Would it be possible for someone to recreate the SKCM blue alps switch?

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Chyros

01 Nov 2019, 09:25

abrahamstechnology wrote:
31 Oct 2019, 23:22
I don't see how RGB helps gamers at all.
The people who like RGB only do it because it was marketed as a high-end feature that "gaming" brands put on their more upmarket boards.Some well-done marketing can convince people to buy a board with quality switches rather than dime-a-dozen LEDs.

MX stems on Alps-style switches will never work. The entire shaft stabilizes the keycap. Things like Nexus sliders just make the switch rattly and wobbly.
I agree – although Nexus sliders have their own application, ideally I'd just want an exact copy of SKCMAG. No Cherry mount, nothing modernised, just a close-as-possible replica. I wouldn't want any "improvements" to compromise the switch feel and sound.

SKCM Orange would be a great hit too, I think :D .

spongebob1981

01 Nov 2019, 15:52

Ok, crazy bomb of a thought but I'll just leave it here: group buy... for the whole machinery/molding. The most stupid kickstarter campaign ever.

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Menuhin

01 Nov 2019, 20:54

SneakyRobb wrote:
31 Oct 2019, 18:59
Menuhin wrote:
31 Oct 2019, 15:55
And everyone said the old moulds and toolings for complicated Alps were lost. But since when and under whose hands were they lost. Could they be under someone's possession but they're not into make switches or that they don't like the design for some reason?

And how about the research notes or meeting memos for each incremental changes made to Alps Switches?
Alps sadly does not have this information. If they did, they would not share it. I have asked 2 employees and they will not share even the most basic facts of anything that is not a currently for sale product. After multiple attempts and angles of attack my biggest success was to get them to admit that SKCMAG "existed."

I got a message that they were able to confirm that such a switch was "used in keyboards" but no longer produced. That was the most information I got.

Even if you ask them for information on lubricant inside of currently available switches you could buy right now, they will not tell you. Its a trade secret/confidential.

...
I know we live in an open-sourced and open-standard world and those were the old days.
But what human beings are supposed to gain with these standard corporate secretive behaviors?

User avatar
abrahamstechnology

01 Nov 2019, 22:49

Ok, I got replies from several manufacturers who say they will be able to do it! Durock seems to be the most likely candidate, but of course the moulds will be expensive to make.
I am running an interest check to see how much demand there would be for these switches: https://forms.gle/yTruRbAyMXFCQywB9 Feel free to spread this around.

Rezene

01 Nov 2019, 23:07

abrahamstechnology wrote:
01 Nov 2019, 22:49
Ok, I got replies from several manufacturers who say they will be able to do it! Durock seems to be the most likely candidate, but of course the moulds will be expensive to make.
I am running an interest check to see how much demand there would be for these switches: https://forms.gle/yTruRbAyMXFCQywB9 Feel free to spread this around.
can you make it so you can choose more than one option for what you would use the switches for? I would use them to repair existing boards as well as building new boards and you can't specify that. I'm not too familiar with blue alps pricing right now (too expensive to even consider :lol: ) How much per switch do they cost if you wanted NOS blue alps?

Wazrach

01 Nov 2019, 23:17

abrahamstechnology wrote:
01 Nov 2019, 22:49
Ok, I got replies from several manufacturers who say they will be able to do it! Durock seems to be the most likely candidate, but of course the moulds will be expensive to make.
I am running an interest check to see how much demand there would be for these switches: https://forms.gle/yTruRbAyMXFCQywB9 Feel free to spread this around.
I filled out the form! I'd be happy to pay a premium, but I'd rather just be able to buy a full keyboard with them in.

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ppCircle

01 Nov 2019, 23:25

Rezene wrote:
01 Nov 2019, 23:07
abrahamstechnology wrote:
01 Nov 2019, 22:49
Ok, I got replies from several manufacturers who say they will be able to do it! Durock seems to be the most likely candidate, but of course the moulds will be expensive to make.
I am running an interest check to see how much demand there would be for these switches: https://forms.gle/yTruRbAyMXFCQywB9 Feel free to spread this around.
can you make it so you can choose more than one option for what you would use the switches for? I would use them to repair existing boards as well as building new boards and you can't specify that. I'm not too familiar with blue alps pricing right now (too expensive to even consider :lol: ) How much per switch do they cost if you wanted NOS blue alps?
NOS? Around 3$?

User avatar
SneakyRobb
THINK

02 Nov 2019, 19:56

Menuhin wrote:
01 Nov 2019, 20:54
I know we live in an open-sourced and open-standard world and those were the old days.
But what human beings are supposed to gain with these standard corporate secretive behaviors?
It is very hard to predict what future historians, fans, or the curious will find interesting or valuable. Take any of the objects you have right now. Maybe your specific electric watch, some pen, a mouse, a car, or whatever it is. Which one will have an enthusiast following in 20-40 years?

