Sharing info on modded tactiles

Okay, so people here hardly ever use stock switches, especially when it comes to tactiles.

I thought I would share information about some stock tactiles that have undergone some slight improvement via lubing and spring-swapping. That way, people could learn and see if it is worth doing.

I encourage anyone to post any findings they have about improving stock tactiles in this basic manner.

I am going to start by discussing some MX Browns that have been lubed and spring-swapped. People might be dismissive about trying to improve Browns, but they are one of the most popular MX switches, and many people think they’re in need of improvement.

This modding is more careful than what I’m prepared to do at the moment, so I sent them to a service. The Browns were carefully lubed with 3203, with the goal of minimal reduction of tactility. The springs were replaced with lubed 55 gr (Stainless) Spirit springs. I was hoping that the slightly lighter weight might bring out greater tactility from the switch. The main goal was to remove scratchiness from the sound, which appears to have succeeded.

MX Browns, lubed with 3203, springs replaced with lubed 55 gr Spirit (stainless)

Impressions

Compared with regular unlubed MX Browns, these lubed variants are:

-softer and more linear in feel. When I say softer, I mean in both operation and bottom-out.

-sound is almost unchanged. These are a little deeper and clackier. There is no longer any ‘scratchy’ sound.

-tactile bump is present, but even more indistinct

-still wobbly

Looking at these with fresh eyes, you might say that these lubed Browns still feel like a wobbly and uncertain switch. [When compared with non-MX alternatives.]

But how do they compare with other tactiles?

Compared to [stock] Everglide Jades:

-Jade has a more definite, more pronounced tactile bump. It feels almost ‘2-stage’ by comparison, as the bump itself kind of feels like a shift between stages.

-Jades bottom out a little harder, possibly because of the increased force used to depress them.

-Browns make a more muted typing sound.

Compared to lubed Ergo Clears with 63.5 [Progressive] Spirit springs:

-The Ergo Clears are more ‘crunchy’ and less smooth. They are more obviously tactile than the Browns, and may have a slightly less energetic return.

-The Ergo Clears have a more definite, clearly-defined tactile bump.

-The Ergo Clears wobble at least as much as the lubed Browns.

Thoughts on the lubed Browns so far:

-They may be a bit light with the 55 gr springs. I feel as if they would have more authority with a slightly-heavier spring. Browns are supposed to be about 58 g on average, IIRC. I would probably want to go to 58 or 60 gr springs.

-Using these slightly-light 55 gr springs did not appear to increase the tactility of the Browns.

-These Browns are a pretty relaxed switch, and seem to be pretty gentle during sustained typing. They are fairly precise, and low-impact. So despite any deficiencies in individual switch-feel, this might be an okay switch for long typing sessions.

-Although they don’t bottom-out too hard, they still feel kinda blunt when bottoming-out on my Zhuque’s aluminium plate. I’m beginning to see why some people prefer polycarbonate plates for tactiles, and am thinking about putting these into polycarb.

Was this worth it? I don’t know. Using these on a board, you would probably have a better and more consistent sound profile than regular MX Browns.

I literally just finished lubing some browns for myself, though mine are a little different than those that you described.

I used retooled MX blue housings and brown stems, then bag lubed with 106 and they have nearly the same bump as normal mx browns but are much smoother and sound a hell of a lot better. I recommend something like this as it really captures the best parts of the browns and of lubed switches.

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That’s very interesting, and confirms what I’ve heard elsewhere.

When people are making Ergo Clears, some prefer to use MX Blue housings, because they seem to generate greater tactility with the Clear stem.

However, I was warned about using the Blue housings, something about how there could be incompatibilities with the leaf.

I bought some Blues in order to test Clear stems, and might just have to use them for the MX Browns.

Comments on the 55 gr lubed MX Browns
after typing on 35 of them with GMK

-softer Browns
-less crisp than stock Browns
-tactile bump still discernible, the lubing didn’t remove it.
-feel like Reds in terms of weight
-less ‘poppy’ than Browns, they are to Browns what soft Ergo Clears are to Clears.

