How I saved my Videowriter from desoldering hell



Awhile back I finally found & bought a Magnavox Videowriter to get my hands on some ALPS SKCM brown switches. Once I got the board I became very hesitant about harvesting the switches out of it as I did want to keep the Videowriter functional for a future USB conversion. I had originally planned to desolder the browns out of it & replace them with some loose SKCM orange switches I have, but I felt there had to be a better way to go about that than desoldering. Then it hit me, SKCM brown & oranges were made early enough that they both should have the thicker housings & long switch plates, so in theory I should be able to swap the parts between the two. I tried it with a few loose switches I had & sure enough SKCM oranges use the same thick housings & tall switch plates. Which results in no noticeable change to feel or sound when swapped between the two!

So I ended up just swapping the top housings, sliders, springs, & tactile leaves from the browns into the bottom housings with switch plates from the loose SKCM oranges I had & was able to get my ALPS64 build with SKCM browns done without having to possibly sacrifice the Videowriter!

Comparing the parts

White tall switch plate from SKCM oranges, grey tall switch plate from SKCM browns. The white & grey ones can be found in SKCM oranges, AFIK browns use the grey ones exclusively. Feel & sound wise I find no difference between the two.

Getting the process of swapping started

All swapped out, I didn’t need the switches from the bottom row so I left them as browns

The finished ALPS64 build

This info is probably common knowledge among ALPS enthusiasts, but I figured I’d put this post up anyways for someone who is just getting into ALPS &/or does not want to risk desoldering a vintage board. Don’t get me wrong I’m pretty confident I could’ve successfully desoldered the Videowriter with the proper tools, but once the ideal of swapping switch parts hit me I thought why even risk it if I don’t have to. I’m pretty sure fairly common ALPS switches like SKCM damped cream & SKCM white also have the thicker housings & tall switch plates. So if you find yourself in a similar situation where you have a vintage ALPS board you want the switches out of, but don’t want to risk desoldering I would try swapping parts from a batch of loose switches. As long as they are in good shape, clean, & made with the same type of housings + switch plates there is no discernable difference to the feel or sound between an all original & parts swapped switch IME here.


Been wondering when I’d see this post! :smiley:

EDIT: Also, gorgeous pictures. That ALPS64 board looks fantastic - what case is that?


Thanks! Yeah I took awhile with this build sorry! I wanted to figure out a way to use the caps from the SGI board you sold me with this build, but I need to get a plate custom cut for that so that’s gonna be a future build now. I’m kinda glad I went the AEK layout now that it’s finished though as the ADK64 case is really designed around them.

Edit: It’s an ADK64, here’s the GB thread for it. There is supposed to be some B-stock ones available, not sure if they went on sale yet or not though.