Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Custom Key Caps AND Switches

I think we've finally cracked the toughest nut in the mechanical design of the Stenosaurus - how the custom aluminum key caps mate to off-the-shelf key switches. Here's the first working prototype of the solution:

As you can see, we're no longer using Cherry MX key switches, which are difficult to make custom key caps for due to the cross-shaped mounting post. Instead, we're using the Matias ALPS-style key switches, which are relatively easy to make custom key caps for thanks to the rectangular mounting post. We hadn't considered Matias switches in our original deliberations because Matias only offered tactile click switches, which are both noisy (even the quiet-click variety) and cause finger fatigue.

We wanted both quiet and linear (non-click) for the Stenosaurus. Happily, after speaking directly with some friendly folks at Matias, they have agreed to create an entirely new type of switch to fit exactly those constraints. They know Stenosaurus is small relative to their usual projects, but they want to be as supportive as they can. Stenosaurus will be the first-ever product to use this new switch. We'll have to wait a bit for the switch to be designed and manufactured, and we'll need to put in a hefty initial order to make it worth Matias' time, but I think the end result will be worth it.

This is a big win for the Stenosaurus: a high quality keyboard switch that keeps the manufacturing costs down.

Finally, note that the Matias switch has a transparent body casing. This was done to allow for easy underlighting of the keys. Who wants to show off their sweet ride? I might have to add some LEDs, or electroluminescent wire, or neon tubing, or...