If you care at all about typing, you know about the wonders of mechanical keyboards. There’s no better feeling than the nice, clicky, tactile sensation of typing on a keyboard with solid mechanical switches. In the realm of mechanical keyboard enthusiasts, Cherry MX switches are among the most revered on the market. But, they’re still binary — either you’re pushing a key or you aren’t. At least that was the case, but now Redditor Pawnerd has come up with a way to make Cherry MX switches analog.
Most modern keyboards, at least on the low end of the market, are built on membranes. When you push a key far enough, it touches the membrane and completes a circuit in the keyboard matrix and the key press is registered. It’s a cheap construction method, but results in a squishy, unsatisfying feel that can ultimately make typing more difficult. Mechanical keyboards use a more traditional spring mechanism that yields a crisp “break” that’s easy to feel and improves your typing performance.
Cherry MX switches utilize that spring mechanism, and Pawnerd is taking advantage of it to create completely analog keys. The idea is that the keys respond to a range of pressure, instead of simply registering as pressed or not pressed. Pawnerd’s build accomplishes that with a custom keypad PCB that integrates coils to act as inductive sensors. They can detect how much the Cherry MX switch’s spring has been compressed, and therefore how far you’re pushing the key. The modified switch would be useful for gaming, where it could be used like a modern gamepad trigger that responds to the amount it’s pressed.
Pawnerd is even working on a kit you can use to build your own 4x2 keypad that utilizes the technology. Subscribe to updates on that here.