Author Topic: Generic keyboard/keypad keys?  (Read 3904 times)

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Offline Andrew_K

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Generic keyboard/keypad keys?
« on: September 20, 2016, 10:24:35 pm »
Hey all,

I'm looking to incorporate keyboard keys into a few embedded projects of mine, but I'm trying to avoid using Cherry MX switches as they are pricey.

I know they have to exist somewhere, but I can't seem to find any to buy online. I'm looking for something like this https://sli.mg/a/gV0pVJ. I've seen these keys used in other embedded projects, for example that camera controller, CNC controllers, or cash registers.

I find it hard to believe that a generic variant of these do not exist... All I have been able to find when searching Dome/Membrane/Silicone/Keypad/Switches/etc. were tactile switches/domes or those cheap Chinese membrane stickers like this http://www.vetco.net/catalog/images/VUPN6955-1.jpg

To be clear, I am not looking for those cheap Chinese keypads, but rather a solution that looks like a standard keyboard. Ideally it would come with keys, membrane pad, and key retainers, and would make contact directly with the PCB.

If it turns out I can't find any from china, I'll probably just make my own molds and mill them myself. While this works (I've done some initial tests with resin and silicone casting), it's a pain in the ass to do, takes hours to machine, and I'd rather buy something pre-made. I thought I would check the internet one more time before committing hours to this.

Thanks,
Andrew
« Last Edit: September 20, 2016, 11:38:26 pm by Andrew_K »
 

Offline Andrew_K

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Re: Generic keyboard/keypad keys?
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2016, 11:42:47 pm »
 The cheapest I was finding was about $.80 a cherry switch without key caps. Are they cheaper somewhere else?
 

Online ataradov

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Re: Generic keyboard/keypad keys?
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2016, 01:46:35 am »
There are push buttons like this http://www.ebay.com/itm/5-Pcs-Momentary-Tact-Tactile-Push-Button-Switch-12-x-12mm-x-10mm-4-Pin-DIP-w-Cap-/271497055911?hash=item3f367c4ea7:g:Pg0AAOSw3v5XItz1 all over eBay. This specific one is just a random one, there are way better prices out there. Caps can be sold separately and they are available in a variety of colors (all with transparent cap).

They are probably not as reliable as regular keyboard keys, but that is ok in many cases.
Alex
 

Offline Andrew_K

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Re: Generic keyboard/keypad keys?
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2016, 03:49:12 am »
Unfortunately my idea needs physical keyboard keys, like a computer would have. It's purely aesthetic, but it wouldn't sell if it used a cheap rubber button pad. Actually, this is for a prototype human interface device for computers... so that's why I'm being so picky. I want the final product to be nice.

And I did find some cheaper Chinese version of the cherry MX keys. $0.30 per switch is a lot more reasonable than $0.85 on digikey or ebay. Still, I'd like to cut the cost as much as possible. It's likely this won't be as big a success as I want it to be, but just in case, I'm designing it with manufacturing in mind. This is a device that will need 20+ keys, and half the cost is already on the key switches. Not including PCB, which is why the standalone membranes are so appealing.

I know they've manufactured them for other products... And they HAVE to exist generically somewhere... Just look at this picture I found: http://image.ec21.com/image/posprinterparts/oimg_GC06470592_CA06991740/Sell_Wincor_TA61_Keyboard_Silicone_Membrane.jpg. It's arranged in a square grid rather than a QWERTY layout, which tells me these are cut in to strips and used for smaller embedded applications.
 

Online ataradov

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Re: Generic keyboard/keypad keys?
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2016, 03:53:36 am »
It's likely this won't be as big a success as I want it to be, but just in case, I'm designing it with manufacturing in mind.
Then your problem solved. If product does not sell well, then keys will be a bit more expensive, otherwise, they are $0.47 @ 5000 pcs on Digikey.
Alex
 

Offline dom0

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Re: Generic keyboard/keypad keys?
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2016, 05:44:42 pm »
There are push buttons like this http://www.ebay.com/itm/5-Pcs-Momentary-Tact-Tactile-Push-Button-Switch-12-x-12mm-x-10mm-4-Pin-DIP-w-Cap-/271497055911?hash=item3f367c4ea7:g:Pg0AAOSw3v5XItz1 all over eBay. This specific one is just a random one, there are way better prices out there. Caps can be sold separately and they are available in a variety of colors (all with transparent cap).

Almost all of these feel awful.

Cherry MX switches are imho the way to go here. There are companies that can print you keycaps with any labelling you desire for a reasonable price (e.g. wasdkeyboards), today you could probably even get away with 3D-printing your key caps.
,
 

Offline ebclr

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Re: Generic keyboard/keypad keys?
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2016, 05:51:11 pm »
 


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