Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player.
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Strange title, indeed, even more for some mechanical keyboard Topre modding. You’ll understand later, I promise.
A mate of mine, having different Topre mks although, asked me to make his Novatouch, Norbauer aluminum case incoming, the best experience he can get.
This leads me to a first statement, all of us being different, there’s no best, being the same, for all of us, and my dream might be your nightmare. It’s up to you, what you prefer, but some hints and tips might be helpful.
Second, all of the following had been inspirited by other people of Geekhack and Deskthority at the beginning, and it’s my way, interpretation (after sometimes trying over and over again). Your approach, outcome is different, that’s absolutely fine by me!
What do we need, time, due to the nature of Topre mks, being in need to open up the case, never ending amount of screws, being in need to unscrew them to simply try something, it’s “very” time consuming. Magnetic screwdrivers are a must, don’t do it without! A clean workspace, well lit, might be helpful.
Opening up the case.
Realforce, flip the case, push, release the four clips at the bottom, flip it over again and remove the top. Unscrew that one screw to release the cable and you’re set to remove the PCB.
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HHKB, flip the case, unscrew that three screws, flip it over again and gently lift the top slowly, there are two parts given, the PCB and additional controller, being too fast forward, a small chance is given to “break” something, due to the length given of the cable inside. Release, pull out the cable at one side, I prefer the PCB one.
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Leopold FC660C, there is a hidden screw underneath the small round sticker. You need a butter knife, plastic card … to open it up, four clips at the bottom and the top. I sold it, can’t provide new pictures.
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Royal Kludge, only clipped although, butter knife, plastic card …, there are two parts given, the PCB and additional controller, being too fast forward, a small chance is given to “break” something, due to the length given of the cable inside. I release the usb cable at the controller to get the PCB out, those three screw counterparts are cheaply made, easy to brake!
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Plum84, only clipped although, butter knife, plastic card …, but this one is a tough cookie, be prepared to get a fight here, you feel being in need to get a bad mood, your wish is granted! There are two parts given, the PCB and additional controller, being too fast forward, a small chance is given to “break” something, due to the length given of the cable inside. Unscrew the controller to get the PCB out. First thing I did had been trimming the eight, four at the bottom and four at the top, clips by ~ 50% with a dremel to make it easier in the future to open it up.
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Novatouch, four screws, two hidden ones. You need a butter knife, plastic card … to open it up, six clips at the top and seven at the bottom.
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Digging deeper.
Well, heavy screwdriver time incoming, depending on keyboard in between ~ 12 to 30. You’re in need of two different sizes, there are larger and smaller ones given.
It’s a good idea to take photos of the parts, screws …, before you start for later reference. Even though it’s marked somehow, a picture serves better than our memory.
I prefer to leave the PCB upside down after unscrewing and gently and slowly lift up the PCB. Some folks like it better the opposite way.
These two pictures are actualy reassembling, those thoothpicks are my trick to get it easier aligned well. A little bit moving around to much you might find out painfully later a dome(s) might have moved, keys not working properly, starting over again :(
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RoyalKludge and Plum use a single sheet like this, which makes it a lot easier.
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Be aware, the springs do like it a lot to jump around, slow and gentle is meant serious! Try to avoid to pile the springs up, they like it a lot to stick together and it’s very easy to oversee the fact, you’re having two or more springs at once, and you may bet your butt it’s only one. Reassembling later it’s a pain in the ass to find out one or more seem to be missing at the end and to start searching where they hide, checking all springs that having put back already, for the multiple ones.
It just happened the other day, that I’ve had a key not registering correct after reassembling till I found out that spring was slightly bend, small failure leading to a bigger mistake and time consuming to find out.
The sliders, genuine ones and Novatouch sliders are secured a bit staying inside the housings, even if you turn the plate, top housing. Clone Royal Kludge, Plum ones simply fall out, not being secured.
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I lever the genuine and Novatouch ones out of the housing with a tiny flat screwdriver, gentle force needed. It’s a very good idea to keep a finger or more over the slider doing this; they like to go for new world records in jumping/flying around!
