[riskable]'s clacky magnetic switches

Mag-Lev Switches Are The Future Of Clacking

While there’s probably a Cherry MX clone born every year or so, it’s not often that such a radically different type of switch comes along. These “Void” switches are Hall-effect magnetic levitation numbers devised by keyboard connoisseur and designer [riskable]. Can you imagine how satisfying it is to clack on switches that actuate with magnets? They have adjustable tactility and travel thanks to even more tiny magnets. But you won’t be able to get these in a group buy or anything. If you want some of these babies, [riskable] says you’ll have to print and assemble ’em yourself.

These attractive switches don’t have a Cherry MX footprint, either, so you’ll need some of [riskable]’s AKUs, or Analog Keyboard Units (YouTube) to actually use them. [riskable] predicts that unlike the switches, the AKUs will likely be available to buy at some point in the future. (Okay good, because we really would love to know what these feel like in a keyboard!)

So, how do they work? As explained in the first video embedded below, there is one magnet in the slider and another in the housing. These two are attracted to each other, so actuating the switch separates them, which is where the Hall effect comes in. A third magnet in the keycap acts as the levitator to help return the switch to open position. The tactility of these switches is determined by the thickness of the plastic between the two lovebird magnets, so you could totally dial that in to whatever you want, in addition to all the other customization that 3D printing affords.

Tour and Teardown

The inimitable [Chyrosran22] featured these mag-nificent switches in one of his teardown videos, which is embedded below. One of the things [riskable] sent was a tactility sampler that ranges from an unimaginably tactile 0.0 mm of plastic in between them to not quite 2 mm.

In case you’re wondering, the video is remarkably safe-for-work, which is surprising given the content creator’s propensity for long strings of creative and hyphenated curses. We suppose [Chyrosran22] saves that stuff for the bad keyboards, then.

Stick around after the rightfully glowing review for [riskable]’s tour of a hand-wired analog macro pad using these switches. When you have a few extra minutes, check out the video build journey of these switches on [riskable]’s YouTube channel.

So, would these switches make the clickiest keyboard ever? Maybe, but consider this striking solenoid setup.

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Shop-Built Fixtures Reveal The Magic Of Switchable Permanent Magnets

Have you ever wondered how switchable magnets work? Not electromagnets, but those permanent magnet fixtures like the ones that hold dial indicators to machine tools, or the big, powerful chucks for surface grinders that can be mysteriously demagnetized at the flick of a lever. It seems like magic.

Thanks to [Andrew Klein] and this video on shop-built magnetic switches, the magic is gone. As it turns out, the ability to nullify the powerful magnetic field from a bunch of rare earth permanent magnets is as simple as bringing in another set of magnets to cancel out the magnetic fields of the first set.

[Andrew]’s magnetic pucks are formed from two thick plywood discs with magnets set into the edges. These magnets alternate in polarity around the discs, and they match up with mild steel pole pieces set into the face of the discs. The two discs swivel on a common axis; when the top disc is swiveled so that the polarity of the top and bottom magnets align, the magnet is switched on. Swiveling the top 60° puts the opposing fields in line with each other, canceling out the powerful combined pull of all the magnets and releasing the fixture.

[Andrew] sells a set of plans for the magswitches, which he built using standard woodshop tools. We think the design is perfect for a CNC router, though, where the fussy boring and counterboring operations might be a little easier. Perhaps even a 3D-printed version would be possible. This isn’t the first switchable magnet we’ve seen, of course, but we like this one because it’s all mechanical.

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