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Pushbuttons are the simplest and most common form of control consisting of a momentary switch that makes contact when pressed.

Microswitch Pushbuttons

Microswitch Pushbutton

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
  • Spring
  • Microswitch

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.

These buttons are sold by numerous vendors. Common suppliers are Happ, Ultimarc, FX Buttons and GroovyGameGear.

Installation requires a 1 1/8" hole.

See Also - Working with Microswitches and Wiring Push Buttons and Conventional Digital Joysticks.

Leafswitch Pushbuttons

Leafswitch Buttons
Leafswitch Holders
Leafswitch Pal Nuts

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
  • 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

Volcano switch black.jpg
Volcano switchs red n blk1.jpg
Volcano switch n lens.jpg
Volcano switch lens1.jpg
Volcano switchs red n blk2.jpg

Also known as cone buttons, volcano buttons are comprised of:

  • Microswitch
  • 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.

EAO 11-131.825N switch with 11-931.2 red lens

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.

Related BYOAC Forum threads: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4

See Also