Measurement of Stiffness and Damping Characteristics of Computer Keyboard Keys

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Journal of Dynamic Systems, Measurement, and Control

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To determine the stiffness and damping of computer keyboard keys, a computer-controlled test rig that can measure computer key displacement, velocity, and contact force has been designed. The test rig, consisting of a single-axis stage carrying a probe for contacting keys, has been used to collect contact force and motion data as computer keys are depressed and released at constant velocities up to 80mm∕s . Keys that employ a rubber-dome under their caps to achieve the necessary compliance and toggling action were tested. The results demonstrate a nonlinear stiffness force versus displacement characteristic at a given speed and the presence of damping-type forces that increase with key depression speed at a given displacement. In particular, the results indicate that the peak force at the 80mm∕s rate of depression increases relative to the quasistatic (0.5mm∕s) force level by over 12% for the “Enter,” “K,” and “Spacebar” keys. This paper describes the hardware and software configuration, and presents sample results of the stiffness and damping characteristics of keys during depression-return stroke tests.


Journal of Dynamic Systems, Measurement, and Control, Vol. 127, No. 2 (June 2005): 283-288. DOI.