The mechanism of a keyboard switch is very simple, and a lot of people wonder how it works. The answer is quite simple, but it does take a bit of time and practice to figure out how it works. In this article, we will give you a short overview of how a keyboard switch works, including a blow-out diagram of the switch components.
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Figure 4: Blow-out diagram of switch components
There are numerous components to a keyboard switch. But it’s the top and bottom housings that you’ll be examining in depth. In the top, you’ll find a keycap mount and nameplate. These are important if you want to buy mechanical keyboard switches. The nameplate will tell you who made it, while the keycap mount will attach it to your keys.
The top housing is also home to a number of other parts, including the aforementioned nameplate. This is a small plastic piece that protrudes out of a hole in the center. Also, you’ll see long, slender pins that thread through this region.
You’ll see more of these on vintage mechanical keyboards. One of the most popular connector types is the 4 Pin. Some of the newer models, such as Cherry’s Tactical, use a Winglatch connector.
The bottom housing is the final component. It makes the switch to a printed circuit board on your keyboard. It’s actually a very complex system that breaks into two parts, the inside, and the outside. Both the top and bottom housings have the same color scheme. However, the top housing has a few more minor differences.
As you’ll see from the diagram above, the top housing has an LED. Not only does the LED light up when you push the switch, but it is also visible from the front. So, you’ll need to take your time with this part of the switch.
Top housing vs bottom housing
A keyboard switch is a mechanical component that sits underneath the keycaps on a keyboard. It is an important part of a mechanical keyboard because it helps reduce the risk of repetitive strain injuries. There are two main types of switches: tactile, and clicky. However, there are many different types and constructions. These can vary from switch to switch, so you need to understand how they work before buying.
Mechanical keyboard switches offer several benefits over rubber membrane keyboards. They provide comfort, longevity, and customizability. Unlike their plastic counterparts, they allow for a consistent typing experience and a padded thud.
The type of bottom housing you get is a significant factor in the overall sound. Some manufacturers use a different type of bottom housing for their switches. One of these options is a sandwich mount, which is easy to design but tends to be stiffer than alternatives. Another option is a gasket mount, which requires a custom plate and extra dampening material. This style can also be slightly looser than other types of mounting.
The type of top housing you get will also have an effect on the switch’s overall sound. Most modern switches feature a large rectangular hole for the stem. In addition to providing feedback, the stem is also designed to bottom out on slider rails. If you find that the switch is bottoming out too easily, you might want to consider filming the switch or lubing it. Filming can help make the stem less wobbly, and lubing can help modify the switch’s overall sound.
LED slot region (B)
The LED slot region on a keyboard is a pretty cool part of the mechanical switch. It’s got a lot to do. For instance, it’s one of the key components that make the keyboard go from a blank slate to a fully functional machine. Plus, it’s where your per-key LED is displayed, the most important feature on a keyboard. And, it’s also where the pins that connect your LED to the circuit board below it are soldered. Aside from its role in establishing a link between LED and the rest of your keyboard, it also plays a role in ensuring that your keys are well lit at all times.
Of course, the LED slot region is only important if your keyboard uses a keyboard with per-key LEDs. To avoid the hassle, you could opt for a keyboard that features a non-LED version. However, this may mean that you won’t get the benefits of having the latest and greatest PCB or switch. You could, however, get your hands on a quality keyboard with a high-end switch that features a nifty LED enclave. If yours doesn’t, it’s time to upgrade.
Aside from the LED slot region, you’ll need to consider the other parts of a mechanical keyboard. These include the nameplate, the top housing, and the bottom housing. Each of these three components is a separate piece of the switch puzzle.
The spring weight of a keyboard switch is something that is often discussed. It’s no secret that a lighter-weight spring is easier to actuate, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the switch will be more responsive or have a better feel.
While the spring weight is a great indication of how the switch will perform, it is also important to consider the other parts of the switch. In particular, the bottom housing. This component makes the switch to the printed circuit board in a keyboard.
This component houses all of the parts of the switch and includes the pins. Each pin establishes an electrical circuit that will be used to register the switching stroke when the switch is pressed.
Depending on the type of switch you choose, the spring weight can vary from one manufacturer to the next. You can expect to see differences in a thread per inch, material, and even the number of coils connected to the spring.
A heavier spring can also reduce the amount of time it takes for the switch to reach the bottom of the keystroke. As such, you can reduce the possibility of accidental key presses. However, a heavier spring will also be more fatiguing to type on.
Similarly, a lighter-weight spring might also produce less distracting noise. While a light spring might be the perfect choice for an average user, gamers might want a heavier actuation to increase reaction times and prevent misclicks.
Gateron vs Kaihua
If you’re looking for a high-quality, budget-friendly linear switch, then the two main contenders are Gateron and Kailh. Both are clones of Cherry MX switches, but each brand offers a slightly different performance.
Compared to Cherry, Gateron and Kailh are slightly cheaper, and also offer more robust durability. While the actuation point is a bit lower on both brands, Gateron switches are also less loud and squeaky. Also, the actuation point is 2.4 mm, compared to Cherry’s 3.5 mm.
Both switches offer a ‘clicky’ feel, akin to Cherry’s, though it’s not as noticeable. Gateron switches are also linear and offer a wider key travel distance. However, the actuation point is shorter, which means they can execute at a higher speed.
Although both brands are relatively new to the market, both are very popular among the keyboard community. These switches are designed to produce a solid, clicky, tactile response, which is accompanied by a tactile bump and a clicking sound.
The two brands have a number of different switch types to choose from. They have Cherry clones, and they have their own line of switches, as well. Among these, Gateron has the more premium lineups and the cheaper ones.
The company that manufactures Gateron switches, Huizhou Gateron Electronic Technology Co., Ltd., is based in China. It has been in business since 2012 and has been involved in R&D for mechanical switches.
Tactile vs clicky switches
When it comes to choosing the right keyboard, you will come across the question, what’s the best switch? There are several types of switches, each providing a different experience. The best ones are the ones that let you customize the switch mechanism so that you get exactly what you want.
First, there is the tactile switch. These are relatively quiet and offer a slightly different feel than conventional membrane keyboards. They also allow you to experience effective haptic feedback. In fact, they can even help you reduce typos.
Another type of switch is the clicky one. This type of switch is similar to the tactile type, but the bump is more exaggerated. While this may be a cool feature, it can make some people uncomfortable.
Finally, there is the linear one. Linear switches are also smooth and quiet, but they do not provide a “bump” in the middle of the keystroke.
To compare the different types of switches, you will have to look beyond generalizations and try out the different options yourself. Luckily, experts are available to guide you through the process. After you have found the best switch, you can start enjoying the benefits of keyboard technology.
For example, tactile keyboards are ideal for games that require typing-like speed. However, they can also be disadvantageous if you play competitive games. If you are a casual gamer, it is probably not necessary for you to get the tactile experience.