Cherry MX keystem notches

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Daniel Beardsmore

26 Nov 2017, 02:17

UncleFan mentioned the "injection port" and mould numbering of Cherry MX keystems to me.

I went through my tub of MX switches, plus the "click clear" and pale blues ones that I have to hand, and they all follow this pattern:
Cherry MX keystems.png
Cherry MX keystems.png (30.71 KiB) Viewed 1983 times
Pale blue from 1988 has no notch, nor does one of the click clear switches. MX Lock has no notch either: the Cherry website shows it with one, but actual switches do not.

snuci's ca. 1984 MX Black seems to have a very short notch, but I can't quite tell from the photos. They don't appear to have the tall notch that we see now.

I guess this is one of those things that I'll be keeping an eye out for from now on, to see if there are exceptions. Most of my MX switches are brand new (current designs); I have a few old ones of unknown origin or age, plus ones from the Keyboard Company that are all old stock of unknown origin or age. I don't have a large amount of data, but so far there are no obvious discrepancies.

rich1051414

26 Nov 2017, 14:55

What does 'North' mean? The direction of the switch leafs, or the LED? Mod-M's have the notch on the direction of the logo, which is above the switch leafs, which definitely would be considered 'strong tactility'.

I never knew the notches had any function or meaning at all, so this is new to me. I always assumed it was just an artifact of optimizing production :)

User avatar
Daniel Beardsmore

26 Nov 2017, 15:10

I am working on the fairly sane assumption that you're holding the switch with the Cherry logo the right way up.

It seems that the pattern was different way back, and that it may have become standardised at some point. This would have been a data point, but the slider is outside of the camera's depth of field:

wiki/File:G80-0924_--_MX_Linear_Grey_on_spacebar.jpg

rich1051414

26 Nov 2017, 15:25

That makes sense then. Well I am glad that these newer manufacturers of clones had enough attention to detail to keep this consistent, but I still wouldn't rely on it for clones anyway :)

PS: By "ergonomic tactility" do you mean like brown switches? My kailh browns have the notch on the South so that does stay consistent. My authentic blue and clear switches are both on the North.

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Daniel Beardsmore

26 Nov 2017, 16:09

Yes, "ergonomic" is how Cherry describe MX Brown. (Reading Cherry literature is difficult as it's hard to understand what switch they mean, as they use these overwrought descriptions with no mention of part numbers or colours.)

Maybe I should put my details (which have a clear pattern) and UncleFan's (which don't fit) onto a wiki page.

User avatar
snuci
Vintage computer guy

29 Nov 2017, 01:32

Daniel Beardsmore wrote: snuci's ca. 1984 MX Black seems to have a very short notch, but I can't quite tell from the photos. They don't appear to have the tall notch that we see now.
Which keyboard? I'll see if I can take better pics of it.

User avatar
Daniel Beardsmore

29 Nov 2017, 09:23

[wiki]Cherry KXN3-8451[/wiki]

ball00n

29 Nov 2017, 09:49

My albino black from an aeg olympia typewriter has north-facing notch.
https://i.imgur.com/tp6HX9P.jpg

User avatar
Wodan
ISO Advocate

29 Nov 2017, 12:10

The most exciting new change to MX stems is the "Retool" dib in the top of the stem.

This was communicated by our friend at Cherry personally and helps identify the new, retooled linear and brown switches
Image

andrewjoy

29 Nov 2017, 14:27

I need to read more about this tooling.

Does that mean that modern blacks no longer feel like they have sand in them ?

As older blacks are not bad. At least well used ones that are smooth :).

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snuci
Vintage computer guy

29 Nov 2017, 22:57

Daniel Beardsmore wrote: snuci's ca. 1984 MX Black seems to have a very short notch, but I can't quite tell from the photos. They don't appear to have the tall notch that we see now.
Nope, no notch. Just an "injection port"? Sorry for the blur. I don't have a tripod I can use for that close and I have to hold the camera steady.
Cherry MX side
Cherry MX side
Cherry MX side.JPG (256.63 KiB) Viewed 1783 times
Cherry MX North
Cherry MX North
Cherry MX North.JPG (245.48 KiB) Viewed 1783 times
Cherry MX South
Cherry MX South
Cherry MX South.JPG (223.45 KiB) Viewed 1783 times

User avatar
Daniel Beardsmore

30 Nov 2017, 00:18

ball00n wrote: My albino black from an aeg olympia typewriter has north-facing notch.
https://i.imgur.com/tp6HX9P.jpg
You need to document this. It's extremely rare for these variants to ever get properly documented.

