what is hot swappable keyboard

Hot-swappable keyboard means switches hot-swappable (PCB hot-swappable) keyboard, which is to install or pull out the shaft when the keyboard is powered on. Compared with ordinary welding keyboards, it can be simpler and more convenient. , Quickly carry out the installation and removal of the shaft body. So, to put it simply, a hot-swap keyboard is a mechanical keyboard that allows you to easily replace the keyboard shaft.

Keyboards can be divided into mechanical keyboards and membrane keycaps according to the shaft type, and mechanical keyboards can be divided into welded mechanical keyboards and hot-swappable (pluggable) mechanical keyboards. The mechanical shaft body of the welded mechanical keyboard is welded on the PCB board of the keyboard by solder, and it cannot be pulled out under normal circumstances. The shaft body of the hot-swap mechanical keyboard is inserted into the hole and groove of the PCB board without any welding measures.

3pin and 5pin switches

3 pin switches

3 pin switches

The switches of the hot-swappable keyboard are usually divided into 3 pins and 5 pins. The 3pin switch includes 2 metal pins and a circular base, and the 5pin switch has 2 plastic pins on this basis. In fact, the extra two plastic pins do not have the function of transmitting the current signal of the keyboard, but they can improve the stability of the switch and reduce the possibility of unstable current transmission during the pressing process.

Hot-swappable keyboard classification:

Common hot-swap keyboards include sleeve hot-swap and pivot-base hot-swap keyboards.

Sleeve hot-swap: By welding the sleeve to the hole on the circuit board, there are fewer compatible shafts, and only some shafts with thinner pins, such as outemu shafts, are generally not compatible with cherry shafts. If there are some shafts with thick pins that cannot be inserted, the solution is to pinch the thin pins or sleeves with pliers, but this process may damage the pins or sleeves.

Hot-swap of the shaft seat: the most current method, the copper sheet holes are reserved in the pin holes on the circuit board, which can be easily replaced. Compatible with most shafts on the market and will not be affected by the thickness of the pins. The hot swap of the axle seat is more stable and more compatible, but it must have special circuit support, and the corresponding cost is also higher.

Are all keyboards hot-swappable?

No, only mechanical keyboards can be hot-swappable keyboards. A hot-swap keyboard is a mechanical keyboard with the shaft body not soldered to the PCB board. If the shaft body is welded to the PCB board, it is not a hot-swap mechanical keyboard.

What switches are hot-swappable?

It is not the mechanical shaft that determines whether the keyboard is a hot-swappable keyboard, but the connection method between the mechanical shaft and the PCB board. If the welding method is adopted, then none of the switches are hot-swappable. If the plug-in and no-soldering method is adopted, then all the switches are hot-swappable.

How do I know if my keyboard is hot-swappable?

To determine if your keyboard is hot-swappable, follow these steps:
1. Use a key puller to remove the keycap of a key (if there is no key puller, you can hold the bottom of both sides of the keycap with your fingers and pull up)
2. Check whether the pin below the switch is soldered to the PCB board. If it is soldered to the PCB board, it is not a hot-swap keyboard. If it is not soldered to the PCB board, it is a hot-swap keyboard.
3. If it is not possible to observe whether it is soldered to the PCB board, you can use a switch puller or fingers to hold the mechanical shaft and pull your shaft upwards. It does not require much force here. If your mechanical switch is easily pulled out, then it can be confirmed that it is a mechanical keyboard. If your mechanical switch refuses to leave the keyboard, then the keyboard is not hot-swappable.

What is hot-swappable keyboard vs non hot-swappable keyboard?

It is very easy to replace the mechanical shaft of the hot-swappable keyboard, just remove the original switch and put in the new switch. This process doesn’t require you to have extensive soldering experience, and it doesn’t require so many cumbersome tools, and it’s great for creating a personalized DIY keyboard, or replacing the keyboard shaft when it’s damaged.
It is very troublesome to replace the switches on a non hot-swappable keyboard, because the switches of the keyboard are soldered to the PCB board. If you really want to replace the switches, please follow the steps below:
1. Disassemble the keyboard case
2. Use a soldering tool to remove the solder from each switch you want to replace, take out the switch
3. Put in the switch you want, and re-solder in turn
4. Install the keyboard cover

Replacing a switch on a hot-swappable keyboard takes less than 1 minute, and replacing a switch on a non-hot-swappable keyboard can take 10 minutes or more and requires more tools and experience. This is why do you need hot-swappable keyboard. If you want to buy a hot-swappable mechanical keyboard, check out our Gaming Keyboard category.

What to Look for in a Hot Swappable Keyboard?

When buying a hot-pluggable keyboard, the most important thing to pay attention to is the mechanical switch. The mechanical switch is the most important parameter of a hot-pluggable mechanical keyboard, and it is also the most important consideration for most players when buying a mechanical keyboard.

Keyboard switches

Keyboard switches

Traditional mechanical shafts are divided into linear shafts, silent paragraph shafts, and sound paragraph shafts. The linear axis feels straight up and down, with no hindrance other than the spring pressure. The silent paragraph axis is characterized by a weak paragraph feel that requires a slight increase in pressure and then a sudden decrease in the middle of the pressing stroke. The vocal passage axis is characterized by a strong sense of passage in which the pressure required to be halfway through the stroke increases and then decreases significantly, and is accompanied by a loud sound.

green axis
The green switch belongs to the sound paragraph axis. Typing and pressing have a unique “paragraph feeling”, which can be understood as: after pressing halfway, if you want to continue pressing to the end, you must press harder, and there will be a crisp sound. ( The pressing sound of the green switch is similar to the feel and sound of pressing a ballpoint pen), so the green switch is favored by many typists and gamers, but the louder sound is not suitable for use in a quiet environment.

black shaft
The black switch is a linear axis, which is characterized by straight up and down, very smooth to press, without any sense of paragraph, and low noise, suitable for most gamers and typists.

red axis
The red switch also belongs to the linear axis, straight up and down, there is no sense of paragraph, the pressure required for pressing is small, and it is very quiet, but there are some user feedback and the use of the membrane keyboard is no different.

tea shaft
The brown switch belongs to the silent section axis. Although it is silent, it will also produce a slight clicking sound when pressed, but it is much smaller than the sound produced by the green axis. When you press it, you will also feel a certain sense of paragraph. It is a relatively unique shaft, suitable for new users who are new to mechanical keyboards.


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