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I'd like to add some kind of illumination to the buttons on my project. To that end, I was thinking of illuminated pushbuttons, with built in LEDs. However, the ones I found are very big (I'm looking for small microswitches, or at the largest 6mmx6mm tactile switches) and/or they use 120V/240V neon bulbs, not LEDs, and are designed to switch mains.

I was also considering getting transparent switches (made of clear plastic of one form or another) and putting LEDs underneath them. The idea is that the project can be used at night so a green or orange colour would probably work well. Does anyone have experience with this, have you done something similar, what types of buttons did you use?

Something like these but with LEDs in them.

Please note I'm not looking for specific part numbers - those would be helpful though - but instead ideas on how to accomplish this and types of switches to be looking out for.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you asking us to find a suitable part for you, or comment on the idea of illuminated buttons? Or both? \$\endgroup\$ – Toby Jaffey Nov 23 '10 at 14:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Joby Taffey: parts would be helpful, as I haven't found any by browsing Farnell's catalog, but also if anyone has done this before it would be interesting to know which approach was taken. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas O Nov 23 '10 at 14:32
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Well, I have a idea which may not be the best but you can use it if you don't get those switch. Have you tried using acrylic sheet ?? thats a very good and neat option and you can get the job done with less number of led's & less power consumption.

as its very easy to work with these sheets and for better illumination around the switch etch the acrylic sheet, Its going to look gr8 :)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This sounds like a good idea. Putting bits of acrylic over the buttons. However, I don't know how I'd cut them down; I don't have the equipment here. Also, any idea on how to fit them to the buttons? \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas O Nov 23 '10 at 18:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Laser engraving shops should be able to do the cutting, provided the acrylic is not too much thick. \$\endgroup\$ – fceconel Nov 23 '10 at 20:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Attaching acrylic pieces on top of the push buttons can be difficult depending on the material the button is made. Usually it is a kind of plastic to which glues don't stick well, and there aren't many other options in this case. But instead consider cutting holes in the acrylic for the buttons, in order to have an acrylic "frame". If you engrave the surface and place LEDs at the edges, the engraving will direct their light upwards. \$\endgroup\$ – fceconel Nov 23 '10 at 20:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ No you don't have to cut and stick them, just use this board to mount the switch on... and etch one side of it (you can use a drembel rotary tool if you want some fancy designs n stuffs) or make holes on it(using drill machine or something) and let the switch fit on it so when you fix the LED at the corner those cut edges will glow as a neon. I have done it believe me it looks COOL :) to cover up the buttons you can use standard covers for those switches so it will have a very good finish. \$\endgroup\$ – Zaxx Nov 23 '10 at 20:39
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I farnell'd for "LED Tactile Switch" and got this:

http://uk.farnell.com/jsp/search/browse.jsp?N=500006+1000190&Ntk=gensearch_001&Ntt=led+tactile+switch&Ntx=mode+matchallpartial

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Those look nice. I'd prefer to have a button with overall illumination instead of concentrated LED light, but they would also work. I tried searching under categories for what I wanted but didn't think to use the search text. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas O Nov 23 '10 at 17:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ This seems rather localized. \$\endgroup\$ – Kellenjb Nov 23 '10 at 17:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @kellenjb, Please elaborate, he gave an example of a part that would work, but happened to link it to Farnell, does that make it localised? I am looking for ideas on how to accomplish this. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas O Nov 23 '10 at 18:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasO, Who is Mr. Hedgehog? \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Nov 23 '10 at 21:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's a mystery! \$\endgroup\$ – Mr. Hedgehog Nov 23 '10 at 22:18
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Farnell also sells these: http://www.omron.com/ecb/products/pdf/en-b3w-9.pdf

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Near perfect, if only they were slightly smaller! \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas O Nov 24 '10 at 22:10
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I don't usually answer my own questions but I think with a few days of internet research I've found the best one I can get. TL1240 comes in a 6mm x 6mm package and has an LED built in. I'll look for alternatives, but so far this is the best, and even better, is almost the same size as my original non-illuminated switches. Mouser stock them (in the UK) for £1.39 each, which is a pretty good price. Microswitches with LEDs would be good but I think I'd be hoping for too much there!

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