Most durable vintage switches?

Crown326

31 Jul 2019, 07:30

I have accumulated various vintage mechs and most of the switches with the exception of IBM's buckling springs seem to have a varying degree roughness due to dirt, dust and over-use. None are NOS, but many are very clean and there are still keys where you can tell there is a little bit of dust and probably overuse damage. The IBMs just seem to age the best. I was reading a thread a while ago describing alps switches that are not NOS as essentially having to be cared for as "damage control" due to small amounts of dust getting into the slider and other internal components. Are there any vintage switches aside from buckling springs that are known for being more durable to the elements and usage?
Last edited by Crown326 on 31 Jul 2019, 10:55, edited 1 time in total.

mcmaxmcmc

31 Jul 2019, 09:38

Cherry switches are quite resistant to dust as far as I'm concerned. There's probably some other switches out there that also deal with dust,but I can't bring it up the top of my head

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St0ckz

31 Jul 2019, 09:44

Kailh box switches being the most resistant, also to water.

Outemu dust proofs have a resistance to dust as the name might suggest :D

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Chyros

31 Jul 2019, 09:50

More specifically, with "durable" do you mean "dust-resistant" or "not likely to fail"?

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St0ckz

31 Jul 2019, 10:09

Chyros wrote:
31 Jul 2019, 09:50
More specifically, with "durable" do you mean "dust-resistant" or "not likely to fail"?
I can feel the inevitable "hall effect is the superior option" brewing :lol:

Crown326

31 Jul 2019, 10:50

Chyros wrote:
31 Jul 2019, 09:50
More specifically, with "durable" do you mean "dust-resistant" or "not likely to fail"?
Should have been more specific, I'm primarily talking about vintage switches that have good dust resistance. Reliability and not feeling like like crap when a board has been heavily used is also a plus. After I fixed up my NEC APC-H412F I started to realize how scratchy some of the switches were, and given they cannot be opened it was a bummer. All of my alps boards have been decently used and it shows. Just looking for a good all rounder that is not so sensitive.

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elecplus

31 Jul 2019, 10:53

Look for POS keyboards that have had a plastic cover "condom" over them. The old MX blacks are really nice, and the condom keeps them very clean.

Crown326

31 Jul 2019, 11:00

St0ckz wrote:
31 Jul 2019, 09:44
Kailh box switches being the most resistant, also to water.

Outemu dust proofs have a resistance to dust as the name might suggest :D
I edited my post a bit, I am focusing more on vintage switches. I really do want to try Kahil boxes one of these days though :D

Crown326

31 Jul 2019, 11:04

elecplus wrote:
31 Jul 2019, 10:53
Look for POS keyboards that have had a plastic cover "condom" over them. The old MX blacks are really nice, and the condom keeps them very clean.
Not a bad idea, will do some searching :)

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Chyros

31 Jul 2019, 11:16

Crown326 wrote:
31 Jul 2019, 10:50
Chyros wrote:
31 Jul 2019, 09:50
More specifically, with "durable" do you mean "dust-resistant" or "not likely to fail"?
Should have been more specific, I'm primarily talking about vintage switches that have good dust resistance. Reliability and not feeling like like crap when a board has been heavily used is also a plus. After I fixed up my NEC APC-H412F I started to realize how scratchy some of the switches were, and given they cannot be opened it was a bummer. All of my alps boards have been decently used and it shows. Just looking for a good all rounder that is not so sensitive.
I'm asking for a specific choice between the two because they will result in different answers. As someone hinted at, if you want pure reliability, you can't top Hall effect, whereas for resistance-against-scratchiness-by-dust-incursion Cherry MX (particularly the older versions when their moulds weren't crap yet) are indeed very good.

Myself, I have an unfortunate tendency to like switches that happen to be rather vulnerable to dust xD . This greatly complicates getting suitable keyboards!

Crown326

31 Jul 2019, 11:26

Chyros wrote:
31 Jul 2019, 09:50
Myself, I have an unfortunate tendency to like switches that happen to be rather vulnerable to dust xD . This greatly complicates getting suitable keyboards!
Pick your poison i suppose. I do want to try a board with vintage cherrys, I will be looking out for one for sure. Hopefully one of these days i will be able to get my hands on a clean alps board. :(

Findecanor

31 Jul 2019, 11:28

Oh, I've got some really crusty MX Black switches. Condition matters even there.

