Need help with a tough decision for my next build guys, any input would be highly appreciated!

So I’m gearing up for my next build & it’s gonna be a 60% ALPS builds using the ADK64 case by Redsnotdead & Keyboardbelle. I’m really thinking the thick 3D printed plastic the case will be made with will make for awesome acoustics & a damn near end game ALPS custom with the right parts. So I got mostly all of the details of the build figured out, all but the switches I’ll be using. Which is where the tough decision comes in.

I’ve narrowed it down to using either SKCM browns or oranges, leaning more towards the browns since they are my all time favorite switch. The problem is the SKCM browns I have are in a Magnavox Videowriter that is in really good shape, not pristine but very close & the switches are very clean. So I’m torn between using an already harvested batch of SKCM oranges I have that are in very good shape or harvesting the browns from the Videowriter for my custom build & replacing the Videowriter’s switches with the oranges. Either way I still want to convert the Videowriter to USB eventually. Unfortunately that will require replacing the controller & I still have a lot of research to do before I am confident enough to take that project on.

So do I pull the browns from the Videowriter for my custom & put oranges back into it for when I eventually convert it. Or should I leave the Videowriter stock & just roll with the oranges. I should mention I already have a ALPS64 build with oranges & definitely prefer the feel of the browns over oranges. Also all of the USB conversion techniques I’ve found for Videowriters are very invasive which require removing the controller & almost all the caps/resistors on the top of the PCB. Then replacing the controller with a Teensy 2+ or Pro Micro & running a USB cable out from that. So that in & of itself takes it pretty far from stock condition.

Given all that I figured I’d ask you guys to get a consensus of what you would do in my position before I do anything, as this is really a tough decision to make for me. Any input is greatly appreciated! :metal:

Is there any way you can find another source of SKCM browns?

Because, to me, it sounds like you know what you want to do—put browns in this thing. My own experience desoldering Alps switches was intensely stressful and I broke several of them. If you plan on using the VideoWriter eventually, I say leave those browns in it, and find another board with them if possible.

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I think the main question is…

Do you plan on plugging in your Videowriter and actually using it as a keyboard from time to time? Is it just going to stay as an absolutely b-e-a-utiful display piece?

Or is it just collecting dust in a box somewhere.

If it’s among the former, save it and love it as you will.
If it’s wasting away, , you might as well harvest those very nice brown alps.

:man_shrugging: If you do plan on getting a USB conversion done with your videowriter, it’s a beaut. as is.


Thanks for the reply! I’m pretty sure I can get the Videowriter de-soldered while leaving the switches & PCB in tact, but I do know what you are saying. With ALPS bending some of the switch pins over & some of the other quirks of the way they are originally built, ALPS boards are significantly harder to de-solder without causing any damage to the PCB or some switches for sure. Unfortunately though I don’t have any other sources for SKCM browns right now other than orihalcon on ebay who wants $4.79 a switch at his lowest prices. So at that price 62 of them would run me $297 for them, which is a good bit more than I paid for the Videowriter & much more than I can spend on a batch of switches in the near future.

I could always search for another board with SKCM browns to harvest, but I would probably end up around the $300 mark there too. Although I think I am gonna do some searching around to see what I can find before I harvest the video writer, as that is good advice & I still got at least a few weeks till my ADK64 case ships. Thanks again for the response definitely some food for thought. :+1:

You hit my main concern on the head, I would like to convert it to USB so I can use it from time to time. Although as I said in my original post all the methods I have found to do that are pretty invasive & intensive. Reading some of Snacksthecat’s posts about how he did it on DT looks like I will have to figure out the matrix for myself then properly wire a modern controller up for that, which is a bit beyond my experience right now. It also does make for a nice show piece, but the ideal of having a board just show doesn’t sit to well with me unless it is a NOS board or literally so rare I’d never have a chance of finding another one.

Between your advice & clee’s advice I think I’m gonna keep an eye out for some other way to get a batch of browns till I get my ADK64 case. If nothing comes up by then I’m gonna harvest the browns for my ADK64 build. Then keep my eye out for another Videowriter in better shape for a show piece or a decently priced batch of SKCM browns to put back in the one I have now. While it’s does kinda suck to harvest such a nice vintage board I honestly think I will get much more usage out of the switches in a custom build. As it stands it is pretty much just on display collecting dust & I am not 100% confident I will be able to convert it to USB without ruining it right now. Thanks for the reply, I really appreciate both of your guys input! :metal:


So I just had an epiphany about how to swap the browns out of my Videowriter without having to de-solder anything! ALPS switches can be opened up while installed in a plate. So I can get the top housings, sliders, springs, & tactile leaves out of the Videowriter without any worry of damaging it. I just checked the brown ALPS in the Video writer & my loose batch of oranges, they both use the same grey switchplates & have the same thicker bottom housings. So all I have to do is swap the top housings, sliders, springs, & tactile leaves from the browns into the loose orange bottom housings. Then put the parts from the oranges into the browns bottom housings that will stay soldered into the Videowriter & I have an easily reversible switch swap that don’t require any de-soldering!

I just double checked with some loose browns/oranges I had & swapping the bottom housings between the two doesn’t change the feel of either at all. Not sure why I didn’t think about this before, but it is definitely a load of my mind! :slightly_smiling_face: