rabbit hole

I bought a computer keyboard. I didn’t need a computer keyboard. I needed to make my computer keyboard quieter, so I went down a rabbit hole of YouTube videos about computer keyboards and I got the mistaken impression that I could make my keyboard quieter by swapping out the switches. Okay, this already doesn’t make any sense. Let me back up a little:

Computer keyboards are literally boards covered in electric pushbuttons. The keys are electric push-button switches with plastic caps. When you press down on the cap, you’re pushing the button on the switch. The switch doesn’t inherently make a lot of noise. In fact, it’s rather quiet. Some are manufactured to make a little click, but most make almost no noise at all. The board, however, is very noisy.

When you’re typing, you’re not gently pushing down on the switch. What you’re usually doing is hammering that switch with your finger in much the same way and for much the same reason that you hammer on the key of a real typewriter: you want to shove the key down as far as it goes so you feel it hit the bottom limit of its travel. Hammering the keys with your fingers makes a lot of noise if the board underneath isn’t muffled with foam. It’s like the difference between drumming your fingers on a bare tabletop versus drumming them on a placemat on a table. My keyboard is a bare tabletop. It doesn’t have any foam at all in it, and just to make things worse, the keys make a clicky sound.

After watching a few YouTube videos, I believed I could make my keyboard quieter by swapping out the clicky switches with some quiet switches and inserting a foam layer under the board. And that would work, if my keyboard were the type I could modify like that, but it isn’t. I ordered the switches and the foam before I took my keyboard apart to get a better look at it (and also to clean it because it was getting really nasty). If I had taken it apart before I bought anything, I would have learned that my keyboard isn’t the kind you can modify like that. The switches are soldered to the board, which is a more or less permanent condition, and the board isn’t mounted to the base in a way that would let me muffle it with foam or other sound-deadening materials. It’s a noisy keyboard and it’s always going to be a noisy keyboard.

My problem at this point was that I bought a whole bunch of switches and they were already on the way. (I also bought a new set of key caps. I didn’t need those, really, but I thought they looked a lot better than the ugly black caps on my keyboard, and they were not expensive, so in my cart they went.) By the time I learned that my keyboard would always be clicky-clacky it was too late to cancel my order. I could wait for my order to arrive and return it or I could also buy a board to put the keys on, and this time get a board that was built to be quiet. I went with Option B.

Moral of the story, I guess, is to stay away from rabbit holes.

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