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Chyros

31 Jul 2019, 11:37

Findecanor wrote:
31 Jul 2019, 11:28
Oh, I've got some really crusty MX Black switches. Condition matters even there.
Yeah, I've got some MX Blue switches that are so scratchy that they don't even come back up anymore xD . But, while they'r e not IMMUNE to dirt, admittedly, they're definitely better than most - it's undeniably one of their strengths.

Much as I like Alps, their almost metaphysical vulnerability to dirt and dust can be a MAJOR pain in the ass xD .

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Muirium
µ

31 Jul 2019, 14:44

If it has a slider, it can and will turn scratchy with age and conditions. Some are just more resilient than others.

As for whether it still works, period, well that's where Alps falls off, and buckling spring starts getting complex. MX holds up better. But will still feel like shit once it's worn so heavily, and have you wondering "why must I type on this again?"

Mechanical keyboards are absurdly oversold on longevity. Treat them with care and they'll be fine. (No such guarantees when discussing random old equipment sourced elsewhere.) Their real advantage is that they're even nice in the first place.

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Chyros

31 Jul 2019, 15:47

Muirium wrote:
31 Jul 2019, 14:44
Mechanical keyboards are absurdly oversold on longevity. Treat them with care and they'll be fine. (No such guarantees when discussing random old equipment sourced elsewhere.) Their real advantage is that they're even nice in the first place.
I'm pretty sure most mechanical keyboards are actually LESS reliable than modern rubber dome keyboards. Nobody would ever want to face that though xD .

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Muirium
µ

31 Jul 2019, 15:57

That's my reckon, too.

You definitely don't want to try advertising your $100-200-500-Elliptical product as "almost as reliable as the disposable garbage you're using now!" But the truth is, we aren't into these things because we can stomp all over them-dip them in pink slime-toss them in a volcano-loan them to teenagers and they'll still work. Eew! No, we're into them because they're luxury keyboards.

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SneakyRobb

31 Jul 2019, 17:32

Reliability and durability?

Capacitive > Hall effect. Full stop.

They both have pcbs, but the capacitive pcb doesn't have any exposed circuitry under the keys unlike the hall effect which has at best a surface mount sensor soldered in place. You could in coat this with water proof resin though, but it is still more stuff that can break. More exposed circuitry.

You can dunk most of a capactive board in water and pull it out and it will work fine. The sensor pads are inside the soldermask so they can't get shorts between pins. Do this with a hall effect pcb and the sensors might be shorted if not sealed or if there even was sealant and it has peeled.

They both have controller chips at the top, but for a capacitive board these are the only chips. So less points of moisture failure.

In a capacitive keyboard the pads aren't exposed at all, they are just trace areas. The only real wear on the capacitive pcb is a light plastic capacitive element slightly slapping it. I'm not sure anyone has ever seen a capacitive pcb that has worn due to "slap damage."

This is no better and no worse than hall effect that must also move a magnet thing around. We seen a lot of clickly capacitive keyboards, but there is no reason you couldn't make a near linear one with almost no contact at all, or a topre style.

If the traces break in your hall effect pcb you can redo them, but if the sensor gets messed up you have to replace the sensor.
If the traces break in a capacitive pcb, you can go to any hardware store to... do some science to fix it.
Spoiler:
photo_2019-07-23_13-05-41.jpg
photo_2019-07-23_13-05-41.jpg (61.04 KiB) Viewed 662 times
Even then, topre capacitive boards just have a spring that moves around near the board so it isn't really slapping it anyway.

So if the sensor usually doesn't fail in a capacitive topre board, the thing that is going to fail would be the mechanism that moves around the capacitive element. Or the controller at the top.

But that is exactly how the hall effect keyboard would fail as well though. It would have failures in housings, springs, slider wear etc.
Its just that the hall effect keyboard has more individual physical sensors soldered in place which is just a bunch more points of failure.

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Chyros

31 Jul 2019, 17:37

In my experience, capacitive pads are definitely not immune to the effects of time.

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SneakyRobb

31 Jul 2019, 17:50

Chyros wrote:
31 Jul 2019, 17:37
In my experience, capacitive pads are definitely not immune to the effects of time.
True!

The point though is that if a capacitive board suffers damage that kills the pad, it means it has suffered fundamental PCB trace damage.

but that level of PCB damage is enough to kill *any* other PCB based keyboard anyway.

