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Old 9th February 2004, 10:29 PM   #1
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Calgary, Alberta
Default Substitute for translucent pushbuttons?

I am building a case for a surplus amp circuit board I purchased from ApexJr. The commercial product it is from makes use of translucent pushbuttons, i.e. a clear plastic button suspended between the case and microswitch on the circuit board also allows light from a nearby LED to shine through to indicate that the related feature is turned on or off.

The ApexJr site makes mention of the use of clear marbles to act as pushbuttons. This will work, but I am looking for something even neater. Any recommendations?
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Old 9th February 2004, 11:42 PM   #2
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Turn up some lumps of acrylic on a lathe and polish them? It's possible to get some pretty sweet results this way if your willing to spend some time on the finish.

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Old 10th February 2004, 08:48 PM   #3
macboy is offline macboy  Canada
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Here's a way to make a nice metallic button that has a tranparent center. Go to a hobby shop and buy some hollow metal tubing, of the diameter of your desired buttons. You can get it in brass, aluminum, steel, whatever. Fill the tube with epoxy. Insert tube into a drill chuck and use it as a "lathe". Shape the end of the button using a sanding block, etc., and use emery paper or fine sandpaper to give the tube a brushed finish. Polish the epoxy using a fingernail shaper/polisher, available at any drug store. You can get a very fine finish with little effort using one of those. Cut to desired length. Drill holes in the cabinet of appropriate size for the new buttons. You can glue/solder washers onto the shaft of the button to keep it from falling out... or use your imagination. In the past, I used E-clips snapped into a groove that I had cut using the drill/lathe trick.

Another way is to use a solid metal button, as described above but using solid stock instead of a tube. Now, drill a hole in the front panel that is bigger than the button by about 1/16 to 1/8 inch (or 2 to 3 mm). Place a piece of lexan/acrylic behind the front panel. Drill a hole in the lexan of the correct size for the diameter of the button. A light from behind the button will be visible as a halo around the button, but the button itself does not light up. This looks very slick.
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