Explanation:

After a few days, I expanded the number of lubed Browns on the keyboard from 5 to 35. This is a pretty substantial number, as it allows for testing all the alpha keys, along with some critical modifiers and the spacebar.

My impressions from typing on these is: WOW. It’s softer, pillowy Browns. Like, if you needed an ‘Soft Ergo Brown’ because of RSI, this might be it.

I’m of mixed feelings about the 55 gr Spirit springs. I think I should have used 58-60 gr, as that’s what my fingers expect from Browns. But if you adjust to this weight, its pretty amazing. But the softness comes with a corresponding lack of ‘crispness.’ Stock Browns might be a safer bet for speed typing, because you are losing that grittiness and scratch that comprise part of the MX Brown’s ‘tactility.’

So I would have to say that the lubed 55 gr Browns are kind of like Aliaz: smoother does not necessarily mean “more certain” when you are dealing with light tactiles.

Back in 2019, I almost bought a JER-A06 / J80. I didn’t, because I didn’t want to drop $600 [hah, imagine getting one for $600 now] on a type of non-plate mount that I had never tried before. And I didn’t have any tactiles lined up for it. Some people recommended Ergo Clears or even lubed Browns. I think these lubed Browns may have been a perfect candidate for such a build, as you are typing on a cloud with these. The J80 PCB-style mounting might have also enhanced the tactile bump somewhat.

Overall, these switches are Browns without some of their more common defects: scratch, ping, and sand. But they also lack some of the ‘earthiness’ of stock Browns, in which their lack of smoothness is part of the tactility. I think that these lubed Browns may be less “certain.” And if you are used to stock Browns, you might want to go with a 58-60 weight, as I think that will be more familiar. These are less-dirty Reds that still have a bump. Like more subdued Zealio V1, in the sense that it’s smooth but there is a bump.

They’re not ‘exciting’ or ‘poppy,’ and are for a more chill build. They are a little anemic compared to Browns, in the same way that a 63.5 (Progressive) Ergo Clear is more anemic than a 65 or Black-springed Clear. But they seem to have no trouble in operation, including the large stabilized keys. Sound is a little deeper and clackier than stock Browns. And that’s an improvement right there.

These switches are crying out for a plate less-harsh than alum. Polycarb is probably what you want, or a more classic design like the J80. I could likely further soften the bottom-out by using 58-60 gr springs.

Here’s an interesting note.

I took two of the lubed MX Browns, and inserted OUTEMU Silent Sky stems into them.

It’s actually a very viable silent switch. It’s very quiet, and it’s still tactile [more than the lubed Browns].

55G is an okay weight for them, and they are responsive. But like the lubed Browns, I feel that they would be better as 58 or 60. So I am going to try 60 when I get the TX springs.

All this is simply to say that Silent Sky stems work fine in lubed MX Brown housings with 55 gr Spirit springs. But it may be too light for many.

Anyway, this ends my experimentation with the lubed Browns. They are smooth and pillowy, but just not satisfying to use. Up next I will probably be looking at lubed + filmed Ergo Clears and lubed Pro Purples.

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I’d put together some switches with Silent Sky tactile stems in them, and I found that spring weight makes a huge difference in the experience.

The 52g (bottom out) ones I started with felt… unreliable? I think the spring struggled to overcome the bump and return the switch to its resting position, making it feel mushy or iffy.

Putting some 78g (bottom-out) springs in their place made the very same switches feel snappy and very satisfying.

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Being originally inspired by Ergo Clears, they probably don’t like anything under 55 gr. As it is, 55 gr feels very soft with them.

They are very poppy when using springs that actuate at 50 gr, just like Ergo Clears. I tend to see Skies / Silent Skies as Ergo Clears that can function a little better at lower weights.

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I feel like I may have found my holy grail switch:

  • Drop Holy Panda housing and stem lubed with Krytox 3204
  • Sprit 55g spring bag lubed with Hoppes No.9
    The sound and feel on these are what I have been searching for, for a long, long time. I have currently used them with GMK, SA, DSA, and MT3 caps and they all sound pretty sublime but, MT3 just brings the clacking to a whole new level!
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Oh man, really!?! Someone is building some Holy Pandas for me right now, but it was my understanding than anything under 63.5 isn’t tactile enough.

