[GB] [IC] Nexus Slider (Alps Slider With Cherry Stem)

Hello all, I have been working on designing and prototyping a slider for alps switches that use the cherry mx stem in order to allow the use of more varied keycap sets. I have finished the initial prototyping phase and have moved on to a second prototyping phase with a higher quality material as I now know the geometry is near perfect but I need to see how the drafts for injection molding will affect the feel and wobble.

Product shot(s):
[attachimg=1]
For now this is all I will be sharing as the prototypes don't really resemble the final product and don't show detail very well. Product color is uncertain as I need to see what the manufacturers capabilities are.

Product Features:
    - Less wobble
    - Cherry MX mount

Note: Top housing will need to be slightly filed down to make sure the keycap doesn't catch when pressing the key. Only needs to be filed a tiny amount as the opening is almost the exact size of most cherry keycap stems.

Planned pricing and MOQ:
At the moment I am getting quotes for around 5,000-10,000, not sure how many people are wanting to jump in on this and will most likely be doing a couple rounds of ordering depending on the volume of interest.

Quantaties will be as follows:
    - 50 minimum
    - 70 for 60% and similar sizes
    - 95 for TKL[/li]
    - 115 for fullsize
    - 130 for big ass boards that you may have or for those who like extra[/li]

And you can order duplicates of the same quantity to get the desired amount in the end. No combining different quantities in one order just because I am one guy and it will be hard enough with 1 quantity per person.

Currently planning on pricing of $0.50 - $0.80 for each slider, depending on what the quotes are(will update once I figure out which manufacturer I will be using). Price may be out of that range, so be prepared as that is just an initial estimate/goal. Pricing looks to be $0.45 per slider for up to 10,000 sliders in each order before a new tool has to be made. Read update 3 for more information.

Interest Form:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSco2iti0KLO3PglEN00A7Yzftdw2puKl2lnhrGIe2W5vMqQLA/viewform?usp=sf_link
Will keep the form open for about 2 weeks or so and see how much interest I get, I will be the only person running this and if the interest is higher than I expected I may close it sooner so I don't get too many people on the first run. Once I get pricing and the form is closed the GB will open and ordering will commence.

Here is the original thread on geekhack if anyone wants to read up on what has been going on so far. https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=93403.0

Alps Top Housing Option:
Chyros wanted to know if I had a solution to the fact that cherry stems do barely fit inside the housing opening. He was not the first person to ask this and my answer was originally, and it can be seen at the top of this post, that you will have to file the housing slightly to fit the stem reliably. Now I know that not everyone will be willing to do so but that is the easiest most cost effective solution out there. In order to see if people would like me to produce a top housing that also allows clearance, I have made the below form to do so. Do note that this will ONLY WORK FOR ALPS, not matias switches as they are entirely different and those will have to be filed which isn't that bad seeing as they are $0.25 switches, and you can replace them, where as alps can't be replaced sadly. So that is why some of the questions make sure you acknowledge that fact.
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIp...sp=sf_link

Update:
Currently we are at 4980 sliders, we are almost at the minimum for this to be a GB, I want to get closer to 7,000 just in case some people change their minds before ordering so we don't drop below the 5000 MOQ. Plus the more people who get involved the price will drop significantly, ex. 10,000 is half the price of the moq for just tooling, manufacturing cost should also drop slightly and that means we can save a crap ton of money with more people. I don't really want to make much money on this I just want to make a great product that people will love for a very long time.

Keep the momentum up people!!! The response is awesome and way more than I expected in just 2 days.

Update 2:
We have now hit 5555 sliders, this is crazy how much people want this product, Today alone we have had almost 2000 sliders added to the list. Hopefully pricing quotes come tomorrow so I can figure out which manufacturer is the best fit and can start the GB by midweek or so.

Seriously thank you to all the people who have showed interest, this is more than I could have ever imagined and I can't wait to see what projects these go into.

Update 3:
We have now hit 7870 sliders, really happy to see the progress of this over the past few days. Up until now the quotes have been prohibitively high and made me worried that we would need to double that interest. Well I just received my 3rd quote and their pricing is way more reasonable for what we are doing. The last 2 quotes were using tools that would last 50,000 parts(shot) guaranteed and because of that the tooling was almost $5000 which sucks for almost any order quantity below 15,000.

