Why are Alps clones scarce?


#1

A lot of people look at SKCM Alps are the holy grail of tactile switches due to the way they produce tactility using a leaf instead of notches in a stem like mx switches. People like them so much they’re willing to spend $2, $3 even $4 per switch so why aren’t more switch manufactures jumping at the opportunity to create clones if they’re in such high demand? It’s not like cloning Topre where you have the PCB restricting you, the only thing I can think of is the amount of components Alps use in comparison to mx switches but even then SKCM alps sell for so much people would be willing to spend more than boutique mx switches on some quality alps clones surely. The design could even be improved on with reducing switch wobble, increasing cycle life by with gold plating contacts and making them more dust proof. I just see it as a bit of a missed opportunity and hope at some point in the future either a switch manufacturer or member of the community rises up to the challenge, we’ve seen a lot of interesting things in recent years in the hobby such as hall effect and optical switches so I’m holding out hope.


#2

I don’t want to rain on your parade, but you are making some false assumptions.

Enthusiast mechanical keyboards is a niche market that doesn’t hold for itself for big manufacturers, that’s the reality. And for the mass market, which is where they make money, there’s already an established option on Cherry MX switches and clones.

a.k.a. complicated Alps. All clones available uses the simplified Alps design, which is significantly cheaper to produce. Even Alps on the last years of production only made switches in the simplified design.

That means upfront costs that most of the manufacturers are not willing to do, mainly research and tooling, without any guarantee of success.


#3

True it is a niche but boutique switches such as zealios, pandas, NK switches, Halos etc… seem to do pretty well so I think there is a market for them that would be willing to pay a premium. I kind of doubt manufactures would do it on their own because of the risk involved like you say but some community members may be up to the challenge since they’re more passionate about it. Done correctly it could be a really big deal.


#4
  1. There isn’t a market for clones. Yeah, a lot of people like Alps, but a lot of people are also happy with the Alps they’ve got.

  2. A lot of the clones aren’t good. Out of all the clones I’ve used, only Matias and Tai-Hao were actually satisfying switches - and Matias are basically dead in the water as they’ve been mismanaged, and the only boards people really want them in are known for failing stupid easy.

  3. Problems inherent to Alps are often things that the mainstream enthusiast cares about. Key wobble, dust sensitivity, tactility in linears, and did I mention dust sensitivity?

I’m all for seeing new Alps clones, but the lack of support for them and tiny market is kinda keeping them from growing. I am on record as supporting shoving a tactile/click leaf into an MX switch, and it’s been done before. The benefits of Alps don’t have to be constrained to just Alps, and their problems don’t have to be dealbreakers anymore.


#5

I like the idea of a tactile leaf in an mx switch


#6

https://deskthority.net/wiki/ProWorld_Cherry_MX_clone

It has been done before!


#7

Any idea why they never got very popular?


#8

It’s less about popularity and more the fact that there’s barely any information about where they came from.


#9

Oh gotcha, still surprised no one else has tried to replicate them.


#10

I’m surprised Vinny didn’t even mention one of the major deal breakers: availability of good quality keycaps that don’t have big ass enter or bizzare (by modern standards) layout

Also stabiliser config and lack of standardisation among manufacturers regarding spacing of clipped stabilisers or stabiliser posts


#11

It’s actually pretty similar to what Kaihl did with their clicky box switches. it could be easy to implement too, at least with SMD switches that have the cutout. Cherry MX with alps style tactile/click leaves would be incredible. It would allow for incredibly cheap modification of tactility/clickyness, as you wouldn’t need to make new stem molds, just change the way the metal leaf is bent.


#12

I was going to say this. Unfortunately, the options for ALPS caps are very limited.

There are options but they are small and can also force ALPS mount stabilizers. I’m glad that there are more options now then when I started (which was to find a keyboard and pilfer its caps) but there’s still not a ton.

Even the companies that currently make them have issues sometimes. (SP had stem thickness issues, Tai-Hao is thin)


#13

I wish I could get my hands on a set of these. Very curious how they feel/sound.


#14

I know, right? That’s why I’ve been trying to start group buys to get some of the clones over here.


#15

I would like to see someone like Mike or Gazzew have a manufacturer make a switch that has a click leaf in it. Maybe once NovelPro and Aristotle clones are done, we can bother them about it!


#16

I messaged Mike about the idea of mx switches with alps leafs to produce tactility and he got back to me with this.

"Hi there,

Thanks for the message! This is definitely something that we have thought about doing. The tactile leafs in Alps are really great, and would be awesome to bring to the MX market.

Currently we have a couple projects in front of us, but this may be something that we are able to start working on in the future.

Thanks

Mike"


#17

…Damn. What won’t Mike do?


#18

He’s a godsend for the community