IST is known for showing product photos that do not always match the real deal, nevertheless, the switches they’re using on their “alpha” lever are DECO / VICSTAR (old news again, a classic korean switch used on older k-levers, both Fanta type and Samducksa ), model is as seen on pics VP533A-2FR.
F= 200gf actuation force WITHOUT HINGE LEVER which translates for us as 120gf since there is a hinge lever of standard length.
Tech sheet available on official site here (odd no links were ever given , not even by Kowal) :
Quality is acceptable, DECO is classic amongst k-lever connoisseurs, not on par with Panasonic nor Omron though, . Seems like they’re keeing things exclusive to (old) stocks available in Korea and never looking for something really new.
What I do not like at ll is this commercial pitch that seems to be the big hype today consisting in claims such as " PAINSTAKINGLY FINE TUNED BY HAND", “EACH SWITCH ADJUSTED BY HAND ONE BY ONE”, IST goes as far as saying they’ve “adjusted each directional input” which is funny knowing the dimensional error percentage error on crucial parts such as the silicone grommet is relatively high (high shrinkage percentage and dimensional tolerances due to material , final shore hardness is ±20% etc…) so minute fractions of mm for switch actuation distance become irrelevant compared to the issue of having tolerance issues, sorry to say this but its just true.
It is even more funny when you think companies such as Sanwa and Seimitsu never remotely mentioned the matching of switches nor their supposed “tuning” (they only advertised the high quality of the switches and claimed they were exclusive) since their batches were and are probably already sorted out coming from the factory, as arcade techs rarely had to face the problem of replacing a switch in a new lever.
IMHO a tongue in cheek confession that IST and Samducksa used switches that came from batches that cost less due to higher issues which leads them now to all speak of “hand tuned switches”.
once again, apart from really modding switches with amateur tricks (NOT long term solutions NOR reliable) such as adding tape or bending hinge levers or even internal parts, you cannot “hand tune” switches, the only thing that is worth doing is matching, that is only if you pick them out of a batch where they are relatively unmatched …
Think of tubes/valves for amplifiers or even power solid state components, you can buy 12 and match them by hand or buy them FACTORY MATCHED by pairs (costs a bit more). IMHO, if you have a company selling levers, it is more relevant to have a special price for a whole batch of switches that have a high percentage of being very very close (matched or almost ) rather than to buy some a cheap batch with multiple issues and “match them by hand” which is ridiculous and would take a lot of time and sounds like something to impress newbies.
Something else, I spoke with a few members here and from reading between the lines concerning the weird and overblown description given on korean istmall website for the so called “custom” Kaze Gersung switches, I speculated it was all about a different hinge lever alloy being used and nothing else (apart from the “KZ” marking, which costs a tad more in production).
Apparently I was right reading lately on a blog that SUPERHWOARANG was “selling on IST some gersung switches with a stronger hinge lever” (literally) as seen here on his own blog:
Why the Kaze marking on the switch when Superhwoarang says that he himself sells that Gersung switch with stiffer lever on IST? HMMMM…
I say it is just a normal hinge option as available with many other switch companies (Cherry, Omron, etc you can see these options offered by Cherry in their tech sheets/catalogs, while companies like Gersung do not even mention them, you need to personally contact the latter) who generally propose several options for hinge levers : stainless or cold rolled steel (nickel plated). Cherry D4 series proposes both alloy options for example, Omron V is stainless steel hinge lever as stock. This type of option is extremely common in the snap action switch world.
The stiffer alloy will of course give a faster actuation due to less bending but again this seems a bit funny considering the actuator and lever body are much less stiff than the switches’ lever alloy and thus have a certain amount of “give”, even if it’s delrin, not even speaking of the fact that the pivoting is done by a RUBBERY part which further reduces precision. Nevertheless with training you can compensate all these flaws to a certain extent.
this being said, IST seems to have improved a bit the quality of their casting as the “Alpha” levers on the pics seem to have less shrinkage issues compared to usual fantas and flf they made before.
Beware of commercial claims and placebo effect, try out for yourself while remaining objective and don’t buy the hype when it grows out of proportion .
Otoh there’s a lot of useful info on Superhworang’s blog ( some info is more a question of personal taste and feeling though and what he said once about switches being measured in quality just by pretravel distance (or actuation point distance, it’s the same thing) is not true, there are many other factors , he himself admitted that on one blog page, speaking of tolerance issues more present on gersung than on panasonic which remain his favourite),