How I destroyed my keyboard with an attempted mod...

robo

27 Jul 2017, 19:36

Unlike some people here I don't have a big collection of keyboards. I use a Model M at home, and at work I use... err.. used a CM Storm Quick Fire Stealth with MX Browns, stock except PBT keycaps and an MX Green soldered in place of the brown switch for the Esc key.

Anyhow, after numerous comments in the office about how loud my keyboard was (even with Browns), and my own dissatisfaction with the somewhat rattly plasticy sound it made, I came up with some ideas to improve the sound..

First mod was applying silicone grease to the rattly Costar stabilizers - this was good, but didn't solve the overall ticky-tacky sound of the keyboard. What i needed was some real sound-deadening and mass. I needed more silicone....

I still think the idea is great: I got a tube of 100% Silicone clear caulk, opened up the case, popped out the guts (metal plate and PCB), and filled the base of the keyboard case with silicone, and applied a bunch to the back of the PCB for good measure. I also filled the gap between the PCB and the upper metal plate with a bead of silcone on all sides. I then dropped the PCB/plate into the bottom of the case, wiped up the excess squeezed out, and replaced the top.

It was amazing. The keyboard sounded fantastic and was wonderfully heavy too. The sound was a lot like a good Topre board: 'thock thock thock'. It's amazing how the properties of the whole case, not just the switches, affect the sound. The switches even felt different - more solid and satisfying.

Everything was great until the next morning when some keys stopped responding. Then more... then they keyboard started spewing random characters continuously...

I looked up 'silicone caulk and electronics' and found a warning about never using acetic acid cure caulk on electronics... as it cures, it release this acid which in high concentrations will eat away at solder and copper traces.. Crap.. That's exactly what I had used!

I prised apart the keyboard again (no small feat since it was so caulked together - it took like 30 minutes of prying), and lo and behold, all the exposed solder was grey and fuzzy looking... super corroded. I could not identify anything that was actually destroyed, but I think the keyboard is a writeoff.. Maybe i can salvage the top plate and switches but desoldering them is going to be hard because the silicone caulking is pretty much impossible to remove.

So.. yeah. That was stupid.

However, i'm still totally jazzed about this idea. I just have to use a different type of caulk next time. There are varieties that release alcohol rather than acetic acid as they cure (GE Silicone II is a common type). This type should not eat the electronics, and then I can have an amazing heavy, solid sounding board again. I'll probably also try to coat the bottom of the PCB in something to prevent it from directly contacting the caulk. Maybe some paint or polyurethane.

I'm already shopping for a new victim board :P

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enrique.aliaga

27 Jul 2017, 20:17

Oh, boy, that's unfortunate. :(

Have you ever tried Matias Quiet Click switches? I've heard they're almost as quiet as rubber domes. I too use a board with MX Browns in the office, although I'm planning to replace it with a Realforce soon. Luckily to me, people do not complain. :)

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Chyros

27 Jul 2017, 20:56

Hmmm, so you changed the electronics of your keyboard into acetates. Impressive, never heard of that one before.

Think of it as a sign though. It's some higher power trying to tell you not to use MX brown.

oropeth

27 Jul 2017, 22:03

I like it! Please keep us posted. I've lined my case with some sorbothane myself, but I wouldn't mind filling up all dead space for a really solid sounding board.

robo

27 Jul 2017, 22:21

Regarding the disparagement of MX browns, i think this mod really transformed them into something nice. Actually, i was originally sold on MX Browns after buying a switch tester which was made of a solid piece of Perspex, in other words extremely solid. The brown switch in that setting felt great. But on the stock CM board with all the slight case rattles etc, they felt and sounded a lot worse. This mod brought the back to feeling kind of like they did in that switch tester.

I was planning to buy browns again actually, although I haven't tried many other switch types other than Cherry, buckling springs and Topre (which I don't like, personally).

Engicoder

27 Jul 2017, 22:37

I know some people have put sound dampening mat (e.g. Dynamat) in cases with good results.
http://imgur.com/a/sOVrk
That might be less messy and you would still be able to open the case.

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ideus

27 Jul 2017, 22:51

Engicoder wrote: I know some people have put sound dampening mat (e.g. Dynamat) in cases with good results.
http://imgur.com/a/sOVrk
That might be less messy and you would still be able to open the case.

This is a sounding solution, the silicon way is just too messy, even if its solvent doesn't corrode the PCB.

IKSLM

28 Jul 2017, 00:00

I just put cotton in two of my cherries, filled every cavity; a total transformation, much nicer keyboard than before (no hollow sounds, switches feel nicer (placebo), some extra weight... only good stuff). Also, cotton is probably nicer to electronics :D (after 2 years both still work).

Used something similar to this: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Organic-Cotton- ... Swc49Y8irw

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THATGUY69

28 Jul 2017, 01:45

Chyros wrote: Hmmm, so you changed the electronics of your keyboard into acetates. Impressive, never heard of that one before.

Think of it as a sign though. It's some higher power trying to tell you not to use MX brown.
Can't argue with god now can you?

robotsokk

28 Jul 2017, 02:54

A very interesting and helpful cautionary tale! I'm curious -- did you happen to snap any 'after' pictures of the PCB?

Also, I'll have to check out sound dampening mats... I have a plastic case coming in, and have been meaning to gather some materials for dampening/giving it a bit of weight once it arrives.