I have some 55 gr springs over there, though. Maybe it would be worth making a couple with 55 gr and Hoppes. [Using Hoppes with Pro Purples right now.]

Its so good…been using 45g springs forever so even 55g feels a bit heavy :laughing:

The next switch I am going to be discussing briefly is the “White Panda Clear.”

Origin

I call it the White Panda Clear because it actuates at 60 gr, just like the “Panda Clear” of old. [For those who are unaware, Panda Clears are a type of Ergo Clear that uses the spring from an MX Black, hence the term “Panda.” They operate more robustly than the softer Ergo Clears that use Cherry-light switches, such as MX Brown.]

These are White Panda Clears, because unlike MX Black springs, these are using Chinese gold-plated aftermarket springs that actuate at 60 gr and possibly bottom-out at 62 gr. I say possibly, because the website doesn’t list the bottom-out weight. The springs were purchased here:

I asked 1UpKeyboards about the weight, and they estimate that bottom-out is 5 gr heavier than actuation, so these would be 65 gr at bottom-out. However, the same springs seem to be sold on Amazon, and they are listed as 60/62.

https://www.amazon.com/110pcs-lot-Gold-plated-Springs-switches-Replacement/dp/B072JGJMDK

So it’s a bit of a mystery. If these are 60/62 springs, then they actuate like [Black] Panda Clears, but bottom-out like traditional Ergo Clears. That’s why I coined the new name.

I bought these from someone else. They lightly lubed the switches and springs with 3204. The ones ones that ended up on the numpad were barely lubed at all, although the springs were bag-lubed. The rest received greater attention at the lubing station.

This is basically what the “White Panda Clears” board looks like right now, it’s a Leopold FC900R PD wearing Honeywell R1:

I was choosing between switches to solder into a new Leopold board, and I chose these. They were more interesting and memorable in feel on the switch tester. However, I should have tested them more extensively and with a greater number. Because although fun, they are also require more energy to type on than the switches I am used to. So they spend most of their time in storage.

Operation

These switches are very interesting in operation. They are very “poppy,” and give no upstroke troubles that people report with weaker springs in MX Clears. They are also very definite in the keypress, and would probably be great for number entry. I like hitting the ones on the numpad, even though they received less lube than the others.

These are not what I would call “gentle,” like softer Ergo Clears often are. They are snappy, like 62 gr Spirit springs. You have to use more force to clear the tactile bump than you do with MX Browns. It is not as relaxed a typing experience. However, once you start typing quickly, you don’t bottom-out as hard. I can type about 3 WPM faster than with MX Browns. OTOH, I start getting some fatigue with these after 3 straight pages, whereas this is less likely to occur with Browns.

I typed out a good deal of correspondence using these switches, but it required greater energy or force than with the Browns. And after a while, you start to notice. I’m not sure this is exactly what people had in mind when they started experimenting with Ergo Clears. These switches feel like Clears, and bottom-out lighter, but the actuation weight is similar. Because of the increased tactile feedback and snappiness, these can be very good for gaming, such as FPS. I find that these switches, with the stock Leopold caps, are great for this purpose.

In terms of sound, these are relatively good. On the right surface, they give a respectable clack. Not the thock of lubed vintage Blacks, but they aren’t as chittery as stock Cherry tactiles. More of the kind of clacking you’d hear in a 1980s movie. The larger, stabilized keys are deeper in pitch, which is great. It will encourage you to press them more often. There’s no ping or other bad noises. Leopolds can have an inconsistent sound profile, but with lubed switches and careful reassembly [not done by me!] you can end up with no ping and a non-hollow-sounding board.

Conclusions

Using these switches taught me a little about Ergo Clear optimization. Ergo Clears want at least 50 gr in order to actuate robustly, and 60 gr is more than enough. And the bottom-out weight doesn’t need to be high, somewhere around 60-62 is fine.

