Any cheap way to make or order a switchplate?

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PlacaFromHell

19 Jun 2019, 09:42

Hello DT. With my time in this hobby I got too much loose switches, +200 vintage Cherry MX blacks, some early white Alps from a Focus FK-3001 with 10 dead switches, IBM XT barrels and flippers and a fucking ton of Alps SKFF's. I already designed 2-3 plates for very interesting keyboards using Solidworks, but I don't really now where to start. I'm talking about material, process, average cost, quality, etc. What kind of options I have?

User avatar
SneakyRobb
THINK

19 Jun 2019, 16:25

Hi,

have you visited this page?

wiki/Contact_module

Basically depending on what you are trying to make there could be quite a few components involved. If it is just 10 dead switches I would recommend ebay/orihalcons ebay page and just buying new switches.

User avatar
swampangel

19 Jun 2019, 16:40

Assuming you're talking keyboard plates, and not contact plates:

I recently ordered some plates from Laserboost. They seemed like the cheapest for a metal plate for me as a canadian. Two stainless tkl plates cost about 35€ each plus 14€ shipping. I downloaded dxf files from KLE, uploaded them to laserboost and picked my material.

snacksthecat ordered test cardboard plates from Ponoko here viewtopic.php?p=439911#p439911

In the past, I 3d-printed an abs plate for a tkl with some success: https://imgur.com/a/B5C0xrY

However, I had to do a bunch of 4-key test prints to dial in the settings and the final result *still* involved a lot of hand-trimming with an exacto knife. And it's only "cheap" if you've already got the printer.

I really like the idea of viewtopic.php?f=7&t=21483 but I had trouble with my first attempt. Seems more economical for smaller boards, as unit cost and shipping go up quickly based on board area.

Just some ideas to get you going :)

User avatar
SneakyRobb
THINK

19 Jun 2019, 16:43

swampangel wrote:
19 Jun 2019, 16:40
Assuming you're talking keyboard plates, and not contact plates:

I recently ordered some plates from Laserboost. They seemed like the cheapest for a metal plate for me as a canadian. Two stainless tkl plates cost about 35€ each plus 14€ shipping. I downloaded dxf files from KLE, uploaded them to laserboost and picked my material.

snacksthecat ordered test cardboard plates from Ponoko here viewtopic.php?p=439911#p439911

In the past, I 3d-printed an abs plate for a tkl with some success: https://imgur.com/a/B5C0xrY

However, I had to do a bunch of 4-key test prints to dial in the settings and the final result *still* involved a lot of hand-trimming with an exacto knife. And it's only "cheap" if you've already got the printer.

I really like the idea of viewtopic.php?f=7&t=21483 but I had trouble with my first attempt. Seems more economical for smaller boards, as unit cost and shipping go up quickly based on board area.

Just some ideas to get you going :)

This makes more sense than switchplate doh

User avatar
depletedvespene

19 Jun 2019, 16:52

swampangel wrote:
19 Jun 2019, 16:40
Assuming you're talking keyboard plates, and not contact plates:

I recently ordered some plates from Laserboost. They seemed like the cheapest for a metal plate for me as a canadian. Two stainless tkl plates cost about 35€ each plus 14€ shipping. I downloaded dxf files from KLE, uploaded them to laserboost and picked my material.
Do they do cases as well? For my project BSAD, I'll need a plate (seems doable, based on what you've said), plus a case to put it in, even if a cheap-ass acrylic base and whatnot.

User avatar
snacksthecat
✶✶✶✶

19 Jun 2019, 16:55

I've usually gotten steel plates cut. I've used Lasergist, LazerBoost, and Big Blue Saw (last one for aluminium only). Lasergist was the most affordable and best quality (for a single plate). But shipping was pretty slow. For a TKL sized design you'd probably be looking at $80-$100.

If you're looking for a more affordable option, abrahamstechnology just got some cut from PCB material. For prototype PCBs I've used JLCPCB since they were by far the cheapest option. I think you also get $20 off with your first order (which really eats a good chunk of the cost). Keep in mind that you have to order in quantities of 5, at least. That's pretty much the case with any PCB fab shop unless you're paying bigger bucks. They do instant online quoting so you can play around with it to get an idea of the cost.

User avatar
SneakyRobb
THINK

19 Jun 2019, 17:18

I usually make aluminium plates myself. I built a mostly printed cnc machine for this purpose. I designed the mill to be able to mill something the size of an entire Model F 122 Keyboard Case.

I am not sure I can recommend this option, but if you have the space and think you will spend more than $500 USD on metal plates for keyboards it starts to become a reasonable thing to invest in.

User avatar
elecplus

19 Jun 2019, 21:52

I have plates from AEK IIs that could be cut down. They will need some TLC, but at $15 they are cheap. Unfortunately, due to dimensions, they will cost almost $15 to ship! I also have plates from old Wyse boards. Also PCBs for both the above.

