The Keyboard Switch Pushbutton / Mechanical Switch Pushbutton FAQ

The Keyboard Switch Pushbutton / Mechanical Switch Pushbutton FAQ

Just about everything you need to know about GamerFinger, Crown 202, and more.

What are keyboard switch pushbuttons (KSPBs)?

Pushbuttons generally use a switch of some kind that, when pressed down, allows a circuit to complete and thus send a signal to their control board (PCB) which is then interpreted and sent to the host device. In simpler terms, push button, make punchy.

Keyboard switch pushbuttons (aka KSPs, or mechanical switch pushbuttons) use industry standard Cherry MX or clone switches inside of them in some capacity to achieve that effect, but with some distinctive advantages.

Why do I want keyboard switch pushbuttons?

There are a number of reasons:

Durability. The average Sanwa microswitch is rated for 1 million activations. Some Cherry MX switches are rated up to 100 million (though a more conservative 50-70 million is about the average).

Customization. Do you like your buttons to be quieter? Have a shorter activation distance? Lighter or heavier resistance? By changing the switch used in your button, you instantly affect how the button responds. And, you can alter any button to be different. For example, if you want high speed, silent light punches but clicky, slightly longer activation heavy attacks, just put in the appropriate switches.

Why do I not want keyboard switch pushbuttons?

Cost. Mechanical pushbuttons just cost more (to start, anyway).

Difficult to Obtain. Sometimes, anyway. GamerFinger buttons have become excruciatingly difficult to obtain, for example.

Not willing to mod. If you’re not comfortable changing your stick this isn’t for you (although you can buy sticks with these buttons pre-installed, see below).

What installable pushbuttons use mechanical switches?

  • B0XX 20MX. Installs into 24mm Sanwa OBSF buttons (similar idea to the Paradise Arcade OBS-MX). Comes preinstalled with Gateron Clear (linear, 35g) switches. Appears to use PCB-mount switches and cannot be swapped without desoldering/resoldering.
  • Gamerfinger HBFS. Available (ostensibly; see GamerFinger-specific question below) in 24mm and 30mm (screw-in and snap-in) with a wide variety of bodies and keycaps. Uses plate mount switches. Easy to swap key caps and switches without opening your case. Has a octagon body shape. Would be ideal for most people but has order fulfillment issues.
  • OCPunk Workshop OCPK-30 and OCPK-24. Available in 30mm (OCPK-30) and 24mm (OCPK-24) in a short-depth snap-in configuration and a slim screw-in variant; seen on AliExpress. Has a number of pre-installed switches available. The slim screw-in variant uses Cherry MX Low Profile switches, so watch for this.
  • Paradise Arcade OBS-MX. A modification for the Sanwa OBFS button only available in 30mm. Has a few pre-made keyswitch options as well as a DIY, bring your own keyswitch option that requires soldering. Switches for the DIY variant are PCB mount. Apparently can be made hot swap by using Prevail Key Co’s 7305 Mill-Max Sockets if you can solder.
  • Qanba Gravity. Qanba now has 30mm buttons in a screw-in configuration using Logitech’s Romer-G switches. They are available in a variety of colors. Like the Crown 202s, it appears you need to remove the button to change out the keyswitch.
  • Samducksa/Crown SDB-202. (AKA Crown 202) Available in 24mm and 30mm in a variety of solid, translucent, and metallic options. Uses plate mount switches. Often out of stock at many stores (see FAQ below). More difficult to change the keyswitch in (requires removing the button from your case), but comes in traditional round form factor. Has some incompatibility with certain switches (tl;dr stick with Cherry and Kailh non-box, standard profile). Paradise Arcade Shop has the Kahuna-SMX pads available for the 202 that reduce travel length and noise, if you’re looking for quieter or quicker presses. Do note that some switches don’t work well (or at all) with both pads installed (and some get finicky with just one).
  • Samducksa/Crown SDB-201. Available in 30mm in both solid and translucent colors. This series does NOT use Cherry MX compatible switches, instead opting for Futaba switches. Reportedly don’t perform very well, and are being phased out.
  • SJ@JX LED Pushbuttons. Available in 30mm (hole size 28mm) at Amazon; looks like a knockoff of the OBS-MXs.
  • (In development) Layer Shift/OmniArcade O720s. Reportedly going to be available in 24mm and 30mm sizes in a screw-in format. From early pictures, switches are PCB mount. LS says these will have hot swap capability for switches.
  • PurpleMagicBellAnime’s wood buttons. Available (in limited quantities) on Etsy in 30mm (24mm coming), uses speed silver switches by default. Unknown switch mount type. Seems to be a one off production.

