Designing a completely new switch.

Hello!

To be completely honest, I don't have a convincing reason as to why I'm trying to design a new switch... and I'm not gonna try to come up with one, because this project actually started from me losing a lot of sleep nights after nights as I couldn't stop thinking about this switch idea, and I know myself well enough to realize that I need to do something about it before I turn insomniac :shock:

But I can tell you why I think this design is interesting, and I'll let you guys decide if it could be beneficial to the community! :D

DISCLAIMER: I'm not a professional designer by any standard, I'm just a game programmer who knows a little bit of Sketchups (pretty useful for making placeholders). So, please don't expect professional quality CAD files from me :oops: However, I did quite a few 3d printing to verify that the general design will 'most likely' work (definitely didn't work the first couple of time, this is actually ver.11 :roll: )

First let's look at what it looks like:
switch-iso.jpg

This image shows how it looks in general and 2 slider variations. I'm not sure which one will feel better or smoother, but I know that artisans with THICC stem will not fit the walled version, and the walled version may provide extra stability with SA caps. The main housing is 14mm x 14mm x 14mm and the total travel is 4mm. It is designed from to ground up for enthusiasts, meaning, I'm not trying to design the 'best' switch in any category in particular, but I want it to feel great, easy to customize and create variations, a joy to work with, and allows for simple and high quality keyboard designs. It is not MX compatible except for the keycap mount and spring. I tried making it completely MX compatible at first, but in the end it greatly limits what I originally wanted to create, and I don't even know if this thing will go anywhere more than a few 3d printed fidget toys sitting on my desk, so why not try going all-out crazy first 8-)

Here is the exploded view:
switch-iso-explode.jpg

switch-front-back.jpg

switch-top-bottom.jpg

The spring and contact are not shown here, just the slider and housing. I've designed it so that any MX spring will fit, and you can probably see where the spring will be, so I didn't bother drawing it. As for the contact, there are plenty of space in the housing, so there are many options, we'll get to that later.

At this point you might be wondering about the cross-shaped piece that hold the spring. There are reasons why it look like that: First, it allows for an easy way to open and close the switch without any tools while still securely holds everything in by clipping to the main housing with the notches on all 4 sides. Second, the cross act as mounting, holding the switch to the pcb without any tilt. Third, dust can be blown out of the switch without disassembly. And finally, light can shine through the switch directly from bottom-center (we'll see where to put the LED in a bit).

This view from the bottom gives a better view of how the housing, slider and the cross fits together and a better view of how the slider is held inside the housing:
switch-iso-bottom.jpg

Here you can see the grooves on all 4 sides that are keeping the slider as vertical as possible while sliding. You can see 2 of the 4 grooves extends all the way down to the bottom. The longer grooves are what mainly keep the slider on its axis, pretty common stuff, many switch have something like this. The shorter grooves are there meant to provide additional stability while still give enough room to add the mechanism for contact and tactility.

Here is how the switches are installed on the pcb and how they are held in place:
switch_pcb_plate_explode.jpg

switch_pcb_plate.jpg

switch-xsection.jpg

The bottom rectangle that the switch sits on is the pcb, here you can see how the cross piece mount onto the pcb and how it can keep the switch from tilting. The top rectangle is what I call the 'retainer'. It is meant to sandwich with the pcb by screws and keep the switches in place by holding on to the notches on all 4 sides of each switch. The retainer is not meant to be the 'plate' or part of the case, it should be inside the case and made of non-conductive material. Solder is not needed as the switch should make a firm contact to the pcb from the sandwiching of the retainer and the pcb.
If this design works out, assembling switches to the pcb will be very simple, add switches, screw in the retainer, done.

Here you can also see the how the holes on the pcb can allow LED to be placed on the bottom side of the PCB, and still shine through the bottom-center of the switch, allowing the same LED to be used for both under-glow and switch backlit. You can even use separate led strips for each row instead of soldering all LEDs to the pcb.

