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Mechanical Keyboards (Entry 1): An Introduction

By Isadoorian · Jan 26, 2019 ·
A simple introduction to the World of Mechanical Keyboards. I will try to get a single consecutive blog up every few days to a week, depending on how I'm feeling.

If you have any Questions, Critiques, or Concerns, please, don't be afraid to tell me in the Comments!
  1. The Computer Keyboard. Many people use this interactive device in their daily lives, be it on their laptop, desktop computer, or phones and tablets. Many are happy with what they have now, but others may want something else, something different and flashier. When it comes to that point, many will likely consider a Mechanical Keyboard.

    (First, a short page/guide on some Terminology: Keyboard terminology - Deskthority wiki)

    But what makes a Mechanical Keyboard so different, and often times better from your a-typical $20 Walmart Keyboard or the one that comes with your Big Box Store PC, you may ask? Plenty of things!

    Here are the main points:

    - Customization and Personalization (Backlighting, Underglow, Key Cap Sets)

    - You can choose to build one yourself (yes, you can!)

    - Durability (A Mechanical Switch can last between 20 to 50 Million Strokes)

    - Niche Needs (Mechanical Keyboards can and do come in smaller sizes, and some can be programmed and have different layers (think of it as an Onion). I'll come to that, along with a couple other points in later Posts.)

    Now, onto the slightly more technical stuff about why a Mechanical Keyboard differs: The el cheapo Office type Dell/HP keyboard you very likely have in front of you uses a Rubberdome and Membrane Sheet system across the whole PCB (Printed Circuit Board) in order to communicate with the Computer; so when you hit a Key, the Rubberdome hits the Membrane Sheet which finishes a circuit on the keyboards PCB. Since they're rubber, they can often wear down from the constant wear and tear and friction of the key hitting it.

    As for a Mechanical Keyboard, each Key has an individual Switch Soldered onto on the PCB.


    An example of what a typical Membrane Keyboard system consists of
    (Source: Membrane keyboard - Deskthority wiki)


    An "MX Red" Switch, made by the popular German Company named Cherry. How these (and respective Clones from other companies) work is this: As the Stem (or Plunger as called by some) goes down, the little "nub" hits the metal Contact Leaf which completes a circuit to the 2 metal pins on the bottom of the Switch to the PCB.
    (Source: CHERRY MX RED - The fastest gaming keyswitch.)

    Mechanical Switches are typically named by the colour of their Stem, and come in different Spring Weights and "keyfeels"; these are: Linear, Tactile, and Clicky.

    Linear: No Tactile Bump or Auditory Clicky feedback whatsoever (e.g. Cherry MX Red, Cherry MX Silver/Speed)

    Tactile: Has a Tactile Bump to let the user know when they've actuated the key enough to register a key press. (e.g. Cherry MX Brown, Cherry MX Clear)

    Clicky: Has both a Tactile Bump and a Click sound on actuation to let the user know a key press has been registered. (e.g. Cherry MX Blue, Cherry MX Green) (Note: Many make the common mistake, which is also a common misconception, that all Switches are Clicky, due to the sound of the plunger hitting the bottom of the housing)

    And to finish off, a couple small introductory videos covering what I just described above in more detail from one of my favourite Mechanical Keyboard Youtubers, Chryosran 22:

    (Please note that there's some minor PG-13 language he uses)

    Entry 2: Mechanical Keyboards (Entry 2): Switches, Customization, and Building
    Entry 3: Mechanical Keyboards (Entry 3): Keyboard Sizes


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