What fightsticks come with keyboard switch pushbuttons pre-installed?

  • Frame1 Heavy and Frame1 Light. The F1 Heavy uses (Gateron) optical switches, while the F1 Light uses regular mechanical switches. The buttons in the F1 appear to be integrated into the case and are not removable (the switches and keycaps are).
  • Junk Food Customs Snack Box Micro. Similar to the F1; built-in keyswitches that are changeable; uses Kailh low profile switches.
  • Paradise Arcade MPress. Like the F1, this doesn’t use removable buttons but mounts the switches directly to a board and puts an OBS-MX plunger on top with the case providing the surrounds. There is an option to have hot swap sockets added so you can change the keyswitches.
  • Razer Panthera Evo. The (30mm) pushbuttons here use mechanical keyswitches as reported by the vendor, though not sure the buttons are available separately (or if they’re Crown 202 rebrands). Razer says that spares are not widely available for this at this time. Unknown switch mount type.

What buttons are compatible with my stick?

The compatibility issue has two fronts: button size matching and snap-in vs. screw-in buttons. For the first, you want to determine the button size you have (usually 24mm or 30mm) and look for the appropriately matching size. After that, just check to see if your stick uses snap-in or screw-in style buttons, and get the appropriate matching style.

So, what buttons should I get?

This depends on your personal preferences, budget, and so on. All buttons have advantages and disadvantages. Here are some for the most popular buttons:

GamerFinger ProsGamerFinger Cons
Hot-Swap: GFs are the easiest button to change switches on as you can do it without removing them from your stick.Cost & Availability: GFs are not readily available outside of Japan, and usually cost more.
24mm & 30mm availability.No metallic variants.
Several color variants available.Screw-in only.
Best Cherry MX compatibility.Octo body shape might not be to your liking.
Very quiet, soft touch buttons (without clicky switches).Slightly more plunger wiggle than others as the plunger is mounted on the switch.
Overall: If you prefer quiet, softer touch buttons and value being able to change switches on the fly, GFs are for you.Overall: If you need snap in buttons or prefer firmer feeling buttons, GFs won’t suit you.
Crown SDB-202 ProsCrown SDB-202 Cons
Solid, traditional form factor buttons.Not Hot-Swap: Much harder to change the switches.
Several color variants available, with metallic options as well.More limited MX switch compatibility.
24mm & 30mm variants available.24mms noted to have quality issues in the past.
Paradise Arcade Kahuna-SMX pads available for reducing travel time and noise.Louder by default.
Screw-in only.
Overall: If you like a more traditional feeling button, the Crown 202 is great.Overall: If you don’t mind setting and forgetting the switch, most of the negatives aren’t horrible.
Qanba Gravity ProsQanba Gravity Cons
RomerG switches increase surface area of switch compared to Cherry MX for more consistent presses.Only compatible with Logitech Romer G switches, which cost more. Switches must be soldered onto their own PCBs.
Traditional round buttons with several color variants available.Only available in 30mm & screw-in form factor. (24mm coming soon)
No metallic color variants available.
Reportedly has a plunger that sits a bit higher than other buttons so may feel wrong if you’re used to lower profile buttons.
Non-hot swap key switches.
Overall: Moderately improved switch contact area vs. buttons that use the Cherry MX format.Overall: The Gravity series debuted with some hype but have largely remained overshadowed by the Crown 202.

How do I install these?

