[Photos & video] Zenith ZKB-2 click-mod

Taking a page from hypersphere’s book, I click-modified my zenith zkb-2. The first two boards I click-modded were a black alps and orange alps – but for those boards I simply clipped the tactile leaves inherent to the switches to make them clicky. At first I thought that was a lot of work, but now, having click-modded yellow alps, I realize that clipping tactile leaves is much less work since this time I had to take apart two boards worth of switches: the pine white alps from a broken-down acer 6011 and the zenith switches.

Image

As I stated, I used the method Hypershpere had suggested: taking the top housing and click-leaf from pine white alps and transplanting them into the yellow alps switch. Holy shit. This switch is amazing. Again, I don’t have a blue alps board (but hopefully my kb-101a will come friday!!!!!!1111one …even though it might not work...) to compare them to, but I can say they are significantly better than white alps, and better than click-modified orange alps. It appears the deeper I get into this mad-sciencey switch surgery/cross-breeding/hybridization game, the better the outcome seems to be. The switches are very smooth before and after the tactility created by the click-leaf, and the sound is nothing short of amazing.

Image

I click-modified everything except for the hard to remove keycaps, which were pretty much everything with a stabilizer in it. Now, I know what you’re thinking – you’re thinking “you kidding me, gainsborough? What kind of enthusiast are you? Removing stabilized keys is a breeze…” Okay, yes. Yes they are. But hear me out – I could not, for the life of me, take apart the keyboard. I think Chyros mentioned this in his zkb-2 video – something like “the feet actually hold the case together even if you remove all the screws.” I indeed took out all the screws, but I just…. couldn’t finagle the case open. I was way more afraid of breaking something than I was worried about click modifying the entire board. In fact, I broke the logo trying to see inside the case. One of the four tabs holding the label in place snapped off as I was removing it. Luckily it didn’t seem to affect anything – apparently the logo only needs 3 tabs to stay secure. In any case (pun intended) I decided to put the screws back in and just work with the board all put together.

In spite of this limitation of working with the case on, here’s what I’m most proud of regarding this mod: with the case put together, I was able to click-modify the spacebar. I know right? I’m amazing. Seriously though, it took me like 20 minutes to slide the stabilizers on the spacebar and line it up correctly with the giant plastic lip of the keyboard case blocking most access points underneath the spacebar. It was a bitch to say the least.

Anyway, the keys that I left unmodified are: the lock keys right shift, both ctrl and alt keys, both enter keys, nav-cluster (minus the arrow keys), and + on the numpad. I actually really like that the alpha-block enter is not click-modified, I like having the variation in typing sounds from the same board. Of all the keys that were modified, the one that sounds the best is space-bar. This has to be the most satisfying space-bar I own.

I spread the project out over three days, but in total it took about 6 hours maybe. The first day I did the alpha block while watching a basketball game, the second day I finished the board, and the third day I desoldered all the now-linear white alps from the PCB of the broken down 6011. By the way, linear white alps feel pretty cool too, in their own right. I don’t know what I’m going to do with them, but I now finally have a bag of spare switches lying around, so I can replace faulty switches pretty easily! You know…unless one of those switches is in the zkb-2, because I still don’t know how to take this thing apart….
Overall, I’m super happy with the finished product – daily driver material for sure. I’m toying with the idea of taking it to my office and using it there, but at the same time I know it’s safer at my house, so for now it’s just part of my main rotation.

I’ve included a short typing demonstration of the board below!