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Wazrach

31 Jul 2019, 22:43

Being a Model F fanboy, I'm going to be a bit biased here, but I'd say capacitive buckling springs are extremely durable from a reliability and dust susceptibility standpoint. Of course, the key feel is a plus as well. I've had quite a few buckling spring keyboards, both capacitive and membrane, and dirt only affected one. That would be a Wheelwriter module absolutely caked in black gunk, which completely ruined the switches. Most of them no longer clicked.

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snacksthecat
✶✶✶✶

31 Jul 2019, 23:40

Image

Oh hello there! You guys seem to have forgotten about me. Allow me to educate you why I’m the superior choice.
  • capacitive, for those big 30-40 billion key press reps
  • foam AND foil replaceable with modern upgrades
  • feels a bit crappy to begin with so not significantly affected by dust intrusion

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zrrion

01 Aug 2019, 00:38

I think modern foam is likely more durable and less likely to rot but they would still feel like foam

What people are really sleeping on is reed switches, lots of durability out of a contact based switch

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PlacaFromHell

01 Aug 2019, 02:58

I think reparability is as important as the durability itself. Lets put IBM switches as an example. Beamsprings are a lot more dust sensitive than buckling springs (still being fucking extra over technology compared to modern switches), but unlike the model F's, beamspring keyboards can be taken apart undefined times without making any modification (you don't have any tabs to break). When I was doing foam experiments and some other things with my IBM model F XT, at some point the keyboard just exploded because of the constant open-close, leaving it useless without doing a boltmod, which for some reason killed the PCB, so I ended with a buch of junky pieces with no utility value.

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SneakyRobb

01 Aug 2019, 05:42

snacksthecat wrote:
31 Jul 2019, 23:40
Image

Oh hello there! You guys seem to have forgotten about me. Allow me to educate you why I’m the superior choice.
  • capacitive, for those big 30-40 billion key press reps
  • foam AND foil replaceable with modern upgrades
  • feels a bit crappy to begin with so not significantly affected by dust intrusion
"feels a bit crappy to begin with so not significantly affected by dust intrusion"
Spoiler:
roll safe.jpg
roll safe.jpg (24.92 KiB) Viewed 440 times

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purdobol

01 Aug 2019, 10:49

PlacaFromHell wrote:
01 Aug 2019, 02:58
I think reparability is as important as the durability itself.
Pretty much this. Would even say it's more important. Since durability in this case means "how long it takes till the inevitable dust and gunk will affect the feel". And every keyboard sooner or later will be affected.
Ease of maintenance is what keeps the keyboard in good condition. If it's a chore to clean than most likely it will be used dirty and scratchy. And that's what ruins the switches the most.

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Chyros

01 Aug 2019, 11:13

If you want reparability, nothing comes even close to Acer switches.

They do require cleaning a bit more often than most boards, though.

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Wazrach

01 Aug 2019, 11:20

Chyros wrote:
01 Aug 2019, 11:13
If you want reparability, nothing comes even close to Acer switches.

They do require cleaning a bit more often than most boards, though.
I would like to try Acer switches sometime.. :o

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Muirium
µ

01 Aug 2019, 11:21

They are profoundly meh. Pretty much to buckling spring what Cherry MY is to MX black. Even down to the “still got nice caps.”

There’s a lot of crunch in there. But not in a good way, as you’ll find in Space Invaders. And there’s not the sense of sharp precision that good clicky Alps get right. They are, perhaps, informatively bad I suppose. Just not as downright awful as MY. Acer was trying, at least.

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Wazrach

01 Aug 2019, 11:39

Muirium wrote:
01 Aug 2019, 11:21
They are profoundly meh. Pretty much to buckling spring what Cherry MY is to MX black. Even down to the “still got nice caps.”

There’s a lot of crunch in there. But not in a good way, as you’ll find in Space Invaders. And there’s not the sense of sharp precision that good clicky Alps get right. They are, perhaps, informatively bad I suppose. Just not as downright awful as MY. Acer was trying, at least.
:( not the crónch

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Chyros

01 Aug 2019, 11:47

I'd say if you're used to good white or blue Alps, they'll feel rather mediocre, indeed. Not as smooth or refined. I still like them, though. Plus, they tend to be very easy and cheap to get hold of. They are considerably more tactile than most clicky Alps. Also, the pine models, while fairly rare, are CONSIDERABLY better than the bamboo ones most people are used to.

A UK-model 6312 was actually the first mech I got when I got into the hobby. I rescued a bunch from the "to dispose of" pile in the high-pressure lab in the bowels of the chem building.

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