MX Zilents, ticking noise, and stem play

There seems to be an undesirable noise present in my otherwise-silent MX Zilent switches. I believe this noise is caused by wobble / play between the stem and the housing, especially the switch top.

I have found that using Outemu Ice v2 tops that I bought from u/hbheroinbob back in January helps. These housings are very tight-fitting compared to other switch tops, particularly in the vertical direction, which I believe is the main source of the noise.

I have compared a few, and these Outemu tops are tighter than Gateron, black Cherry, retooled black Cherry, Cherry RGB, and Razer tops.

Thing is, even though they improve the ticking noise for me a lot, they also introduce a scratching noise. I have found that lubing the tops lightly with a thick lube solves that, however. I lightly painted on some Krytox 207 on the top and I don’t hear any scratching noise after doing that.

Bad news if you are making MX Zilents is that these tops aren’t made any more. BUT, the good news is, Outemu is making a clear top that doesn’t have an LED cutout or hole, and this top has the same specs and should be just as anti-wobble. They might even sound better since they don’t have a hole / slot in them!

Here is a video I took demonstrating the noise and the “fixed” switch with the Outemu top. I really like the sound of the Outemu top better but I would say make sure to lube it!

This can also serve as an introduction to me, my voice, my hands, my flimsy desk, my cheap hotswap keyboard, etc. :slight_smile:
MX Zilent ticking noise - YouTube


Typing comparison

With Aliaz tops:

With Outemu Ice v2 no-led slot tops:

Hmm, strange, I have a batch of MX Zilents made from rd.10 78g Zealio housing & silent black stems in my Clueboard & have not encountered this issue. I did lube them (springs, stems, & bottom housings) with Krytox VPF1514 & used switch films on them also. I know yours are made from Aliaz housings, but considering they are both produced by Gateron I would assume the differences between Zealio & Aliaz housings are negligible at best. Have you tried switch films at all? Other than mine using Zealio housings, the fact I used switch films with mine would be the biggest difference between our batches. Wondering if that is what kept mine from having the same ticking noise or if there really is that big of a difference between using Aliaz instead of Zealio housing for MX Zilents?

I got enough spare switches & parts to do some tests later. I will try a few different combos when I get a chance & let you now if I find anything of note out! :metal:

I have tried switch films and they only reduce play between the switch top and the switch bottom, they don’t reduce play between the stem and the switch top.
As for Zealio vs. Aliaz I would compare wobble between the two and see if it’s any different. I don’t have any Zeal housings but I have heard from others who built their MX Zilents from Zealio housings that they had the same ticking noise, I think Quakems was one of them.

Also, I don’t think the noise happens quite as much if your keyboard has the switches mounted with led cutouts facing south

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From experience on that the play is the same, however it is marginally less noticeably in the zeal housing. My theory behind that is that the zeal housings have through led holes compared to the aliaz smd cutout.

I would make the assumption that the much larger hole allows more of the sound to escape therefore accentuating the play based click on none direct strokes.

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Well I did some messing around with the Aliaz, Zealio, & MX silent black switches I have & couldn’t reproduce the issue. I was hoping to have something decent to add to the conversation & help you guys with this issue some, but no real luck figuring anything out.

My Clueboard does have the switches facing south on it, here’s a sound test of it. I tried off center towards the bottom presses & some thick PBT Cherry profile caps to emulate your test as close as possible, no clicking/ticking though. I also did a comparison video of MX Zilents in both Aliaz & Zealio housings one of each facing north/south. Still no luck reproducing the ticking though, makes me wonder if it’s an issue just with certain batches of MX silent blacks? Oh yeah, here another video comparing wobble between Aliaz & Zealio top housings.

I do believe you may be onto something with north facing being an issue with these switches as they did slightly hang up more in that orientation. Also I would continue to pursue trying different top housings since you have had success with it eliminating the noise. Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful, but hopefully my comparison videos (excuse their production value, I’m just working with my cell, LOL!) at least add a little value to the thread!

Thanks for the video! The stem to housing wobble seems similar… What else could it be I wonder…

What springs are you using? What lube if any? Where’d you get your cherry silent switches?

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No problem! The housings in my Clueboard & the ones I tested were Rd.10 78g, Zealios, the MX silent blacks were from the NovelKeys GB (the ones that ended up with springs for reds), not sure of the revision of the Aliaz. I got a few samples of each weight about 4 months ago when I ordered my NIU mini kit. The ones in my clueboard are lubed with Krytox VPF1514 on the springs, sliders, & housings using the 78g Zealio springs. The ones I tested were bone stock with the MX silent black springs across all 4.

My MX silent are also from Novelkeys, the blacks with red spring. I got my Aliaz from novelkeys as well. The springs I’m using are 78g Sprit and for lube I used Tribosys 3204.

I wonder if the Zeal springs have more preload, because that could hold the stem in place more firmly when at top position, reducing the ticking noise.

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The above could also be in part attributed to the thicker (and integrated) plate on the Clueboard, those coupled with the lack of free space within the case (especially in the case that the diffuser is removed) make it quite an acoustically dampened board from my experience (I have an r2 and I’d say cherry blacks for example in it are much less sharp on bottom out than they are in my tx60 for example).

It’s possible that the reduction in case resonance is muting that ‘clicks’ echo out of the switch, around the case and back to the user.

Just a thought.

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That is a very likely possibility, I did choose the Clueboard kit for my MX Zilents because of how quiet the case is. I could see them being much less quiet/exhibiting the click in a case that has a separate plate &/or a thinner case. I should also mention I have shelf liner below the PCB as well. I pretty much did everything I could to make that build silent.

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The Zeal springs do make much less noise than the Cherry springs, although I would think the Spirit springs you are using have more in common in with the Zeal springs than the Cherry ones. IME Spirit springs tend to run a good bit lighter than they are stated to be so the pre load could have something to do with it. Chris’s thoughts about the alum. Clueboard case being a very quiet one probably has the most to do with me not noticing much noise from mine TBH.