I do notice that the movable contact is the newer design. The old movable contact design seemed to be short-lived, but Aristotle copied it for years. I also have TETON clones, and while new/NOS, I know nothing about them at all; those also have old-style movable contacts.

It seems that there were three phases:
  1. No notch (snuci's, wodan's old G80-1000 with pale blue etc)
  2. Notch in N position for all switches (based on UncleFan's findings)
  3. Apparent but unconfirmed differentiation between linear/ergo (S) and movement differential/standard tactile (N)
Pure speculation at this stage.

There was one or more geekhack topics on the new switches; I only have RGB Red in the new smooth plastic, but I never noticed anything special about the top of the keystem (there is a far more visible design change that you can see only in RGB switches unless you open them). However, I've just checked and indeed, the little indentation is there. There is no way that I could photograph, it, as the red is just too reflective, and also the colour that JPEG destroys (I can't shoot in TIFF/PNG/raw).

ball00n

30 Nov 2017, 12:41

Daniel Beardsmore wrote: You need to document this. It's extremely rare for these variants to ever get properly documented.
I added a new page with some images. I also noticed that there is another "notch" on linear clears, and "south" facing part of the cross is actually sloped. Hope pictures give enough evidence.

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UncleFan

30 Nov 2017, 17:03

Snuci really has a lot of enviable switches.I have not found the "MX Black" with out Injection port.
"North" means facing to CHERRY LOGO. "South"means facing to LED light socket.
According to my findings, I think It does not have relationship with the age of production and type. It seems related to the production batch. "MX RED" was produced in 2008 (2009?). I had got an old "MX RED"without injection port from "CHERRY3494LYCUS"(if I remember correctly)
It is related to Injection molding process, but according to my actual reference, It is an effective way to judge the switch old or new.(Only for the same type of switch)

User avatar
Daniel Beardsmore

30 Nov 2017, 22:51

ball00n wrote: I added a new page with some images. I also noticed that there is another "notch" on linear clears, and "south" facing part of the cross is actually sloped. Hope pictures give enough evidence.
Ah, you have finally explained the dwarfism type! I thought that there was no hope of discovering where those originated. It's no great surprise that it's typewriters, as those are full of weird and rare switches. (Which makes me wonder, what if the manufacturer wanted double-action? The MX patent is actually for a double throw switch with dual contacts, never seen before.)

This means that we need to rename it, as it's most likely not real Linear Clear, but a totally custom part. And we still don't have a good name for it.

If you can get me fairly accurate measurements of the shell, I'll adapt my [wiki]DIN-compliant[/wiki] diagram to make a comparison diagram for the two types.

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Daniel Beardsmore

01 Dec 2017, 01:12

By the way, this—from cherry-jade's store—appears to be actual linear clear:

https://item.taobao.com/item.htm?id=529643200443

I'll investigate when mine arrive in a few weeks' time. They will be the first ones I have with the old-style contacts, too.

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UncleFan

01 Dec 2017, 06:24

My albino black from an aeg olympia typewriter has north-facing notch.
https://i.imgur.com/tp6HX9P.jpg
ball00n▼
So the brand of that typewriter is Olympia. So it is. :D
The "drawfism" clear(I also began to disagree with this name)'s key-stem has different design.There is indeed a tilt in its key-stem.It seems that the size is also different from the ordinary clear switch.
image.jpg
image.jpg (202.84 KiB) Viewed 1687 times

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Daniel Beardsmore

01 Dec 2017, 09:25

The keystem isn't tilted, but one of the vanes is tapered with a notch at the base.