Now let's talk contact, here is where I get a little crazy... But first, let me say that I intentionally design the switch so that it has plenty of room for contact mechanism, not nailing down the contact for this switch. But because the contact is kind of important for a switch, and a switch is not a switch without the contact, so I still want to give my idea of the contact that I would like to see the most :D
switch-xsection-contact.jpg

switch-contact-bottom.jpg

Sorry, it is kinda hard to find an angle that can explain it visually. But for those who can make out what it is... Yes! It is a reed switch! The tube in the picture is a reed switch, the rectangle block above it is a magnet, and on the opposite side is a click-leaf similar the ones in the beloved Alps switches. The size of the reed switch tube is 10mm, although not the most commonly available types, I was able to find several suppliers through a quick search, so at least it's out there. If the reed switch idea turns out to be a bad idea due to cost, availability, or other reasons, the space could fit anything from: a magnet for hall-effect switch, an Alps-style switch plate, an optical switch sensor, etc.

And that's it for now! Thank you for your time going through the long post, I'm always looking for feedback to improve on this design so feel free to let me know how stupid I am :lol: And finally here's a GitHub link to the source file for the switch for those who want to take a closer look at the 3d file:

https://github.com/mustcode/switch

edit: fixed some typos
Last edited by mustcode on 07 Mar 2018, 18:50, edited 1 time in total.
mustcode

Unread post07 Mar 2018, 18:45

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This sounds very very intriguing! I like the shape of it. Haven't seen a switch shaped like that.
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Unread post07 Mar 2018, 18:48

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Nice work!

The one thing I would urge you to consider in the design is internal dampening. There is nothing worse than bottom-out and upstroke impact noise. I hate that manufacturers like Cherry and Gateron have treated internal dampening as an afterthought, only now getting around to producing them (and they are so uncommon that you don't see many keyboards built with them).

In terms of the contact mechanism, there is nothing smoother or more reliable and long-lasting than Hall Effect. Just something to consider.
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Unread post07 Mar 2018, 18:52

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zslane wrote:In terms of the contact mechanism, there is nothing smoother or more reliable and long-lasting than Hall Effect. Just something to consider.

I wonder if he can put in the magnets to make it a hall effect one so we can get a more versatile switch for different feels (tactile, clicky, linear)
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Unread post07 Mar 2018, 19:01

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green-squid wrote:
zslane wrote:In terms of the contact mechanism, there is nothing smoother or more reliable and long-lasting than Hall Effect. Just something to consider.

I wonder if he can put in the magnets to make it a hall effect one so we can get a more versatile switch for different feels (tactile, clicky, linear)

Well yes! In fact, I did mentioned around the last couple of paragraph that making this a hall-effect switch is possible, especially since the design above actually already has a magnet in. And to make it clicky, tactile or linear, we can just change or remove the click leaf, just like Alps switches.
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Unread post07 Mar 2018, 19:41

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This is really intricate, man. Very original stuff! What would you call this switch?

+switches. CrossClips. Octagonal+ CrossityClippitySwitchity!

...don't go with that last one.
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Unread post07 Mar 2018, 20:37

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The Mustcode Clipclap switch!
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Unread post07 Mar 2018, 20:40

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Hmm... I actually haven't thought of the name for it yet... I went through 11 versions of the damn thing and I didn't even stop to give it a name. Sometimes I surprised even myself... Welp I guess I'm taking suggestions for names as well! :D
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Unread post07 Mar 2018, 21:04

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mustcode wrote:Hmm... I actually haven't thought of the name for it yet... I went through 11 versions of the damn thing and I didn't even stop to give it a name. Sometimes I surprised even myself... Welp I guess I'm taking suggestions for names as well! :D

Gem Switches. Because the cuts around the edges make them look like jewels. :)
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Unread post08 Mar 2018, 00:34

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Please what is this switch, some sort of newly designed Magneto-optical switch :shock: ?

Of course sticking with the Cherry Cross mounting is smart since every manufacturer on the planet makes caps for this type of fitting.

Very eager to see this being made and put into a functional keyboard. Then this might be the NEW keyboard to lust over.
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Unread post08 Mar 2018, 03:02

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green-squid wrote:The Mustcode Clipclap switch!

YES it must make real hardcore NOISE - that shakes every desk and floor in any building when used.

