so, i am facing a dilemma which is actually my lack of knowledge about this hobby.
I currently want to replace the mx reds on my logitech g610, a keyboard i had for multiple years now and don’t want to part ways with. After some research on this topic i have figured out that my pcb seems to be north facing (?) which would seemingly eliminate the gateron pro milky yellows (or literally any other switches) that i wanted to replace the mx reds with.
Now, because i really cannot seem to find anything helpful:
-are there keycaps that i can buy and use without some interference?
-is my pcb actually north facing or did i get something wrong?
-would it be just easier to just get rid of the pcb and get a new one?
So I guess “north facing” switches is a misnomer. There are no exclusively “north facing” switches, it is completely dependent on the orientation of the switch/led pads on the PCB. So if you want to use Gateron Pro Milky Yellows in your next build you can!
I would keep the caps as they won’t have any issues with tolerances (I believe this is one of the main reasons why OEM is slightly taller than cherry profiles).
A word of warning, the time to desolder everything is going to take some time as you’ll have to desolder switches and LEDs, but I wish you the best!
First, we need to know a few things:
Are you trying to swap switches or keycaps or both?
Do you have the tools and know-how to desolder and resolder new switches?
Take the keycaps off and look at the switches. Is the logo upside down like “ʎɹɹǝɥɔ” or does it read “cherry”?
If it’s upside down, that means you have switches that are optimized for shining LEDs on the top edge, to help illuminate the legends on the keycaps that are typically towards the top.
You are talking about changing out the switches. You will need to desolder the switches in your board and solder in new ones. If you don’t have the tools, this will be impossible. If you need help with soldering and desoldering, there are lots of good tips around.
As for keycaps, the issue is that many of the popular keycaps you’ll find in this community tend to collide with the housings on the switches that are placed this way (upside down). That’s because the switch housings are not mirrored in the way they slope away from the top.
There are keycaps you can get that will not hit on upside down switches. OEM profile will work fine. DSA and SA profile will work fine. But anything Cherry profile (Especially GMK) will have an issue on at least two of the rows.
There are work arounds like adding small washers to shim up the keycap so it doesn’t hit. They do work well. There are also a few switches out there that are designed with mirrored slopes on top and bottom that work well in this case.
I think it’s a good suggestion to just try it and see how you like it.
Ha, thinking back - I think the North-facing interference thing is what prompted me to join KeebTalk years ago - I was looking for some way around it, eventually finding some switches that didn’t have the issue;
There are some newer switches (including Gaterons, Kailhs, Aflions, and others) that have slightly changed the shape of the housings to avoid this issue - some more successful than others, but all an improvement from where things started. I’m pretty sure most new Gateron switches don’t interfere with GMK caps anymore, but they do still interfere with some other Cherry profile caps. The Kailh BOX switches with the cylindrical stem shroud don’t interfere with any caps regardless of direction.
It’s also true that most short-travel switches avoid the issue completely, since they bottom-out on their stem parts before the cap has a chance to strike the housing.
If you get your build together with your switches and caps of choice and find that they do interfere, these are the spacers / washers that @pixelpusher mentioned:
I can confirm they work perfectly for their intended purpose - but I actually use them on stabilizers a lot more often, to prevent teetering with short-travel switches.
Big wad o’ trivia incoming; practically speaking you’ve already got the advice you need.
@Rob27shred thanks to Gateron’s less than logical naming conventions this is a little more complicated. The KS-3X47s “Milky Yellows” that most of us probably have plenty of experience with / the vast majority of them out in the wild do indeed interfere with any given example of Cherry R3. They’re essentially using the standard MX top - and I still think it’s best practice to operate under the assumption that all of them are like this and plan accordingly. “Better safe than sorry” definitely applies to building keyboards.
That said, there are also more recent examples of switches also sold as KS-3X47 that use a new top mold. (If I were Gateron, I’d consider this worthy of a model number update, but they keep it confusing.) This new shape avoids interfering with some R3 caps, but not others. I’m about 99% sure the ones (accurately) sold under the “Pro” branding post-date this housing change by at least a year so all of them should include it.
In my own testing using the :3ildcat method*, the updated Milky Yellows sort of almost passed, but cut it too close for comfort. It’s an improvement, but not all the way fixed.
That is, I think even if most caps from a given set avoided striking the housing most of the time, some caps from the same set still might either right away or over time (or just inconsistently) because the tolerances are so super close between the cap and housing. (The old version just struck outright, and reliably, every time.)
*the :3wildcat method is super useful; just take a little strip of paper, and place it between the badge-side (opposite the LED) of a switch and R3 cap you’d like to test together. Depress the switch with the paper under the cap, and with it held down, try pulling the paper out. If it’s stuck, the cap definitely interferes. If it slides out with a little resistance, you’ll likely still get interference but with the added caveat of inconsistency. If the paper pulls out totally freely, the caps and switches should not interfere.
With that test, the newer KS-3X47s I have kind of passed with GMK R3 - but again it was super close so I think using GMK R3 on them without any spacers has a good chance of producing inconsistent sound if not the weird feel that comes with interference. I really can’t recommend those spacers enough.