But the new quote came in and I can reasonably sell them at $0.45 per slider as the tooling is only able to do 10,000 parts(shot) guaranteed. Which means I will either have to cut the order off at 10,000 or do it in waves, where the first 10,000 are made and shipped and new tooling is made once the next 10,000 are ordered. I can avoid this round system by using the 50,000 shot tooling but I am waiting on a re-estimate on the quote as I changed the surface finish that was to be used and will see what the new cost is.
Last edited by BlindAssassin111 on 09 Jan 2018, 22:26, edited 2 times in total.
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Unread post09 Jan 2018, 18:48

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I already read your thread on Geekhack with much interest, but I seem to have missed one thing: How do you solve the problem that the stem of some MX keycaps doesn't fit into an Alps housing without interfering with it?
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Unread post09 Jan 2018, 18:56

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Too many switches, too little time (and money).
There is a small bit of text in the product features that explains that unfortunately you will have to slightly file the sides of the housing with a small jewelers file in order to add some clearance. I can see that it would be hard to see it in all of that so I will change the text color to better get that in front of people.

Most cherry stems are 0.217" diameter which is almost the exact size of the opening in the alps housing, so the filing is only to make sure that when the slider is pressed and doesn't go down perfectly straight it won't catch on the top and either prevent that keystroke or make it a pain to type.

There is no way around it and I have to have people do it but I can't do anything about it unless I made another part to replace the top housing, which means I need to make one for alps and matias as they are different. Which would cost me about $10k to just do that...
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Unread post09 Jan 2018, 19:12

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Anyone have pine alps laying around that they can send to me to model? Typically I would like a small sample (maybe 5 or so) in order to make an accurate assumption on what a dimension should actually be. I don't know what all the differences could be between the inside of the pine vs. bamboo, so I would like to check both if possible. I would prefer just the top housing just so I don't scratch you housing when taking it apart.
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Unread post09 Jan 2018, 23:32

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Update:
We are now at 8500 sliders!!! Once I get the response from the other manufacturer, I will determine the final pricing and probably open up the Groupbuy for the sliders soon. And then if the top housing gains interest I will handle it separately.
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Unread post10 Jan 2018, 00:45

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So are these sliders going to be POM (like Matias switches from what I know) or some plastic more similar to the original alps used?
codemonkeymike

Unread post10 Jan 2018, 02:19

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codemonkeymike wrote:So are these sliders going to be POM (like Matias switches from what I know) or some plastic more similar to the original alps used?

That is a great question, forgot to answer that in the original post.

Yes these will be made of either POM copolymer or POM homopolymer(delrin) just depends on which manufacturer I use.
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Unread post10 Jan 2018, 02:33

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Very interested in this - in particular if top housings are made available as well! As a side effect of replacing slider+top housing, this would actually revive scratchy Alps!

One question: will these fit SKCM Browns? I seem to recall that Alps sliders differ a bit to accommodate different tactile/click leaves - could you make a switch compatibility list for these sliders?

And also: It sounds like you are planning on making tooling for one single cavity (slider) per shot? Isn’t it far more economical to lay it out as a larger mould with, say, 10 or 16 sliders per shot?
Last edited by Scarpia on 10 Jan 2018, 19:06, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post10 Jan 2018, 07:30

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Scarpia wrote:Very interrsted in this - in particular if top housings are made available as well! As a side effect of replacing slider+top housing, this would actually revive scratchy Alps!

One question: will these fit SKCM Browns? I seem to recall that Alps sliders differ a bit to accommodate different tactile/click leaves - could you make a switch compatibility list for these sliders?

And also: It sounds like you are planning on making tooling for one single cavity (slider) per shot? Isn’t it far more economical to lay it out as a larger mould with, say, 10 or 16 sliders per shot?

I never thought of this as a way to fix scratchy alps...New market for interest.

I have no idea if browns will work, I have none and don't have the money to buy alps variant keyboards, I would love to have the collection that Chyros has but I sadly don't. Currently I only have my at101w left for my alps boards as I had to sell the others a few years ago, so I can't guarantee fitment of all alps variants for the housing. Unless someone has loose switches or willing to just send top housings that are labeled so I can check to see if there are any small variations in the housings that may be hidden.

I honestly don't know how many cavities the mold has, I do know that one of the quotes was for 4 per shot but they were way to expensive for the current level of interest. I assume that they have more than just 1 because otherwise imagine how long and tedious it would be to do the mold 10,000 times....that would take foreever.
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Unread post10 Jan 2018, 16:43

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Update:
We currently have 9000 sliders of interest which is nearing the limit for the first run, which is great!!! As well the top housing has hit just over 3000 which means that I will most likely be doing that part as well for those that do want it, just need to have a minimum of 7,500 before I will commit to doing the production of it.

I have posted but in case someone didn't see it, I need SKCM alps variants to model the top housing and to check to see if there are any small differences internal to the housing. If anyone is willing to send some over I would appreciate the help!!
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Unread post10 Jan 2018, 16:53

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Update:
Okay, So still waiting on the prototypes to be shipped out, seems that they are busy and haven't sent it yet. Sucks but I can't force them to produce them any faster. Hopefully they ship out by tomorrow.

