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'[EE]: Pushbutton Switches'
2002\01\21@102910 by Andy Meng

picon face
Hello,

I am at the hardest part of a project (in my opinion): the packaging. I am
making a small handheld timer for a friend of mine (a one-off thing) and I
want to make a nice "user interface." It needs three pushbutton switches to
talk to PIC inputs. I am having a problem finding switches that feel the way
I like. I am using a solderless breadboard for my prototyping and I am using
small momentary tact switches. I really like the way these things feel.
However, I have only been able to find PCB-mount ones. It seems like all of
the panel mount pushbuttons I have found are too large and they don't have a
"positive" feel when you push them - in other words, you can't feel anything
when you push them and they make contact (they just kinda bottom out). I
guess it's kinda hard to explain, but the tact switches have a "click" to
them when you push them and that is the point at which the switch closes.
Plus, the tact switches are very cheap (about $0.50). I paid $4 each for
three pushbuttons from DigiKey and I don't even like the feel of them.

I guess I could make up a little PCB to mount the switches to, and mount the
tact switches to that. Of course, then I'd have to mount the PCB at the
right height from the case and make square holes for the key caps.

Does anyone have experience with switches for user interface stuff like
this? Most I have seen are pretty nice. Should I just go with the small PC
board idea? Are there "nice" panel mount pushbuttons out there?

Thanks for any help,

Andy Meng
N8MX
http://www.qsl.net/n8mx


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2002\01\21@104851 by Roman Black

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Hi Andy, the little PCB mount buttons will
solder into standard veroboard. :o)
You can also get long tact buttons, about
6mm plastic shafts, and even some with larger
"proper" button tops. Most TV repair parts
suppliers will have many types, and they're
cheap. You just need to mount the veroboard
under the case top, maybe 5 min epoxy will do.
-Roman

Andy Meng wrote:
{Quote hidden}

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2002\01\21@105958 by William Bross

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Hi Andy,
We have thousands of units with tact switches in service.  We use a stick
on overlay over the panel.  Then we mount the pcb spaced back from the
panel leaving enough space for a piece of high durometer rubber or even a
3M 'bumpon' between the overlay and the switch actuator.  Makes a very nice
panel and you don't loose that nice tactile bounce.  For a one off, you
would still have to make the overlay artwork in your favorite CAD package
then print it out on a thick paper or mylar sheet, then tape the whole
thing to the panel.

Good Luck,
Bill

At 10:26 AM 01/21/2002 -0500, you wrote:
{Quote hidden}

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2002\01\21@110107 by Andy Meng

picon face
I did see the ones with the longer shafts in the catalog,
I'll get a couple of those and make up a little board.
The epoxy is a good idea, I was thinking of using screws
but that would be ugly. :-)

Thanks,

Andy

{Original Message removed}

2002\01\21@132535 by Dwayne Reid

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At 10:26 AM 1/21/02 -0500, Andy Meng wrote:
>Hello,
>
>I am at the hardest part of a project (in my opinion): the packaging. I am
>making a small handheld timer for a friend of mine (a one-off thing) and I
>want to make a nice "user interface." It needs three pushbutton switches to
>talk to PIC inputs. I am having a problem finding switches that feel the way
>I like.

There is a series of push buttons that mount in a bezel: Unimec switches,
buttons, bezels.  They require a square hole but you CAN mount them in a
panel without any other hardware or holes necessary.  They have proven to
be quite reliable and have 2- NO and 2- NC contacts per switch.  The
company also manufactures a series they call Multimec - these have a single
NO contact and are available with long buttons but don't have bezel
hardware available.  The company is called MEC - do a search.

dwayne




Dwayne Reid   <dwaynerspamspam_OUTplanet.eon.net>
Trinity Electronics Systems Ltd    Edmonton, AB, CANADA
(780) 489-3199 voice          (780) 487-6397 fax

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2002\01\21@145950 by Jinx

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> I really like the way these things feel. However, I have only
> been able to find PCB-mount ones. It seems like all of the
> panel mount pushbuttons I have found are too large and they
> don't have a "positive" feel when you push them

I know what you mean. Try this

http://home.clear.net.nz/pages/joecolquitt/0panel.html

Doesn't have to be through wood of course. Although there's a
little fiddling about, it saves mounting (with all that entails) a PCB
directly under the panel

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2002\01\21@172804 by Josh Koffman

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Is the wire to hold the plastic "knobs" together? How do you drill such
a small piece?