Thanks for reading! When my acer gets here I want to do a comparison video between the click-mods I've done against blue alps!
またね。
//gainsborough
User avatar

Unread post13 Mar 2017, 21:11

User avatar
X
//gainsborough
 
Posts: 405
Joined: 31 May 2016, 07:26
Location: United States
Main keyboard: zkb-2 (yellow clicky alps) | omnikey 102
Favorite switch: click-modified orange and yellow alps
Club member: 0188
 
Nice mod, yes opening the ZKB-2 can be a bit tricky the first time but if I recall you can't break it really. I mean it's built like a tank after all. ;) Of course I still haven't even had a look at mine in the last months! :roll:
seebart
User avatar
Offtopicthority Instigator

Unread post13 Mar 2017, 21:18

User avatar
X
seebart
Offtopicthority Instigator
 
Posts: 9837
Joined: 22 Nov 2013, 20:20
Location: Germany
Main keyboard: Rotation
Main mouse: Roccat Kova+
Favorite switch: Beam Spring
Club member: 0061
 
Definitely could have done it - but after breaking a tab on the logo I was feeling very depressed and decided not to try anything else. I don't even know why the hell I thought taking off the logo would even help me see anything. Just be being an idiot...
//gainsborough
User avatar

Unread post13 Mar 2017, 21:22

User avatar
X
//gainsborough
 
Posts: 405
Joined: 31 May 2016, 07:26
Location: United States
Main keyboard: zkb-2 (yellow clicky alps) | omnikey 102
Favorite switch: click-modified orange and yellow alps
Club member: 0188
 
I understand. Your mod is great anyway so don't feel bad about the logo now! ;)
seebart
User avatar
Offtopicthority Instigator

Unread post13 Mar 2017, 21:26

User avatar
X
seebart
Offtopicthority Instigator
 
Posts: 9837
Joined: 22 Nov 2013, 20:20
Location: Germany
Main keyboard: Rotation
Main mouse: Roccat Kova+
Favorite switch: Beam Spring
Club member: 0061
 
Wow! Those sound fantastic! If I didn't have my yellow alps for my gaming (and support this kind of keyboard mutilation :lol:) I would do this. Maybe I should pick up some more keyboards and make a custom alps board. I do have some alps caps lying around...
paecific.jr
User avatar

Unread post16 Mar 2017, 21:06

User avatar
X
paecific.jr
 
Posts: 118
Joined: 04 Dec 2016, 17:56
Location: United States
Main keyboard: IBM Model F 122
Main mouse: Logitech Performance MX
Favorite switch: Capacitive Buckling Springs
Club member: -
 
How do they feel?
paecific.jr
User avatar

Unread post16 Mar 2017, 21:16

User avatar
X
paecific.jr
 
Posts: 118
Joined: 04 Dec 2016, 17:56
Location: United States
Main keyboard: IBM Model F 122
Main mouse: Logitech Performance MX
Favorite switch: Capacitive Buckling Springs
Club member: -
 
They feel quite smooth - possibly the smoothest tactile/clicky switch I've used (though buckling springs switches feel pretty smooth as well). What I mean by that is that the tactility generated by the click leaf doesn't really interrupt key travel that much - it's definitely there, but bottoming out feels almost linear. The actuation force is also right in my strike zone for comfort. They are definitely my favorite switch right now.
//gainsborough
User avatar

Unread post17 Mar 2017, 05:42

User avatar
X
//gainsborough
 
Posts: 405
Joined: 31 May 2016, 07:26
Location: United States
Main keyboard: zkb-2 (yellow clicky alps) | omnikey 102
Favorite switch: click-modified orange and yellow alps
Club member: 0188
 
What a great soundtrack! That makes me all the more eager to get started with a few customization projects of my own :)
macboarder
User avatar

Unread post17 Mar 2017, 11:45

User avatar
X
macboarder
 
Posts: 61
Joined: 03 Aug 2016, 11:48
Location: Norway
Main keyboard: F122 / OmniKey 102
Main mouse: QPad 5k
Favorite switch: Alps SKCM Orange
Club member: -
 
Now I'm interested. I'm a huge bucking spring fan.
paecific.jr
User avatar

Unread post17 Mar 2017, 12:26

User avatar
X
paecific.jr
 
Posts: 118
Joined: 04 Dec 2016, 17:56
Location: United States
Main keyboard: IBM Model F 122
Main mouse: Logitech Performance MX
Favorite switch: Capacitive Buckling Springs
Club member: -
 

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest