Anyone know of cheaper alternative material to plexiglass for homemade DDR pad arrows?

What the title says. I want to build a new wooden DDR pad, but this time spending as little money as possible. Plexiglass sheets make a great material for the arrows (see this video: ) but it drives up the cost of each pad by about $25. So I'm looking for a cheaper material that I can cut into squares for the arrows/buttons; it needs to be at least slightly flexible (so it can warp downwards slightly when stepped on) and obviously sturdy enough to withstand stepping, but it doesn't need to be transparent or plastic. Any ideas?

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rickharris7 years ago
If you don't need transparency then thinnish (6mm to 9mm) plywood will deflect when stood on.

You could drill holes in it to allow LED light through as well.

frollard7 years ago
I've made lots of ddr accessories -- (I'm one of those dudes that plays the 10-13 footer difficulty expert songs)...and the centre deflection style pads ...suck. I had 2 hard pads that relied on this method and they were terrible. Firm 'pads' and edge pressure detection are the way to go (same as the arcade machine uses)

Otherwise, for general use: As rickharris says -- plywood is the cheaper alternative, hands down.
Doval (author)  frollard7 years ago
Can you elaborate on what you mean by centre deflection and edge pressure detection? I currently have a copy of this pad Which is basically stainless steel squares bolted down to the wooden base, with some thick tape running under the squares' edges to give it a slight upwards bulge. I've never had a problem with it, and I find it to be more sensitive than arcade pads since it requires very little pressure to make contact. I'm hoping to do the same thing except using squares of a cheaper material with aluminium foil glued underneath.

If no one else has any ideas, I'll probably be using the plywood as per rickharris' and your suggestion.
frollard Doval7 years ago
the deflection pads use less force and more physical motion. The pressure pads use more pressure but less distance travelled. Each has its benefits -- when you get to the expert level, quickness of activation comes from less throw in the switch, resulting in tighter timing tolerance.

Deflection is the type you have, where the bending material makes a circuit on the centre.

Edge detection has 4+ sensors for each pad which detect pressure with very little movement. There are several ways to accomplish this type of sensor. The reason arcade units use it is a) durability, and b) as mentioned above, accuracy.
Doval (author)  frollard7 years ago
My current skill level is 9 foot songs, haven't had an issue. However, you have piqued my curiosity. Can you give me a link that explains how to make the sensors?
frollard Doval7 years ago
There are several methods -- everything from microswitches sprung with rubber, to air pressure sensors detecting the compression of a silicone tube.
Burf7 years ago
A transparent desk chair mat for hardwood floors (no cleats on the bottom side) should work well for something like that and I have seen some of the cheaper ones at Staples for about $30-$35.
The wear well and are slightly flexible.
chair mat.jpg