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nerd of nerds

Clear buttons?

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Hello!  In my journey to complete my 64 button midibox controller i am currently stuck...

I ordered 200 tactile pushbuttons from ebay which have the right hardware for standard button caps.

I really want to use clear button caps for these so i can illuminate them using a Dout module and some spiffy blue or UV leds.

but I have searched high and low for clear caps that will fit on these to no avail...

I thought about making my own but that seems like way too much work.  i'd like for them to be largish, 3/4 of an inch would be fantastic but i can totally live with 1/2 inch if thats all that is available...

Thanks!

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Unfortunately for you, the norm for users around here is to make their own out of plexiglass rod. You'll find threads on it by searching on the forums.

-drin

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Yeah, nerd - I have had the same issue. At the moment, clear or translucent caps seem almost impossible to find. I'm even having problems finding them on any equipment that I could scavenge from.

I have the following design, that I got a fabricator to give me a quote on - It was 2000 for just 10-20 pieces, meaning these little 4-switch banks would be 100 bucks APIECE, with additional pieces likely costing a couple bucks each. And that was for PROTOTYPE tooling, which could only produce about 1000 buttons total, at which point the ridiculous cost would have to be paid again. Moxi is trying to make lighted round pushbuttons for the community - you should contact him if you are interested too.

Also, I tried one other thing that was a bit unorthodox: Using Hot Glue Gun Glue sticks. They come in 1/2 and larger sizes, and are rubbery. They also disperse the light well, but even at room temperature seem to have a bit of tackiness to them if you squeeze them hard  :(.

Here's what I sent to him:

Hi! I tried to get a quote for a pill-style button from a fabricator...

enablerbuttondimensions7za.gif

It was Going to cost $2000 for 10 units :( , so with a first baby on the way that was obviously out of the question!

Essentially, I would like to have a silicon button that could be backlit with 1 or better 2 LEDs, where the button color is determined by the LED's you put behind them. 12.5mm is a nice pressable size, although anything close would be fine. This size gives room for a 5 mm contact pill and as many as 4 LED holes (BTW, I am sorry but in my drawing, the LED holes should go through both the PCD and the securing plate...)

The button would be mounted through a 4 mm panel, and attached to a PCB by a stiff plate that would sandwich the PCB and buttons to the faceplate from the back, like so:

enablerbuttonconstruction1ed.png

This would allow for high volumes of buttons to be mounted in a neat, low profile, modular way. Also, the amount of keypresses possible would be absurd, since there is no mechanical switches in my design.

However, if we went with standard tact switches, it would be the standard micro pcb mount size, with the LEDs mounted on the pcb on either side.

That said, the interiors of keyboards are made of these same types of dome contact switches - perhaps you might be able to modify them?

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Have you checked these guys out?

http://www.emachineshop.com/

Small-run fabricators with real-time pricing as you design in their free CAD software.  Hit a button, place the order, their machines fab your parts automatically and they mail them to you.  3-D milling, 2-D laser cut, wide range of materials. Their CAD software imports DXF files.  There's example prices for a few designs on the site, and they seem pretty reasonable.

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You know, that is absolutely awesome - I hope the prices aren't bad - because they have a damn option to Auto-create a rubber keypad! How awesome is that?

Edit: AND there's a clear with conductive pill option!

emachineshop1kv.png

Hopes dashed: (955 bucks, but that is for an 8x2 grid and 95-105 pieces, which is about 1600 buttons). Additional parts are 2.63 apiece, which is reasonable, I suppose. But this is just the keypad with pills.

That said, the majority of the cost is the tooling; if you order 1000 parts the unit cost is 1.33. That's not really so bad.

Edit: I realized the 8 x2 grid was too big anyway. Tooling costs get lower the smaller the unit is made, so I reduced it to a 4 x 2 grid - 100 parts can be produced for 750, and the cost only doubles for 1000 keypads. Best is they are still clear with a 5 mm conductive pill. Backlighting these would be easy as pie! I designed them to stick 2mm out from the surface of a 4mm thick panel, and to have 1.3 mm of travel to activate. The texture is set to smooth-textured in the software settings...

Here's the buttons in DXF:

http://www.mytempdir.com/611693

And a pic:

emachineshop26ce.png

Anyone want to do a run?

