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When do you decide to desolder switches from old boards?

Unread postPosted: 15 Sep 2018, 23:14
by keimura
I recently got some older keyboards (M0116, Monterey KB108) and I really like the switches, but I just hate the layout. I know I can use converters or software to remap the keys but I also can't get over how much I like smaller layouts like hhkb or planck. I want to harvest the switches for a project but I also kinda feel guilty for pretty much killing the keyboard and the history around it. Am I over thinking this?

Unread postPosted: 15 Sep 2018, 23:17
by Myoth
you're not, that's why most people are into this hobby, because of the history around the keyboards. If you want the switches, I would advise to either sell the keyboards to buy the same switches or try to trade 1:1 the number of switches in each keyboard.

Unread postPosted: 16 Sep 2018, 00:34
by keimura
Thanks for the advice! Or maybe I'll be a greedy hoarder and just buy the switches separately and keep the keyboards lol.

Unread postPosted: 16 Sep 2018, 02:43
by LeslieAnn
The problem with Myoth's suggestion is many of these switches are no longer made, you can get used ones, but those were just desoldered by someone else from another board, so what's the difference.

Depending on the keyboard and its condition, I wouldn't worry about it. It's not like either of those are endangered, besides, you can always put switches back in in.

Unread postPosted: 16 Sep 2018, 05:20
by risk23
keimura wrote:I recently got some older keyboards (M0116, Monterey KB108) and I really like the switches, but I just hate the layout. I know I can use converters or software to remap the keys but I also can't get over how much I like smaller layouts like hhkb or planck. I want to harvest the switches for a project but I also kinda feel guilty for pretty much killing the keyboard and the history around it. Am I over thinking this?

You're not overthinking - I cringe every time I hear that someone has desoldered, say, alps from a historically important board to build a 69% l33t g4m3r b0ard. With that said, not all old boards are historically important in my view and opinion will vary on which ones are and are not. Personally, besides the obvious (Model F etc), I put a lot of value on boards that are part of Unix history. I wouldn't consider either Apple or Monterey boards to be important and wouldn't hesitate to harvest from them if necessary, but I know some would disagree about AEKs/ASKs at least.

Unread postPosted: 16 Sep 2018, 06:52
by //gainsborough
IMO if the board isn't easily usable/converted or isn't very rare then I desolder them. Like there are boatloads of AEK and AEKIIs floating around, I honestly wouldn't feel bad at all. Now for something like a blue alps acer kb-101a I would say that's pretty bad to harvest it given it's layout and usability >_<

Unread postPosted: 16 Sep 2018, 08:38
by Bass
At the end of the day, people may judge you for harvesting old switches, but I think it's also worth noting that even these people can subsequently be judged harshly by full on vintage computer collectors for the common practice of converting vintage keyboards to USB for use on a modern computer rather than the systems they originally came with. For example I obtained my beloved 3278 separately from its original terminal (although it was already missing when I originally found it) and converted it to USB, but I don't feel that guilty about it because these modifications are what make it relevant to me as a daily use keyboard. In a sense, switch harvesting is similar since many people in the custom keyboards community love the feel of alps switches but despise the limitations imposed by the form factors and layouts of the boards they originally came in.

Though that all being said, you do have to draw a line somewhere and so I agree with gains on this one. Harvesting blue alps switches from something like a kb-101a is just squandering away the best aspect of the switch as they'll never sound quite as good in a modern chassis, and the layout is plenty fine as it is.

Unread postPosted: 16 Sep 2018, 10:14
by Muirium
I’m too lazy to harvest switches. Think I only did it once! It’s not nearly as pleasant work as soldering them into a PCB. Some of my favourite switches have come from that route, however. Best if it’s someone else’s labour than mine! I’m too sloppy and impatient.

Overall I prefer to use vintage boards as is—with just a swapped controller or a converter—but some of them do squander their switches. Everything’s a balance in the end.

Unread postPosted: 17 Sep 2018, 01:58
by abrahamstechnology
I'd replace the switches with Matias. They will ensure the board has a long service life. Don't forget there are retro computer enthusiasts, too.

Unread postPosted: 17 Sep 2018, 02:22
by Blaise170
In most cases I will at least replace the old switches with newer versions except for the extremely common boards like WYSEs. Both Cherry and Alps clones are readily available these days.

Unread postPosted: 17 Sep 2018, 02:41
by abrahamstechnology
Blaise170 wrote:In most cases I will at least replace the old switches with newer versions except for the extremely common boards like WYSEs. Both Cherry and Alps clones are readily available these days.

WYSEs are great boards, I use one for my daily driver.