Model 01 Keyboard Switch Failures

The Keyboardio Model 01 is a nice keyboard, but the Matias Quiet Click key switches are getting on my nerves. I had various issues and have replaced four of them in the past weeks.

For a couple years I have a Keyboardio Model 01. I quite like it, but the key switches are my least favorite part. They have used Matias Quiet Click switches. They are stiffer than my favorite Cherry MX Brown. The difference is not so extreme, and they are reasonable pleasant to type on.

My grievance is that they apparently break rather quickly. The first issue was the R key, it started to emit multiple characters when I pressed it. I had a pleasant e-mail with Jesse Vincent, one of the producers. He has told me that it could be residual lubricant from the factory. I should be able to clean it myself, and he gave me some instructions.

This is what he has sent me in January 2020:

The simplest of these solutions is simply to turn your keyboard upside down and to press the offending key 10-20 times. Some of the time, this will provide a temporary fix for the issue. It's unlikely to be any sort of permanent fix.

If the issue is grease or or something else interfering with the contacts, stronger measures may be called for. If you're willing to try this and have rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) on hand. this is the procedure:

  • Disconnect your keyboard from the computer
  • Take the keycap off the misbehaving key
  • Put 5-6 drops of isopropyl alcohol into the switch, just behind the stem. (You should see the switch start to fill with the alcohol.)
  • Hit the key 10-15 times in rapid succession
  • Flip the keyboard upside down
  • Hit the key 10-15 times in rapid succession
  • Flip the keyboar d right side up
  • Hit the key 10-15 times in rapid succession
  • Give it about 10 minutes to dry
  • See if it's behaving itself.
  • Reinstall the keycap.

For the R key this has worked at the time. Now, over a year later, I started to have trouble with the Space key. It would trigger multiple times, then not at all. Using hand disinfectant, which is alcohol for the most part, I have tried to clean the switch. Perhaps the additives have killed the switch later on, I am not sure. I just ended up with a broken switch.

Luckily one can take the Chrysalis software to reprogram the switches. I just took the neighboring key and programmed it as a space bar. In the meantime I have ordered new switches. They are rather hard to source in Europe, and your best seems to be via from the UK.

Replacing the switch meant soldering, and I hadn't done that for decades. Luckily I got help, and the switch was replaced. Two weeks later I had similar failures in the N key and also in the S key. So I have replaced them too.

It is not that hard, after all. One can just pop off the key cap and see the raw switch below.

Then one takes it apart and takes away the wooden enclosure and the plastic bottom. It will leave just the circuit board with the switches.

On the back side one needs to melt the solder, remove it with a special tool, and pull out the switch. After replacement one applies new solder. You can tell which one I have exchanged as my solder points look really amateurish.

After having Space, N and S replaced, the R switch started to act up again. So I opened the keyboard a third time and replaced that as well.

At this point I am pretty fed up with the Matias switches. They are not as awesome as the Cherry ones, and apparently have a really bad mean time between failure. The Cherry MX Brown in my other keyboard did not have a single issue, and I typed on both keyboards a similar amount of text.

These are the times where I look over to buying a pre-assembled Ergodox with Cherry MX Brown switches. But it just doesn't look as pleasing as the Keyboardio Model 01 with its maple wood enclosure. And it would be another 300 EUR expense. We'll see when the next switch fails …