Alps Beginer Guide

Intro

The Main types of Alps that people come across are the following:

SKCL/SKCM

The Alps SKCL/SKCM series is the most common found switches that are used on vintage and custom keyboards that use Alps switches.

SKCL

The SKCL series refers Alps Linear switches that use a different top housing unlike SKCM series switches. These top housings have a hole for the LED would normally be placed.

Most common switches within the SKCL lineup are SKCL Green and SKCL Yellow. SKCL Cream is normally found as a spacebar in some keyboards but they can also be found throughout some keyboards manufactured by Alps.

These switches can feel tactile due to the way that the switch operates and the fact that there is a slight bend in the contacts. SKCL Cream doesn't have this issue as much as SKCL Green/Yellow due to the heavier weighting.

SKCM

The SKCM series refers Alps Tactile/Clicky switches that share a top housing for both Tactile/Clicky switches. The is one execption being SKCM Brown Alps use their own top housings as they also use a fake contact plate for the tactilty.

There are two main versions of SKCM switches Pine and Bamboo. Below are the examples of both

Pine

Bamboo

Pine switches have the slits where the slider interacts with the die of the housing. Pine top housings with the slits are smoother than Bamboo and don't bind as easily therefore, more sought after.

SKBL/SKBM

The SKBL/SKBM series of switches uses simplified contacts and contain less parts than SKCL/SKCM due to lack of parts that make up the switch plate.

The best way to think about the design of these switches Matias switches.

Buying

The price of Alps switches vary due to the condition of the switches and the type of switches.

Condition
Smoothness

The main factor when buying switches is the condition that the Alps switches you are buying are in. Most sellers will rate their switches out of 10 for condition. Now this varies from seller to seller so it's not the best way unless the seller has sold a good amount of Alps. YOu really never going to know how the feel until you buy them.

With Alps switches you want to look for the cleanest switches possible. If you can afford NOS(New Old Stock) Alps switches then go for them if you like the switches.

Butterflies
Alps switches lock into the plate with four tabs called butterfly wings these can break when they are desoldered from a keyboard. The more wings on a switch the better as it makes the switch more stable once they are put into a plate. I would try to make sure that all switches that have at least three butterfly wings when purchasing from a seller.
Places to buy

  • Ebay
  • r/mechmarket
  • Deskthority

Cleaning

Opening switches
Opening Alps switches is easier in a plate because you are able to not have to hold the silder when opening the switch. The best tools to open Alps switches are plastic wedges that can be found on ebay for cheap instead of toothpicks because toothpicks breaks after a period of time.

Don't use any metal tools on the slider as it will scratch the slider and may ruin the feel of the switch.

Dust removal
Bottom Housing
Compressed air is your friend for the bootom housing of the switch as you want to stay away from ultrasonicing the contacts if possible. Reason being is that if water gets in the contacts it's a pain to take them apart and put them back together.
Top Housing
The top housings are the main reason that Alps switches feel scratchy as dust gets imbedded into the plastic as the switch gets used while there is dust inside of it. The best way to resolve this issue is to get NOS top housings if possible.

The next best thing is to ultrasonic clean the top housings this helps to remove the scratchyness from the switch but it doesn't remove the same amount scratchyness comapred to the NOS top housings.
Lubing
Lubing Alps switches is generally done with dry lube as the go to type of lube. The following are some of the most common types of dry lube that is used in the community:
  • FinishLine
  • RO-59
  • PTFE powder with alcohol
  • DuPont Teflon Non-Stick Dry-Film
Assembly
The easiest way to assemble your switches is in the following order:
  • Top housing flipped so that top is on the flat surface.
  • Slider into top housing.
  • Tactile/Click leaf into the top housing with the flat side no double bars.
  • Sping into the bottom housing on the center nub.
  • Top housing assembly into bottom housing.