Here i am and the second version is ready.
Objectives were – Making a cheap version button box & a more expensive one.
This version 2 project was a more expensive one, more laborious, but was it worth it? Is there any difference?
Please, after you.
Let´s start in the beginning:
the predecessor of both V1 & V2 button boxes was a simple pilot test design . i´ll enunciate the materials and process.
The main body of this box is made of ABS, and the acrylic, is not acrylic; it is a piece of plastic from a passe-partout that was laser cut; and in that process i reached the conclusion that indeed this “acrylic” was a piece of cheap, low low end plastic.
Not all is bad, as in this box it was used a sheet of real carbon fiber, 0.5 mm thick, with final treatment and to my surprise the laser cutting machine was not able to cut it. That´s when i knew it was real carbon fiber and not a composite sheet of other materials. Side note: I´m saying this laser was not able to cut the carbon fiber, not stating all laser cutting machines cannot cut real carbon fiber. Eventually i force the materials by using middle age methods and the holes came up.
Now, let´s move to the main box; V2 Button Box, and to that i´ll refer to the materials first.
The main theme for this box was the Gt3 world and it was inspired in the Audi interior, from 2015 . The box weighs 186 g and it´s from Hammond´s . It´s ABS with a nice finish; a bit rugged for better grabbing. It measures: Length: 193,41 mm x Width: 113,41 mm x Height: 58,25 mm.
The acrylic sheet is 2 mm thick and all the front part of the case was laser cut. You can see a part of that process on my YouTube channel. Subscribe!
It was used on this project 5 NKK push buttons , 2 NKK switches and 2 Rotary encoders from Tusonix.
Let´s break this:
The “Pit” and “Reverse” are NKK MB2011 ON- (ON) push buttons with 6 mm in diameter; using black conical nut, black cap.
The “Radio” and “Info” are NKK MB2011-SB push buttons. They are ON- (ON) also but these are 12 mm in diameter: a lot bigger! They have a rated life of 50.000 cycles. In use, on the picture below : 22 mm black shroud with black cap.
Red squared button is NKK also, it has a red bright led and it´s the best tactile feel i have experienced with push buttons.The best! The model is UB15.
It´s a SPDT contact form with ON-(ON) switch function. Highly precise with ≅ 3mm press-down-to-actuate.
The NKK toggle switches;
The “Emergency” and “Lights” are NKK M2015 toggle switches with ON-(ON) function.
These have a nice feature; a locking lever mechanism that prevents accidental push. You need to pull them before pushing them in the direction of actuation.
Like with the other buttons these can be customized and as an example it has a red screw down cap.
They fit through a 6 mm hole.
We are approaching the rotary encoders from Tusonix / CTS;
“Dash” & “Abs” using 2, 2 bit incremental encoders with momentary switch. So these are rotary encoders + a push button.
About the rotary specs:
They have continuous rotation and are available in 16 detents.
Shaft measures 18 mm and the body and shaft around 37 mm. They fit through a 10 mm hole.
For the moment this button box features 11 buttons; 9 visible and 2 of them included in the encoders, with a switch travel of 0,5 mm ( .020″).
Visually the encoders look robust and the feeling of having one in hand corroborates that assertion. They can stand a Push-Pull Strength of Shaft of 8 kg (minimum) for 10 seconds.
The board that connects it all;
The BBI-32 interface is a usb board with push in wire connectors to connect buttons, rotary encoders and switches. The main must for this board is that it does not require any solder but that´s not all;
Push buttons, toggle switches, rotary encoders and rotary switches can be wired to it.
The board has external connectors for the +5v and ground if some component needs it.
It´s immediately recognized by windows; if the buttons are connected we have an instant button box.
Leo Bodnar´s website provides software for rotary encoders. Simple, fast, fantastic in my opinion.
My input regarding this board is that it´s easy to use, feels high quality and has a clean look.
I like attention to detail;
this board came in two packages when shipped: An outer enclosure or box and a thick Moisture Barrier Bag, RoHs compliant so, a nice bag!
There is only one thing that you need to mind with this board: The wire you choose! The recommended wire size is 24AWG to 20AWG and it´s advisable to follow these parameters otherwise you can see yourself making trial and error attempts that take more than the recommended time for a task like this one!
The board can handle 32 buttons or 16 rotary encoder or 11 BBI-32 rotary switch inputs and its also possible to light LEDs to illuminate panels or push buttons, when the input is switch on.
It measures 85.60mm in length x 53.98mm in width x 16.1mm in Height.
All the information regarding the board can be found at: http://www.leobodnar.com/shop/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=94
V2 button Box visuals;
On Version one button box i made an introduction to the “Mirroring technique”. That technique was applied to this box; it consists in placing the information on the back side of the acrylic: between the carbon fiber vinyl and the acrylic. This way, the front side of the acrylic keeps smooth with no labels, hence more difficult to come off.
The labels on this box are separated from each other;
The white line contour of the triangle is pasted separately from the blue filling part, and the red is independent from the blue and white forms.
To me this button box is visually appealing; it features high quality components with the possibility of disassemble it all to build another one or another thing.
The BBI-32 can be used to make a wheel button plate, for example, as seen on some high quality projects like Asher Racing , Leo Bodnar or Sam Maxwell Customs.
One can elaborate a similar project, with a board that can manage enough connections to fill a rim of any size.
Of course, if you want it done, with attention to detail, i think these three options can deliver.
Asher Racing: http://www.ascher-racing.com/
Sam Maxwell Customs: http://www.sammaxwellcustoms.com/
OK, so i have to answer two questions regarding the opening statement;
“Is it worth it?”
“Where is the difference?”
It is worth it just for the fact i make use of it. It´s a solid button box. It´s also unique.
Anyhow, it´s worth something, let´s see:
- Cost of buttons including guards and caps: 55€
- Custom labels, laser cut, acrylic and box: 30€
- BBI-32 board: 55€
- Consumables (wire, solder, etc): 8€
There is one thing that is worthwhile improving and that´s the box itself. With a even higher quality box i will be looking at a button box that can last an entire human life.
“Is there a difference?”
Yes. Aside visuals and materials the one thing that i really like its the way this box is recognized in all the games i have tried, due to the board. Some of the buttons have a rated life of 1 million uses. And the rotary encoders seem to be pretty handy, when adjusting ABS, TC or monitor FOV.
This box will be a complement of the Version one, not an option of choosing between one another.
Another question could be; “Are the two boxes worlds apart for one to cost 150€ and the other 30€? ” I don´t know, i really like the 30€ version too! I don’t remember worrying half the times with the cheaper version in the process of building it. Attention to the materials, a full basket of items on a European supplier, worrying and a lot of physiological sensations to get it right were a part of this project.
I´ll see you well.