Come to think of it - let me get this to my CNC friends - perhaps they can tool it cheap, and we might be able to just pay for the parts to be made somewhere local here.

Last edit before sleep: The price point is best at the 4x2 grid. reducing it to a 2x2 only takes 100 bucks off the cost, and only 20 cents off the unit cost per 1000.

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Well at under 10 bucks a unit thats pretty reasonable...

I was just looking at the sticky-backed clear silicone rubber feet that came with my hifi speakers, thinking "Wonder if I could get more of those" ;)

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You know, that is absolutely awesome - I hope the prices aren't bad - because they have a damn option to Auto-create a rubber keypad! How awesome is that?

Edit: AND there's a clear with conductive pill option!

emachineshop1kv.png

Hopes dashed: (955 bucks, but that is for an 8x2 grid and 95-105 pieces, which is about 1600 buttons). Additional parts are 2.63 apiece, which is reasonable, I suppose. But this is just the keypad with pills.

That said, the majority of the cost is the tooling; if you order 1000 parts the unit cost is 1.33. That's not really so bad.

Edit: I realized the 8 x2 grid was too big anyway. Tooling costs get lower the smaller the unit is made, so I reduced it to a 4 x 2 grid - 100 parts can be produced for 750, and the cost only doubles for 1000 keypads. Best is they are still clear with a 5 mm conductive pill. Backlighting these would be easy as pie! I designed them to stick 2mm out from the surface of a 4mm thick panel, and to have 1.3 mm of travel to activate. The texture is set to smooth-textured in the software settings...

Here's the buttons in DXF:

http://www.mytempdir.com/611693

And a pic:

emachineshop26ce.png

Anyone want to do a run?

Come to think of it - let me get this to my CNC friends - perhaps they can tool it cheap, and we might be able to just pay for the parts to be made somewhere local here.

Last edit before sleep: The price point is best at the 4x2 grid. reducing it to a 2x2 only takes 100 bucks off the cost, and only 20 cents off the unit cost per 1000.

Hi dengel, I assume the buttons can/should be cut loose from the keypad? If so, I'd be interested in a couple of those, like 200 or so - if the price can be made reasonable by placing a large (group-)order.

Cheers,  Alex.

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Wouldn't it be easier to take a round plexi rod (Stab, Rohr, Stange); should be available in all DIY-Shopping Malls, cut it into pieces, drill the pieces and glue them on the switch?

At least for single round clear buttons, this would be the easiest solution I can think of.

Other forms or bigger sizes may be achieved with silicone indeed... I know some of my fellow students working with silicone modelling, I will interview them...

Regards,

Michael

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Wouldn't it be easier to take a round plexi rod (Stab, Rohr, Stange); should be available in all DIY-Shopping Malls, cut it into pieces, drill the pieces and glue them on the switch?

Yes, it definitely is - but the buttons have the advantage of having that nice rubber look and feel, as well as the simplicity in mounting them to the panel. It's just expensive to place that initial order!

Any news you get from your friends is welcome, though.

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Well at under 10 bucks a unit thats pretty reasonable...

I was just looking at the sticky-backed clear silicone rubber feet that came with my hifi speakers, thinking "Wonder if I could get more of those" ;)

That would be great if you find the source. On the unit cost, it would be more like $1.30 per 8 buttons. These 8-button sheets could be cut apart and used in any confuguation that you could make a pcb for, so you wouldn't be limited to the grid pattern.

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That would be great if you find the source.

search Conrad for "Gerätefuß" or "Plastikpuffer" or "Elastikpuffer":

525550_BB_00_FB.EPS.jpg

These are also available in clear, but note that they are pre-cutted to easily remove them piece by piece from the sheet.

...of course you can buy them also from other companies. I do not mention here that Conrad is most times 25% - 50% above the usual prices!

;D

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Do you realize that blue and especially UV leds are very bad for your eyes?

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Yeh AC those are the ones :)

robotfunk: good to hear someone else aside from me saying that... Those UV LED's are to musicians, what flames are to moths...

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Not sure why the "Blue LED's" and uv leds are so popular anyway - Red, green, and amber are easier on the eyes.

That said, after traveling through the translucent material, the blues would probably be OK. I'm happy to see that at my electronics store at least, the blue and white LEDs have warnings on the packs to not stare at them, similar to lasers.

