Are some of my Blue Alps actually White in disguise?

M4dn3ss

09 Aug 2017, 12:07

I recently bought a bunch of Blue Alps switches and noticed that the top housing on some of them had ALPS printed on them, even though Blue Alps aren't meant to have that.

I didn't think too much of it until I opened some of them up, and I noticed that the switches with ALPS on the top housings had a white switch plate, and the springs had more coils than the springs in the non-branded Blue Alps (does this make them heavier?).

I opened up some of the White Alps switches on one of my old keyboards and compared the springs and they were identical to the ones in on the branded Blue Alps.

In the photo below, the spring and other parts on the left are from the "maybe-blue-maybe-white" Alps switch and the parts on the right are from the "most probably definitely blue" Alps switch.
IMG_1823.JPG
IMG_1823.JPG (2.4 MiB) Viewed 2110 times
I can't really tell the difference in feel when the switches are loose but I wouldn't want to solder them all in to a board and realise that some feel different to others. Can anyone tell me what's going on with these?

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infodroid

09 Aug 2017, 12:26

Looks like you might have the "rare white switchplate" version: wiki/Alps_SKCM_Blue

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E3E

09 Aug 2017, 12:35

M4dn3ss wrote: I recently bought a bunch of Blue Alps switches and noticed that the top housing on some of them had ALPS printed on them, even though Blue Alps aren't meant to have that.

I didn't think too much of it until I opened some of them up, and I noticed that the switches with ALPS on the top housings had a white switch plate, and the springs had more coils than the springs in the non-branded Blue Alps (does this make them heavier?).

I opened up some of the White Alps switches on one of my old keyboards and compared the springs and they were identical to the ones in on the branded Blue Alps.

In the photo below, the spring and other parts on the left are from the "maybe-blue-maybe-white" Alps switch and the parts on the right are from the "most probably definitely blue" Alps switch.
IMG_1823.JPG
I can't really tell the difference in feel when the switches are loose but I wouldn't want to solder them all in to a board and realise that some feel different to others. Can anyone tell me what's going on with these?
No, don't worry about the number of coils. As an example, Alps SKCL Brown springs and SKCL Green springs are the same length and have the same number of coils but are very different weights. Also, Alps SKCM White is part of the beginning of the second generation of Alps switches, with short white switchplates. That is one of the more noticeable differences. Another is that blue Alps has lubricant applied to its sliders whereas Alps SKCM White has none and instead uses a plastic with less friction.

What you have found are late model Alps SKCM Blues, which are totally normal and legitimate. No worries. :) They are pretty uncommon to see, actually. Versions without the top logo but with long white switch plates also exist.

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Chyros

09 Aug 2017, 13:03

Alps switches had numerous revisions, their changes over time, including that of white to blue, are well-known. Logo'd blue Alps are quite rare, but known. It's stranger that your blue Alps span several revisions even inside the same single keyboard tbh Oo .

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infodroid

09 Aug 2017, 13:42

I hope the seller didn't just mix switches from different boards and treat them as the same!

M4dn3ss

09 Aug 2017, 16:37

Chyros wrote: Alps switches had numerous revisions, their changes over time, including that of white to blue, are well-known. Logo'd blue Alps are quite rare, but known. It's stranger that your blue Alps span several revisions even inside the same single keyboard tbh Oo .
That's probably the case. I just separate all the branded switches and realised that the sliders on those are lighter blue.

BTW, these switches are probably not all from the same keyboard. I bought them loose, and they were someone else's spares they'd acquired for a Clueboard.

I just hope they aren't going to feel different when actually in a board.

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Chyros

09 Aug 2017, 19:16

M4dn3ss wrote: I just hope they aren't going to feel different when actually in a board.
They will; as the components changed over time, so did their keyfeel.

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Mattr567

11 Aug 2017, 06:06

Hey, those are at least long white plates, my old PB had short white plates and top logo blue's :lol:

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balotz

11 Aug 2017, 09:32

Mattr567 wrote: Hey, those are at least long white plates, my old PB had short white plates and top logo blue's :lol:
I have the same combo in my Packard Bell. The switches are really smooth, which must scupper the theory that the difference in feel between blues and whites is down to the switchplate.

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E3E

11 Aug 2017, 09:43

M4dn3ss wrote:
Chyros wrote: Alps switches had numerous revisions, their changes over time, including that of white to blue, are well-known. Logo'd blue Alps are quite rare, but known. It's stranger that your blue Alps span several revisions even inside the same single keyboard tbh Oo .
That's probably the case. I just separate all the branded switches and realised that the sliders on those are lighter blue.

