Custom Keyboard Spotlight: Hako Royal Switches

By Ryan Whitwam

An exciting collaboration between NovelKeys and Input Club.

It's common practice among keyboard enthusiasts to mix and match the parts from different switches to create hybrids with unique properties. In particular, the explosion of Kailh Box switch variants has offered a great opportunity to make new franken-switches. Now, you don't have to buy two sets of switches to make one popular mod. NovelKeys has started selling "Hako Royal" switches.

As the name implies, Hako Royals are a collaboration between Input Club and Novelkeys. Input Club first introduced the Hako Clear and True tactile switches earlier this year. These switches were designed to have more cushion at the bottom of each press to promote faster typing. However, they were a bit lacking in the tactility department. Meanwhile, NovelKeys rolled out the incredibly tactile Royal switches a few months ago. These switches had a certain charm, but the bump was almost too heavy.

Some folks started swapping Hako switch internals into Royal housings, resulting in a much more tactile version of the Hako. That's what you can get now with the Hako Royal switches. Hako Royals use the stem, spring, and top housing from the Hako switches. So, they've got the increasingly common square-shaped wall around the Cherry-style cross connector. Because these switches use the Hako top housing, they are compatible with both SMD (on the circuit board) and through-switch LEDs. The bottom housing and (importantly) the contact leaf come from the NovelKeys Royal switches.

The contact leaf lives inside the "Box" portion of the switch—a closed-off section in the housing (see below). The bump on the stem pushes a small plastic nub that pokes out of the box, and that's what moves the contact leaf. The Royal switches use a stiffer leaf that exerts more force on the stem and thus increases tactility. So, the combination of Hako parts with the Royal leaf gets you a more tactile switch with more spring resistance.

This design really seems like it might have the best of both worlds. I love that the tactile bump is up near the top of the press like a regular Hako switch. However, you can feel the tactility so much better than stock Hakos. I'm quite excited to build a keyboard with these.

Hako Royals come in two variants that match the two Hako versions. There's the Hako Royal Clear (white stem), which is my preferred model. It has a bottom-out force of around 79g. The Hako True (salmon stem) loses a tiny bit of tactility because of the heavier spring, which bottoms-out at 94g. Hako Royals are available in blocks of 10 from NovelKeys for $5.50.