Most of the above are installed just like a regular pushbutton. A general purpose guide (assuming you are replacing buttons) is:

  1. Gather tools and a parts tray (screwdrivers, pliers, etc.)
  2. Take before pictures, just in case
  3. Install the switches of your choice into the new buttons, if applicable
  4. Open up your stick
  5. Take before pictures of the internals, just in case
  6. Remove the two wires from existing button (if present) – you may need a precision flathead screwdriver to loosen the quick disconnects if they’re obstinate
  7. Remove the existing button (for snap-ins, consider using a purpose-built tool to remove them without breaking tabs, especially for Sanwas)
  8. Place the replacement button
  9. Connect wires (make sure to test that the connection is firm once placed; if you bent the quick disconnect curls earlier, use some pliers to carefully squeeze them back down)
  10. Repeat for other buttons you are replacing (recommend you go one at a time to avoid crosswiring buttons)
  11. Connect your fightstick and test to make sure all buttons work
  12. Close up your case if all buttons work properly

If you want a video demo, see my Zero to Fightstick series or Zero 2 Fightstick series on YouTube.

Where can I get key switches?

While you can find them at places like Amazon and eBay, there are specialty shops:

What switches do I want?

Short answer: It depends.

The first thing you need to know is the difference between plate mount and PCB mount switches. For most cases, PCB mount switches have two extra plastic stabilizing pins that plate mount switches do not. If you get PCB mount switches but need plate, you can cut these tabs off with a nail or side clipper (and maybe sand a little with a file). I’ve tried to list the needed switch type in the products above.

Once you’ve figured that out, you then need to determine what switches you want to try. A lot of the above mentioned sites allow you to buy 10 or so switches for cheap, so don’t be afraid to test some sets out. Still, here’s a process anyone can use to figure out what works for them:

  • Do you want more sound on activation or not? If so, look for clicky switches.
  • If you don’t want clicky, do you like a slight (but quiet) bump on activation? If yes, you want a tactile switch. If not, you want a linear switch.
  • How much travel do you want before activation? If you want faster activation, look for shorter travel (speed series from Kailh or Cherry – 1.1mm to 1.4mm). If you want longer activation distance, look for 2.0mm or longer (most switches). (Keep in mind there are activation distances and bottom out distances).
  • How much pressure do you want to have to apply? Gateron clears are the lightest touch at 35g; greens from Gateron and others are around 60-70g. Novelkeys has the Kailh Pro Heavy series which has 70g activation force and 1.7mm travel.
  • In short, increased pressure requirements and travel length will cause presses to take slightly longer and be more deliberate. Decreased will allow more rapid fire. If you’re using KSPBs as option buttons, consider using clicky, high pressure, and long travel switches to make them a bit harder to activate.
  • Optical switches are only compatible (at this time) with the Frame 1 Heavy.
  • This thread has more details about compatible switches for the Crown 202s and GamerFingers.

What are some key switch brands?

  • Cherry – The original and de facto standard. Popular switches include speed silver, blue, and red.
  • Kailh – Several variants (and some of my favorites). Includes the speed silver, copper, bronze, and gold series, pro series, and several more.
  • Gateron – Several Cherry clones. Reportedly not as happy with Crown 202s.
  • Greetech – Several Cherry clones.

What are some quick specifications for common switches?

BrandModelActivation Travel Distance (mm)Max Travel Distance (mm)Activation ForceFeel TypeCompatibility
CherryBlack2.04.060cNLinearMX
CherryBlue2.24.060cNClickyMX
CherryBrown2.04.055cNTactileMX
CherryRed2.04.045cNLinearMX
CherrySilent Black1.93.760cNLinearMX
CherrySilent Red1.93.745cNLinearMX
CherrySpeed Silver1.23.445cNLinearMX
CherryClear2.04.065cNTactileMX
CherryGreen2.24.080cNClickyMX
CherryGrey2.04.080cNTactileMX
KailhSpeed Bronze1.13.550g/75gClickyMX
KailhSpeed Copper1.13.550g/60gTactileMX
KailhSpeed Silver1.13.550g/70gLinearMX
KailhSpeed Gold1.43.560gClickyMX
KailhSpeed Navy1.23.5100gClickyMX
KailhBlack1.94.060gLinearMX
KailhBlue1.94.060gClickyMX
KailhBrown1.94.050gTactileMX
KailhRed1.94.050gLinearMX
KailhPro Purple1.73.650cNTactileMX
KailhPro Burgundy1.73.650cNLinearMX
KailhPro Light Green1.73.650cNClickyMX
LogitechRomer-G Linear1.53.245gfLinearRomer-G
LogitechRomer-G Tactile1.53.245gf/50gfTactileRomer-G

What are lubed switches?

