Alright, I’m getting back into this from the Aflion article so if you haven’t read that yet it definitely goes hand in hand. Mengmoda definitely got a fair amount of attention in that article, but it looks like they could be the missing link to help lead us into Leobog and Aula too.
Mengmoda’s most recent and most unique switches are absolutely their Ice Cream linear switch, and Honey Tactile switch, both of which are full POM switches with a winglatch style housing. Interestingly enough, the text above the Honey Tactile says it is a “Peach paragraph shaft” (Paragraph shaft translates roughly to tactile switch in this context) but the store listing on Taobao as well as Aliexpress and Epomaker call it the Honey Tactile which is what the HT is supposed to stand for according to the original listing.
While I have one of the Ice Cream switches for my personal collection, I don’t have the Honey Tactile yet. Both of these are on the way from Taobao for the store though so keep an eye out.
Besides the Ice Cream being heavily inspired by Kailh Creams using the same colors and selling point of being a fully POM switch, these come either dry or pre-lubed, with the pre-lubed version being exceptionally smooth at typing speeds. At extremely low speeds some stick-slip can be felt similar to Gateron CJ switches.
These Ice Cream switches are interesting to me for so many reasons, they feel better than Kailh Creams (although it is an unfair comparison since I have the pre-lubed Ice Creams), they are high-quality switches from Mengmoda, a brand that had been relatively quiet before late 2021, and it looks like their parts have been mixed and matched to make a few new switches, this time for Leobog.
The Leobog Pig Synapse and Sprint Axis switches are fully POM tactile and linear switches respectively. In addition to being a fully POM switch, these both also feature cream-colored housings and/or stems, and a winglatch style housing. Then there is the Leobog Nimbus linear, still fully POM, but instead of a cream housing it seems to borrow a milk-white top from the Sprint Axis. Let’s take a look.
So all four of these switches look like they are basically factory frankenswitches, using largely intermixed parts. The Leobog Pig Synapse looks like a Mengmoda Ice Cream with a brown tactile stem, the Leobog Sprint Axis takes the bottom housing and stem from the Mengmoda Ice Cream but swaps out a milk-white top housing, which then gets borrowed for the Leobog Nimbus with it’s red bottom and yellow stem.
Keep in mind that all of these are advertised as a fully POM switch, have the same winglatch housings without a central support, and the same LED slot design with the partial slot interrupted by a circular cutout.
Released a month or two later, and currently on the way to your favorite store from Taobao was also a tactile version of the Leobog Nimbus, called either Building Block or Juggle.
Okay, so these Leobog switches use the same materials, colors, and mold design as the Mengmoda Ice Cream, what else? Well as you might be able to guess, the housings are all interchangeable between these brands, which is not the norm with winglatch housings. As a matter of fact, these two brands are compatible with each other, but do not fit Kailh, KTT, JWK, NextTime, or Transmit winglatch switches. They do fit Outemu winglatch housings, but with Outemu’s parent company Goate being so well established it is more likely that the manufacturer for these Leobog and Mengmoda switches acquired or copied old molds in some way than to say Gaote is the manufacturer.
The next new switches from Leobog are the Ashwood and Wolfberry switches, and while I don’t have them on hand yet, there are a few minor notes that are interesting to me.
First, they are 2 linear switches, which is not extremely odd, since linear switches are often more popular than tactile switches, but Leobog’s previous 2 releases as well as the next one we will talk about have all been 1 tactile and 1 linear. Aside from this, it’s possible that the Leobog Nimbus’s red bottom has a 3-pin variant used for the Wolfberry, and the smokey tops from these two may in fact come from our next Leobog switch the Ink Crystal, but it’s hard to say just from pictures.
Continuing with Leobog, we come to their Crystal switches, coming in a Rock Crystal linear and Ink Crystal tactile. These go on to show a new mold for Leobog, even though to my knowledge they came out at a similar time to the Pig Synapse and Sprint Axis.
What can be seen in this picture is that the LED slots have been filled in. While there is still an imprint of where the LED slot would be, complete with a circular cutout, this is completely filled in and therefore not compatible with through-hole LEDs that would normally go through that slot. You can also see best on the Ink Crystal that the winglatch housing does have a center support as is more common in this design, but different from the previous Leobog and Mengmoda switches without it.
Alright, that’s interesting, a relatively small brand like Leobog has two separate molds they are using for both the top and bottom housing of their winglatch style switches. The Pig Synapse, Sprint Axis, Nimbus, and Juggle all have a 5 pin bottom housing, with no support in the winglatch and a through-hole compatible design. These Crystal switches have the LED slot blocked off, an added center support in the winglatch, and only 3 pins.
Introducing SOAI Electronics
Well, what else do I know about the Leobog Crystal switches then? Their original Taobao listing actually provides some information on who made these switches, and the manufacturer is listed as SOAI Electronics.