I was able to get some help with the pine/bamboo top housings so I will be able to fully model them to make sure there is no major internal differences that may be present. Currently half way through modeling the SKCM black housing so any differences will be added to that. I haven't decided if I will put the slits in the top for pines, but I will decide once I have the older SKCM housings in my hands.

Currently we are at 9630 sliders, and 3310 housings. So once I get the prototypes in and make a video showing them off, and making any changes that I need to make it be a perfect product, I will open the GB and we will have a full first run of 10,000 most likely and if any extras are present I will sell them to those who either want a small sample or need a small quantity. I am planning on doing a round 2 in the future, so keep posted.

We still need to get more people on board with the top housings in order for it to be made. I will be modeling it and purchasing a prototype set to make sure they work well in the coming weeks. I have noticed that not many people on deskthority have joined the interest check so if you know anyone that may be interested or want to spread it more please do so.
Last edited by BlindAssassin111 on 12 Jan 2018, 16:42, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post11 Jan 2018, 20:39

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Will you be checking different Cherry MX stem keycaps for clearance over the top housings?

I have never checked myself, but with many different popular profiles and keycap manufacturers it's possible that some keycaps don't have enough inside clearance to slide down over the standard square SKCM switch housing.

It would be great if we could make sure the keycaps will fit over these new top housings -- if we are actually getting new tooling made for the top housings (I REALLY want this to happen) it would be clever to redesign them just a little (maybe rounding or tapering the corners might be necessary for some keycaps?) in order to make them compatible with more keycaps :)

...OTOH that might infuriate purists and --- worse yet --- it might affect the sound of the switches. On second thought, changing the design is probably too risky.
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Unread post11 Jan 2018, 22:24

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Scarpia wrote:Will you be checking different Cherry MX stem keycaps for clearance over the top housings?

I have never checked myself, but with many different popular profiles and keycap manufacturers it's possible that some keycaps don't have enough inside clearance to slide down over the standard square SKCM switch housing.

It would be great if we could make sure the keycaps will fit over these new top housings -- if we are actually getting new tooling made for the top housings (I REALLY want this to happen) it would be clever to redesign them just a little (maybe rounding or tapering the corners might be necessary for some keycaps?) in order to make them compatible with more keycaps :)

...OTOH that might infuriate purists and --- worse yet --- it might affect the sound of the switches. On second thought, changing the design is probably too risky.

So before I posted the IC here, I had already talked it over with some people on geekhack and actually had a guy send out caps of all profiles so I will be checking clearance to make sure they fit properly and everything once the prototypes get here. Sorry that I hadn't mentioned it on this forum, should have but didn't think to as it was already a solved problem.

I don't want to change the top housing design much just because it will be hard to as they are almost as small as they can possibly be, I may just round the top differently but that would really be it. I don't want to change the sound characteristics if at all possible.
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Unread post11 Jan 2018, 23:04

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@BlindAssassin111

Please make sure that everything works first on your prototype, before ordering a few thousand pieces for you to earn some quick money from people who have high hope to use their pretty keycap sets on their Alps switches. It's important to run one's first group buy right, if one is looking forward to build a good reputation as I can see it seems to be your first GB project - at least under this username.

Again, on the many mechanical keyboard forums, there are lots of users who have all these equipment and skills:
1. Alps switches - vintage and new;
2. Key cap sets from various manufacturers;
3. 3D printers at home;
4. CAD drawing skill.

They basically can do rapid prototyping quicker than you do, if they bother to do so.
Only after reading a few posts following these this project do I learn that key caps of various profiles have yet to be tested and that the difference between SKCL stem and SKCM stem was not consider until being brought up.

This is potentially a great project for a few reasons:
1. MX style key caps are much stronger and with better design compared to the Alps style key caps - I have already broken some Alps stems and have seen quite a lot of broken stems for Alps caps. And it is easier for MX caps to sit squarely flat and firm on a switch without wiggle. MX stem is just more robust in general;
2. Instead of just copying from the simplified design of Matias and Simplified Alps, it is even better to study the complicated design and see if some design elements can be incorporated into the new housing top and the new stem.
Further, Alps switches suffer notoriously from deteriorating performance because of being exposed to dust get and getting dirty while being used - if your new design can provide a remedy to that, then that is a definite game changer.

MX design makes great linear switches, and Alps design makes great tactile / clicky switches - this is just my opinion. The MX design has the added bump and click quite before the actuation - perhaps it can be a good thing still, while Alps click and bump feels quite on spot. Moreover, Alps switches were the switches in so many iconic computers, so they always have a special place in many people's heart.

