Click vs Actuation

jjneely

20 Sep 2021, 04:25

I've used Model Ms for nearly my entire career. Its hard to imagine life at a computer with out an M under my fingers. However, after 33 years of service one of my Ms is now in need of professional restoration. I think I've lost too many rivets, and one of the posts that holds the inner assembly up (top right) has damage -- well plastic fatigue. I figure the next step there is bolt-modding, but I think I'd like to have someone more experienced do the work. So, I'm down to one working model M and a new Unicomp board that I'm using presently.

I've realized that my keyboard'ing needs to be future proofed to some degree. If this Unicomp dies, there's a company that supports it. I've been looking at modern mechanical 'boards for this as well, but I've discovered that modern mechanical switches...well for me they suck. I about tossed a Keychron C1 in Gateron blue across the room when I realized the keys would actuate before clicking. More Internet searching has hinted that this is a common problem. The tactile bump and/or click isn't directly tied to actuation and may happen slightly before or after. Is this true of modern mechanical switches?

I've been tempted by the new Model F, although I've never used an F keyboard. At least those will be new and community supported well for a while. Although, the layouts are...well I use the ~ key a lot.

Any advice for getting my IBM Modem Ms professionally bolt mod'ed? Or should I just by a newly restored and bolt-mod'd keyboard?

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Muirium
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20 Sep 2021, 12:24

The new Model F is probably a sound choice, and certainly a night and day upgrade over a Unicomp. I swear by original IBM Model Fs. They spoil you, just how much better made and feeling they are than the later Model M. If you can handle the available layouts, and can afford the asking price, you're all set. They'll never need bolt modded. That's one of the design flaws exclusive to the plastic riveted M.

Not all non-buckling spring switches are worthless. Far from it! One just as good as the Model M is NMB Space Invaders. Those boards are tanks, and every bit as clicky and responsive as IBM. They actuate exactly at the point of click, too. And because they're less known than Model M, they are often available at a reasonable price.

Capacitive sensing keyboards are also a good path to explore. My favourite daily boards are Topre, which sense key actuation like Model F, but are quiet tactile boards still in production to this day. There's been lots of new capsense boards developed in recent years. Far as I remember, some are indeed very clicky, if you desire.

As for fixing your Ms: someone should be able to do it. Though I'd research the process for yourself. It's something you ideally want to be able to do for yourself, as every M ultimately needs it.

paperWasp

21 Sep 2021, 22:14

@Muirium: Interesting! None of replies to my Closest non buckling spring buckling spring alternative? post two months ago mentioned these.
Now I'm tempted to give a try to Topre switches. :P

stormcrash

22 Sep 2021, 00:37

I believe https://www.clickykeyboards.com/ offers a bolt/screw modding service that has been recommended in the past. I have an SSK I got new old stock that the rivets have sadly failed on. Like you I don't feel confident about doing the mod job myself so I am actually planning on reaching out to them to have it done at some point myself (and since you asked you could also buy a bolt modded M from them too)

Unicomp does repair IBM boards too but I understand they will either replace the barrel frame or the entire inner assembly, which is probably not what you want on an original IBM.

For the actuation, yeah most switches aren't tied together between actuation and click the way buckling springs are. If the actuation is after the tactile event it's less of an issue as with a tactile enough switch the force overcoming the bump will basically force you to travel past the actuation point. They're not considered the best but I've found the black Alps in a Dell AT101 to be pretty good on that front. Really wish there were solid choices for modern Alps switches and boards though

jjneely

22 Sep 2021, 02:59

This has been amazingly helpful! Probably saved me a few hundred in experimenting with different keyboards as well.

I really want to like the Unicomps, they are buckling springs and as far as click/tactile is actuation Unicomp still has that in spades. But yeah, it leaves some to be desired. I'd really like to support them -- but this keyboard is pretty much emergency use only. I had found Clickykeyboards and was wondering if they would get a good recommendation here. That sounds like a path to follow up on.

I've also thought about the Topre 'boards...wondering if their capacitive nature would provide a reasonable experience. Sounds like that's something to look at as well.

jjneely

22 Sep 2021, 03:04

I've had half an eye on the System76 Launch board with the Jades, but every experience I've had with a modern key switch has been...frustrating. That does look like a really interesting 'board though if one shorts out the LEDs....

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Muirium
µ

22 Sep 2021, 15:06

I mentioned Topre because I love them. They are very different to buckling spring in feeling and sound, but the build quality is where they meet. My Topre Realforce 87U has the same sturdy build as my IBM Model F XT, but only Topre are still around today.

The difference is *no click* with Topre! They're silk smooth instead. You still get tactile feedback, so you know you've actuated the key, but it's a smooth sensation instead of a sharp metal snap. They're polar opposites on that front. Yet they both appeal to me in much the same way.

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KeebMeUp

22 Sep 2021, 17:03

Muirium wrote:
22 Sep 2021, 15:06
My Topre Realforce 87U has the same sturdy build as my IBM Model F XT
Strongly disagree. :shock: 87u is a cheap plastic shell...

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Muirium
µ

22 Sep 2021, 19:26

Spoiler:
Image
I've got both. The Realforce's metal plate, and obsessively tightened screws holding the whole insides together, make it one of the most tank-like keyboards I've ever used. My (hardcore unobtainium) Kishsaver is the only board I have that's a clear step above the Realforce for solid build quality, and that thing's made of solid zinc!

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KeebMeUp

22 Sep 2021, 19:34

Muirium wrote:
22 Sep 2021, 19:26
The Realforce's metal plate, and obsessively tightened screws holding the whole insides together, make it one of the most tank-like keyboards I've ever used.
:?

I think we have different definitions of "tank-like" :lol:

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Muirium
µ

22 Sep 2021, 19:38

Indeed! I think you're focussed on the outer shell, but I consider the whole thing when I compare to ground assault vehicles. The wobble of the keys and the flex of the plate are all things I feel when typing. IBM did a good job with the outer plastics on Model Ms, but the flex while typing is much more pronounced on those keyboards than on a Realforce.

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KeebMeUp

22 Sep 2021, 19:40

Muirium wrote:
22 Sep 2021, 19:38
I think you're focussed on the outer shell
Yep, because that's the first place I'd focus on if I was rating my keyboard in terms of being "tank-like".

IMO, I'd be afraid to step on the 87u with shoes on as the plastic would probably crack. Far from "tank-like".

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Muirium
µ

22 Sep 2021, 19:48

How often do you walk on your keyboards? Try that on mine, and I'll drop a Kishsaver on you. It'll break your foot! :D

The XT's case is only made of plastic, too. A harder plastic than a Model M or a Realforce, but still just as easy to crack if you abuse it. It's not really much of a measure for keyboards. Realistically, there's only 2 categories by that metric: plastic shells and metal. My Kish and my Beamspring would by definition be in a class of their own. But the Beamer has a lot of wobble, as they all do, which makes it no tank to me. The Realforce and even my all plastic HHKB feel more precise than the 40 year old beam!

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KeebMeUp

22 Sep 2021, 20:09

Muirium wrote:
22 Sep 2021, 19:48
The XT's case is only made of plastic, too. A harder plastic than a Model M or a Realforce, but still just as easy to crack if you abuse it.
In my above example of accidentally stepping on a keyboard, the F XT would survive while the 87u would not.

Let's use an example from the Alps world: Focus FK-2001. Similar case build quality to Realforce 87u (IMO) and also has a metal plate like the 87u, however I don't think many folks consider the FK-2001 to be "tank-like".

Plus, if the 87u was such a tank, there would be no need for these: https://shop.norbauer.com/products/the- ... ce-mark-ii.

That being said, my two daily drivers are IBM and Topre. haha - great keyboards!! :D

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Muirium
µ

22 Sep 2021, 20:20

Some people will pimp up anything. I've tried a NovaTouch in a metal case, and I still didn't like it. Just not as solid feeling key action as a regular plastic shelled Realforce.

Here's my definition, since you're making me think about it for a change: close your eyes and type. How does it feel? How consistent, sturdy and (especially important to me but maybe not everyone…) how smooth are the keys?

