Make your own illuminated buttons

Have you ever touched those gummy buttons on an old Sony Betacam recorder? Ever admired this warm glow beneath the play-button? Ever wanted to add some of these to your own do-it-yourself projects, only to find you can’t buy them nowhere?

well here’s a cheap and easy way I found to make them on my own…

UPDATE: You can find a better technique here:

The board.
You can see a row of cheap print buttons in the front and a row of even cheaper super bright leds in the back. We’ll bend them down to illuminate our transparent buttons.

The ingredients.
One latex examination glove, some self-adhesive, transparent bumpers (come in many different styles and sizes…) and some double-sided tape (no picture…)

Cut a rectangular piece of latex. I put on a piece of scotch tape first, to make it easier to cut the latex (but it’s a pain to get the tape back off again afterwards…)

Tape the piece of latex to the bottom side of the hole.

Stick a plastic bumper through the hole onto the piece of latex.

Another bumper goes on the other side.

Here they are, our professional style, illuminated, do-it-yourself buttons…


9 responses to “Make your own illuminated buttons”

  1. […] well here’s a cheap and easy way I found to make them on my own…The author makes creative use of bumpons and latex material to achieve this usually prefab-only feature. Sounds like an interesting one to experiment with – Make your own illuminated buttons [via] […]

  2. I like it! What kind of circuit is this on, and what’s it controlling? It looks great. Keep up the good work!

  3. Justin Avatar

    That’s pretty cool. Do the buttons get cocked to the side sometimes? Also, how did you get the text/graphics on the buttons?

  4. John McKallen Avatar
    John McKallen

    Very, very clever! My current project needs 64 bi-color indicators with switches, and your “trick” makes this possible for way less money and makes it look a lot better. Thanks!

  5. Jesse Avatar

    Love it! Thanks for the write up. (found via Make)

  6. I have some old latex gloves that have discoloured and hardened. While these look wonderful to begin with, I’m a little concerned with how they will last?

    They look so good though, that even if I did end up having to remake them occasionally, I think it would be worth it!

    I am wondering if the clearance between the switches and the keys is not too great, then the clear film the clings to itself might be better than latex? Only it can be easily found in very thin film for food use, or much thicker for wrapping boxes together are supermarkets, warehouses and so on. Most large stationary suppliers will stock it.

    I’m going to try it with with some ultra-bright blue LEDs. Thank you for the WONDERFUL idea!

  7. […] A really cool article: Making your own illuminated buttons. A pretty cool technique, and doesn’t use anything overly esoteric. […]

  8. Don’t laugh but it even works with condoms instead of latex gloves. It is all latex anyway and it is just as stretchy.

    Remember not to use those ultra-bright LEDs otherwise you light up all the buttons at once, in stead of just the one you wanted.

  9. […] Since my first guide “How to make illuminated buttons” I’ve built quite some controllers with illuminated buttons and I found some improvements I want to share today. The original technique had some downfalls. First of all, the latex from the gloves wears quite quickly, it’s not really reliable for everyday use. It also only holds to the casing and it can come loose if someone presses the buttons too strong. Another problem when building it is to find the correct placing of the holes and the keeping the rubber buttons at the correct distance. My actual technique addresses these two concerns by: […]

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