Broken Topre boards. Do they exist?

Topre boards - either you love or you hate them.

But, has anybody ever seen or heard of a broken switch or board?

Mechanics can break, that's why there are stories of broken, let's say Cherry MX switches. But these can easily be fixed.

So my question is, who has experienced a broken Topre board and how did you fix it?
t!ng
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Unread post27 Apr 2016, 11:44

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I must say that I had seen numerous broken MX switches (haven't seen broken Cherry clone yet though) that either stopped registering keys or developed chattering. I have seen (and still own because of their unique layouts) Model Ms that have some rows or columns not registering keys. I haven't seen a single failed Topre or Model F however. I currently own 2 Topre boards (HHKB and RF 55G) and owned 2 other boards (also HHKB, and RF 45G) and never had a failure with them. Of course rubber degrades with time, sometimes they become heavier (my RF 55G) or more linear (some of my old HHKB's keys), but they always work. Same goes for Model Fs. No matter how dirty and rusty they are, they always work. To my surprise, they still feel amazing and quite consistent even with some springs being almost all red because of rust :)
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Unread post27 Apr 2016, 12:40

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Keep the momentum going!
In the 5 years since I've used MX keyboards I had not one Cherry switch stop working (or start chattering).
Any issues I had were either due to problems with the soldering (hello, QFR) or due to dust stuck in the switch (once).

On M's, single keys can stop working at any time due to the plastic rivets breaking. But not a problem after bolt-modding.

I did feel that brand new Topre changes quickly with wear. Especially in the key cluster I used for gaming (R, D, F, G).
This is another reason why I never wanted a Topre daily driver, I don't want parts that wear out. I don't see any way to break them in evenly, and I don't see them lasting 40 years like some IBMs could. Then again, as long as the rubber is there I think they can last a long time.

Did one of yours "break", t!ng?
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Unread post27 Apr 2016, 13:10

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Topre domes get a bit stiffer with age. I think 002 mentioned a truly stress-tested Realforce board he'd seen one time that had served several years in an arcade setting, getting beat up by thousands of different users. Still worked, but the feel was affected.

IBMs are far from immortal. A bent spring can wreck a Model F switch as much as a Model M. Learn the chopstick mod and you can replace the spring, if you have spares. (Mixing M springs with Fs isn't great.) But my Kishsaver came with an unresponsive key that had a worse cause: a broken flipper. Easier to fix in a Model F, of course, but you still need spares. And then there's all that flaking foam…

Broken MX switches? Yes, I've encountered a few of those too. And when they're plate mounted, they're so much of a pain to replace that you're up at bolt mod level hassle.

Alps is worse than MX for failure rates, I find along with most people, especially just losing its feel and getting dirty and damaged inside. Easier to replace, thankfully, but harder to source spares for the good ones.

There's no such thing as a board that's as tough as a tank. Even beamsprings get beat up, and I'm sure there's busted Honeywells out there. We like to talk up the battle tested superpowers of our boards, but they're susceptible to wear and harm. Which will still work in 20, 50 or 100 years? Some. But it's more about care than armour.
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Unread post27 Apr 2016, 13:21

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More than 25 years of intensive use of Cherry MX as a professional typist.
The only failure I registered was… the sudden absence of my G80-2100 stolen by burglars some 20 years ago :lol:
Apart from that, never had any problems with my Cherry boards although they were always treated as heavy duty tools
and not as nice show-off bling-bling gear.
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Unread post27 Apr 2016, 14:00

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topre.jpg
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Unread post27 Apr 2016, 14:22

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I think I have around 35 Topre keyboards now. Some of them admittedly untested but I am pretty sure that all of them would still work. I have never heard of a Topre keyboard or switch failing -- there was one guy once on geekhack that I tried to help because he had spilled something into his Realforce but in the end he was able to get it working by taking it apart and cleaning it IIRC. Definitely the feel can change though over time. The example that Mu recalls is the Counter-strike NEO keyboard which is one of my favourites for sure :)

I don't want to turn this in to any sort of fanboy war but I have absolutely seen or experienced quality issues with Cherry MX keyboards but in their defence I will say that it's not always Cherry's fault. Some examples:

- Leopold FC200 -- broken LEDs (colleagues keyboard)
- Filco Majestouch 1 -- controller died (my keyboard)
- Filco Majestouch 1 -- chattering (my keyboard)
- Archiss Japanese TKL keyboard -- chattering
- Filco Majestouch 2 TKL -- chattering (colleagues keyboard)