So an ideal spring to get “poppy” Clears would have a relatively high actuation, at least 50, but doesn’t need a high bottom-out. Something like a 52 gr actuation and 62 bottom-out would be just fine. If these springs really are 60/62, then they kind of emulate what we call “slow curve,” don’t they? Maybe there should be more experimentation of “slow curve” springs using weights in the 50-70 gr range.

I noticed that TTC Gold Brown V2 switches use springs that have an actuation of 50 and bottom-out at 60. So something like that might be a good spring for light Ergo Clears. I wouldn’t mind using a 53/62 spring, myself.

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Ergo Clears

Cherry MX Clears, lubed with 205g0, springs replaced with lubed 65 gr TX, filmed with TX films


An Ergo Clear looks a lot like a Cherry MX Clear, who knew?

Evaluation:

These are some of the finest MX tactiles I have had the pleasure to type on.

They are smooth (for MX), they actuate at a reasonable weight. It’s much less than my other Clears that actuate at 60G. It’s not as authoritative as those “Panda Clears,” but it should be better for sustained typing. It’s softer. And smoother.

There’s a downside to the lower actuation weight, and that is the less punchy upstroke. On my Panda Clears, they boom right up. Here, though, you can feel a bit of a catch if you let the switch up slowly. This is a common characteristic of Ergo Clears that actuate well-below 60G. I have some 63.5G Ergo Clears, and they catch even more if you release the switch slowly. The 65G aren’t too bad in this respect.

The overall experience is kind of a “better Browns,” or something a step above MX Brown. It’s the same type of tactility, obviously, but it’s been smoothed-out and is less of a blip. You can feel some of that ‘chalky’ MX Clear tactility in the keystroke. There’s more happening in the stem and housing than with MX Brown. There’s more ‘noise’ than on stock Browns, and a lot more noise as compared with Alpacas. But the overall resistance is less pronounced than with stock Clears.

I never thought I would be saying this, but these might benefit from a heavier spring weight. The lubing makes the 65G TX springs feel lighter than they do in unlubed Alpacas. I’m bottoming-out as easily as I do on MX Browns. I guess I could try 68G with these, as I have some Spirits in that weight. But with relaxed typing, this weight should be very sustainable.

On the other hand, when I type quickly for long periods using two or three keys, I start to notice the 65G weight. It’s hard to tell if the spring is too heavy or too light. I would really benefit from experimenting with different spring weights.

The filming is noticeable. The switches wobble slightly less than unfilmed Ergo Clears that I have on the same board. They still wobble more than a stable switch like BOX Silent Browns or some Zeal switches. It’s not that these are wobbly switches, but they are clearly Cherry MX designs.

Using 205g0 may have been a bit much, considering these feel mostly like improved, softer Browns. The switches may be going into a build that has a steel plate [HMKB], so I erred on the side of softness. Even then, I am often bottoming-out pretty hard on the aluminum plate of the testing board.

The switches, as the builder noted, sound kind of plasticy. Clears often do, although these are moreso. It may be the TX films contributing, I don’t know. It’s not a particularly bad sound, just mediocre.

Gaming performance is fine. With the lubed MX Browns, it could sometimes be less-than-expected. Side-by-side with Aliaz switches using the same springs, I found the Aliaz more surefooted than the Browns. Then again, those switches are oddly good for gaming in some weights.

With the Ergo Clears, however, the switches were more certain and definite than the lubed 55G Browns. I had no trouble moving quickly and shifting quickly. These switches are definitely not an obstacle to gaming.

I would say that a risk with building Ergo Clears is that they become too ‘soft.’ Even MX Browns can have a more positive actuation. The springs are weaker on Browns, but they have less resistance to clear, so they can be punchy. Ergo Clears, on the other hand, run the risk of being ‘limp’ with all that lube and noisy tactility in the mix.

Later, I would like to compare these with some 60G [TX] and 68G [Spirit] Ergo Clears.

tl;dr

-good actuation and bottom-out weight
-some upstroke catch if you release the switch slowly. Not as much as with 63.5 gr. Feels kind of like a ‘Better Brown.’
-sound is plasticy. Promising performance.