Josh
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Jinx wrote:
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2002\01\21@194738 by Jinx

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> Is the wire to hold the plastic "knobs" together? How do you
> drill such a small piece?
>
> Josh

The wire (flexible single strand) stops the rods falling out the front.
Getting a 1mm hole through 6mm rod isn't too hard. 1.5mm hole
would do if you leave the plastic on. A fraction of a mm clearance
between the hole and the wire should result. I've tried various glues
to stick the rod to the switch, and Ados F2 (contact adhesive) is
about the only one that lasts, but I still prefer the wire method. With
the ends of the rods very nearly flush (ie poking out just a little more
than the switch travel), you can paint, cover with coloured stuff or
label the ends of them. Larger buttons can be accomplished by
drilling a shallow 6mm diameter hole into, say, 3mm or 6mm black
perspex and sticking that on the end of the rod. A router with a 6mm
flute makes a hole with a level bottom, unlike a twist drill, for better
adhesion. A milling bit would clean out the bottom of the hole too. If
you've access to a lathe, make your own knobs. The effort's worth it
if you want to retain that tactile feel of PCB buttons. A row of plain
black 6mm buttons on polished wood looks pretty tasty too. And it's
possible to shine a LED up the rod. Either a cut-out can be made in
the rod for the LED, or you can cut a reflective wedge and have the
LED side-mounted

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2002\01\21@204449 by Josh Koffman

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Nice work Jinx...got some pics to show us? :)

Josh
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fools.
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Jinx wrote:
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2002\01\22@003025 by Russell McMahon

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> I guess I could make up a little PCB to mount the switches to, and mount
the
> tact switches to that. Of course, then I'd have to mount the PCB at the
> right height from the case and make square holes for the key caps.

Making holes in a panel with a diaphragm over it and tact switches behind
the diaphragm works reasonably well.
Mounting height is important and the ability to change this is probably
vital in a one off (and is helpful even in a many-off - I have some friends
who do this in a commercial product and it works very well BUT the board to
panel spacing is adjustable.

A laborious but workable one-off solution is to use fully threaded screws
for the mounting towers with the pcb held between 2 nuts. The board height
can be adjusted up and down the screws to get the height right. You can then
locknut the screws (aaaargh!!!) or if nobody is looking a blob of silicon
rubber will work just fine. The proper practices police may catch you
however :-).

Some membrane keyboard makers offer internal "click" domes which give the
membrane switches a reasonable if not ideal feel.

A out of the square solution is to use crummy feeling switches and add an
audio annunciator to make a crisp audible click on keypress. Seems to work
reasonably well for less than  fully deaf people. Many touch/membrane
keyboard products do something like this (eg palm Pilot and friends.)



       Russell McMahon

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2002\01\22@012458 by Jinx

face picon face
> Nice work Jinx...got some pics to show us? :)

Only one sample to hand

Same page

http://home.clear.net.nz/pages/joecolquitt/0panel.html

Added a picture of a digital display mounted in a block of
heart rimu (dacrydium cupressinum, a multi-hued red pine)

The timer is a variant of

http://home.clear.net.nz/pages/joecolquitt/0sp505.html

and was intended to be back-mounted into a wall unit. But
they never ever came to get it

Not the best picture in the world (needed a digital to get the
best out of the wood's lustre). Bottom part (looking from the
bottom edge towards the display end) shows the buttons
sticking up around 1mm. The push-button switches have a
stroke of just 0.3mm, but you have to allow for those who's
fingers are of the pudgier persuasion

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2002\01\22@145020 by Barry Gershenfeld

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>A out of the square solution is to use crummy feeling switches and add an
>audio annunciator to make a crisp audible click on keypress. Seems to work
>reasonably well for less than  fully deaf people. Many touch/membrane
>keyboard products do something like this (eg palm Pilot and friends.)
>
>        Russell McMahon

Now this reminds me of a trick I saw in the '70s.  A certain
minicomputer had a front panel made from capacitive touch
switches, completely motionless.  They mounted a relay inside
which made a convincing "click" when you touched a switch.  That
was the only purpose to the relay.   The right relay from your
junkbox and I bet you'd actually be able to feel the thing.

I've heard that the big "clunk" the soft drink machines make
when you put in your money is there for the same human
engineering reasons.

Barry

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2002\01\23@163543 by Russell McMahon

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> I've heard that the big "clunk" the soft drink machines make
> when you put in your money is there for the same human
> engineering reasons.

I thought this was caused by them dropping the can as far as possible inside
to make it fizz up and make a mess :-)


   RM

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