Some keyboardists like to disassemble and grease their (linear and tactile, not clicky) switches for smoother travel. If you’re thinking about doing this, you’ll want the following:

  • Lube of your choice
  • Applicator brush
  • Disassembly station (recommended)
  • Keyswitch opener
  • Trays for parts

There are plenty of tutorials on how to do this on YouTube. Whether or not it improves performance in a fightstick is yet to be seen.

Where can I get GamerFinger buttons now?

Because this comes up often and Focus Attack no longer carries them, USA customers have a few options. As of June 2021, it appears GF may be back in business as Sengoku Densyo in Japan has been restocking their supply. Also, US customers can order directly from Akecon.games now.

First, watch eBay, r/FightSticksForSale, etc. for GamerFinger sales. Pray hard to the IRL RNG gods. Expect to pay a premium here.

Second, you can try to order from the GamerFinger shop (be sure to specify HTTPS) but be prepared to wait. Users have reported 3-6 month wait times, and received orders only after threatening to cancel their payments. Requests for service have gone largely ignored, and the company’s Twitter account has been dormant. This is probably the least expensive route. The store is effectively dead, don’t order from it. If you have, get a refund immediately.

Third, you can try using something like White Rabbit Express to order from Sengoku Arcade Shop direct from Japan. This is super pricey, however. Sengoku tends to restock every couple months.

Fourth, there’s the Taobao route (Google search “Taobao Gamerfinger”). Some people have reported using a buying service called Superbuy, and there is an entire website dedicated to showing how to order from there (howtotao.com).

Fifth, try Mercari (especially Mercari Japan). For Mercari Japan, try using Sendico as a purchaser. (credit to /u/Mr_Voltiac for this).

Finally, there’s the usual response: “Dude, just buy Crown 202MXs”.

But where can I get Crown 202MXs?

Yes, the 202MXs tend to be low stock in the common places (e.g. FA, AS, PAS), but are available via ISTMall, eBay, and Qoo10. ISTMall’s Qoo10 store sells most variants of the 30mm button and ships within a reasonable time to the US (2-3 weeks).

Change Log

  • 04232022: Added table of common keyswitches.
  • 03232022: Added more links.
  • 03012022: Posted to my personal site so I can have all the links I want.
  • 02122022: Updated some GF and Crown info.
  • 04092021: Added Crown SDB-201 and corrected some SDB-202 details.
  • 04152021: Added PurpleMagicBellAnime’s wood buttons.
  • 04222021: Added beginner compatibility and installation instructions as well as “where do I get 202MXs”.
  • 04232021: Updated PCB/Plate mount switch notes.
  • 04262021: Revised how to get GFs notes.
  • 04282021: Revised products section & added note about PAS’ Crown 202 mod.
  • 04302021: Added new question about pre-installed KBSPB fightsticks and moved RPE into it, added Frame1 Heavy and Light.
  • 05012021: Corrected Frame 1 info, thanks /u/natedawgn
  • 05052021: Added Gamerfinger purchasing avenue (Mercari JP)
  • 05092021: Added BOXX 24mm info, thanks /u/Chris_H_Nguyen
  • 05112021: Added PAS MPress
  • 05142021: Updated GamerFinger info.
  • 06032021: Added SnackBox Micro & Sengoku restock info for GFs
  • 06142021: Added Mill-Max sockets info and update on GF
  • 06302021: Added OCPK info
  • 07082021: Added Qanba info (thanks to RASC)
  • 07102021: Added SJ@JX info
  • 07132021: Updated Qanba mechanicals (Qanba Gravity)
  • 10212021: Not dead! Updated Gravity, some GF notes

 

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