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Hi dengel, I assume the buttons can/should be cut loose from the keypad? If so, I'd be interested in a couple of those, like 200 or so - if the price can be made reasonable by placing a large (group-)order.

Cheers,  Alex.

Yeah, the buttons could be cut and placed in any configuration that you could wire up - you'd just make a REALLY simple PCB (you could probably just draw them to the PCB with a silver pen, or cut them out of foil and glue them to the PCB if you can't afford to make real ones).

I redid the layout just a bit - increased the button diameter to 13.5 to accomodate the PCB mount LEDs, with 25 mm spacing between buttons.

emachineshop1356wh.png

Let's see - 1000 units, which would yield 8000 buttons, would cost 1340 bucks So that comes down to about 1.34 a part (including the tooling) or 16 cents a button.

The first 20 people willing to throw down 70 bux would end up with about 400 buttons. Or, we could get 100 units for about 700, which would yield 80 buttons per person. They then keep the tooling for 2 years, and future runs would be much cheaper.

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Remember that you'll have to make a PCB for the contacts, or use brass tape on a board or something similar - this is Just for the top part of the switch. I'm going to see if we could get a sample of other keypads that they've made so that I can gauge the feel.

You know what? I found that perhaps a different way to go would be to reduce the size of the center post, and use those panel mount micro-pushbuttons instead, which would give a more mechanical solution and eliminate the extra cost of the contact pills. That, and a lot of people like the slightly clicky feedback.

Whatcha think?

Edit: Weird, the carbon pills don't seem to add anything to the cost

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Remember that you'll have to make a PCB for the contacts, or use brass tape on a board or something similar - this is Just for the top part of the switch. I'm going to see if we could get a sample of other keypads that they've made so that I can gauge the feel.

You know what? I found that perhaps a different way to go would be to reduce the size of the center post, and use those panel mount micro-pushbuttons instead, which would give a more mechanical solution and eliminate the extra cost of the contact pills. That, and a lot of people like the slightly clicky feedback.

Whatcha think?

Edit: Weird, the carbon pills don't seem to add anything to the cost

I thought that these things where supposed to be stuck on pushbuttons like the digitaster from Reichelt; was I mistaken? I'm not looking for a different sollution...

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I thought that these things where supposed to be stuck on pushbuttons

Nope. They are simply keypads - they could either work by bridging a gap between two traces (like in a ps2 controller's start and select buttons as an example) or to push a microswitch.

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something about a rubber membrane being used on a tactile microswitch just doesn't seem right...it would have an odd feeling to it...

at first i was more interested in some buttons for tactile switches but these look awfully nice... sadly i dont have the cash to get any at the moment...

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It would feel alot like the sitch on a djm 600's effects buton, or a pc keyboard w/ half the travel, or a ps2 controller - you probably use this sort of button more than any other, actually.

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Hi!

I would be interested in 100 pieces.

Thanks

Regards

Michael

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Hi,

I could be interested as well.

I have an idea the PCB. If the conductive pill could be small enough so that it bridges between two track on standard strip board and that the center of the buttons are spaced at some multipul of 2.54mm (0.1"). That way there would be no need to make custom pcb's, this would be an off the shelf solution that anyone could easly access.

Rowan

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Hey all!

Sorry to bring some rain to this parade....I think you might be in for a reliability issue with this method....The PCB contact points need to be tinned for this to work in the long term, either with gold flash or carbon paint over bare copper.

Ever had to repair a non-working button on your TV remote?  I can't imagine having to fight with this kind of an issue on a show day....This type of button is always rated in the low thousands for cycles/lifespan.  I would bet that with bare copper after a week of air exposure and the resulting oxidation that these would fail you.  Solder tinning the pads won't work either, the flux will eat the switch and solder is one of the worst alloy compositions for surface conductivity.

The only benefit ever for these switches has been to the manufacturer, who can produce an entire control panel for pennies instead of using known reliable switches for dollars.  :-\

No motives here on my end except not wanting to see me peeps learn an expensive lesson, if said issues could be overcome I can mill the needed tooling (a mold) and we could DIY the whole thing....it's just hot plastic casting and some carbon paint once you look past the curtain...... ;)

Best

Smash

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ok its cheap.. and unreliable.. but it feels better than a tactile.. those things click.. are there any other buttons that dont click but are reliable?

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