Pushbuttons are the simplest and most common form of control consisting of a momentary switch that makes contact when pressed.
Pushbuttons come in various shapes, sizes and configurations though the most common is the Industrias Lorenzo horizontal microswitch pushbutton (aka Happ Horizontal Pushbutton). Because they use a microswitch these buttons make a clicking noise on activation and deactivation that may seem a little alien to many old-school gamers. They comprise the following parts:
- Button plunger
- Button housing/bezel
The plunger top may be concave, flat or convex. The microswitch can be positioned horizontally or vertically. Most people prefer horizontal orientation as these tend to be more reliable (read why here.) Microswitch pushbuttons are probably the most popular type of button used in arcades. Because of this they can be found in almost any color both opaque and transparent. They can also be found with little men icons, generally used as start buttons for the player indicated.
Installation requires a 1 1/8" hole.
Before microswitch pushbuttons appeared, leafswitch pushbuttons were the standard and are still preferred by many people today. The main advantage to leafswitches over microswitches is that they are almost completely silent. They comprise the following parts:
- Button holder (usually with the actual leafswitch attached)
- Pal nut
As with most types of pushbuttons, they come in two lengths; long (1 7/8") for wooden panels and short (1 5/8") for metal panels.
It is occasionally difficult to find buttons of the appropriate color and the appropriate length for a particular project. In those situations, check Leaf Switches & Button Solutionsby The Real Bob Roberts for potential solutions.
Atari Volcano Buttons
Also known as cone buttons, volcano buttons are comprised of:
- Lens (plunger)
- Plastic mounting clip/brace
- Plastic or aluminium cone
These were used as player start buttons in many Atari cabinets, available with illuminated red and later solid black lenses. The red button lens would blink when a player inserted a coin and remain lit during gameplay. Taller cones were used on fire buttons of Missile Command.
The actual switch used appears to be a Cherry DB3 sub-miniature microswitch. This switch is still available from Cherry, however the plastic mounting clip and lenses have been out of production for some time. The plastic cones were re-produced by Gamecab, but have been unavailable for a while now.
Charlie from Gamecab.com discovered that a company called EAO currently manufactures switch assemblies that are quite similar to the original Cherry P163 assemblies. They don't include an LED, but the neck is threaded the same as an Atari cone, so they work pretty well together. They are available from Newark In One.