Rama Hot Swap VS Soldering

Hi Everyone,

So I’ve been trying to learn more here and there. I’ve been posting in other forums but the response has been quite negative. I’m hoping to get a more logical response than just anecdotes.

I know Rama offers both a hotswap and regular solder PCB.

Hotswap obviously has it’s disadvantages, less reliable, 1 standard layout.

My question is why would a rama (a quality custom keeb creator) offer a hotswap edition when it seems to not be the best in terms of quality?

Best,
Charizard

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Hotswap is offered when many of the audience buying the board may have any familiarity with soldering at all.

While for many enthusiasts hotswap is not preferred, a lot of casual keyboarders do enjoy hotswap because they are able to change out their switches without much worry. For many this opens up the possibility of quick and easy switch modding.

Rama Works has quite the following not only with enthusiasts, but people just casually browsing the mechanical keyboard scene. Hotswap are for these folks. People casually into keyboards and want a very nice board of their own without the the pains of soldering.

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I see Hotswap as a convenience option too. You can’t get around the fact that soldering takes time. Desoldering takes even more time. Even soldering masters can see the convenience of not having to desolder in order to change switches on a single board.

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It comes with the caveat that I solder a lot at work and I guess I am pretty good at it, and the hot swap boards I had all had really tight plates, but hot swaps have always been a pita imo, I can solder a board faster than the hot swaps take to put together.

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I generally buy a hotswap (If they layout I like is supported) and solderable PCB. I prefer the convenience of the hotswap PCB but like to get an extra solderable PCB as a backup. Hotswap PCBs aren’t bad. Maybe there were some growing pains when Kailh hotswap sockets first came out but I’d say things are pretty stable at this point.

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Thanks for constructive feedback everyone. That’s what I’ve been thinking. The quality should still be a high bar even with the hotswap PCB in the RAMA. It probably is worth while to buy a backup PCB just in case. Personally, I don’t switch my switches very often, but enough so it would be cost prohibitive to buy a few PCB’s.

Also good point on the desoldering. I don’t mind the soldering in fact I find it kinda relaxing. It’s just when you want to desolder that it’s a pain. So that’s the tradeoff for me.

I’m going to see if I can get lucky enough to get in the GB of the next 65 rama board. Great discussion.

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So cijanzen thanks for the insightful post. I wanted to ask you directly since you seem to have a lot of knowledge in this space. What are you thoughts on the hotswap version of the rama boards? Also if you had a choice what other boards would you consider that has a hotswap pcb?

I have not actually received a Rama board with a hotswap PCB yet. They’re all in production still! With that said, I do have a couple Wilba PCBs and they’ve been fantastic. The Rama hotswap PCBs are using Kailh hotswap sockets which are a known standard now. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them based on my experience with Wilba PCBs!
I’ve actually made a lot of my PCBs hotswap myself using millmax sockets but that’s a whole other thing :joy:.
It seems like any of the more recent “custom” offerings from KBDFans are quite solid as well so I wouldn’t hesitate to get anything with hotswap there either.

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That’s very reassuring. I get the idea of having a solid soldered on switch. I’m just happy to hear that you wouldn’t hesitate on it. It’s all to easy to hate on the hotswap boards, but truth be told there is value to them. It’s tough to actually to get people to even look and have the conversation.

I will just add that hot swap instantly increases the re-sale value of your purchase because it widens the prospective buyers to hundreds of thousands of people that do not want to solder.

For example, when I joined the Square X.60 group buy earlier this year I was sure to get both a solder and hotswap board. If I decide to sell it, just having the hot swap board will ensure that it sells.

RAMA is an actual full time business, so they want the greatest addressable market, unlike many group buy runners that have full time jobs and make keyboards as a side hustle/passion hobby.

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Not to mention the folks who don’t 100% align with your taste in switches/lubing methodology :joy:

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I bought a Zenith with an extra hotswap PCB just in case the 1st PCB fails sometime in the future. Should I change the 2nd PCB to solder version?

Take it with a grain of salt.

I think if you anticipate cycling out the switches a lot (more than 100 times) having a extra hot swap may be worth it.

Keep in mind a kaliah socket is rated for up to 100 cycles / changes.

One thought behind having a solderable pcb would be that you have found the switch that you want to stick with and just want one solid option. You also will have slightly more options to the layout of the keyboard.

I’m sure others can elaborate why a solderable pcb can be than a hotswap pcb.

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What? That seems like such a small number.

Yeah this is a big one. Although you limit yourself with cap sets if you do say a 6u offset spacebar.

http://www.kailhswitch.com/info/mechanical-keyboard-switches-kailh-pcb-socket-30847668.html unfortunately it’s true rated up to 100 cycles.

Do keep in mind that article is from 2018. So I could be wrong. In fact I hope I am and it’s better now.

I almost jumped on the zenith. I just was on the fence on the layout. I hope you enjoy it when comes :slightly_smiling_face:. Maybe you can do a review when it does?

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Hey Charizard, I think you can still jump on the zenith, it is still available! I bought it because it sounded really good on sound test and it is isolated gasket mount so I think the typing experience will be quite pleasant. Plus not many keyboards have such interesting layout so this is definitely worth getting.

Definitely will do a review and sound test when I get it like next year haha…

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Actually come to think of it, I will not be doing soldering at all, and I am more or less set at having it with gat inks.

Just getting the spare hotswap PCB just in case the first pcb (hotswap) dies few years later and I lose my investment…this board is quite expensive. haha

I saw they still have some available. :slightly_smiling_face: getting the extra pcb is worth it as a just in the worst case scenario. I would test out both PCBs when you get them.

Also big fan of the isolated gasket mount!

I ordered my U80-A with each kind of pcb but have only built the hotswap one (cause I was lazy and didn’t feel like soldering).
Between the mute dampener and the insane amount of screws used to secure the plate/dampener/pcb sandwich I don’t get any of the ‘cheap’ or loose feeling i get from the other hotswap boards I have. Using lubed silent inks in mine and I don’t think I’ll be replacing them anytime soon, it feels pretty great.