Alps SKBL/SKBM series
|This article requires additional photographic illustration — needs picture of Alps SKBL Yellow switch|
|Switch type||Tactile; clicky|
|Sense method||Metal leaf|
|Keycap mount||Alps mount|
|Switch mount||Plate mount|
Alps SKBL/SKBM series, commonly known as simplified Alps due to its reduced part count over Alps SKCL/SKCM series, is a series of switches which appear to have been manufactured since their inception by Forward Electronics in Taiwan.
The earliest known specification sheet appears to date back to 1999.
Alps Electric ended their 30-year joint venture with Forward Electronics in March 2000; from this point onwards, until the product series was discontinued in early 2012, there was no relationship with Alps. This led to the switches being referred to as "Fukka" switches, a misreading of the Taiwanese name ("福華") of Forward Electronics. This was later corrected to Fuhua Alps, but this is also incorrect as Forward Electronics is the English-language name of the manufacturer.
Around the time that the Matias Tactile Pro 2.0 was introduced, the "ALPS" branding disappeared from the switches; Edgar Matias has reported that Forward Electronics lost their licence to use the Alps branding, requiring switch retooling. It appears that the Alps logo from the base of the switch was replaced with the letters "F D".
Matias Corporation was responsible for continued production of SKBL/SKBM switches, by taking a gamble on the million-switch order required to keep the factory alive; this was required to maintain production of the switches used in the original Tactile Pro. However, production was finally terminated in early 2012. The final batches of the Tactile Pro 3 had to use their new Matias switch, as stocks of SKBM switches ran out prematurely. The Matias switch is a clone of the SKBL/SKBM series.
Simplified Alps switches have significantly simplified mould numbering compared to the complicated switches. The characters are no longer placed within recessed circles, and the numbering consists of a single alphanumeric character in each of the north-west and north-east positions. This numbering pattern appears to be unique amongst Alps switches and clones, and is a useful guide when examining a switch with no branding, which could be early complicated or late simplified.
Simplified Alps switches share the same exterior design as complicated Alps, but the logo and mould numbering differ, making recognition fairly straightforward. Although there are several differences between simplified Alps switches and archetypal complicated Alps switches, there are also numerous variations of complicated white Alps, and the redesigned mould numbering is the only difference that appears to be specific to simplified Alps.
Inspection of "F D"–branded white and grey switches shows no difference of any kind except for the slider colour. The existence of both colour sliders in both Alps and Forward branding remains a mystery.
|Switch||Type||Key feel||Force||Years||Logo||Part numbers||Notes|
| Alps SKBM White
Forward SKBM White
|Normal||Clicky||70±25 gf||1996—2012||SKBMFA||Typical weight is 65 gf|
| Alps SKBM Grey
Forward SKBM Grey
|Normal||Clicky||Early switches||Measured at 60–65 gf.|
|Alps SKBM Black||Normal||Tactile|
|Alps SKBM Black Click||Normal||Clicky|
|Forward SKBL Black||Normal||Linear|
|Alps SKBL Yellow||Normal||Linear||SKBLFE||No LED cutout, unlike complicated Alps switches|
It has a reputation for being loud.
The springs in the keyboard could reverberate and cause noise when any key is pressed to the bottom hard enough. That sound has been called "ping" or "the chorus of springs".
Comparison with Alps SKCL Green, top
- SKBLFE, 1999-09-11 (linear with yellow slider and no LED recess)
- SKBMFA, 2010-07-16 (clicky with white slider)