It is also hard to keep track of documents. There are just so many of them. My local city archives which I use constantly for research have old old files that are in multiple formats. At various times there have been drives to "modernize" the collection. So in 1940 they start turning the 1860, 1890, 1900, and 1920s era files into 1940s era files and get 20% of the way there. but then a new 1950s era of file format emerges and they start modernizing the some more and but then a new 1960 file format emerges. Suddenly you have documents in 45 different formats, and the lists that contain those documents are lost, or copied. Or are themselves in different formats.

I routinely find mislabeled documents which I help correct. I also routinely find completely missing documents. It sucks but its just the way human endeavours work. And the part you should think about, is that is an entire city department dedicated with enthusiastic staff to specifically preserving documents for openness. !!! That isn't even counting when someone recorded something 40 years ago on paper that accidentally wasn't acid proof.

I have had the IBM archives enthusiastically agree to help me figure out the IBM beamspring keycap plastic/material/documents for example. They were excited to help me. They wanted to. They originally even kept the records. They got lost, or destroyed who knows. They can't find them. A company that kept specific records, and an archives staff, who was excited to help me, couldn't find their own files. They could have been lost 25 years ago before most of the current employees got there. And for something as simple as a type of plastic for a major component made by the million for 30 years.

Would you have guessed in 1988 that your cheap-ass import "Omnikey" keyboard that was a fraction the cost of your American made Top Shelf IBM keyboard would be extremely sought after?

Even with all of that said. We have enough to go on to remake these switches. It is entirely possible to do it, we just need to find the resolve and willpower

User avatar
fohat
Elder Messenger

02 Nov 2019, 22:47

SneakyRobb wrote:
02 Nov 2019, 19:56

Would you have guessed in 1988 that your cheap-ass import "Omnikey" keyboard that was a fraction the cost of your American made Top Shelf IBM keyboard would be extremely sought after?
I agree with most of your comments, but I remember buying a Northgate in the late-1980s-early-1990s and it was, even then, considered to be a quality product and somewhat pricey.

kshopper2084

02 Nov 2019, 23:22

From what I understand you could produce SKCM tactile, clicky, and linear variants using virtually the same parts as well. So you'd get three best-in-class switches from one set of tooling.

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abrahamstechnology

03 Nov 2019, 02:41

Really a lot of interest in this!
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Chyros

03 Nov 2019, 04:39

Definitely interested as well, although I'm sure how much :D .

samuelcable

03 Nov 2019, 05:33

abrahamstechnology wrote:
01 Nov 2019, 22:49
Ok, I got replies from several manufacturers who say they will be able to do it! Durock seems to be the most likely candidate, but of course the moulds will be expensive to make.
I am running an interest check to see how much demand there would be for these switches: https://forms.gle/yTruRbAyMXFCQywB9 Feel free to spread this around.
I wouldn't trust durock with this, considering their sketchy history with copying other switches. I know options are limited for a project as ambitious as this, but considering that one of the more likely options is a company that isn't respectable at all, consider me uninterested

Findecanor

03 Nov 2019, 13:59

Wazrach wrote:
01 Nov 2019, 23:17
I am running an interest check to see how much demand there would be for these switches:
Cool, but it had taken Matias two years to get their switches made -- and they already had a big customer on board, with an invested interest in the product: themselves.
samuelcable wrote:
03 Nov 2019, 05:33
I wouldn't trust durock with this, considering their sketchy history with copying other switches.
Durock saw that Zealios and Tealios were priced quite high and by doing that an opportunity to compete -- and there is nothing wrong with that. Not more than what Zeal, Gateron, Kaihua, Gaote, Greetech and others have done to Cherry.

The thing that was wrong is when someone else bought Durock linears, put genuine Gateron tops on them (which Gateron sells separately) and sold them to KbdFans which sold them to customers as "Tealios". The big question is how much Durock and KbdFans knew/were in on it -- that's what is shaded.
Durock's engineer/s are supposedly people who previously worked at Gateron. They must have done the engineering of their switches themselves, otherwise people would not have noticed the differences between their parts and Gateron/Zeal's and been able to expose the fake ones.
Last edited by Findecanor on 03 Nov 2019, 15:02, edited 3 times in total.

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CountNoctua

03 Nov 2019, 14:03

I'm in, but I think we need a lot of Alps fans on board. Is the IC cross-posted elsewhere?

Planning to send a blue Alps keyboard to a prominent techtuber soon, by the way - hopefully more Alps exposure will help demand for a true modern version.

User avatar
abrahamstechnology

03 Nov 2019, 14:07

This time we *want* a copy of a switch. Also the fake *ealios may have been a conspiracy by Zeal and Gateron to keep a chokehold on the MX tactile switch market.
Also Gateron and Zeal are getting the Chinese government involved by suing Durock so they are bad people either way. Zeal is willing to get people possibly tortured over some stupid MX knockoff switches.

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abrahamstechnology

03 Nov 2019, 14:19

CountNoctua wrote:
03 Nov 2019, 14:03
I'm in, but I think we need a lot of Alps fans on board. Is the IC cross-posted elsewhere?

Planning to send a blue Alps keyboard to a prominent techtuber soon, by the way - hopefully more Alps exposure will help demand for a true modern version.
It's on GH Reddit and keebtalk.
And nice.

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CarpCharacin

04 Nov 2019, 00:42

I'd like to see a reproduction of SKCM Brown alps.

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abrahamstechnology

04 Nov 2019, 04:39

CarpCharacin wrote:
04 Nov 2019, 00:42
I'd like to see a reproduction of SKCM Brown alps.
I'll definitely try if I successfully get Blues remade.

consensual-penis

04 Nov 2019, 04:59

abrahamstechnology wrote:
04 Nov 2019, 04:39
CarpCharacin wrote:
04 Nov 2019, 00:42
I'd like to see a reproduction of SKCM Brown alps.
I'll definitely try if I successfully get Blues remade.
I have faith in you good sir!

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Chyros

04 Nov 2019, 10:01

If you need any help with testing or benchmarking I'll be happy to help :) . Also, naturally, if it's the real deal, I'll happily spread the word!

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SneakyRobb
THINK

04 Nov 2019, 16:13

fohat wrote:
02 Nov 2019, 22:47
SneakyRobb wrote:
02 Nov 2019, 19:56

Would you have guessed in 1988 that your cheap-ass import "Omnikey" keyboard that was a fraction the cost of your American made Top Shelf IBM keyboard would be extremely sought after?
I agree with most of your comments, but I remember buying a Northgate in the late-1980s-early-1990s and it was, even then, considered to be a quality product and somewhat pricey.
Hi, that makes sense. I meant to say it more for emphasis and I just put the first alps board that came to mind but your statement is correct. but there are other boards that would fit into that category.

Hak Foo

05 Nov 2019, 07:23

Honestly, part of me wonders if we're chasing a dragon here.

1. I'll admit, I don't think I've ever rode a blue Alps board, but how much is the difference between that and much more attainable options (NOS whites, Matias, Hua-Jie, Tai-Hao, or Datacomp's weird old tooling)? Even the worst of them are a superior tactile/clicky to anything MX.

2. To what extent there's a difference, has anyone been able to quantify it to the point where the clones would be accurate? I can somehow imagine ending up at the end of this with an expensive clone of Complicated Whites

3. It won't solve some economic problems in the ihobby. People will still pay stupid money for an Omnikey with original blues because it's a collector's item. It might cause a rise in things like white-switch Omnikeys or harvested 5140 boards as people repurpose the carcasses for the new switches.

To be honest, I'd be more interested if they said "we're keeping the principles of operation, but tweaking the design to fit a MX slider, even if it didn't fit the traditional ALPS plates." I know BilndAssassin111 says that a naive substitution doesn't fit without damaging the switches, but I wonder if it could be made to fit if you had a MX-sized plate cutout to work with.

With keyboards now somewhat mainstreamed as an expression vehicle for PC enthusiasts, being shut out of the broad assortment of MX keycaps is going to make it a hard product to sell outside a small cadre of enthusiasts. Even complete moonshot products like the "new beamspring" or optical and hall effect designs still put a cruciform stem on top, even if the PCB is completely different.

gipetto

05 Nov 2019, 11:05

I have to say I have never seen an alps switch in person so my opinion will have to be taken with a grain of salt. Everyone assumes that an mx/alps hybrid will have the nexus slider and that causes the stability concern. But what if there was an alternative, expand the rail system in size so that an mx keycap could fit inside. you would keep the same feel more or less. would that damage the leaf like the nexus slider does?

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purdobol

05 Nov 2019, 11:55

If it's supposed to be reproduction of a switch any deviation from original defeats the point.
So mx stems don't make sense really.

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adamcobabe

05 Nov 2019, 11:57

gipetto wrote:
05 Nov 2019, 11:05
I have to say I have never seen an alps switch in person so my opinion will have to be taken with a grain of salt. Everyone assumes that an mx/alps hybrid will have the nexus slider and that causes the stability concern. But what if there was an alternative, expand the rail system in size so that an mx keycap could fit inside. you would keep the same feel more or less. would that damage the leaf like the nexus slider does?
Have a look at an alps switch. If it were that easy, it would have been done already. :) There is no room for more slider in the housing with the click leaf and contact plate as they exist now. If you completely change the click and actuation mechanisms, sure, you could probably accommodate an MX stem, but that is not the stated purpose of this project, which is very clearly to recreate Blue Alps. The smallest differences in leaf shape, housing, lubrication, plastic type, etc have a big effect on key feel. The "magic" of Blue Alps is the Goldilocks combination of those parts. Change anything and it's a different switch.