Cherry MX really disappoints on the last of those especially. Their sliders are just too damn rough. (Only Nixies got it right.) An IBM Model F in good shape, meanwhile, is as slick as a Realforce on key-press. No rubbing. Though wobble can be another story!

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KeebMeUp

22 Sep 2021, 20:24

Muirium wrote:
22 Sep 2021, 20:20
I've tried a NovaTouch in a metal case, and I still didn't like it. Just not as solid feeling key action as a regular plastic shelled Realforce.
Typing to you on a Norbaforce right now - I can't tell you how much better the Topre experience is with a proper mounting style like Norbauer cases provide.

I could never go back to typing on stock Realforces personally - the Norbaforce is so much more solid, such an upgrade over the stock experience for me.

And it actually makes it feel quite "tank-like". :lol:

We've got some varying opinions. Shows how subjective things can be in this hobby.

Cheers. :geek:

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Muirium
µ

22 Sep 2021, 20:37

The Norbaforce is after my time. Is it a NovaTouch mod or a Realforce mod? (Your Norbauer link loads a broken store for me.) Maybe that metal shelled NovaTouch Zslane showed me a few years ago—covered in his excellent group buy's caps—was a Norbaforce. Maybe it wasn't.

What kills the NovaTouch is the looseness of its sliders in their housings. They jiggle around much too much. Wrecks the precision industrial feel of a true Topre. Doesn't matter to me how much you bling it up in fancy wrapping, if the keys feel sloppy, so does the keyboard.

stormcrash

23 Sep 2021, 01:18

jjneely wrote:
22 Sep 2021, 02:59
This has been amazingly helpful! Probably saved me a few hundred in experimenting with different keyboards as well.

I really want to like the Unicomps, they are buckling springs and as far as click/tactile is actuation Unicomp still has that in spades. But yeah, it leaves some to be desired. I'd really like to support them -- but this keyboard is pretty much emergency use only. I had found Clickykeyboards and was wondering if they would get a good recommendation here. That sounds like a path to follow up on.

I've also thought about the Topre 'boards...wondering if their capacitive nature would provide a reasonable experience. Sounds like that's something to look at as well.
I daily Unicomp Classic boards and overall love them. Mine have the expected very minor fit and finish issues, but the typing experience is solid. And from what I've seen Unicomp have upped their fit and finish over the last couple years, especially on the New M and Mini M which benefit from all new tooling, just holding out in hope they can make those in beige

Yes Unicomp feels slightly different than IBM branded boards but even those varied (my Greenock board feels different from my Lexmark, feels different from my IBM SSK before the rivets went)

jjneely

23 Sep 2021, 05:31

The new SSK is tempting. Although I've heard plenty of issues which look like they are in progress of resolving.

It's just I miss the days of finding good keyboards in someone's trash.

I've owned the model Ms I use for more than 20 years.

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KeebMeUp

23 Sep 2021, 17:30

Muirium wrote:
22 Sep 2021, 20:37
What kills the NovaTouch is the looseness of its sliders in their housings. They jiggle around much too much.
Well yeah, we're comparing Apples (Realforces) to Oranges (Novatouches) in this instance.

The Novatouch and Realforce RGB are plagued by some issues out of the box that can be fixed with some modding, example here:
Muirium wrote:
22 Sep 2021, 20:37
The Norbaforce is after my time. Is it a NovaTouch mod or a Realforce mod?
As for the Norbaforce, it's a case specifically designed for the Realforce family of keyboards. Love mine to bits. 8-)

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Muirium
µ

23 Sep 2021, 19:42

Which Realforce family? They just changed. ;)

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KeebMeUp

23 Sep 2021, 20:07

Muirium wrote:
23 Sep 2021, 19:42
Which Realforce family? They just changed. ;)
If by "just" you mean 4 years ago in 2017, then yeah they just changed (R2 family).

The first batch of Norbaforces were only compatible with 87u-like family (with cutouts on the PCB), the next batches were compatible with all members of the realforce family (including R2).

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