How does plate material effect feel in a tray mount keyboard?

So I just bought a Tofu on the aftermarket to hold me over until some group buy purchases start getting shipped out, and it came with a poly carbonate plate and a brass plate. When I was building it I began to question how these plates affect the feel of the keyboard at all? If you’re not farmiliar with tray mount design here is good picture from this post by Thomas Baart:

As you can see the PCB is screwed into the case itself. My question is: why is the plate necessary in this design at all? It seems to me that all the force being imparted on the switch goes down into the PCB and then into the case, what does the plate do here?

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The plate really just helps to keep the switches stable in this kind of mounting system. I guess it might help a bit with giving the whole board a more consistent typing feel as well.

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This^, the plate serves more to even out the inconsistent feel tray mounts give across the board than to impart a certain feel to the board. Like it would with perimeter mounting methods. IME the centered standoffs (the ones in the center, top center, &/or next to the spacebar) are the big trouble ones. Removing them from a tray mounted case really helps even the feel out & allow for some flex. You’ll still have stiff spots by the standoffs on the sides, but it really does make a big change unless you’re using a very stiff plate material. Which brings me to my last point, if you do not want to remove standoffs from your case (totally understandable cause this usually mean dremelling them out) a stiff plate material will give a more consistent feel (the sound will always be inconsistent with a tray mount case). With softer, more flexible plate materials introducing more of an inconsistent feel with tray mount cases.

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I actually have wondered the same thing. I’ve always been confused by pros and cons of all the different mounting styles. I would love to see a YouTube vid on it if there is one.

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I’m building a resource so I’ll add this to the list!

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Here’s a good starting reference!

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This is awesome. This needs to go in the keyboard ultimate visual dictionary.

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I bought the Tofu never having tried a tray mount board and the inconsistency in the bottom out feel was very uncomfortable for me. So I bought a dremel and chopped off the center stand-offs earlier today. I chopped off the 2 middle ones to start with and the feel was MUCH improved. I highly recommend this.

I thought the board could feel even better if I removed more of the standoffs, so I chopped off the two standoffs closer to the middle of the board leaving only two standoffs near the edges of the board left. This was a slightly reckless decision and caused the board to kind of “See-Saw” on the fulcrum of the two mounting points. The board felt really good, except the teetering made it difficult to use. So I fixed the problem by adding a 4mm thick sheet of neoprene under the PCB to stop the teetering and the board feels 30 times more comfortable to type on.

Here is a pic of the finished product. Luckily my experimenting and hacking turned out okay. If anyone wants pics of the inside to see my botched dremel job let me know.

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A plate also changes the sound profile on tray mount (of course it does the same for any board). I’m using 5mm polycarbonate plates on some of my tray mount cases and it’s pretty incredible how much more consistent and deeper the switches sound. Same applies to the 4mm brass plates I’ve used as well. You’ll could likely get the same effect with PCB foam between the plate and PCB.

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Yeah I have a 4mm PC plate and 4mm Brass plates from TYL. Currently using the PC one since I prefer the sound. Plates definitely do effect sound I think because every switch is tightly held in by the plate so the vibrations travel through the plate. I wish the tray mount design was modified so that the plate was the thing that was screwed into the case, rather than the PCB. Then the PCB could kind of just be suspended, like a top mount board. That would require making a PCB with standoff holes that are large enough to fit around the standoffs though.

Is that a Beige Tofu?? Looks great!! :heart_eyes:

You guys with the thick plates got a good point about them making a tray mounted case more consistent feeling & sounding. I’ve never tried a super thick plate yet so I wasn’t even thinking about that when I posted.

It’s E-white, it just looks beige because of the lighting. It would be pretty cool if it was beige though, seeing as it’s going to be pretty hard to sell this board now that I’ve removed almost all the standoffs, maybe I’ll try painting it myself!

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To each their own. However I don’t really agree that removing the posts makes for a more consistent feel. I would think it would be more unique feel.

If you remove the middle posts, you have a bounce-y board in the middle with firm sides.

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“Consistent” may not be the right word. Maybe “predictable” is a better word. To me, it feels a bit strange how firm the keys strokes feel when you type near the B and N keys and how bouncy it is as you get away from the posts. It makes sense to my brain that it would be softer the further away from the edges of the case, rather than some weirdly placed posts. But this is probably due to all my other keyboards being top mounted, so I’m more used to the top mount feeling.

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Hey, made an account just to ask you for pictures. I have 3 tofus right now, and 2 more arriving tomorrow. I’m about to order a Dremel. The stand-off between the G and H keys has to go.

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I am not at home right now so I dont have any pics to show, but all you want to do is dremel the middle stand off off flush with the bottom of the case.

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is there a way to revert that by epoxy adding a standoff back or something ?

Will removing that middle standoff offer a more softer feeling and more nicer typing ?

Got a acrylic tofu and an E-white one on the way.

On the acrylic I’m planning to use a 4mm PC plate and on the E-white a brass plate.

Thanks

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Yeah you could tack weld or epoxy the standoff back on afterwards. Although it would probably sit a bit lower than the others since you’ll lose some material on the cut. With a softer plate it will offer a softer experience, but it is still tray mount. So don’t expect a massive difference. The one you are using the 4mm plate with I’d keep the middle standoff in TBH. With such a thick plate I doubt there’ll be any difference in feel.

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