[sdiy] Keyboard style switches for synth keyboards? Keys from PBT plastic?

cheater cheater cheater00social at gmail.com
Sat Feb 6 00:47:07 CET 2021

Hi all,
has anyone ever tried to use any of those new-fangled mechanical pc
keyboard switches for synth keyboards? They have many actions and
weightings, and you can even swap out the springs, so I think there's
a lot there to use for us. I bought one of those switch testers
(search for "130 keyboard switch tester" on aliexpress) and there's a
lot of fun trying these out. I like the clicky ones especially much,
like Kailh Speed Navy, it kind of feels like switching a ballpoint
pen, a nice solid feeling. And they don't cost so much, 30 cents a
piece. There are even hall effect switches being developed nowadays,
so yeah, polyphonic aftertouch is feasible if you're after that. There
are full pc keyboards full of those switches for $99, like the Ace Pad
Tech APT04. The keyboard I am typing on, the Steel Series, uses hall
effect switches. And there are open source firmware projects that
support those switches. I guess next we need to get pc keyboard
enthusiasts into vintage SEM and Roland and Yamaha synth chips, alnico
speakers, pentode tubes, and 16-track tape.

My recent experiments also revealed to me why I hate most synth
keyboards. They're made out of slick, annoying ABS. The surface is
sticky and gooey. I much prefer PBT keyboards. They feel like touching
paper, or wood, depending on what finish the mold has been given (I
think they blast the mold with beads and it depends on the size of
those). Some PBT keys feel sharp, like touching a piece of stone (eg
"9009 colorway sa profile Dye Sub Keycap Set thick PBT plastic
keyboard gh60 xd60" from KPRepublic on Aliexpress) while others feel
much gentler (like "MP Chocolate Coloring 123 KEYS SA PBT" from
Mechanical Primitive on Aliexpress, which are my favourite set right
now). Playing around with a beam spring keyboard showed that there's
still quite a bit of value to making things larger. By virtue of how
tall the beam spring switch is alone (~3cm), it feels very smooth,
because the lever action created by lateral forces exerted on the key
cap has only a very small effect on the faces undergoing friction.

I hope everyone's good, as for myself the reports of my death have
been greatly exaggerated.


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