Every person down the street MUST be able to hear it being used and even if the idiot Governments start throwing nukes at one another, you can still hear this switch being used over a triggered 'Mushroom' in the sky.
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Unread post08 Mar 2018, 03:05

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digital_matthew wrote:
mustcode wrote:Hmm... I actually haven't thought of the name for it yet... I went through 11 versions of the damn thing and I didn't even stop to give it a name. Sometimes I surprised even myself... Welp I guess I'm taking suggestions for names as well! :D

Gem Switches. Because the cuts around the edges make them look like jewels. :)

Now that you mentioned it... Gem can sound pretty cool once we associate color to it... like Red Gem or Ruby 8-)
Elrick wrote:Please what is this switch, some sort of newly designed Magneto-optical switch :shock: ?

Of course sticking with the Cherry Cross mounting is smart since every manufacturer on the planet makes caps for this type of fitting.

Very eager to see this being made and put into a functional keyboard. Then this might be the NEW keyboard to lust over.

If by 'magneto-optical' you mean the reed switch, then it is definitely not newly designed 8-) Very old, in fact, the for example, Fujitsu designed a reed switch way way back https://deskthority.net/wiki/Fujitsu_Magnetic_Reed. I think it went the way of the dodo because it was expensive. It is still being used for other electronic applications though. I guess the main reason I like reed switches is because it is contactless (for the slider) but doesn't require any special circuit for it to work. The only difficulty is you need to find the right combination of magnet and reed switch so that we get the optimal actuation distance.
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Unread post08 Mar 2018, 07:50

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mustcode wrote:Now that you mentioned it... Gem can sound pretty cool once we associate color to it... like Red Gem or Ruby 8-)

You could use tinted transparent plastic for the switch casing, and color code them accordingly:

Ruby Red-Linear
Sapphire Blue-Clicky
Topaz Yellow-Tactile
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Unread post08 Mar 2018, 14:31

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Anyway, I think we should get Kailh in on this. They seem to be pumping out new switches every week.
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Unread post08 Mar 2018, 14:35

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digital_matthew wrote:
mustcode wrote:Now that you mentioned it... Gem can sound pretty cool once we associate color to it... like Red Gem or Ruby 8-)

You could use tinted transparent plastic for the switch casing, and color code them accordingly:

Ruby Red-Linear
Sapphire Blue-Clicky
Topaz Yellow-Tactile

Exactly what I had in mind :D
green-squid wrote:Anyway, I think we should get Kailh in on this. They seem to be pumping out new switches every week.

We've already seen much more complicated projects developed and funded by our community, so if we want it bad enough, I believe that it'll happen eventually :) Otherwise, with the right amount of cash, I'm sure Kailh or some other factory in China will be more than happy to make a few thousands weird keyboard switches 8-)
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Unread post08 Mar 2018, 20:16

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green-squid wrote:Anyway, I think we should get Kailh in on this. They seem to be pumping out new switches every week.

We've already seen much more complicated projects developed and funded by our community, so if we want it bad enough, I believe that it'll happen eventually :) Otherwise, with the right amount of cash, I'm sure Kailh or some other factory in China will be more than happy to make a few thousands weird keyboard switches 8-)[/quote]

Chinese factories can make 10 MX clone switches for like 0.50p (same amount as Thomas used to pay at the recycling center for old keyboards), so I don't think that'll be an issue ;)
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mustcode wrote: Otherwise, with the right amount of cash, I'm sure Kailh or some other factory in China will be more than happy to make a few thousands weird keyboard switches 8-)

China is now very efficient at making just about ANYTHING.

Since the rest of the World handed over all manufacturing to China, they picked it up immediately and in the process accelerated their country to manufacturing and advancing their country, that very few other nations could match in price or quality now.

Just surprised they did this all within my lifetime with no stopping them. Truly amazed at how far they have developed to and had overcome past issues to leapfrog just about everyone else within this area.

Suspect the West now dreads ever giving them this advantage, due to the current and future circumstances that have now befallen them :D .
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Unread post09 Mar 2018, 02:26

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China is very good at large scale manufacturing but Western countries could pick it up in the future if there was some requirement for it. As it stands, it is cheaper to keep the manufacturing in China and simply importing the goods instead of trying to invest in it locally, where it is likely to be more expensive and less efficient. There are both pros and cons of course, but look at the pollution in the China as compared to the rest of the world, and you'll see part of the reason that it's not necessarily a good thing to be good at manufacturing on a large scale.
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Unread post09 Mar 2018, 07:14

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Blaise170 wrote:There are both pros and cons of course, but look at the pollution in the China as compared to the rest of the world, and you'll see part of the reason that it's not necessarily a good thing to be good at manufacturing on a large scale.