Definitely the biggest issue with Topre that I don't like is that the "new car feel" disappears over time. That is the thing I envy most about MX, Buckling spring and Alps.
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Unread post27 Apr 2016, 14:25

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Well those are some disillusioning facts 002. I'm pretty sure the "new car feel" disappears on all keyboards sooner or later.
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Unread post27 Apr 2016, 14:32

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Well I guess what I mean by that is that in a blind test I probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a 10 year old used Cherry keyboard and a new one, but I think I could probably tell the difference with a Topre keyboard under the same test conditions.
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Unread post27 Apr 2016, 14:37

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Yeah. Everything wears. That's life.

Incidentally, I've put in a lot of typing on my HHKB and I can't notice any difference between keys. (Yes, there are even rarely used keys on a 60%! While Fn in particular gets very heavy duty.) The whole board is still crisp and uniform. Better than the day I got it, thanks to Matteo's PBT spacebar upgrade.

I reckon a single, careful, dare I say persnickety user from new is the ideal life for a busy keyboard. Kbdfr presumably keeps his active boards as clean as his boxed backups, as I do. Dirty caps peeve me as much as fluff on a screen. I treat my stuff very well, and the good stuff tends to last. So long as there's no ABS to shine, I'm good for the long haul.

But eventually…
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Unread post27 Apr 2016, 14:42

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seebart wrote:Image

Really?

OP:
t!ng wrote:[…] there are stories of broken, let's say Cherry MX switches. […]

#1
czarek wrote:[…] seen numerous broken MX switches […]

#2
shreebles wrote:[…] since I've used MX keyboards I had not one Cherry switch stop working […]

#3
Muirium wrote:[…] Broken MX switches? Yes, I've encountered a few of those […]


#4
My Cherry MX post

#5
Your post quoted above :mrgreen:
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Unread post27 Apr 2016, 14:50

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Muirium wrote:[…] Kbdfr presumably keeps his active boards as clean as his boxed backups […]

Definitely not, that’s part of what I meant when writing "treated as heavy duty tools and not as nice show-off bling-bling gear"

Most of you would presumably refuse to even touch my daily driver :lol:
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Unread post27 Apr 2016, 14:53

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Ahh I knew you'd love my mindless meme kbdfr.... ;) :mrgreen:
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Unread post27 Apr 2016, 15:19

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Topre will likely work longer than most mechanical switches, as it is capacitive in design, but the domes will probably wear out quickly; let's say that someone buys a Topre board and they use it for a little over a decade. That's when they find something that they like even more, and so they just throw the Topre board in storage. After a good 15 years in storage, the domes will probably feel very mushy and barely tactile.

I've experienced major dome degradation on one of my old Compaq boards that uses NMB dome with sliders. This keyboard is from ~1999 and it was in good shape when I got it. The caps barely had any shine. But the domes were in horrible shape. So mushy and not tactile at all, even on the least commonly-used keys.. But the NMB domes in my newer Dell RT7D20 feel nice and uniform.

This may also be the reason why Keytronic F&F feels so horrible, even in good condition. It doesn't matter how good of condition the keyboard is in, the rubber will degrade over time. If you love Topre, stick with it, but don't expect the domes to last forever. Granted, nothing lasts forever, but switches like IBM buckling springs may feel uniform throughout their lifetime (until rivets start breaking, membranes start degrading, etc)
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Unread post27 Apr 2016, 17:26

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@Kbdfr: Touchy! C'mon, we all know that MX is pretty solid compared to, well, those snappy yellow Kylie clones (it's been too long, I'm spelling things phonetically!) and have better longevity than Alps, outright.

You'd be surprised how much we 60%ers type. I once calculated I write at least a million words a year. That was enough in a couple of years to shine the silver right off my PowerBook! I spread the load around more on my workhorse desktop keyboards. So it will take longer to see. So far, so good. All I ever did was shine some ABS.

My favourite board of all: my Kishsaver's in heavy use in the wee hours when I'm home at the moment. And there's nothing inherently "bling" about it besides that one DecentKeyboards cap…
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Unread post27 Apr 2016, 17:26

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I've once seen a very beaten up and broken RF 87 on reddit. I almost made a nice bargain with him but unfortunately he bring it back to life. It was something with the cable... DANG!

