Alps Appreciation

seaworthy

21 Feb 2016, 19:45

There are some Alps compatible Tai Hao cap sets available on MD. Who has tried them? How do they feel and sound: compared to AEK caps; compared to DSA PBT caps; compared to the crappy ABS caps on stock Matias boards?

I’m considering them for the Infinity 60% board because I like having legends (don’t necessarily need them; just prefer the aesthetic of legends). And the Dulch look great against a black case.

(https://www.massdrop.com/buy/alps-keyc ... omotional)

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scottc

21 Feb 2016, 19:49

I've got two sets. I haven't used them on a normal board as I'm waiting for a plate for a custom build but I can tell you the following:
- They're identical to Cherry MX Tai-Hao sets apart from the stem, which means:
- Pretty low quality
- Thin ABS
- Insanely cheap

They're MUCH better than the standard Matias caps. The legends on my Matias Quiet Mini were brown (!!!) and worn after 2 months of 9-5 usage. Not great. I've used Tai-Hao caps on Cherry MX before and while they're not the most pleasing caps in the world (better alternatives for Cherry are Cherry dyesubs, Cherry doubleshots, SP SA and SP PBT DSA) they're honestly pretty good for Alps.

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Hypersphere

21 Feb 2016, 19:55

I agree with scottc. The Tai-Hao caps are doubleshot ABS. They are better than the lasered ABS Matias caps. Better caps are to be found on vintage Alps keyboards (e.g., dye-sub PBT), but it would be difficult to find a complete set. Matias will eventually be selling PBT sets, but I haven't seen definitive information on the method to be used for the legends or how thick the caps will be.

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Muirium
µ

21 Feb 2016, 21:02

I have a hunch it *won't* be dyesub. Not Matias' style.

seaworthy

21 Feb 2016, 22:10

@scottc & @hypersphere Thanks for sharing your experience. It’s challenging scrapping together Alps cap sets in quality and color way variety—especially in 60% layouts. I wonder if Matias realizes the potential they have to dominate and grow their niche if they’d just invest in the quality cap sets.

It’s always “coming soon” and we’re just “tweaking the tooling.” Countries have assembled manned missions to space in less time. Even if they eventually do produce PBT caps, they are highly likely to come in the Henry Ford rainbow of colors (black only) and in their odd-ball sizes and layouts. You don’t manage your way to profitability in a new venture. You make an investment and take a risk.

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Redmaus
Gotta start somewhere

21 Feb 2016, 22:33

Muirium wrote: I have a hunch it *won't* be dyesub. Not Matias' style.
Dyesub is my favorite. Part of the reason apple caps are the best ones for alps right now.

And why there are no crappy buckling spring caps :D

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JinzoDefiler

21 Feb 2016, 22:34

I guess I am an oddity. Around here in the goodwill s and stuff I've trashed picked. I've gotten 6 model M, 1 dell at101, 2 compaq cherry switch boards. the only one i still have is the dell and 1 model m rest i sold off on ebay.

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Hypersphere

21 Feb 2016, 23:30

@Redmaus: There are quite a few other vintage sources for doubleshot or dye-sub PBT Alps-mount keycaps. See, for example, this thread:

keyboards-f2/keyboards-for-alps-keycaps ... t9162.html

In particular, the post by jacobolus has some excellent information -- he appears to be one of the more knowledgeable people on this (as well as a number of other) topics.

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itzmeluigi

22 Feb 2016, 01:21

Just finished sanding the plate of my Acer 6011 and changed out whites for greens, im very happy with the result :)
Image
Image

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Chyros

22 Feb 2016, 01:23

Ooh, looking nice! :D

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Redmaus
Gotta start somewhere

22 Feb 2016, 01:28

Wait is that an acer that does not come with the acer switch?

Because I have the acer switch and it has a membrane not a PCB

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itzmeluigi

22 Feb 2016, 01:52

Thanks :D i just put some caps on it, need to look through my spare caps to try and find some extra for the backspace, enter, etc since they came from a big ass enter board.

Its an Acer 6011, they come with SKCM Blue or White and have a PCB. The Acer 6311 uses the same case as the 6011, but the 6311 uses Acer switches and a membrane.

Image

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Chyros

22 Feb 2016, 02:04

Redmaus wrote: Wait is that an acer that does not come with the acer switch?

Because I have the acer switch and it has a membrane not a PCB
Only the 6300 series uses the Acer switch. The 6000 series uses Alps switches and the 6500 series is rubber dome. The series all have multiple case designs and many designs are present in all series, including the KB-101A design.

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Redmaus
Gotta start somewhere

22 Feb 2016, 02:17

Oh okay. To be honest the acer switch is really nice. I used it for two weeks and enjoyed it a lot.

Has a neat plat noise when you type fast :D

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bocahgundul
Sell me 5k please

22 Feb 2016, 08:38

thats a nice board bro!

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Blaise170
ALPS キーボード

22 Feb 2016, 13:29

Acer feels gross, at least on the board I had. They feel like the perfect switch outside the board though.

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XMIT
[ XMIT ]

22 Feb 2016, 17:36

The only Acer switches I've tried feel gross but I think that's just because they're dirty. I wonder what cleaning could do for them.

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gogusrl

22 Feb 2016, 18:14

Azhadar just got from me an Acer 6312 NIB. Maybe if we bug him he'll make a review, I was to lazy to do one :(

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Chyros

22 Feb 2016, 18:23

gogusrl wrote: Azhadar just got from me an Acer 6312 NIB. Maybe if we bug him he'll make a review, I was to lazy to do one :(
I have one if you're interested :p . It was my second-ever review, and first-ever mechanical actually! I've had at least five other 6312s since then though, including one I own right now that has a metal grounding plate included which hasn't been documented so far as I recall. The one in the video I gave away to a friend.

