Program a custom actuation point with this DIY mechanical keyboard switch

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The “actuation point” of a mechanical keyboard describes how far a key must be pressed to register an input. This measurement is usually set in stone, but a new 3D-printable keyboard switch, called the MagLev Switch MX, lets you adjust its actuation point on the fly.

Developed by famichu and shared on GitHub, the MagLev Switch MX combines conventional design with a hall effect sensor. It looks like a typical cross-stem Cherry MX switch, and on a finished keyboard, each switch should be wired in a matrix. But instead of sensing input with a spring, the MagLev Switch MX relies on magnetic force.

The MagLev Switch MX contains two neodymium magnets, one located on the stem and one below the PCB. A small Hall effect sensor sits between these magnets and measures any changes in magnetic force. When you press the switch, the magnets move closer together, triggering a keystroke.

With the software, you can adjust the point at which the MagLev Switch MX activates. Users can go from light, fast activation to heavy, slow, wrist-inducing activation with little effort.

In a MagLev Switch MX concept design, famichu shows how keyboards could have a built-in dial to adjust actuation force. I imagine the average user will just stick with a comfortable setup, but for hobbyists, this is a dream come true.

Now, the MagLev Switch MX isn’t the first magnetically actuated “levitating” keyboard switch. Wooting Lekker uses a similar design and works with Cherry MX keycaps. And how Hackaday notes, riskable’s void_switch aims to completely reimagine how keyboards work: it uses the “levitation” layout as a springboard for experimentation.

But we’re impressed with the MagLev Switch MX, as it’s 3D printable and should work with existing Cherry MX schematics (with just a few tweaks). Check out the project on GitHub if you’re interested in these adjustable switches.

Source: famichu via Hackaday, Ars Technica