The Keyboard - Debut

Mechanical Switch - Buckling, ALPS, Topre

Buckling Spring Keyswitches

Model M space saver

Buckling springs are pretty straightforward once you see them in action. After pushing the key down a certain distance the spring buckles under pressure, causing the hammer at the bottom to hit a membrane sheet and create an electrical contact. The buckling of the spring also provides tactile feedback and a satisfying click as it hits the shaft wall. And you might also notice through the force diagrams that this is the only mechanical switch where the tactile and audible feedback correspond to the exact moment the switch actuates.

Type: Precise Tactile & Loud Clicky Mechanical Switch
Actuation Force: 65g-70g (Force Diagram)
Key Travel: 2.3mm to actuation, 3.7mm to bottom
Keyboards that use them: Anything from IBM

ALPS Switches

They are without a doubt very complex beasts, and I think it's not necessary to go through their whole arsenal of switches, but you can actually get your hands on only two of them - Simplified Blacks and Whites. Nevertheless, some explanation is in order – before 1995 Alps was the manufacturer of Black and White Alps, and due to their design with very many small pieces, they were named »Complicated«. After the end of Alps other companies took over the production and started making the »Simplified« versions (Type I, II, III, IV) which are to be found on newer models.

Topre Key Switches

Happy Hacker Keyboard Professional 2

Topre switches are somewhat of a hybrid switch, and are capacitive by nature. The Topre mechanism uses a spring underneath a rubber dome, and the depression of the spring causes a change in capacitance between the underlying capacitor pads. With this change in capacitance; the switch activates. They do have a tactile feedback, but they do not click like per say Buckling Springs. The key travel is consistent with 4mm but the actuation force changes depending on model, from 30 to 55g.
Topre Switches are considered some of the finest switches available, as they offer a very enjoyable typing experience with a quieter experience compared to a Cherry MX, Alps, or Buckling Spring switch. The reason is Topre switches have the smoothest force gradient even compared to Linear.
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