Photoelectric switches (optical switches) for mechanical gaming keyboard (optical mechanical keyboard switch)
Photoelectric switch is a new switch for mechanical keyboard, based on traditional technology of mechanical switch, optical-sensing recognition was introduced, optical sensing components were applied to improve the performance of switches instead of traditional metal-contact switches for mechanical keyboards.
Photoelectric switch, sometime is called optical mechanical switch, kills some defects of normal mechanical switch, makes innovations to mechanical keyboard and some other computer peripherals, it promotes the fatigue life and reaction speed of mechanical keyboard.
After long-term used, traditional mechanical switches were easy to gather dust, the handfeel of the keyboard were made weaken, sometimes, there may induce bad electrical-contact or bad reaction when working.
Compare with traditional mechanical switch, photoelectric switch is controlled by infrared ray sensor (you may call it “infrared switch” ) and is not effected by dust which gets longer fatigue-life than traditional switch.
Photoelectric switch (optical switch) still have mechanical components like a standard mechanical switch, it has mechanical moving parts. When pressing the key cap, a stem moves within a shaft, and a spring pushes the switch back to its reset position. Optical switch may also has the same physical characteristics as typical mechanical switch, such as a linear action (like Red switch), tactile (Brown switch) and clicky (Blue switch).
Photoelectric switch inherits clicky features from traditional mechanical switch, it simulates the clicky sound and feel.
Infrared ray between the couple of infrared sensors was blocked or passed to control the photoelectric switch’s “ON/OFF” status, those possible problems on traditional switches, such as mechanical contact jitter or action time delay, don’t exist on photoelectric switches. On the other hand, for the reason of no metal contact points in photoelectric switches, the handfeel of switch would not change after long-term using.
The photoelectric switches were developed by some Chinese companies, fatigue life and reacting speed were improved, below is a kind of optical switch, it has the tactile like blue switches but the reacting speed is quicker than that of the traditional blue switches. A “turnable” structure was designed in this photoelectric switch, switch axis turns 45 degrees when pressing, two terminal springs are used to realize “on/off”, clicky sound is from the crashing of switch body and the buckle, this design creates obvious linear tactile when using the switch. It’s analog compatible with traditional mechanical switches.
In the earlier period, photoelectric switch’s price was relatively a little high, high price and singleness of tactile made photoelectric switches were not popular and were not widely accepted by players at that time.
Technologies of photoelectric switch develop quickly, now new generation of mechanical optical switches were widely used in mechanical keyboards.
The new generation of optical switch is to set the infrared sensors welded on the keyboard PCB separately while the “switch” is only used to trigger the infrared ray, thus, the “optical switch” was divided into two parts, the couple of infrared sensor, as an electronic part, was fixed on the PCB while the “switch”, as an mechanical part, can be pulled off(if it was a pluggable PCB) or welded from the PCB separately.
From above image, we know that there are only mechanical structures in “optical switch” and no any electrical part in it, this makes designer can concentrate on promoting the mechanical characters(e.g. press, tactile, clicky sound, travel distance and so on ) of the optical switch without needing to balance the electronic performance .
Now, some colors of optical switches were manufactured, they have the same tactile as traditional switches while the price is a little lower than traditional switch price, e.g. blue switch, black switch, red switch, brown switch and white switch, what’s more, Geek custom is cooperating with Gateron to produce custom optical switches according to the requirements (press, clicky sound…) from customers.