I hope you can manage it well eventually - please do it well also, while completing a project is of course very important.
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Unread post12 Jan 2018, 16:51

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Menuhin wrote:@BlindAssassin111

Please make sure that everything works first on your prototype, before ordering a few thousand pieces for you to earn some quick money from people who have high hope to use their pretty keycap sets on their Alps switches. It's important to run one's first group buy right, if one is looking forward to build a good reputation as I can see it seems to be your first GB project - at least under this username.

I am not looking to make quick money, don't see why you think that, I am going to barely make anything at all on this, just enough to cover the cost of the sliders I was wanting personally. So please do not accuse me of doing this to make quick money, that is not at all what the goal of this project is. I want to allow people to use keycap sets they may love but haven't been able to put on their alps boards.
Menuhin wrote:Again, on the many mechanical keyboard forums, there are lots of users who have all these equipment and skills:
1. Alps switches - vintage and new;
2. Key cap sets from various manufacturers;
3. 3D printers at home;
4. CAD drawing skill.

They basically can do rapid prototyping quicker than you do, if they bother to do so.
Only after reading a few posts following these this project do I learn that key caps of various profiles have yet to be tested and that the difference between SKCL stem and SKCM stem was not consider until being brought up.

First off I have a SKCM board, and have had a user on geekhack send me keycaps to test, as well as older SKCM pine housings in order to make sure there isn't any changes that will affect the final product.

I have CAD drawing skills as I am a mechanical engineer, So I don't really need help in that regard.

No home 3D printer can achieve the finish I am looking for in my 3D printed prototypes, I have to have it printed on a $250,000 printer to have the material and finish quality to better test this. So no they can't prototype faster than I can, as I will be getting them early next week.
Menuhin wrote:and that the difference between SKCL stem and SKCM stem was not consider until being brought up.

I don't know where you got this idea from, I had the design consideration already, just made some changes to make it more obvious in the final product so you can identify easier, and some other small changes. That happened at about the same time the person made the comment with the wiki link, and I just posted there that I had made changes.
Menuhin wrote:2. Instead of just copying from the simplified design of Matias and Simplified Alps, it is even better to study the complicated design and see if some design elements can be incorporated into the new housing top and the new stem.
Further, Alps switches suffer notoriously from deteriorating performance because of being exposed to dust get and getting dirty while being used - if your new design can provide a remedy to that, then that is a definite game changer.

I am not copying the simplified/matias design, my slider is designed after both SKCM and Matias to make sure it can work in both, which any SKCM slider does already. After a few iterations of design it has migrated closer to a custom design as it will have a tighter fit in the housing to reduce wobble, and it incorporates things from the SKCM as well that are important.

I don't know why you came at me making accusations and trying to more or less "bash" this project, but please read up fully before you make a comment. Only mistake I made was thinking my AT101W had SKBM switches, which was a misunderstanding from info I read years and years ago on here and geekhack, which lead me to say I would make a housing that worked with SKBM and SKCM, which isn't possible, nor what I am going to be doing.
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Unread post12 Jan 2018, 17:45

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All right then.

I am looking forward to seeing improvements after each iterations of refinement.
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Update:
I have sent out for a quote on the top housing, so I will know what pricing is in a few days. I am looking at either doing ABS or POM, as I believe the alps were some time of ABS from what I have read, but POM would also be a great material as it has a very low friction coefficient, which can make these even smoother than the original. Once the quote comes in, I will see what may need to be changed to either make it manufacturable, or to remove erroneous features. From there I will then order a small sample of prototypes as well, which will take another week and a half probably.

Something that I noticed while modeling the housing is that SKCM Black alps used a different mold than any other SKCM (pine or bamboo) I don't know why this was done but it was, so the housing will fit on pine or bamboo alps, not sure about SKCM Brown as I don't know if the housing was different to accommodate the different style click leaf/plate. If it is physically the same width and depth slot in the top housing as any other SKCM switch, then it should fit. I will be testing the prototypes on SKCM Blacks to see if they fit.

SKCM Black Top Housing:
SKCM_Black.png


All other SKCM Except maybe Brown:
SKCM_Pine and early bamboo.png






This is what the top housing looks like at the moment, may change in the coming days.
Housing_TopISO.png


Housing_Top.png


Housing_BottomISO1.png


Housing_BottomISO2.png
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Unread post14 Jan 2018, 22:58

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The top slits on the side of the slider seem a little large.
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Unread postYesterday, 00:27

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codemonkeymike wrote:The top slits on the side of the slider seem a little large.

They were a tad large in that picture, had them at 0.2mm wider than I thought I had made them, fixed that. Only bad thing that would have come from that is more space for dirt, nothing else would have been affected.
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