I'd like to rename the wiki page immediately before anyone (including Google) gets used to its existence, but it will definitely have to be renamed soon because real Linear Clear needs that page. Unless of course the real Linear Clear really is MX1A-11__, i.e. the theory that it started life without pigmentation. That's possible, but it would be very rare considering that MX Black goes back to 1984.

ball00n

01 Dec 2017, 09:37

Daniel Beardsmore wrote: This means that we need to rename it, as it's most likely not real Linear Clear, but a totally custom part. And we still don't have a good name for it.
I, usually, call it "Albino black", but that name doesn't really represents the real difference between them and "normal" switches. You could call them "low-profile", since the switch will not work with standard cherry keycaps. Maybe it should be named after the typewriters? Like Olympia, or Olympia Linear Clear (same as Nixie is called these days)?
Daniel Beardsmore wrote: If you can get me fairly accurate measurements of the shell, I'll adapt my [wiki]DIN-compliant[/wiki] diagram to make a comparison diagram for the two types.
I could make some measurements. But not right now, since I don't have proper equipment. I could, however, send one switch to you for the price of the shipping. I also have another switch that you might be interested in.

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UncleFan

01 Dec 2017, 09:43

I'd like to rename the wiki page immediately before anyone (including Google) gets used to its existence, but it will definitely have to be renamed soon because real Linear Clear needs that page.
How about "Adaptation Shell Clear"? (hope it will not be complicated to read :shock: )
Or "Linear Clear 1" , "Linear Clear 2"... But I do not want to classify "Linear Clear" and "Drawfism Clear" in the same directory.

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subcat

01 Dec 2017, 09:46

MX Dwarf Clear? :0

ball00n

01 Dec 2017, 09:49

Daniel Beardsmore wrote: By the way, this—from cherry-jade's store—appears to be actual linear clear:

https://item.taobao.com/item.htm?id=529643200443

I'll investigate when mine arrive in a few weeks' time. They will be the first ones I have with the old-style contacts, too.
With those taobao listings you can't be really sure about the origin of that switch. It could be the stem from olympia, or stem from nixie spacebar, or gateron clear even!

User avatar
UncleFan

01 Dec 2017, 09:54

ball00n wrote:
Daniel Beardsmore wrote: By the way, this—from cherry-jade's store—appears to be actual linear clear:

https://item.taobao.com/item.htm?id=529643200443

I'll investigate when mine arrive in a few weeks' time. They will be the first ones I have with the old-style contacts, too.
With those taobao listings you can't be really sure about the origin of that switch. It could be the stem from olympia, or stem from nixie spacebar, or gateron clear even!
No. I had got one of it. Its key-stem is different with Olympia,Nixie and Gateron. It doesn't has injection port on its key stem.

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Daniel Beardsmore

01 Dec 2017, 09:54

I was certainly considering naming the switch after the typewriter, as it probably is a customer-specific part. I have renamed to MX Olympia Linear Clear it as suggested.

If anything it's higher profile, although I'm not clear yet how much of an effect that would have on keycap requirements (because the plate is higher up, it could potentially limit the keycap height). I was considering guessing the dimensions from the photos (and I've already prepared the drawing) but indeed it would be very useful to have a switch for inspection, and so that I can produce a matching photo for the wiki.

I like the dwarfism name, but the overall height isn't changed: the PCB-to-plate distance was increased, perhaps to fit existing typewriter tooling.

User avatar
Daniel Beardsmore

01 Dec 2017, 09:57

ball00n wrote: With those taobao listings you can't be really sure about the origin of that switch. It could be the stem from olympia, or stem from nixie spacebar, or gateron clear even!
If there's any doubt, Michael Schmid at Cherry can analyse the parts, but I have no reason to believe that cherry-jade is concocting weird parts to wind us up. Linear Clear is a well-known but extremely rare type.

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Daniel Beardsmore

28 Jan 2018, 00:29

Diagram added to [wiki]Cherry MX Olympia Linear Clear[/wiki] along with other differing dimensions.

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Noobmaen

27 Apr 2018, 14:31

I opened my Triumph Adler Alphatronic PC 50 keyboard which appears to be from around 1984 based on the date codes on its ICs (1983 and 1982) for cleaning recently, and took a closer look at the switches; they appear to be the same type as in snuci's KXN3-8451 keyboard. They seem to be lubed too, and not just at the contact point of slider and contact leaf like in some other cherry switches.
Edit: replaced with better pictures
Attachments
slider side
slider side
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slider side edge
slider side edge
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old contact leaf style
old contact leaf style
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slider back
slider back
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wafflepc

27 Apr 2018, 23:31

Not cherry, but the large majority of my gateron blues have a north facing notch but a couple of mine have south facing notches. The injection spot seems really inconsistent on where it is placed as well.

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