I know the Great Industrial Revolution in England produced poison within it's country for more than a 150 years so that puts China in a far better place as of now.

Remember their version of the Industrial Revolution has only just started and they are already progressing with recycling and clean energy production to help lower their atmospheric pollution. Just need to see if they can in fact lower their manufacture of poisons during the mass production phase, which will go a long way in making the planet a far better place to live in.

The Chinese already know what it's like living in their world hence the Government is forcing changes throughout it's economy to tackle these issues. Also remember they contain a vast number of people here well over 1.5 Billion, so they are the ONLY ones able to initiate any real control of pollution without crippling their economy at the same time.
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Unread post09 Mar 2018, 10:38

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That's rich, an American criticizing an upcoming economy like China about pollution. The USA has been the world's greatest polluter by far, and built all their riches from it, and the US Military is the biggest polluting entity in the world. They have also historically snubbed all environmental treaties of note, because money. And now they ruined the environment and it's probably too late, the SJW point to China... the hypocrisy is mind-boggling. Even if China will try very hard, they'll never be able to match what the West has done during peak-oil.
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webwit wrote:That's rich, an American criticizing an upcoming economy like China about pollution. The USA has been the world's greatest polluter by far, and built all their riches from it, and the US Military is the biggest polluting entity in the world. They have also historically snubbed all environmental treaties of note, because money. And now they ruined the environment and it's probably too late, the SJW point to China... the hypocrisy is mind-boggling. Even if China will try very hard, they'll never be able to match what the West has done during peak-oil.

Dont forget coal, more importantly lignite and industralization.
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Unread post09 Mar 2018, 16:53

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webwit wrote:That's rich, an American criticizing an upcoming economy like China about pollution. The USA has been the world's greatest polluter by far, and built all their riches from it, and the US Military is the biggest polluting entity in the world. They have also historically snubbed all environmental treaties of note, because money. And now they ruined the environment and it's probably too late, the SJW point to China... the hypocrisy is mind-boggling. Even if China will try very hard, they'll never be able to match what the West has done during peak-oil.

I don't claim that America is any better! In fact, it greatly depends on where in the US you are about the political stances towards environmentalism. When I lived in the South, it was all about coal and how the gubmint shouldn't get involved in anything because global warming isn't real! Seeing a solar panel in the South is almost as rare as finding $100 on the ground.

On the other hand, here in the Northeast, views towards the environment are far better (though still not perfect). Many more people here drive electric or hybrid cars, use renewable energy, etc. I'm obviously just one person but I use 100% renewables wherever I can.

The culture towards the environment is just one of the many problems with our country, but it depends on who you ask if it's even a problem! One major hurdle towards progress is religion, though that's a topic for another day! :lol:
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Unread post09 Mar 2018, 17:30

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The switch seems to be all about stability. It's hard to say but it looks so fit that it might need lubrication. Also it might transfer a lot of reverb onto the PCB ending up in not the most pleasant sound/feeling. Lastly, I don't think the reed switch is a good idea if only from a costs standpoint. Anyway this is the first reiteration, keep going! I have a quality 3d printer, let me know if you want to do some prototyping.
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Unread post10 Mar 2018, 08:30

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matt3o wrote:The switch seems to be all about stability. It's hard to say but it looks so fit that it might need lubrication. Also it might transfer a lot of reverb onto the PCB ending up in not the most pleasant sound/feeling. Lastly, I don't think the reed switch is a good idea if only from a costs standpoint. Anyway this is the first reiteration, keep going! I have a quality 3d printer, let me know if you want to do some prototyping.