BTW, these switches are probably not all from the same keyboard. I bought them loose, and they were someone else's spares they'd acquired for a Clueboard.

I just hope they aren't going to feel different when actually in a board.
I have actually seen switch variation in a single board before though. I've seen both grey and white long switch plates in my Alps SKCL Cream Bondwell PRO 8T laptop as well as a mixture of black and grey long switch plates in an SKCM Blue Leading Edge DC-2014 I purchased a few months back.

So yeah, you can find some mixes in a single board, though you have clarified that this is a different case. You'll only really feel a difference if the later model blue Alps ditched the lubrication on its sliders and changed the plastic. I do not think this is the case with them.

I can't be sure about the short switch plate versions, but you don't have to worry about that.

Also, don't mind the color variation with sliders. The dye they used must've been prone to fading, and there's often a lot of inconsistency in slider color even across the same board. That's normal.
balotz wrote:
Mattr567 wrote: Hey, those are at least long white plates, my old PB had short white plates and top logo blue's :lol:
I have the same combo in my Packard Bell. The switches are really smooth, which must scupper the theory that the difference in feel between blues and whites is down to the switchplate.
I do agree that switchplate length does not change the feel. It might have a minuscule change on acoustics, but I'm not sure.

It's really the change from a lubricated slider to a more slick plastic slider with no lubricant. Despite the slicker plastic, it's not smoother in feel. You can feel this in comparing Alps SKCM Green to Alps SKCM Brown especially.

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Daniel Beardsmore

11 Aug 2017, 09:57

E3E wrote: I have actually seen switch variation in a single board before though. I've seen both grey and white long switch plates in my Alps SKCL Cream Bondwell PRO 8T laptop as well as a mixture of black and grey long switch plates in an SKCM Blue Leading Edge DC-2014 I purchased a few months back.
The former I assume was made ca. 1989.

The patent for click feedback in SKCM was filed in 1985, and the DC-2014 could potentially be that old (being essentially F XT layout). The changeover date from black to grey isn't confirmed; it's somewhere between 1985 and 1986 (since it must come after the introduction of blue Alps):

http://telcontar.net/KBK/Keycombo/switc ... .php?id=25

As such, your DC-2014 should be made ca. 1985–6.

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E3E

11 Aug 2017, 10:02

Daniel Beardsmore wrote:
E3E wrote: I have actually seen switch variation in a single board before though. I've seen both grey and white long switch plates in my Alps SKCL Cream Bondwell PRO 8T laptop as well as a mixture of black and grey long switch plates in an SKCM Blue Leading Edge DC-2014 I purchased a few months back.
The former I assume was made ca. 1989.

The patent for click feedback in SKCM was filed in 1985, and the DC-2014 could potentially be that old (being essentially F XT layout). The changeover date from black to grey isn't confirmed; it's somewhere between 1985 and 1986 (since it must come after the introduction of blue Alps):

http://telcontar.net/KBK/Keycombo/switc ... .php?id=25

As such, your DC-2014 should be made ca. 1985–6.
Yep, those dates line up to what I've discovered from boards from those time periods. Though anything out of the 1984 range typically very seldom has black switch plates. I've seen a single black switch plate in an SKCL Amber, that is, the space bar switch, and also in an SKCL Lock Brown from a board dated 1986.

SKCL Double Actions have a brown switch plate. So do early Alps Plate Spring switches. The two share a two tone grey and black housing as well.

Aside from Mattr's strange discovery of white plate SKCC Greens (which I guess might be late production due to continued use in banks or something), it would seem that white switch plates are only seen after 1989.

I have an Acer KB101A with its case made in 1989 and it has white plates, but my DC-3014 has grey plates and it's also from 1989. I'm not sure when short plates started production, but a lot of switches that seemed to enter production after 1990 had them.

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Chyros

11 Aug 2017, 13:29

It would make sense that low-volume switches used black or otherwise older parts for longer; it would've taken longer to empty their inventories. Pretty sure that's why even SKCL yellow boards often still came with SKCL green LED switches.

M4dn3ss

16 Aug 2017, 15:54

Chyros wrote:
M4dn3ss wrote: I just hope they aren't going to feel different when actually in a board.
They will; as the components changed over time, so did their keyfeel.
Ah great, well I basically have 3 different batches then, haha.

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//gainsborough
ALPSの日常

16 Aug 2017, 16:18

balotz wrote: I have the same combo in my Packard Bell. The switches are really smooth, which must scupper the theory that the difference in feel between blues and whites is down to the switchplate.
I still think it plays a role, though. Regardless, the biggest determining factor for keyfeel (for alps at least) is condition.

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