Findecanor

05 Nov 2019, 12:55

Hak Foo wrote:
05 Nov 2019, 07:23
It might cause a rise in things like white-switch Omnikeys or harvested 5140 boards as people repurpose the carcasses for the new switches.

To be honest, I'd be more interested if they said "we're keeping the principles of operation, but tweaking the design to fit a MX slider, even if it didn't fit the traditional ALPS plates." I know BilndAssassin111 says that a naive substitution doesn't fit without damaging the switches, but I wonder if it could be made to fit if you had a MX-sized plate cutout to work with.
I see your point. A fully MX-compatible switch, with MX-compatible plate hole and footprint would not provoke scavenging. But on the other hand, a full recreation of Alps would be useful for repairing keyboards with defunct Alps (... and Matias) switches, giving them new life.

The Taiwan Jet Axis and the ProWorld switches seem to be compatible with Cherry MX both in footprint, plate and keycap stem but have Alps-like click leaf for click and tactility.
The housings are a bit bigger though to provide space for the click leaf, so I wonder if they would be compatible with lower keycap profiles, such as thick Cherry-profile.

I think ProWorld's approach could be interesting for working from, because the actuation mechanism is similar to in Cherry MX (no new tooling required for that), and the slider seems only slightly different from Cherry MX Black.

How different is the ProWorld switch's click leaf from Alps'? Is it smaller?
The coiled spring is also MX-like, but maybe one could be made with a similarly steep force curve to an Alps spring?
adamcobabe wrote:
05 Nov 2019, 11:57
There is no room for more slider in the (Alps) housing with the click leaf and contact plate as they exist now.
Those above are thicker than Alps. I'm not sure about the dimensions of these below, but they have cruciform sliders and they look like they are Alps-sized:
* I-Rocks switch. The click leaf is divided to fit a LED.
* Hua-Jie AKF Cherry MX mount. Has centre pin and fixing pins like Cherry MX though.

User avatar
swampangel

05 Nov 2019, 18:14

Hak Foo wrote:
05 Nov 2019, 07:23
Honestly, part of me wonders if we're chasing a dragon here.

1. I'll admit, I don't think I've ever rode a blue Alps board, but how much is the difference between that and much more attainable options (NOS whites, Matias, Hua-Jie, Tai-Hao, or Datacomp's weird old tooling)? Even the worst of them are a superior tactile/clicky to anything MX.

2. To what extent there's a difference, has anyone been able to quantify it to the point where the clones would be accurate? I can somehow imagine ending up at the end of this with an expensive clone of Complicated Whites
As far as I know the NOS white alps are pretty, pretty close to blue, and the best thing you can get your hands on for the foreseeable future. But I hear that blues are smoother (slider material? dry lube?) and lighter (spring weight presumably), changes which seem attainable in a clone.

And then there's a big gulf between any SKCM and modern production alps clones. Matias are unreliable, Hua-Jie's are more prone to binding, and Tai-Hao's have that flaky click leaf. On the flip side Matias have pretty good tactility, Hua-Jie's switches seem reliable and Tai-Hao's have a very smooth seeming slider.

So the ingredients are out there, I think, except for the complicated switch plate. I share your skepticism but I admire anyone willing to do the work to give it a shot.

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Menuhin

07 Nov 2019, 16:56

samuelcable wrote:
03 Nov 2019, 05:33
abrahamstechnology wrote:
01 Nov 2019, 22:49
Ok, I got replies from several manufacturers who say they will be able to do it! Durock seems to be the most likely candidate, but of course the moulds will be expensive to make.
I am running an interest check to see how much demand there would be for these switches: https://forms.gle/yTruRbAyMXFCQywB9 Feel free to spread this around.
I wouldn't trust durock with this, considering their sketchy history with copying other switches. I know options are limited for a project as ambitious as this, but considering that one of the more likely options is a company that isn't respectable at all, consider me uninterested
Now I know what this new name "Durock" is...
Namely the former partner of Gateron who got jelly and wanted to share the lucrative "Zeal tax". They might not be honest but they are very knowledgeable and their "Stealios" are actually preferred by users in a blind test as seen in a video. So as long as they can be honest, they should be very competent.

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abrahamstechnology

07 Nov 2019, 18:03

I found someone with some NOS Blue Alps but they are from Germany sot it may take a bit for them to get to my place, then they get sent off to Shenzen.

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