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chuckdee

28 Jul 2017, 03:17

robo wrote: Regarding the disparagement of MX browns, i think this mod really transformed them into something nice. Actually, i was originally sold on MX Browns after buying a switch tester which was made of a solid piece of Perspex, in other words extremely solid. The brown switch in that setting felt great. But on the stock CM board with all the slight case rattles etc, they felt and sounded a lot worse. This mod brought the back to feeling kind of like they did in that switch tester.

I was planning to buy browns again actually, although I haven't tried many other switch types other than Cherry, buckling springs and Topre (which I don't like, personally).
More people in the brown group! And someone else who doesn't like Topre!

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Elrick

28 Jul 2017, 04:24

Chyros wrote: Think of it as a sign though. It's some higher power trying to tell you not to use MX brown.
Also the very colour being BROWN, kind of denotes it's actual properties here, like what's seen in your local sewer ;) .

Don't use Browns, look for something else even if it's an old IBM membrane keyboard, it's still better than any Brown switched keyboard produced today.

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enrique.aliaga

28 Jul 2017, 04:28

Yeah, Browns suck. :D I would love to get my hands on a NOS Apple Extended Keyboard (M0115) or NOS Apple Standard Keyboard (M0116) with Alps SKCM Orange. Anybody here interested in selling me one? :)


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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DustGod
Yet another IBM snob

28 Jul 2017, 10:56

Elrick wrote:
Chyros wrote: Think of it as a sign though. It's some higher power trying to tell you not to use MX brown.
Also the very colour being BROWN, kind of denotes it's actual properties here, like what's seen in your local sewer ;) .

Don't use Browns, look for something else even if it's an old IBM membrane keyboard, it's still better than any Brown switched keyboard produced today.
Church. I have an old SGI Bigfoot with linear mod Cream Damped. Some switches have better tactility than MX Browns - due to the bump caused by the contact leaf - even though they're supposed to be linear!
Literally anything non-linear I've tried have better tactility than Browns. This includes 20+ years old used-to-fuck rubber domes.

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Harshmallow

28 Jul 2017, 16:20

To add a serious recommendation instead of more MX Brown bashing (though I don't like them much either) - if you can get your hands on one, I'd really recommend trying a tactile space invader board. There should be quite a few different models of RT101+ boards with them (tactile grey, black or brown) and they are a similar feeling switch but just better in about every category IMO. They are stiffer than MX Brown though. The case is also sturdier and the spacebar on these boards is awesome - very deep sound with zero stabilizer rattle (unless it's immensely worn out I suppose).

I use mine at work and no one has complained once - it's much quieter than clacky browns or reds.

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seebart
Offtopicthority Instigator

28 Jul 2017, 16:38

Harshmallow wrote: To add a serious recommendation instead of more MX Brown bashing (though I don't like them much either)
Right, I love when people state their opinion in such a brisk manner. :mrgreen: Hard to believe there are people that actually prefer MX Brown's to anything else, myself not being one. ;) :lol:

robo

28 Jul 2017, 20:41

I'll snap a photo when I get home. Right now the board is sitting in a bucket of of distilled water in a "what do i have to lose?" type attempt to maybe dilute away the acid and save the board.

Also, I would point out that a few years ago MX Browns were voted as the _favorite_ switch on these very same messageboards :P

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Chyros

28 Jul 2017, 23:47

robo wrote: I'll snap a photo when I get home. Right now the board is sitting in a bucket of of distilled water in a "what do i have to lose?" type attempt to maybe dilute away the acid and save the board.

Also, I would point out that a few years ago MX Browns were voted as the _favorite_ switch on these very same messageboards :P
Yes, evolution is an ever-ongoing concept :p .

That sais, I think it's been a steady Reddit favourite, and that really can't count in its favourite :p .

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kekstee

29 Jul 2017, 00:56

For adding weight and dampening to regular cases you might want to look into modeling clay or whatever it is hifi enthusiasts fill their turntables with.

Playing with various dampening mats to change the sound (but not so much the weight) might be easier though.

On a side note all of that MX-Brown bashing circlejerk is totally uncalled for. Ergo Clears are more fun, but decent Browns are still an interesting switch which is decidedly not linear.

Findecanor

29 Jul 2017, 06:33

I saw a gallery of a GH60 build the other day that used a bitumen mat in -- used for anti-vibration pads in automobiles. (Scroll down about half-way)

Good to know about the dangers of caulk. I had been considering tin-cured two-part silicone for mould-making at the bottom of a keyboard. Caulk is sometimes used for quick-and-dirty cheap moulds because it is cheaper, but it is not as durable so it is good only for one casting and I might have gone that route with the keyboard to save money ...
I had assumed that both would be completely safe to use, but now I'll be more careful.

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Wingklip

30 Jul 2017, 07:07

I've found that the use of foam in the form of LDPE packing closed cell foam (open celled works better imo) really helps damp out a lot of the plastic rattle and chime.

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AdrianMan

30 Jul 2017, 21:39

I've read about using dynamat xtreme speaker kit for sound dampening.

I'm going to try this in the near future: https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=78618.0

with more photos/ 60% case:http://imgur.com/a/sOVrk

I'm gonna return with a feedback after installing some...in a few weeks or so :roll:

oropeth

30 Jul 2017, 22:22

You could also check out Sorbothane:

https://www.google.com/search?q=sorboth ... ekhack.org

I bought some 40 duro 1/8" on Amazon and I like it in my pok3r.

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