User avatar
swampangel

20 Jun 2019, 02:29

depletedvespene wrote:
19 Jun 2019, 16:52
Do they do cases as well? For my project BSAD, I'll need a plate (seems doable, based on what you've said), plus a case to put it in, even if a cheap-ass acrylic base and whatnot.
I don't know :? All the examples on their site are flat as far as I can see.

I know that https://www.protocase.com/ is an option for bent steel cases (they're top of mind because they're local-ish to me), or Ponoko would have what you want for acrylic

User avatar
PlacaFromHell

20 Jun 2019, 06:24

Sorry for the typos and the incorrect nomenclature, it was very late on the night. :lol:
SneakyRobb wrote:
19 Jun 2019, 16:25
Hi,

have you visited this page?

wiki/Contact_module

Basically depending on what you are trying to make there could be quite a few components involved. If it is just 10 dead switches I would recommend ebay/orihalcons ebay page and just buying new switches.
I was talking about keyboard plates, but it's okay. For that money I can get an AEK clone I found on the internet, I think it will be the best solution.
snacksthecat wrote:
19 Jun 2019, 16:55
I've usually gotten steel plates cut. I've used Lasergist, LazerBoost, and Big Blue Saw (last one for aluminium only). Lasergist was the most affordable and best quality (for a single plate). But shipping was pretty slow. For a TKL sized design you'd probably be looking at $80-$100.

If you're looking for a more affordable option, abrahamstechnology just got some cut from PCB material. For prototype PCBs I've used JLCPCB since they were by far the cheapest option. I think you also get $20 off with your first order (which really eats a good chunk of the cost). Keep in mind that you have to order in quantities of 5, at least. That's pretty much the case with any PCB fab shop unless you're paying bigger bucks. They do instant online quoting so you can play around with it to get an idea of the cost.
That's a great idea! What kind of program did you used to design the plate?

User avatar
PlacaFromHell

20 Jun 2019, 06:25

elecplus wrote:
19 Jun 2019, 21:52
I have plates from AEK IIs that could be cut down. They will need some TLC, but at $15 they are cheap. Unfortunately, due to dimensions, they will cost almost $15 to ship! I also have plates from old Wyse boards. Also PCBs for both the above.
I have some plates but that's not in my plans. Thanks anyway.

kmnov2017

20 Jun 2019, 10:50

Alibaba has several sellers who can do it for a few bucks...

Primuds

21 Jun 2019, 15:50

kmnov2017 wrote:
20 Jun 2019, 10:50
Alibaba has several sellers who can do it for a few bucks...
Could you share a link?

kmnov2017

21 Jun 2019, 17:02

Primuds wrote:
21 Jun 2019, 15:50
kmnov2017 wrote:
20 Jun 2019, 10:50
Alibaba has several sellers who can do it for a few bucks...
Could you share a link?
Try them - https://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/ ... 3e5fo4TALS

I haven't tried them myself, once you click on the above link, you should see several other suppliers as well. Get a quote from a few and then decide which you want to go with....

Let us know your experience.

Primuds

22 Jun 2019, 08:41

Thanks! Will report back once I do get around to realizing my alps build.

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abrahamstechnology

22 Jun 2019, 20:29

I was able to make FR-4 mounting plates for my Alps64s.

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snacksthecat
✶✶✶✶

30 Jun 2019, 21:16

SneakyRobb wrote:
19 Jun 2019, 17:18
I usually make aluminium plates myself. I built a mostly printed cnc machine for this purpose. I designed the mill to be able to mill something the size of an entire Model F 122 Keyboard Case.

I am not sure I can recommend this option, but if you have the space and think you will spend more than $500 USD on metal plates for keyboards it starts to become a reasonable thing to invest in.
That's incredible. Do you have a photo you can share of what it looks like?

User avatar
SneakyRobb
THINK

30 Jun 2019, 21:58

snacksthecat wrote:
30 Jun 2019, 21:16


That's incredible. Do you have a photo you can share of what it looks like?
Hi, thanks and sure.
It is the Mostly Printed CNC and while very DIY tier, and it works great for what it is.

It has been somewhat intimidating and I am honestly quite new to it, but I was able to get some space in my parents house for it so why not. Below is the bottom plate that I tried to mill yesterday. It is for the beamspring model M style layout. It was not successful but attempts were made!

My settings need to be adjusted quite a bit. It was going okay with the holes until the window... Then I discovered the feed speed was too great. I am learning at this point. The screw holes are quite big.

I am debating if I want to make a sandwhich case for it maybe of plastic.

When it got to the "window" it started sort of skipping and crashing, obviously the rectangle is not square. I probably should had tried foam first but I like to jump in.

I am using ESTLCAM to make the gcode and then repetier to run it.

The metal plates are about $4.50 CAD each. I wanted to make the metal plate of brass and wanted to use the less expensive aluminium first.

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