Welcome to the Dry H.U.M.P. stabilizer mod (stands for Dry Hack Using Mostly PTFE). We’ll be using PTFE Fiberglass tape and PTFE Plumber’s tape to silence your stabilizers – zero lube required!

If you’re a visual learner, watch this guide in video form:

Items Needed

Dry HUMP Mod Items Needed

Prologue

Before modding our stabs, it is useful to ask, “Why do we lube or try to add strips of tape in our stabs?”

Stabilizers contain three separate parts (housing, stem, and bar) and serve the purpose of keeping your larger keys stable across the entire key’s length. These parts often fit together loosely by design, to ensure they have ample room to move within one another and properly function. However, this loose fit is also the cause of unwanted rattling sounds.

Too loose of a fit, and they rattle.
Too tight of a fit, and they become mushy, sluggish, or fail to function completely.

Let’s represent this on a “rattle-to-mush” scale (abbreviated as RTM):

Stabilizers: Rattle to Mush Scale

This scale makes it easier to converse about how a certain set of stabs pairs with a certain mod (e.g., I think Durock V2s with the Bandage Holee Mod feels like RTM +2). Remember that we each have different hearing and feeling preferences, so for instance my RTM +2 could be your RTM 0 or RTM +3, but I enjoy having this scale to express our thoughts more precisely than just, “This is kinda mushy”.

This scale also begs the question: Can a perfect center (RTM 0) be achieved where your stabs have zero rattle and zero mush? In my experience, this both does and does not exist (Schrödinger’s stabs hah). Some users may be incredibly sensitive to rattle and don’t mind a bit of friction with their stabs. Others may care more about their stabs moving freely and don’t mind a tiny bit of noise. That RTM 0 may or may not exist for you.

That’s why this mod has a few options for you, depending on your preference (RTM according to my own thoughts with Durock V2s):

  • Stock Durock V2s (RTM -3.5)
  • 0.13mm Thick PTFE Tape applied to only top part of stem hole aka “PTFE Holee” (RTM -1)
  • 0.25mm Thick PTFE Tape applied to only top part of stem hole aka “PTFE Holee” (RTM +1)
  • 0.13mm Thick PTFE Tape applied to both top and bottom parts of stem hole aka “PTFE Epsi” (RTM +2)
What is PTFE?

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is an extremely low-friction polymer (smoother than UHMWPE). In its tape form, it isn’t messy like other adhesive tapes or lubricants. This makes PTFE tape the ideal material for modding our stabs with.

PTFE tape is also hydrophobic, meaning it won’t be as prone to sucking up lube that is added on top of it. This is useful for when we want to supplement our stabs with lube to try and achieve the perfect balance between rattle and mush. Other materials such as bandages are known to absorb lube, causing an undesired mushy feeling. Please note that supplementing lube on top of tape can weaken adhesion.

What is the difference between PTFE Fiberglass tape and PTFE Teflon tape?

PTFE Fiberglass tape is fiberglass tape that has been coated with PTFE. This results in a more structurally rigid tape that is more resistant to wear (needed for the constant rubbing in our stabs). The PTFE coating provides the low friction we desire.

PTFE Teflon tape is also called plumber’s tape or thread-sealing tape. This is the common white tape you can find in general stores. PTFE Fiberglass tape is too rigid and thick to wrap around stab bars, so we’re using this instead for the bars.

What causes noisy stabs?

Stabs usually tick for two reasons:

  1. The bar has too much play inside of the stem.
  2. The bar has too much play in the part of the housing where it clips in.

These empty spaces allow for the bar to move back and forth, creating a ticking noise.

Step One: Dry Hump The Stems

Cut the tape

Cut a 2mm strip of PTFE Fiberglass tape

Take your brown PTFE Fiberglass tape and cut about a 2mm strip. This is the width needed to fit inside of your stem hole. Using smaller precision scissors may help.

The tape is already 1 cm long, which should be an ideal length for this mod.

Dry HUMP Mod 1

Tape top part of stem opening

Apply the strip to the top of the stem opening

With the sticky side facing up, slide the tape into the stem opening (part where the bar would normally fit in). Use tweezers to press the tape up into place. Ensure all edges are pressed in.

Dry HUMP Mod 4A
Dry HUMP Mod 4B

Fold the strip to secure it on the top side

Wrap the strip back over the top, so the tape is stuck more securely. Trim any excess off, if the tape doesn’t fit. Remember to press with tweezers. Any loose tape may make unwanted noise.

You’re done with this stem if you’re “PTFE Holee” modding.

Dry HUMP Mod 5A
Dry HUMP Mod 5B

If desired, tape bottom part of stem opening

Cut and apply another 2mm strip to the bottom of the stem opening

Do not do this step if using 0.25mm thick tape. With the sticky side facing down, slide the tape into the stem opening (part where the bar would normally fit in). Use tweezers to press the tape down into place. Ensure all edges are pressed in.

Dry HUMP Mod 6

Fold the strip back to secure it on the bottom side

Wrap the strip back over the bottom, so the tape is stuck more securely. Trim any excess off, if the tape is too long. We want the back lip is covered, as this is a frequent contact point. Remember to press with tweezers.

Dry HUMP Mod 7B
Dry HUMP Mod 7C

Repeat for the other stem.

What to do if this is causing mushiness?

With this tape, we are trying to fill enough empty space to where we remove any unwanted rattling. However, if we remove too much empty space, we get mushiness instead. Some users have reported that placing the tape on the top and bottom surfaces of the stem hole cause the stab to feel slightly mushy. To avoid this, you can try only placing a strip of tape to the top surface of the stem hole.

