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Printable buttons for tactile domes

How to design and print small buttons for a portable console based on Arduino called Arduboy

Hackaday Prize entries using Digikey parts

This project was created on 02/05/2018 and last updated 3 months ago.

Arduboy is a miniature game system the size of a credit card. After a successful Kickstarter campaign months ago, a new version of the Arduboy is going to be fabricated, with golden buttons and a black pcb. But before that one gets released I wanted to make my own.

I just need to paint the PCB and the buttons. Who knew that the paint thinner in the paint was going to eat my buttons and leave me with an unfinished hack? Can my printer save me with such tiny prints?Details

Everything was going nice with my custom Arduboy, after painting the PCB with a sharpie marker, Ijust need to reattach the LCD and paint the buttons with a shiny gold color.

All the other Arduboys are looking how the gold paint gets dry. But the paint never got dry:

Now I have no buttons. The paint melted a layer of the coating and I had to discard them.

These are quite simple. Copying the dimensions from the original ones I get a simple profile:

Then you have to revolve the profile around the right side vertical axis and you get a nice button:

These are more complex because the shape is not a primitive. My first design is composed by two simple shapes and several fillets:

Usingfreeforms, I can replace the top part with a more organic shape:

Done. The directional button is ready.

So, it seems like my printer saved the Arduboy. Now I can assemble the console and play… right?

After few seconds Inotice that the buttons are crap. You have to press them extremely hard to get a key-press registered.Something is wrong.The only difference with the original ones is a protrusion in the bottom. Of course, Icannot make that protrusion because FDM 3D printing limitations.

I printed so many versions trying to achieve that protrusion… nothing worked.

Sometimes you need to think out of the box, what if I did not print that protrusion but used filament for creating what I needed:

A piece of filament goes sideways (to use the constant diameter of the filament to my advantage)in a hole, below each button.

After playing for several days with them, Ican say that the new buttons areperfect. And since you cannot buy button replacements, there is no really another way to fix your Arduboy.

I cannot perceive any difference between the printed buttons and the original ones just by touching them. But I am printing them at 0.05 layer so the finishing surface is really smooth on the fingertips, so maybe that is the reason.

x-zip-compressed – 449.36 kB – 02/05/2018 at 12:59

Standard Tesselated Geometry – 582.21 kB – 02/05/2018 at 12:59

Standard Tesselated Geometry – 510.14 kB – 02/05/2018 at 12:59

Cut pieces of about 1 mm of filament and using nose pliers push them sideways into the bottom part of each button. You are going to feel resistance first and then the fit will be perfect.

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This gives me confidence that Id be able to print some buttons for my EXPLOG project. Your prints look great.

Thats a brilliant idea! The arduboy buttons have, for such a small thickness, a very long course and amazing feeling, so we tried to replicate and adapt them to our funkey zero project ( But our prints have a flat bottom like your first iterations, well definitely try your idea with a chunk of filament inside and let everyone know its your idea. Thats great thinking man!

+1 to e. Brilliant technique. I will use this . I have an arduboy too, but my motivation is primarily adding buttons to my DIY phone. The buttons I have designed till now seem reasonable, but this technique seems superior.

using a chunk of filament on its side to ensure accurate dimensions is a great idea!

Plan on turning a controller into a Pipboy for Fallout. The Pipboy would be fully functional for a player.

Functional Pipboy controller for Fallout

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