GeekHack was originally founded as a community for mechanical keyboard enthusiasts. Over the years, it has become the go-to place for information and discussion about keyboards as well as other input devices. From classic keyboards built in the 80s to modern gaming rigs and everything in between, you'll likely find others with the same interests as you. This introduction provides a brief overview so that newcomers can get their bearings.
The majority of discussions on GeekHack center around mechanical keyboards. The term "mechancial" is used somewhat loosely here. In general, it refers to keyboards that use individual mechanical switches for each key on the board.
Most keyboards use some variation of the "rubber dome" design, where each key presses down on a sheet of rubber domes. The underside of each dome has a conductive coating on it that contacts a PCB or membrane below when depressed. This forms the key switch. The rubber dome itself provides the key's rebound and tactility and the key must be fully depressed for the keystroke to register.
(rubber dome animation) Animation courtesy of Lethal Squirrel
There are some variations on this theme, such as the so-called "scissor switch". These are generally used on low-profile keyboards, such as for laptops. Instead of a cylinder to guide the key cap, a plastic scissor-like stabilizer is used. Other than these, a scissor switch keyboard is no different that your typical rubber dome.
(scissor switch animation) Animation courtesy of Lethal Squirrel
Mechanical keyboards typically employ some type of individual mechanical switch for each key. Some even make use of a rubber dome as part of their mechanism. They provide the following benefits over a typical rubber dome keyboard:
- The switches typically have far superior durability, often rated for 5-10 times the number of keystrokes of most rubber dome keyboards.
- The keystroke is registered well before the key is bottomed-out. This permits touch-typing and generally reduces strain.
- Longer key travel promotes more natural finger movement.
- Many choices in key feel and weight, due to the number of switch types available.
For more about mechanical keyboards, start with the MechanicalKeyboards article.