Step Two: Dry Hump The Bar

Cut the tape

Cut a half-inch strip of PTFE Teflon tape

Take your white PTFE Teflon tape (aka Plumber’s tape) and cut off about a half inch-long piece.

guideDryHump12

Wrap the bar

Wrap tape tightly and neatly around bar

We are applying this tape to the section of the bar that clips into the housing. Wrap as neatly as possible. A half-inch should wrap approximately 2-4 times around the bar.

Please note that it is normal for the tape to rub a bit as you install it into the housing. The goal is to reduce the empty space that causes rattle. The tape naturally forms a “pocket” for the bar to sit more snuggly.

Dry HUMP Mod 13A
Dry HUMP Mod 13B

Repeat for the other side of the bar.

You're Done

Congrats! You’re ready to put your stabilizer together and install it in your keyboard. Once installed, make sure to press the key repeatedly to break the stabilizer in. Join our Discord to discuss how this mod worked for you!

FAQ

The tape isn't sticking. Help!

Make sure you are using new stabilizers that have never been lubed before. If you are trying this mod on lubed-before stabs, you will need to clean them thoroughly (ultrasonic cleaner + light dish soap solution might work).

If you’re using brand new stabs, try using a new cut of tape and making sure to avoid touching the sticky side of it to reduce oils from weakening the adhesion.

My stabs are still rattly or mushy after this mod.

Please read the Prologue for more detailed information on why stabs can feel rattly or mushy.

Your stabs may still rattle after this mod for the following possible reasons:

  • The tape used is too thin.
  • You may want to supplement some thick lube (e.g., 205g0, XHT-BDZ) on top of the tape to reduce rattle.
  • Your keycap may be warped.
  • Your stab may be ticking from the bar being unbalanced. 

Your stabs may feel mushy after this mod for the following possible reasons:

  • The tape used is too thick.
  • If you applied tape to the bottom part of the stem hole, consider removing it and only having the tape on the top part of the stem hole.

Please keep in mind that this mod is a continuous project, and changes will be made to it if better methods are found. Please let us know on our Discord if you have anything to contribute!

Will my stabs become sluggish? When pressing one end of the spacebar, will the other end have a delay?

Nope! Here’s a gif of a slug test (may take a few seconds to load):

Pressing one end of spacebar causes no delay on the other end
How does this mod compare to other stabilizer mods?

We tested various stabilizer mods that currently exist in the community. Remember modding all comes down to preference, but here are our thoughts:

Dielectric Silicone Grease

A common first solution for many modders tackling their stabs. We found this method inconsistent, messy, and inelegant. There was a constant struggle of applying just the right amount of grease. Too little and you’d still hear and feel your scratchy stabs – too much and it’d feel mushy and sound… wet. Even after applying a good amount, we found ourselves “plugging the butt” over and over again quite often.

Special Lubricant Grease (e.g., XHT-BDZ)

We definitely like this more than common silicone grease, but using any kind of lubricant is still quite messy. This ultra-thick lube is also much pricier than PTFE tape.

Holee Mod

A great solution we recommend if PTFE tape doesn’t meet your preferences. By applying a small strip of bandage (adhesive part) to the top part of where the stem touches the bar, we were able to eliminate the bar ticking inside of the stem. However, the adhesive part of a bandage is usually made of some mixture of polyester, nylon, rayon, and spandex – materials that are inferior to PTFE in terms of smoothness. Bandages are also quite thick, which may cause some sluggishness in the stabs. The Holee Mod also does not provide any damping for the bottom part of where the housing meets the bar, but this arguably not necessary.

Tailor’s Mod

We haven’t tried this mod yet, so we can’t speak on its effectiveness. But we want to shout out the ingenuity of using sewing thread to mod stabs. Pretty awesome.

Epsi Mod

Similar to the Holee Mod, in that both mods involve sticking some adhesive padding to the inside of the stem. However, we found that the Epsi Mod was more time-consuming to perform (have to apply double-sided tape before trimming). We personally preferred the Holee Mod to the Epsi Mod, and the Dry HUMP Mod to both of these mods.

Heatshrink Tube Mod

We weren’t huge fans of this mod. Heatshrink tube’s material seemed quite high in its coefficient of friction. It is possible that there are smoother types of heatshrink tubing, but we picked up the generic kind from our local hardware store. We also needed to experiment quite a bit with the correct tube thickness, since stabilizers can vary in size here.

Final Ranking (our opinion, of course):

Dry HUMP Mod
Special Lubricant Grease
Holee Mod
Epsi Mod
Dielectric Grease
Heatshrink Tube Mod

Can I just wrap the ends of the bar with PTFE tape instead?

We experimented with this and really hoped that it would work (since the process is much easier).

With PTFE Fiberglass tape, the tape was too rigid to wrap around the bar. Even when we added extra adhesive on the back to force the tape to stay wrapped, the bar became too thick to insert into the stem.

With PTFE Teflon tape, this mod actually worked with some success. We found wrapping the bar 4-5 times (~1″ long piece) provided soft padding to the bar and still allowed the bar to fit inside the stem. The main issue with this method was how poor the tape’s wear resistance was. We saw that when moving the stem up and down, the bar would rub the tape. In some cases, the tape would separate and the bar would be exposed. If you experiment with this method, please let us know how it went for you on our Discord.

Special Thanks

This mod was heavily inspired by the Holee mod and the Epsi mod.
We want to thank Long Tran The Spacebar Guy and Epsilon Keyboards, for pushing the modding community forward.