I do feel a slight difference on my 2005 HHKB pro1 but it's not mushy at all. Just a bit more heavy (I actually like my Pro1 over my Pro2) but I am totally fine with that.

The domes could be a weak spot but we will see how it will turn out in the next years :)

I've seen broken MX keyboards but rarely caused by a broken switch. Cheap cables, broken controller, bad PCBs and such things are more likely to fail than the switch itself. Also Topre is less common compared to MX, so we rarely see broken Realforces or HHKBs.

I think that Topre is superior to the most switches, but I am also a fanboy.
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Unread post27 Apr 2016, 18:10

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Well, we all the know the solution now. Let's get our hands on some spare Topre domes and make these babies last our lifetimes!
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Unread post28 Apr 2016, 03:43

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Muirium wrote:IBMs are far from immortal. A bent spring can wreck a Model F switch as much as a Model M.

The only way to bend a spring is to pull the keycap off, and then put it back on improperly. Regular use will never bend a spring.

This isn’t really an indictment of the keyswitch design. With enough malicious effort and/or total incompetence, it’s possible to break just about anything.
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Unread post28 Apr 2016, 08:43

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In my experience, just about everything either wears out, gets affected by dirt, or both. Topre has a shorter lifetime than other capacitive designs, presumably on account of the rubber domes. Even Honeywell Hall effect switches are quite prone to dust contamination in my experience, lending to a pretty nasty keyfeel, and they are extremely hard to clean.

One of the things I judge the durability of a design by is how was it is to clean or repair. For example, Acer switches are probably the most dust-prone of any switch I've ever seen, but all you do is unscrew the back panel and hoover them out, and similarly they are ridiculously easy to replace or replace parts of, which makes them an actually very robust design IMO. Similarly Alps can be serviced fairly well. The Model F is also quite superior to the M in this way.
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Unread post28 Apr 2016, 09:01

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I think that Topre is more immune to dust, dirt heavy use than other switches because of the capacitive activation plus they lie nice and safe under a thick dome of silicone.

At the end it is like Mu said, it comes down how you use it and how you take care of if.
I take good care of my boards and clean my daily driver regularly.

I'd say that the following switch types are very easy to take apart and clean: Topre > BS > Alps > Cherry
The other way around though Topre is annoying to put back together (because of the springs) and I've noticed some spring "vibration" which will go away after some use. I guess they have to settle first?
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Unread post28 Apr 2016, 10:34

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I actually wanted to open a separate thread to ask this, but seeing how you guys are discussing this here I think it kind of, sort of fits the theme.

My question is: has anyone noticed a big difference between new Topre boards? I've had in ownership or under my fingers nearly a dozen HHKBs now, few of which brand new. I think there's quite a bit of difference between them, since brand new. My first one was bought brand new from EliteKeyboards and it performed...awfully. I didn't realize at the time, but then I bought a used HHKB ... and loved it more than my brand new! I've boxed it since, got a few HHKBs in the mean time, sold a few, then bought a few more, but that very first, brand new HHKB always performed terribly. I sold it on later on and the experience i still very vivid as being overly stiff, almost like writing on rocks or something. I don't know.

I got a new HHKB yesterday and it performs so.much.better. I love this one. It's just a joy to write on.Compared to that other one it's night and day difference.

So my question really would be, has anyone noticed a big difference between brand new boards in terms of feel and quality?

That said, I'm a huge Topre fan myself, specifically HHKBs. Gave Realforce a try, could never fall in love with it. I've had a dozen Topre boards and none of them have ever failed on me thus far. Also, I wouldn't say any of them lost their performance or degraded. They were always a joy to use. Except that one HHKB I bought brand new from EK that was terrible (this has nothing to do with EK as a vendor).
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Unread post29 Apr 2016, 08:03

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Very weird. I love the aesthetics of the HHKB and would love to try one, but I am very much an ISO guy, and the JIS one doesn't do it for me with it's tiny tiny spacebar. I have also just gotten used to 60% by making heavy use of the capslock for an FN key. So I'd have to relearn everything with the HHKB, and still be missing one key (Win).
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Unread post29 Apr 2016, 09:36

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shreebles wrote:Very weird. I love the aesthetics of the HHKB and would love to try one, but I am very much an ISO guy, and the JIS one doesn't do it for me with it's tiny tiny spacebar. I have also just gotten used to 60% by making heavy use of the capslock for an FN key. So I'd have to relearn everything with the HHKB, and still be missing one key (Win).