I should add that I find myself wanting to type on and return to these switches more than the others I have mentioned in this thread so far.

So the Ergo Clears are welcoming enough, I just have to find the right spring weight. These switches can vary in feel depending on whether your priority is smoothness, tactile resistance, poppiness, or sound. These can be built as gentle, vigorous, or something in between.

Everglide Jades

Tested with: Stock, 60 gr TX, 62 gr Spirit springs.

Lubed versions were tested with 3204.

Stock switches:

These switches are okay. It’s my understanding that they are basically Zeal V1s. Maybe in a T1 housing. I’m not sure. But I like the idea.

Everglide Jades are relatively smooth tactiles that have a crispy, distinct, and punctual tactile bump part-way through the switch. It’s a conventional MX tactility, like Browns or Clears. I’d say it feels like a sharper Ergo Clear, with less ‘noise’ in the switch.

Without the tactile bump, it would definitely feel more like a clean linear than MX Brown does.

The actual typing sound is chittery, and higher in pitch. I don’t like it, and became interested in a lubed version of the switch. One video described the switches as “rattly,” which is true.

The tactile bump is sharper than I’m used to, it’s feels steep and almost two-stage. I thought lubing might smooth it a little.

Somebody on Drop described these as “similar but crisper than Browns,” which I feel is accurate.

I’m not sure that the stock spring is the best choice. It’s light and rebounds okay, but it feels lighter than expected. It’s listed as 58 gr bottom-out, and I think it could stand to be 2 gr heavier.

Lubed / spring-swapped Jades:

However, the lubed 60 gr Jade was disappointing at first. The spring feels heavier, thicker, and more resistant, but this does not necessarily lead to a better typing experience. Lube + spring-swap just makes the switch feel heavier and noisier.

Upon further testing, it isn’t so bad. The 60 gr TX springs have a gentle bottom-out, and are easy to type on. Spirit springs can be stiff in contrast to their TX counterparts. It is possible to type quickly on the 60 gr TX Jades, but also softly. So there may be something there.

The lubed 60 gr TX Jades are softer than stock and still poppy. But with the softness, they lose some of the exciting springiness of the originals.

The 62 gr Spirit spring was more fun, both in the unlubed and lubed varieties. The 62 spring is very poppy, maybe too poppy for the limited tactile bump of the Jade switch. But I am enjoying the lubed 62 gr Jade. It really feels very robust. The 62 gr Spirit is an interesting choice. But it is noticeably heavier than stock, and MX Brown, and I’m not sure it’s the ideal choice for sustained typing. This spring dominates the switch.

The 62 gr Spirit version of the Jade also sounded the deepest.

I have to reiterate. The 62 gr Spirit springs are a good weight for the Jade, for those people who want a more “MX Blue” experience than “MX Brown.” The 62 Spirit is heavier than MX Blue. If you type lightly, you can avoid bottom-out. But it will require overall greater force than the stock springs and MX Brown.

What about stock spring, lubed? That actually worked out pretty okay. These test switches were lubed a bit more heavily than the ones with replacement springs. The lubing succeeded in softening the tactile bump. The sound is lower-pitched. But maybe it was a mistake to soften the bump, as the stock Jades are more fun.

I was critical of the stock spring, because I felt that the bottom-out weight was a little light.
On the plus side, it has a relatively strong upstroke. So maybe these springs are more appropriate than I at first thought.

VERDICT: 62 gr Spirit springs are authoritative in these switches, can be good if you were looking for a higher weight. 60 gr TX were meh at first. But it turns out they are gentle and fast.

Stock, lubed Jades are pretty gentle, but maybe not as exciting as unlubed stock. Maybe just leave them stock? The problem with stock is the typing sound.

Stock Jade is a decent tactile, but sounds rattly.

Maybe I should use stock parts and listen to this guy:

Small update:

I added a few tactiles that aren’t strictly ‘modded tactiles’ but actually combinations.

They are in the Funky Frankenswitches thread:

Holy Pandas + Brown Pandas

Golden Skies

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