Illuminated Buttons revisited

26 mai 2008 | Research
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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:

  1. Using white balloons instead of latex gloves. They are much more durable, but you’ll need brighter leds as they are more opaque.
  2. Putting the balloons into a sandwich between a piece of wood and the casing

Here’s some pictures:

I needed to get the leds closer to the buttons, so I soldered white SMD leds to wires around them

In order to get the placement right, I print out the PCB Layout from EAGLE and glue it to a piece of wood (10mm thickness) using SprayMount (the one you can take off easily again for some time)

Widen the holes a bit on both sides - one side to give way for the solder pads of the buttons, the other side to allow movement of the buttons

I use DisplayMount spray to glue the opened ballon to the wood - no tedious cutting of double sided tape anymore

Baloon on wood…

I put some small plastic bumpers on the inner side of the “mechanism” to act on the switches

Bigger bumbers go on the other side (12mm diameter)

To get the placement right, I once again print the same PCB layout and used it as a template to drill the holes in the aluminium. Then I fill these holes with big bumpers upside down, and use a lightbox to place the wooden ballonholder.

The finished controller by day.

Forgot to take a picture by night, when it shines in it’s whole beauty. Coming soon…


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