I know this has been talked about on a few threads, but I figured it would be best to consolidate.
Can any one suggest a single, ready made switch that is great for just spacebars? Possibly a silent and non-silent variant?
I would love a switch that I can just grab a 10 pack of an be set for a while. Historically, I am been interested in silent switches under the space bar, but I have been more tempted to try a non-silent linear.
I have been checking out the Matcha Lattes from InvoKeys, but they are long-poles, and I thought I heard that sometimes you need special stabs for long-poles. The Durock Black Lotus is another switch I have been interested in, since they are long pole but still maintain the right travel. The main goal being a great sounding switch with a snappy return for switch that is usually outfitted with a 7u bar.
Thanks @donpark! I was checking out those as well. Have you had any issues with those being long-pole and needing long-pole stabs? I have heard about this being a thing I haven’t paid attention enough to know when it is needed. Mostly just cause I haven’t gone too far down the long-pole rabbit hole.
I don’t know if it fits with your question, but do you have any opinions on using the same switch for the spacebar just with a heavier spring? It seems like a keeping a small selection of springs on hand for spacebars and shift/enter keys would be easy. Just guessing, but something like 5-10g heavier than the alphas for the spacebar and 3-7g heavier than the alphas for the shift and enter. Sorry if this is off topic.
I have thought about this, my only issues is I don’t really like frankenswitching cause I like keeping this stock. I have some 68g Sprit springs around, so I could do something like that. I just don’t really have a lot of linear switches to put them in.
I think I would be pretty open to doing this with linears, but I need some linears first, so I might as well just get a stock switch that would be good out of the gate.
No because I have those North-facing switch washers to tune stabs with. Long-pole aspect of Cream Soda also comes in handy with badly designed PCBs. Polaris hotswap PCB, for example, has North-facing modifiers on the left-side (bizarre). It’s good to keep a small bag of switches, springs (lately I’ve been using New Nixie springs for spacebars), and washers for such needs.
You may not even need to go with a completely different switch, instead, you can try just swapping out the stem. Wuque Studios, Geon Works, Gazzew, and KNC Keys come to mind for options to buy individual switch parts.
WS stems are made by JWK and come in LY, POM, UPE, and P3 (all linear)
Geon stems (or sliders) are made by Tecsee and are available in both linear and tactile. I can personally attest to how nice the Cloud version is, and it is the same stem found in the Zakus as well as Geon Blacks. I believe they are available in linear and tactile versions.
Gazzew stems, while a bit pricier, have even more options (i.e. Silent Tactile, Long-Pole Tactile, Long Pole Linear, Silent Linear, Silent Tactile with Large P Shaped Bump, and Clicky), but may not fit every housing.
There is quite a rabbit hole to go down with DIY switch parts and getting sucked into the Frankenswitching scene.
And of course, board builds are going to sound different depending on plate materials, acoustics (room AND case), keycaps, etc. There really is no "perfect switch for X’ that anyone can recommend, but understanding what makes the switches sound nice to you in the certain boards will go a long way.
If all else fails, try a Gateron Milky Yellow or Brown switch and call it a day.
The reason for this is that when the stabilized cap is fully-seated on the (<4mm travel) switch, it isn’t able to also fully-seat on both stabilizer stems, depending on how much higher the bottom position of the cap is compared to normal. In some cases you can press both sides of the cap down to fully-seat it on the stems, but then those stems are sitting too high at top-out and can sometimes cause weird feels or sounds. “Long-pole” stabs have longer stems - this helps them sit at least closer to a normal position relative to a short-travel switch - however, short-travel switches come in many different lengths, and long-pole stabs not so much.
This is why I prefer to use spacing shims; they let you dial-in how much extra platform height you need so that all three mounts are fully-seated while the stab stems rest in a normal position. I think OLKB’s are the best because they give you the most adjustment, but I haven’t seen them in stock in literal years. UPKB came out with their own not too long ago, though - and they’re still available. They’re about twice as thick, but they’re plastic which I think is a good thing given that at least part of of what we’re ultimately doing is trying to clean up sound here.
