Has anyone used a Thumbwheel Switch such as these: http://www.digikey.com/product-search/en?mpart=A7D-106-1&vendor=39

I am interested in changing the internal number strip. For examples I have only found Digit based switches from 0-9, I personally would like to put my own set. I asked Digikey + Mouser techs via Chat and they said I would need a custom order from manufacturer.

Does anyone know how these work? How hard is it to create my own? Yes, I know I can use an OLED screen with two buttons and an ATtiny85 to create my own digital pushwheel switch, however, I would like a thumbwheel where the values/digits/symbols can be printed/replaced.

  • \$\begingroup\$ We used those (or something like it) ~20 years ago. Buy one and pull it apart... I think it's just a switch plate.. base 2. How about a nice optical encoder? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 17 '15 at 21:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ There are many other types of switches. Hex and Octal are reasonably common. Some with just a + and - are available and most professional ones can be locked to a restricted range of positions to avoid over range. Placing an adhesive strip around the dial would be the easiest, just select switches that you can open and close without having to permanently damage them. \$\endgroup\$
    – KalleMP
    Apr 29 '17 at 16:15

A google image search for Thumbwheel switch shows a bunch...

Below is an example of one taken apart, the design hasn't changed much in decades. enter image description here

Nothing to stop you from disassembling it, taking a 3d scan of the wheel, then 3d printing your own, except for how fragile one is, or time/money/resources.

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    \$\begingroup\$ That's a sturdy old Soviet switch. The ones I had made in Asia many moons ago were a lot more subtle- 3D printing resolution may not cut it. I would expect the minimum order quantity (MOQ) from a Japanese supplier for a custom product would be prohibitive for most buyers- maybe 50K but at least 5K pieces. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 17 '15 at 21:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SpehroPefhany its just an example of the internals. \$\endgroup\$
    – Passerby
    Feb 17 '15 at 22:13

The numbers are usually printed (and perhaps embossed) directly on the thumbwheel.

If you disassemble the switch, you may be able to cover the existing numbers with sticky labels from a labelmaker.


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