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?

  • \$\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\$ May 17, 2012 at 15:26
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @sandun - I don't think capacitive sensors fit the "knobs which can turn" requirement. \$\endgroup\$
    – stevenvh
    May 17, 2012 at 15:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Have a look into knobs made by OKW: okwenclosures.com/products/okw/star-knobs.htm \$\endgroup\$ May 17, 2012 at 18:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ What about a Rotatory encoder? \$\endgroup\$
    – Bhuvnesh
    Feb 20, 2020 at 11:58

2 Answers 2


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.

  • \$\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, 2012 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, 2012 at 16:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Detents are the clicks for rotating \$\endgroup\$
    – W5VO
    May 17, 2012 at 18:43

"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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