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Datacomp ALPS Type

Datacomp ALPS Type is a series of keyswitches derived from Forward Electronics SKBL/SKBM. After Forward retired the life-expired tooling in 2012, Datacomp purchased the tooling and rebuilt it. The new switches appear to be largely identical to SKBL/SKBM, but they use Cherry’s colours instead of Alps’s colours. Not only do Datacomp appropriate a trademarked brand for their products, but they persist the incorrect spelling of using all capitals in “Alps”. It’s interesting to note that they also offer “DSA” keycaps: DSA is not an industry term but rather a specific product from Signature Plastics in the US.

Models

All ALPS Type switches have SKBM part numbers: the distinction between SKBL (linear) and SKBM (tactile) was not maintained. Datacomp completely refused to respond (over a period of years); the part numbers were provided by KBParadise, who have used all of these switch types in their keyboards.

The table below lists the Datacomp ALPS Type switches alongside the corresponding Forward Electronics (FD) models.

Part Type Force Colour FD model FD colour FD force
SKBMFA000DS Click 60±25 gf Blue SKBMFA Clear/grey/black¹ 70±25 gf
SKBMFB000DS Tactile 60±25 gf Brown SKBMFB Black² 70 gf
SKBMFC000DS Linear 55±25 gf Red SKBLFE Yellow 60±25 gf

Total travel is 3.5±0.5 mm, and total lifetime is 20 million cycles. This is double the rated lifetime of SKBL/SKBM.

Note that the images on Datacomp’s site are incorrect: the 3D illustrations show all three types with a tactile leaf, and the cutaway illustrations show the clicky type with a tactile leaf.

Notes

  1. Officially SKBMFA is clear (“white”, but non-pigmented), but black and grey click types are known, and there has never been any indication of how they differ.
  2. No official colour for SKBLFE was ever identified, but they have always been found to be black.

Sources