Acer switches are a fairly polarising switch with a unique feeling. They don't really have a tactile bump, more of a tactile wall; as soon as you overcome it just about any and all resistance immediately disappears. The only switch with a more extreme tactile feel I've found to date are the enigmatic USw red-and-white Alps clones. They make a unique noise as well that can be instantly recognised. Some people love it, some people hate it.

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HzFaq

22 Feb 2016, 20:29

Got made redundant so I treated treated myself :D. Green alps, dyesub caps and more fluff than I know what to do with :D.

Image
Image

No idea what I'm going to do with the computer...it still works aparently.

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Redmaus
Gotta start somewhere

22 Feb 2016, 20:39

I think the caps are ABS however. Very nice logo :)

itzmeluigi is looking for one of those. Of course thats only if you don't want it for yourself.

Or give it to me :D

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Chyros

22 Feb 2016, 21:30

Ha, I recognise that one off eBay. Shipping was ridiculously cheap on it - shame I didn't have the money for the actual item xD .

The caps are definitely dyesub PBT, Redmaus. Early Zeniths used them before they moved on to doubleshot ABS. Note the ABS spacebar for contrast.

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scottc

22 Feb 2016, 21:54

Ah wow, that looks epic Hz! Sorry to hear about your job. :(

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Muirium
µ

22 Feb 2016, 22:03

Indeed. But you got a nicer Zenith than me, Hz – my ZKB1 is doubleshot ABS - and it's on the right side of the ocean, which is always a plus!

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seebart
Offtopicthority Instigator

22 Feb 2016, 22:11

Nice Zenith HzFaq, pretty rare to find the whole setup.

seaworthy

22 Feb 2016, 23:46

I’d love to share a custom Alps board I just made…only I didn’t make it. I merely harvested the switches and had the good sense to let a maestro do the rest. I did choose the color way, but that’s about as significant as a fifth grader finally coloring within the lines for the first time.

As some of you may have done, I noticed some postings of an artisan on instagram, and asked to learn about his work. When the chance came to commission something from him, I took it.

The PCB is remarkably a DIY effort in rich terra cotta tones with reflective copper traces etched by toner-transfer paper ironed on with individual holes meticulously drilled. The Teensy is soldered directly to the PCB, and I kept the bottom convertible style to admire the workmanship. The wood frame is made from white oak and allows the switch actuation to resonate without reverberation. It’s also decidedly craftsman, hand-made, and befitting of the 30-year-old switches and caps.

The key caps are from an Apple M0116 and dyed with Dylon multipurpose dye in kingfisher blue, tangerine orange, and emerald green. I was torn between accenting the HHKB arrow cluster or my home row IJKL arrows, but the homing dots being on the old school D and K keys swayed me to focus on highlighting the home row.

Comparing this custom 60% with an HHKB is somewhat incongruent as they have such different construction, but since I want to use both boards in a rotation, it’s an interesting juxtaposition. The salmon Alps switches mounted on a metal plate are a good deal more percussive than topre switches. But the feeling of plastic on steel is a lot more crisp and offers greater auditory feedback than the topre’s plastic-on-plastic pairing. When more subtle feedback is targeted, there’s no beating an HHKB with Hypersphere’s silencing rings. They’re the clear choice when working on the phone, but when you want a rapturous racket, salmon or orange Alps get it done.

The robustness of the USB connection on this custom is great. While I’ve read the HHKB USB port may be rated for only 500 connections (no idea if that’s accurate), this connection is stress relieved by being fastened to a connector secured to the frame and cable tethered to the teensy. It will still be strong to handle my fumbling fingers if/when I get Parkinson’s and can’t manage a steady mount…doctors say all of us dudes are headed for Parkinson’s or prostrate issues if we live long enough, so might as well enjoy great keyboards along the way.

The Teensy is TMK formatted, and I’m able to preserve all my Karabiner shortcuts and more. We have momentary Fn keys bound to keys on each side of the spacebar ( `~ and \| ) and the Esc key so any chording is flexible and convenient. Also mouse keys, media keys, Apple-specific keys, and navigational keys (home, end, page up/down, scrolling) are all incorporated.

This craftsman lives in Sweden and his handle on GH is Yoe. Selfish bugger that I am, I’d prefer keeping him a secret (as if I had such magical powers) and hoard his skills, but he deserves the recognition. And ironically, it’s a strikingly Swedish characteristic to humbly shun such accolades. I’m in line to have him make a custom “Happy Alps” board (unfortunately it requires sacrificing both an M0116 and an AEK to approximate an HHKB layout), but he’s ready to start taking on a few more projects.
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Custom 2.png (957.09 KiB) Viewed 1757 times
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Custom 3.png (883.37 KiB) Viewed 1757 times

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seebart
Offtopicthority Instigator

22 Feb 2016, 23:57

Wow amazing custom job. :shock: How do you decide on what colors you're going to use?

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snuci
Vintage computer guy

23 Feb 2016, 00:01

seebart wrote: Wow amazing custom job. :shock: How do you decide on what colors you're going to use?
I think he just cuts off one leg of his golf pants and the sewing practically happens itself ;)

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bocahgundul
Sell me 5k please

23 Feb 2016, 00:01

that is amazing work bro! what switches does it use?

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Chyros

23 Feb 2016, 00:02

Oooh, very nice! Really like the look of that!

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