> What are O-rings used for ?
O-rings are used on Cherry MX switch (and MX clone) stems to dampen the noise generated by mechanical keys.
They can also change the feel of the switch, making bottoming out smoother, reducing key travel and making the tactile feedback more pronounced.
As a result, O-rings are a great investment for users coming from using rubber domes keyboard or for users who bottom out hard or too frequently - thus pissing off everyone in the surrounding area.
> How do I know what size to get ?
Your choice depends on which keycaps you are using and on what effect you are trying to achieve.
- A thicker O-ring will reduce key travel more than a thinner one.
- A softer O-ring will make a switch quiet more effectively than a harder one.
- The more material the O-ring has, the more it can dampen shocks and noise.
There are three sizes available : "Thin" (1.5mm) | "Thick" (2.5mm) | "XXL" (3.0mm)
• If you are using Cherry profile keycaps, the thinnest O-rings should be great.
• If you are using OEM profile keycaps, you may want to use some thicker O-rings.
• If you are using Signature Plastics' keycaps, please have a look below.
This article from KeyChatter.com will help you identifying your keycaps - but if you are still not sure, it will be my pleasure to answer you as quickly as possible.
> What's all the fuss about Signature Plastics keycaps and O-rings ?
O-rings usually rest on crossbars reinforcing the mounting stem on the underside of most OEM and Cherry profile keycaps.
At the bottom of a keystroke, they are squished between the top of the switch housing and these cross-shaped supports, absorbing some sound and shock from contact.
But keycaps made by Signature Plastics don't have those supports ... so you need to get thicker O-rings in order to fill this extra space and dampen your favorite DSA keyset !
Some people seem happy with my "Thick" O-rings underneath their DSA keycaps - but in my opinion, the "XXL" ones give a much better balance of feeling and key travel reduction.
Either way, going :
- Too thin (< 2.5mm) won't have any noticeable effect.
- Too thick (> 3mm) will stop you from being able to actuate every switch comfortably.
I don't have much experience with SA profile keycaps but /u/OssieOsbert has made some valuable discoveries over at /r/MK subreddit - following the footsteps of /u/FranksNewLiver and his attempt to dampen a fully sculpted SA PuLSE set with a combination of O-rings.
> Wouldn't using big o-rings just "convert" a mechanical keyboard to a rubber dome keyboard ?
Far from it !
Here are some words of wisdom from Deskthority :
« [...] I absolutely love the sound and feel of a board equipped with o-rings.
It feels like a rubber dome when you bottom out, but the compression and release of the spring retains that mechanical feel. To me, it incorporates the best of both worlds.
When I use a board without o-rings, it sometimes feels like I'm pushing buttons on an airplane console or something, not a keyboard. It feels like something that's designed to be purely functional, with little to no regard for ergonomics.
With o-rings installed, the soft landing of the key strokes adds a nice ergonomic touch to the keyboard. It feels like you're hitting rubber, not cold steel. The key travel reduction also helps a lot, because as you might have already guessed, I bottom out every key press. [...] »
> Why are they so expensive ?
The hardness of rubber is measured by the Shore A durometer - from 0 to 100.
The higher the number, the harder the rubber.
I chose these O-rings to be made from silicone rubber with a Shore hardness of 40A. It reflects a personal preference - acquired through research and experimentation with different hardnesses and rubber materials - for what I consider to be the "sweet spot" of softness.
These soft O-rings (in 40A durometer) will help you :
- Quiet down your keyboard.
- Eliminate almost all of the shock of bottoming out hard plastic to hard plastic.
- Minimize the fatigue in your fingers during long typing and gaming sessions.
If you want to keep a hard landing, you can get some hard O-rings (in 60-90A durometer) at a lower price but their noise dampening won't be as good as the soft ones.
> Any tips or instructions ?
It takes some time to install your O-rings so it's better to listen to some music while doing it !
# HOW TO INSTALL O-RINGS :
Let's start by removing the keycaps from your keyboard !
Gather up your favorite keypuller, put it in on the key and slowly wiggle while gently pulling up.
Pick one O-ring, install it onto the center stem of the keycap and push with your thumb.
Replace the keycap on your keyboard and press it all the way down to properly seat the O-ring.
-- It's as simple as that !
# HOW TO REMOVE O-RINGS :
Anything with a small hooked (and blunt) end should do the trick !
Here is my contribution for the less savvy key clackers amongst us.