Poker - brown | Filco Majestouch - brown | Dell AT101W | Cherry G84-4100 }

Offline Whiskey in the Jar-o

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« Reply #13 on: Mon, 03 December 2007, 06:33:25 »
Quote from: ashort
Would it be possible to grind down the underside the of the original keycaps by 1/8" or so, so they didn't bottom out, either?


Good question. I don't know. But seeing how the keycaps have a fair bit of wobble to them as they are, it may make things worse. But the tactile feedback of nekkid white alps is really something. I want the replacement keycaps to be as close to that feel as possible, but without abrasing the fingers as the nekkid sliders do now.

Offline ashort

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« Reply #14 on: Mon, 03 December 2007, 09:48:44 »
My Tactile Pro 2 has switches that are...well let's just see what Matias says about it:

Quote
Based on the legendary Alps keyswitch used in the Apple Extended Keyboard and the original Tactile Pro, the new Matias Mechanical Keyswitch recreates the tactile feedback and force curve of the original Alps design, ensuring maximum performance, greater comfort, and faster typing speeds. You will feel the difference immediately.


Might that be why I think they are too wobbly with keycaps on?  I haven't tried going commando yet.
Andrew
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Offline xsphat

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« Reply #15 on: Mon, 03 December 2007, 10:21:18 »
The part of the key cap that bottoms out is top of it [the underside] where the spacers are. So I don't think you can do much to prevent that from happening.

And for the record, I misread the post about gluing keys to the sliders. I would not do that, ever. I would cut the hell out of the keys and use the stem on each keycap to glue the new key to.

Offline Nonmouse

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Re: Givinig up... for now
« Reply #16 on: Mon, 03 December 2007, 12:46:43 »
Quote from: Whiskey in the Jar-o
The soft click unobscured by any other sound... Tis bliss I tell ya's.  But while my finger joints are much relieved by this new (to me) form of typing, my fingertips are quite the opposite. A few more weeks of this and I will have no fingerprints (or fingertips). I could probably get some of those finger condoms that clerks use, but that still leaves the problem of having the Alps all exposed to the (dusty) elements. I'll let the board rest for now... When I have the time, I shall mould new keycaps out of rubber or soft plastic. Then I shall rule the keyboard realm for real.

P.S.
Another idea came up.  After recapping the sliders with new mininmal caps, why not add another plate at the level of the switch, so that just the sliders stick out above its plane? It would be like a MacBook keyboard with real switches. The space between the planes and the switches filled with foam to stop it from becoming an echo chamber.

What, are you guys peeking in my workshop?  I'm going to fill the space between the switches on my mod with felt, and then top it off with leather at the level of the switch tops, so it'll have a level, firm-but-resilient deck with the keys resting ~1/4" above it.

The nekkid keyboard and the keys I'm going to use:



Here's a pic of the keycaps, and one of the board pre-discomboobulation:



As you can see, the bottom of the cap has four rails that level it when it bottoms out.  That's where most of the annoying plastic CLACK comes from on the ALPS switches.  I suppose I could cut the sides off and glue the keys to the cap, but then I'd get the CLACK, which I don't want.  The bit that slips into the sliders is rectangular, about 1 x 3 mm (I don't feel like schlepping out to the garage to grab a micrometer atm).  If I can source a metal or plastic bar that size, I could cut lengths off and glue or solder that to the keys,so they'd be easily removed, or alternatively, cut the top of the caps off and then file off the balancing rails.  I don't think I want to spend that much (cutting and filing) effort and time just on mounting the keys, though.  If I can find a bar that size, or a round bar that I could use two of side-by-side, I'll prolly do that, maybe with a thin pad of highish-density rubber on the bottom of the keys to give a little cushion and reduce noise.

I definitely want the keys lower than Jake has on his board, or than Datamancer has on the boards he's selling:



Offline Whiskey in the Jar-o

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Re: Givinig up... for now
« Reply #17 on: Mon, 03 December 2007, 19:22:53 »
Quote from: Nonmouse

As you can see, the bottom of the cap has four rails that level it when it bottoms out.  That's where most of the annoying plastic CLACK comes from on the ALPS switches.  I suppose I could cut the sides off and glue the keys to the cap, but then I'd get the CLACK, which I don't want.  The bit that slips into the sliders is rectangular, about 1 x 3 mm (I don't feel like schlepping out to the garage to grab a micrometer atm).  If I can source a metal or plastic bar that size, I could cut lengths off and glue or solder that to the keys,so they'd be easily removed, or alternatively, cut the top of the caps off and then file off the balancing rails.  I don't think I want to spend that much (cutting and filing) effort and time just on mounting the keys, though.  If I can find a bar that size, or a round bar that I could use two of side-by-side, I'll prolly do that, maybe with a thin pad of highish-density rubber on the bottom of the keys to give a little cushion and reduce noise.

I definitely want the keys lower than Jake has on his board, or than Datamancer has on the boards he's selling:


I don't have any Cherry MX switches to compare with, but don't you think that the Cherry switch design is more "stable" than the Alps?

Offline Nonmouse

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Re: Givinig up... for now
« Reply #18 on: Mon, 03 December 2007, 19:40:19 »
Quote from: Whiskey in the Jar-o


I don't have any Cherry MX switches to compare with, but don't you think that the Cherry switch design is more "stable" than the Alps?

I haven't got a Cherry keyboard on hand to compare it to, but I've got a couple MX-8100's (I think they should have the white sliders) coming this week, so I can compare 'em.  Let you know this weekend.

Offline Whiskey in the Jar-o

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« Reply #19 on: Tue, 04 December 2007, 01:28:17 »
Damn, this is frustrating. It's only been a day since the end of my commando experiment, and I already miss the prickly little guys  :cry: . Must work something out. Their feedback is simply perfect.