Pay attention it's not a regular ANSI on HHKB. I personally found it a very natural layout and adjusting to it was a breeze.

I'm not sure what you mean with meta key - you have a meta key on both sides of the keyboard. If you'd turn one of the meta keys (probably on the left) into Fn sure, but I don't see the point to be honest - I find Fn key on the left absolutely useless.
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Unread post29 Apr 2016, 09:49

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Honestly there's also no point in saying that there are two meta keys on the keyboard when there are obviously fewer keys in the bottom row than on other keyboards. The meta keys are in place of ALT keys and I need both left and right ALT for typing in German. So I'd have to use Meta as ALT and ALT for WIN while CTRL is still in place of Capslock... Which is cool but having a FN key on the home row can be just as useful...

I understand that it's not standard ANSI either but it has the long left shift and ANSI enter which makes it closer to ANSI than ISO...
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Unread post29 Apr 2016, 11:30

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HHKB has DIP switches, so you can set it up the way you like. Switching alt to meta keys is as easy as flipping a switch. Fn key isn't really useful on the left side anyway (but you can set it up as well!).
shreebles wrote:Honestly there's also no point in saying that there are two meta keys on the keyboard when there are obviously fewer keys in the bottom row than on other keyboards.

I don't see the relevance...yes, it's a different layout. Yes, you have to get used to it. But just saying things that aren't true doesn't bode well with me. There are many pros to HHKB and the size is a huge one. If you want a full size keyboard, this obviously isn't a keyboard for you.

Either way, this does not fit the theme of this thread in any possible way.
Last edited by adhoc on 29 Apr 2016, 12:05, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post29 Apr 2016, 11:59

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I can't live without my Fn on the left of the space bar, as it allows to do the arrow keys without leaving the home row.
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Unread post29 Apr 2016, 12:04

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webwit wrote:I can't live without my Fn on the left of the space bar, as it allows to do the arrow keys without leaving the home row.

Awesome, HHKB has you covered with dip switches.

This, however, is still off topic.
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Unread post29 Apr 2016, 12:06

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Adhoc:
I understand you can change the position. But fewer keys = fewer keys. There is no changing that. PS: There also nothing untrue about saying this.

Whether or not FN on the left is useful or not depends 100% on how you use your keyboard. I am left-handed, and use the left side of my keyboard a lot more. Since I also have arrows on WASD, and use the left Shift more than the right, FN on Capslock makes the most sense for me.

PPS: It does not bode well with me either when someone tells me the way I prefer to use my keyboard is useless:
but I don't see the point to be honest - I find Fn key on the left absolutely useless.

PPPS: I know this has gone slightly off topic but it's Offtopicthority after all... Right?
When people start singing the praises of the HHKB again (as in every keyboard thread, ever) I want to give a different view just to balance things out.
Last edited by shreebles on 29 Apr 2016, 12:13, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post29 Apr 2016, 12:07

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shreebles wrote:I understand you can change the position. But fewer keys = fewer keys. There is no changing that. PS: There also nothing untrue about saying this.

Whether or not FN on the left is useful or not depends 100% on how you use your keyboard. I am left-handed, and use the left side of my keyboard a lot more. Since I also have arrows on WASD, and use the left Shift more than the right, FN on Capslock makes the most sense for me.

Right, so it's not a board for you, but it's perfect for me. And? Your point? Considering we're discussing failure rates of these boards.
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Unread post29 Apr 2016, 12:10

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I've tried thumb Fn. Doesn't work nearly as well for me as HHKB style split right Shift. Pity, as I've plenty of boards with brain dead 2.75u coach-length right Shifts that could really use an Fn key there. But plumping it down on the thumb row slows me down much too much.

As for Topre consistency: I find it satisfactory enough to escape my notice. I haven't exactly tried an enormous number of Topre boards (I own an HHKB-Type S and a RF87U 55g and have tried only that many again for a full day's work or more) but seeing as two were brand new, one was moderately used by a single owner, and the Whoreforce was, uh, a touch more experienced: I'm happy with the selection that's passed my way up here. They're more consistent across the layout and between boards than my many IBMs, Model Fs included.
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Unread post29 Apr 2016, 12:15

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