Thanks for the feedback! I'm a fan of your designs and it's great hearing your feedback. :D You are absolutely right that I put quite a bit of thought into making sure that the slider can only move up and down. One reason for that is because a few of my earlier 3d printed prototypes can get stuck on the way down on off-center presses. Initially I wasn't sure if the problem was due to design or low quality prints (or both), so I made my next few prototypes from Shapeways's SLS printing to see if the result is any different. Shipping wasn't cheap but I eventually solved the off-centered pressed problem and what you see here is the result of those tweaks. Here are better shots of how the slider make contacts to the housing:

switch-slider-housing.jpg

switch-slider-housing-xsection.jpg

As, you can see, I tried to minimize the contact surfaces while trying to keep the slider straight by not having flat surfaces rubbing against another flat surface, only edges rubbing against flat surfaces. However, I couldn't verify the smoothness because the surfaces of the 3d printed prototypes are quite rough, and if I try polishing it, I'll just messed up the accuracy. Sound is another thing that I obviously have no clue how to really design for, if you can explain a little more about your concerns, I'll be sure to think about how to improve it.

And yes! If you're interested in helping me prototypes, that'll be really awesome. I live in Bangkok my access to good 3d printers and manufacturing tools is quite limited. I can pay you to make 3d printing, and you can just take pictures and tell me if it's working, no need to ship the prototypes to me. :)

edit: typo
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If you want to 3d print something just send me the STL files, no worries I'll do it for free (unless you want like 100 of them :) ). If you want it shipped you'd pay for shipping. My printer goes on resin, the end result is relatively smooth.

Regarding the switch, if you are serious about it and you want to actually manufacture it, you should probably try to simplify it as much as possible. Reducing the number of pieces lowers the cost.
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matt3o wrote:If you want to 3d print something just send me the STL files, no worries I'll do it for free (unless you want like 100 of them :) ). If you want it shipped you'd pay for shipping. My printer goes on resin, the end result is relatively smooth.

Regarding the switch, if you are serious about it and you want to actually manufacture it, you should probably try to simplify it as much as possible. Reducing the number of pieces lowers the cost.

Thank you for offering to help for free, I really appreciate it! I haven't tried printing the switch on resin, so with your printer, we might be able to get a prototype that is much closer to the final thing than my previous SLS prototype.

If you could help me print a switch and see if the slider will actually move smoothly, that will be really awesome. Although, the bottom cross-shaped piece might break if the resin is brittle and does not flex, so that one might be tricky... In any case, the bottom piece isn't really critical for testing the slider smoothness anyway. I've uploaded the .stl files for the switch to the project's GitHub. Here are the links:

https://github.com/mustcode/switch/blob/master/switch_v11_body.stl
https://github.com/mustcode/switch/blob/master/switch_v11_slider.stl
https://github.com/mustcode/switch/blob/master/switch_v11_bottom.stl

Without the contact and tactile mechanism, which can't be 3d printed anyway, the switch only have these 3 pieces, so hopefully it won't take too much of your time. And thank you again for helping out :)
Oh, one more thing, depending on the accuracy of your printer, the slider might be a little tight going into the housing because I didn't leave any space around where the slider is touching the rails in the housing. I did this intentionally so that I can polish those surfaces a little to remove a some of the roughness without the slider getting too wobbly.

As for how serious I am about manufacturing this for real... Well, I don't really have the necessary skills or cash do this alone, so, if enough people have interests in the switch, I'll be happy to spend more time designing and pushing it as far as it could go. But without the interests from the community, I can't really do much more than prototypes.
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Unread post10 Mar 2018, 21:38

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hey @mustcode, what's the intended width of that switch? the stl has it at about 0.6mm which I suspect is not accurate
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__red__ wrote:hey @mustcode, what's the intended width of that switch? the stl has it at about 0.6mm which I suspect is not accurate

Oh, really? The converter I used must have messed up the unit. The switch housing is supposed to be 14mm x 14mm x 14mm. I'll double check the stl and fixed it as soon as I get back to my pc.
mustcode

Unread post11 Mar 2018, 04:13

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mustcode
 
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Oh, I see. I just checked and the size seemed to be correct, but I think you might be getting the unit reversed. 14mm is around 0.55 inches, may be that's the why you're seeing it as 0.6mm?
mustcode

Unread post11 Mar 2018, 05:57

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mustcode
 
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are you working in inches? the switch unit must be multiplied by 25.4 to get the actual size.
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Unread post11 Mar 2018, 10:19

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