For tight-fitting caps, these (or long-pole stabs) may not really be necessary - but if they’re at all loose-fitting, they can make such a difference to the typing (and building / tuning) experience.
IMO, these spacing shims remain the single most underrated, underutilized accessory part in the whole hobby. They’re essential as far as I’m concerned. OLKB came up with them to help with the North-facing interference issue, which I have successfully used them for - but I use them for stabs on almost every single build, if only because switches that travel <4mm are super common now while stabs have mostly stayed the same.
Like many other nuggets of incredibly useful keyboard science, credit for this one goes to @Walkerstop. He figured out OLKB’s washers were perfect for preventing teeter in stabs. He was experimenting with silencing stabs before most of today’s stand-by stabs even existed. He found out Nyogel is great for stab wires. A dedicated scientist in it purely for the science - keebland has loads of brilliant, talented, and fascinating people - but I probably look up to Walker the most because he’s figured out so much stuff that’s genuinely made my keeb experience more enjoyable.
This may be unexpected, but MX Browns are seen by many as great spacebar switches.
There are people who build Ergo Clear keyboards, yet use MX Browns for the spacebar. This is because a good MX Brown switch is relatively clean. And since it is mostly spring, it is very easy for the spacebar to return.
You could use an aftermarket spring, such as a standard 60 G or heavier 63.5 G, in order to get a better, more consistent weight and sound. And stock Cherry housings already have pretty good sound. So if the switch is a good example, it’s worn-in, and you have replaced the spring, then you don’t need to go crazy with lube.
You can also use Ergo Clears for a spacebar, with heavier weights. I can confirm that 65 G is a pretty good weight there. It’s easy to make a lubed Ergo Clear that sounds good and performs well at 65 G and above. But the Clear stem will make the spacebar harder to safely remove.
But yeah, MX Brown sounds pretty good and functions authoritatively with a spacebar. Even on a factory keyboard like a Filco Majestouch.
One switch to avoid with spacebars may be the U4T. Although I say good things about the U4T, I have read of people having issues with sluggish return or stabilizer matching. It’s a fairly tactile long-pole, and that may mitigate against being an ideal spacebar switch. Especially at lower weights.
OTOH you can get a fairly thocky spacebar [on some plates] with no effort using a Gateron CAP Brown V2 or 3. Worked on an MK870.
For silent switches, an OUTEMU Silent Sky will function in a similar manner to MX Brown or light Ergo Clear. I bet a Silent Sky in a lubed Cherry housing or smooth linear housing [like Bobagum] at 65 G would be a good silent spacebar. Maybe Aliaz would, too.
Just wanted to document that I got my Gateron Cream Sodas, and there are pretty much everything I wanted out of a space bar only switch. Great sound and I didn’t even lube them.
I am still interested in getting some Cherry switches, and experimenting with Kailh Black stems. Apparently they are long-pole stems, (I believe made of POM) and are basically cheaper versions of NK Cream stems. I think Cherry housing with Kailh stem, and my choice of spring would be a great little budget combo with a slightly different sound than the Cream Sodas.
Not exactly, but close enough that it’s a reasonable substitution.
That’s a V1 Kailh Black stem pictured there; most out in the wild these days are V2s, which I believe are the same length but don’t have a tiered section at the bottom. This means they don’t fit in all the same housings, but I believe they work fine in Cherry’s, for example. I think @donpark has more experience with them specifically.
Probably close enough for my tastes, although the more I think about it the more I am turned off by the wasted parts. Might be easier just to stick to a one and done switch, even if it is a little on the pricey side.
Kailh Black v2 stems will fit but bottom out sound will be squishy bc v2 stem pole is not chamfered (see illustration). This is why I used Dremel to make them fit. Kailh Black v1 stems which AFAIK are of same length should not have this issue.