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I am trying to design a user interface that consists of several knobs which can turn (duh), be momentarily depressed (clicked), and can be backlit, based on whether they have been clicked or not.

I was thinking of finding some sort of 'clickable' potentiometer and mounting an LED next to it, underneath a semi-transparent shield of some sort.

However, I have had no luck finding these 'clickable' potentiomenters and I also thought it might be somewhat difficult to configure the LED properly as I described.

Does any sort of potentiometer exists? Is there a different route altogether that I should be taking to get the knob, click, and backlit functionality that I want?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ there is something called capaciative touch sensors, which are transparent. You may use one of those and a JK FF to toggle the status. I don't have specific experience with that, so somebody will post the answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Standard Sandun May 17 '12 at 15:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @sandun - I don't think capacitive sensors fit the "knobs which can turn" requirement. \$\endgroup\$ – stevenvh May 17 '12 at 15:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Have a look into knobs made by OKW: okwenclosures.com/products/okw/star-knobs.htm \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Alexeev May 17 '12 at 18:36
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Incremental encoders often have a haptic detent, and most have a push-button built-in. The detent momentum to overcome the detents may vary from hardly feelable to a clear click. There are also encoders which run smoothly, without detents. Most encoders have between 12 and 30 detents (and also pulses) per revolution.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ If it doesn't need to be a potentiometer, Sparkfun sells a part that matches your description almost perfectly: sparkfun.com/products/10982 \$\endgroup\$ – W5VO May 17 '12 at 16:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Encoders, and the linked item, are just what I'm looking for! When I see the word 'detent' on websites, does that mean it clicks on push down, or are those clicks you feel when rotating the item? \$\endgroup\$ – samoz May 17 '12 at 16:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Detents are the clicks for rotating \$\endgroup\$ – W5VO May 17 '12 at 18:43
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"Clickable" in terms that the parts industry uses usually means "tact" ... so if you search for "potentiometer with tact" you get some results.

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