SOAI electronics is a manufacturer of computer peripherals and keyswitches that have reportedly been around since 2002, which makes them the oldest of the brands I have covered so far. While SOAI electronics was formed in 2002, they have some subbrands that were created much more recently, such as Leobog, which appears to have been formed around 2017.
What else can you find when you look up SOAI electronics, well you find their other brands which include AULA, affectionately referred to as Tarantula in some press materials after their tarantula-inspired logo on many of their products. Conveniently, I remembered imlr/switch.riiport recently showed me an Aliexpress listing for some AULA branded switches.
AULA, KRGD…and Leobog?
….dangit. more cheap and probably crappy switches I have to get ahold of. Okay, so I just bought them off imlr/switch.riiport, I’m not made of money guys. Just one more problem, not only are none of the switches actually AULA branded, they don’t even all have the same branding on them.
Alright, pay attention because none of these are the same as each other, and they gave me a headache trying to figure them out. Starting with the red switch, this is a KRGD red. It is the only one out of these four that has an actual slot for the LED slot, and it has a central support in the top housing’s winglatch. This switch came in a Leobog prebuilt keyboard that I bought and desoldered. It looks like KRGD is somehow related to Leobog, whether they are the same brand or close partners I’m not sure yet, but there are more switches to come. And this central support is similar to the Leobog Crystals and is of course compatible with those switches.
Going clockwise we get to the brown switch, this is Leobog Brown, that is what comes when you purchase AULA brown switches from their AliExpress store. Aula confirmed this wasn’t a mistake, and this is the same as what Mechbox got when he placed his order as well. This one has a filled-in LED slot, similar to Leobog Crystals. It also does include a central support in the winglatch, like the KRGD red. So, Aula is selling a Leobog switch as their own, with the same style of winglatch as the Leobog Crystals, as well as the KRGD red which with the same style of winglatch coming in a Leobog branded board.
Continuing clockwise we find the KRGD blue, again also from Aula. This next combination includes another filled-in LED slot, but the blue switch lacks a central support for the winglatch, like the original Mengmoda and Leobog switches we were looking at. Finally the KRGD black, which is similar to the blue with a filled-in LED slot and no central support in the winglatch.
The bottom housings seem to vary as well. The switches that do have a central support in their winglatches have matching mold markings, with a capital letter to the left and a capital letter with a number to the right if you view it with the LED slot to the top. Besides both being branded Leobog, these both also have the filled-in LED slot. While I can’t make direct comparisons between the switches without a centrally supported winglatch since everything besides the KRGD have 5 pins where the extra pins block those mold markings, it is notable that the leftmost letter is flipped, and the rightmost marking is only a number. It is possible this is a simple mold revision, or it might be related to compatibility with the winglatch that doesn’t have that support.
TLDR, But it’s Still Pretty Long
Alright, so trying to summarize this article and the previous one as much as possible we get - Golden Orange Electronics is the factory/owner of the Aflion switch brand, they make their own switches like the Iceberg switches, as well as the Fantasy branded switches, and custom products for vendors such as Invokeys with their Matcha Lattes. Golden Orange Electronics has sent Mengmoda branded switches as factory samples, and their mold markings for both their winglatch and cherry style housings match Golden Orange or Aflion switches. Lumia switches look like they are made by the same factory as Mengmoda, with Lumia even claiming to have designed the Mengmoda Ice Creams. Leobog then has their Pig Synapse and Sprint Axis switches which use the same colors, molds, and materials as the Mengmoda Ice Cream, so it looks like Leobog worked with Mengmoda ( who in turn is made by Golden Orange Electronics) for those, as well as the Nimbus and Juggle switches.
Our Leobog Crystal switches are instead designed and seemingly manufactured by SOAI Electronics, which is the parent company of both Leobog and AULA. This seems like it is where all of the switches with a central winglatch support come from, but it gets confusing that the KRGD are exactly 2 with a support and 2 without it while coming from the same series of switches.
Now, it’s possible that Leobog worked with two different manufacturers, Golden Orange Electronics and SOAI Electronics, for their switches, with the dividing line being whether they have a support in the middle of the winglatch or not. But, then there are the KRGD blue and black that also don’t have a support (like Mengmoda and Leobog’s seemingly Golden Orange-made switches).
Is it more likely that SOAI Electronics (AULA’s parent company) has both a supported and nonsupported winglatch mold? Or is it more likely that one is from each of the two manufacturers and that both AULA and Leobog are alternating between SOAI and Golden Orange? That I can’t answer, Golden Orange has not answered when I have asked a few times, and I haven’t found a good contact for SOAI.
Thanks for joining in this week’s headache, see you all soon when most of those Mengmoda and Leobog switches come in, they are expected to make it to me this week and I can’t wait to try them out and get them listed.