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Lubing the rails, I would only recommend this, if you’re unhappy with stock smoothness. It’s not hard to do, but using too much lube, you might not like the result depending on personal taste and it’s not much fun to clean up that mess afterwards. Less is better for me, but might need some try and error!
I use a small brush or an Q-tip with Ballistol by now: https://www.amazon.de/Ballistol-%C3%96L-500-ml-21150/dp/B003OAOY5K/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1482487189&sr=8-4&keywords=Ballistol
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The stabilized keys, noisy wire. I simply use thick lube and it should be getting absolutely silent. What ever pleases you best. https://www.amazon.de/dp/B00295AZ90/ref=pe_386171_51767411_TE_dp_3
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No better picture at hand at the moment, hope you can get the point.
Several ways to dampen the upstroke.
The cheapest solution, Dental bands, credit to https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=44692.0 Available at a friendly dentist, if you happen to know one or looking at eBay. Amazing result considering the bang for the buck, loved them with 45g Realforce, preferred Hypersphere rings with 55g Realforce.
Hypersphere rings, pricey, even more for Europeans: https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=73940.0 / http://www.ebay.com/usr/hypersphere2016?_trksid=p2047675.l2559
Chinese clone sliders: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Topre-to-MX-adapter-Topre-change-into-MX-switch/32748140639.html?shortkey=zAVzaARz&addresstype=600 Getting more than 500 the sweet deal is starting, time for a tiny group buy with friends to make it cheap(er). They’re my favorite solution by now, only the large stabilized ones are still Novatouch sliders with a Hypersphere ring. Large sliders are not given by the Chinese clones!
Soft-Landing Pads (Soft/Black): https://elitekeyboards.com/products.php?sub=access,slpads&pid=sl120_cs / http://imgur.com/gallery/iGzCV Tried that, but haven’t been that happy, but to be fair, I’m the total counterpart of anything related to ironing something.
Besides these methods I’ve still some self made punched out dampeners from a mate, haven’t tried them, yet, because they came in late and I’m happy by now. We’ve had a small group buy of special o-rings, only 0.2 mm thick from Japan, which turned out to be a bit too wide not staying in place crawling up the sliders.
Having all this options at hand you may still ask yourself which way to go, but this is up to you and the money you may like to spend. I can only speak for myself and my taste, not for yours! If you’re on the fence and are going to try different options, it might be a good idea to wait till you’ve everything at hand, dissemble your keyboard and mod the sliders with different options at once, the number is up to you, and give it some testing with direct comparison, a lot better way to find out what you prefer and timesaving, instead dissembling/reassembling countless times like I did.
Congratulations, you really made it this far, still missing the Piano Player. The answer is simple and had been my initial thought for the reasons only; the mate that asked for help is named Daniel and living in Spain, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_(song)
My favorite Topre as of today would be a HHKB JP plus additional F-row with the feeling of a Realforce having Chinese clone sliders, now you may understand better why I like to switch a lot.
Wish all of you the best, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Some fine tuning and more pictures later, need a brake now.
thumb_upJoshua Giannattasio, eapdang, and 15 others
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Makami
4130

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DanielFerrer
391
Feb 7, 2017
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As always @Makami is of total help. I am Really loving my novatouch now with this poweredUp Novatouch following your guide and dressing it up with Norbauer's case. Thank you Makami for your help. You are a friend.
Feb 7, 2017
Makami
4130
Feb 7, 2017
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Look at that beauty, glad it all worked out to your liking. No one would think thats a Novatouch, i'm eagerly waiting for Norbauers approach of an Realforce case. Which modifications have you choosen?
Feb 7, 2017
DanielFerrer
391
Feb 7, 2017
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I finally decided to simply lube the stabs. I have dental bands out here because I know a dentist, but I am not really digging into this. The sound of this Norbauer case is really dark Thock. Recommended.
I still have to open my HHKB to use the mx white stems we bought from that GB, but I admit I am a little afraid as I really love that little piece of plastic... may be when there is a metal case approach that interest me I will take care of changing it all.
Feb 7, 2017
hhkbp2
345
Dec 25, 2016
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Nice post. Merry Christmas.
Dec 25, 2016
TheSkeleton
2379
Dec 23, 2016
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Really well made, merry christmas.
Dec 23, 2016