Use Cases for Switch Modification

Hey Everyone,

I’m brand new to this forum and have been lurking around keyb research for about a year now. I had my first 60% board built by kbdfans around a year back and now with the additional knowledge since then, I’m looking to get down and dirty in personal customization/modification for my next board which brings me to my post.

While looking into the monster that is the switch market, you’ll without a doubt stumble upon Frankenswitches. With the limited knowledge I have on the topic of switches, I’m curious about the reasons someone would choose to change the various parts of the switch, primarily the housing and/or stem.

Obviously swapping these parts have a purpose, and my question is what does swapping each of these parts do for the switch? I understand changing something like springs can alter the weight needed to activate the switch, but what would the use case be for experimenting with various stems or housings? What attributes of the switch does changing these parts affect? The fact that someone can create a frankenswitch and have it be recognized throughout the community (holy pandas as an example), speaks to how much of a difference experimenting with switch parts can make for even just personal gain.

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Usually smoothness, sound, and level of tactility

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It’s just like @dwarflemur said: smoothness, sound, and tactility (when it comes to different tactile frankenswitches).

Ultimately for most of us who have been diving into this hobby deeper and deeper, tweaking every little bit has become its own little fun despite how tedious it can be.

I think for most everyone it starts out with smoothness. From there it becomes experimenting with using a different amount of lube, using different lubes, using a different amount of different lubes, switching stems/housings/springs, and so on until we start to really ‘develop’ our tastes.

For example when I first got into the community when I was but a wee lad, I wasn’t the biggest fan of linear switches at all. I thought tactiles were the only way to go. The day I discovered lubed switches, it was like realizing I was living in the pond when there was an ocean next to me. I’ve been diving deeper ever since :slight_smile:


One more thing I forgot to add is wobbliness, which can be especially made worse by opening the switches.

I’m with @Manofinterests here, I think modding really is more of a thing for linear switches, and a I think it’s pretty common that a lot of people gravitate more toward those after doing some. I personally am in the process of rebuilding most of my boards that have tactile switches with nice smooth linears.


I thought tactiles were the only way to go

@Manofinterests funny you say this because I’m at that point where linears are starting to seem a little more appealing than the tactiles I have :open_mouth:

So correct me if I’m wrong here, but from what the both of you are saying, linear switches seem to be a “blank canvas” for mods whereas tactiles may seem more like a half-finished painting that only leaves so much to be modifiable?

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Think of it as.

Linears are a completely blank canvas to experiment with different stems, lubeds, springs, and housings.

Tactiles are also a blank canvas, except you have decided to lock in which metaphorical brush you are using. There are still plenty of avenues to experiment with this blank canvas like the metaphorical colors you can choose, but you’ve locked in your metaphorical brush (tactile stem). Different tactile stems that have different bump sizes are also like locking yourself into different metaphorical brushes as well.

Maybe not the best analogy, but hopefully that helps out.

I haven’t bothered much with modding tactiles tbh I just don’t have much interest in it

@Manofinterests this analogy is beyond helpful. I didn’t know the stem was the limiting factor in tactile switches, it makes sense when you mention it.

My first baby step into modifying switches is going to be the lubing process. Not sure how I’m going to start out finding my “taste” without ruining any switches (assuming switches can be ruined this way).

They can. My advice would be to start with very very light coats of lube. It’s always easier to add more lube than to take it away :slight_smile:

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Big agree on that one. Something else looking at is filming, if you’re already going to be opening them up for lubing anyway I would def recommend throwing a film in there while you’re at it.

I think why switch modding is an interesting (and sometimes fruitful) playground is that beyond the qualities of each individual component are the emergent qualities that come from their interaction.

The Holy Panda is a pretty great example - what made it such an outstanding switch when it was discovered were a few emergent qualities: the unique tactility and sound among them.

On its own, the Halo switch has fairly mild tactility, with its unique point being where the weighting of the bump and spring are in the travel. Distinct, but not way out there.

If I understand correctly, the Panda was conceived as an extra-smooth linear, but turned out fairly average in its own right. However…

Placing the Halo stem in the Panda housing produced qualities that neither switch possessed - and at the time, no MX switch did.

The contact leaf meant for linear actuation combined with the unique bump of the Halo stem retained the high bump of the Halo, but significantly ramped up the tactile force. At the same time, the longer post at the bottom of that stem performs its function of reducing travel as it does on the original Halo - but in the Panda’s housing, made of different materials and with a different design, the new switch made a much more distinctive sound than either donor. (There are a few other stems that feature this longer post, and have the capacity for producing this unique bottom-out sound with the right housings.)

On top of the dynamic between the leaf and stem is that with the spring, which can itself change not just the weight, but the tactility of a switch. With the Halo in particular, changing springs makes a huge difference in the feel. The Halo True variant comes with a spring that starts very light, but becomes very heavy after actuation - whereas the Clear variant has a spring that has more uniform resistance, leading to tougher actuation but easier bottom-out than the Trues. Despite all other components being the same, just this different spring changes the whole experience.

In my experience, most combinations yield something that just isn’t as optimized as well as a factory switch - but some can yield an unexpected, desirable result.


I’ll second the suggestion to look at filming switches, and it’s worth noting that it applies to both linears and tactiles. The two halves of the switch housing may not fit together as tightly after they’ve been taken apart and put back together, and in these cases, films can work wonders in tightening up the sound and feel. As it happens, I just filmed a batch of V2 Zealios that were becoming pretty loose during lubing, more so than usual, and filming completely fixed the issue.

I don’t know why I don’t film switches more often - perhaps it’s because lubing is already a time sink? Regardless, I should make it a regular part of my build routine.

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I’ve had the same experience, but with tealios. It also changes the sound a bit, @Walkerstop had a video that showed the difference a while ago and it was what really convinced me to start doing it and I’ve been very happy with the results.

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I’ve never actually heard of filming until you mentioned it, is there a specific use for filming or is it something that can be useful for all switches?

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Sheesh I have a lot to learn. I guess through experience you can slowly get an idea on how certain components and functions interact with one another, and once that’s understood you can start playing around with combinations. Sounds like you have a fair share of experience :smiley: .

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I pretty much do it on any switches I’m modding anymore, it really tightens up the fit of the top housing, which in turn reduces wobble, and lowers the pitch of the sounds a little bit. There are some switches that have tight tops where you probably don’t want to, but I can’t remember what they are off the top of my head.

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Not all that much, really - I just got a few switch sample packs and just started messing around. I’ve done enough to know a lot of the factors at play, but I have no idea how to manipulate them consciously. Ha! If I ever stumble on a good frankenswitch, it will likely be by chance.

A lot of people have their special ones that they like, but tbh I’ve played around a bit and found that my favorite is actually just stock tealios lubed and filmed.

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