Introduction: Bolts As Bottons (for Electronics)
I recently made a stereo / soundbar from some salvaged speakers (from a telly), an mp3 decoder board and an amplifier board. The stereo and the circuitry are shown . The decoder board i used has five buttons for : mode, previous track (also lowers volume), next track (also raises volume), play / pause and repeat. The buttons were too small, in the wrong order for my preference, also to use them as was would mean that the board would have to be on display, which wasn't what I had in mind.
After a bit of head scratching I decided to use bolts for the buttons, they had a nice minimal style that also looked somewhat handmade and industrial at the same time, more importantly I could do it with tools and fixtures that I had already.
The basic principal is this , a hole is drilled through the wood, the bolt slides through the hole, pressing the bolt in turn presses the button (a dirt cheap, and tiny, tactile momentary switch) the tactile switch is wired up to the solder points either side of the tactile switch that is surface mounted to the board.
If you wanted more movement in the buttons you could place a spring between the case and the nut, on the outside of the case. I didn't do this becase I didn't have suitable prings to hand.
The hardest part of this process is to solder the connecting wires onto the decoder board, it is small and fiddly, it isn't designed for it and the surrounding components are in the way. Also the more wires you put on, the more obstacles you are putting in your own way. I didn't take a picture of the actual board, but this shows the principal .
I made up a row of tactile switches, mounted on some perfboard. As the perfboard has an even, regular spacing, it was easy to transfer the spacing / measurments to the wooden case, and drill the holes. Ideally I would have used a drill press to make sure the angle of the holes was perfect, I didn't have one, so I made sure that I drilled from the inside of the case, that way the bolts would line up exactly on the switches. I think the end result looks passable. This row of switches was then mounted on a board, which was screwed on to the inside of the case.
It took absolutely ages to get the positioning right, I made up the case first and I really couldnt see what I was doing, after realising that I had no chance of getting it right whilst working blind, I reluctantly drilled a viewing window in the underside of the case, once I could see what I was doing it was easy, however, if I was doing it again it build the case around the buttons. We live and learn!
If you were to extend the process you could make a whole dieselpunk keyboard with similar buttons.