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Arcade Buttons, ThinCade Project (Robotron 2084)

Posted by pboland, in ThinCade 07 December 2018 · 76 views

I know this may seem like a really small detail that shouldn’t matter, but I’ve decide to see what I can do about the Robotron player select buttons.
 
For those that don’t know, the proper player select buttons on Robotron are translucent blue and they light up. The problem is, no one makes true replacement arcade buttons like these today. (Here's an example of an original Robotron control panel showing the blue buttons):
 

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So my task was to recreate these buttons with a “reasonable” look and feel at low cost. 
 
Let me first address “feel” of an arcade button. This is very dependent on the time frame from which you most likely spent time at the arcade. Many of the younger guys remember arcade buttons being “clicky”. These clicky type of buttons are actually more prevalent on 90’s fighter games. Earlier games tend to use a leaf switch type button that doesn’t click when pressed. The issue with using genuine leaf switch type buttons is they are costly. I’m trying to keep my cost down as much as possible. 
 
After looking at a couple different types of arcade style buttons I decided to purchase these:
 

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The blue translucent look is close to the original (which I can enhance) and the kicker is that these type of buttons actually feel closer to early 80’s leaf switch style arcade buttons. 
 
 
Okay, buttons obtained. Now how to make them look more original:
 
These new buttons are not as dark (on the button surface itself) as the original Robotron buttons and they don't have the casting marks that can be seen on the originals either. Here's what I've got after a little modification (the stock button on the left and my modified button on the right):
 

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This wasn't all the hard to modify. First I took the the button apart to have a look at it:

 

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The white plunger (which goes directly under the button cap) is what makes the button look too light in color. I decide I just need to darken it a bit. At the same time I want to add the cast marks that the original 1980's Robotron had. So I made up a blueish sticker that was the same size as the top of the white plunger (this is also how I added in the cast marks) and I needed a blue sharpie marker. Here they are all printed and cut:

 

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I colored the sides of the white plunger with the blue sharpie and then added the sticker:

 

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Now I just need to reassemble the switch:

 

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And this is the finished button:

 

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Here's a shot of it lit up:

 

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These buttons run on 5 volts, so I will be powering these with one of the open USB ports I have on my monitor inside the Robotron machine. They will be constantly on when the machine is powered up. This is good because that is exactly like the original arcade machine.

 

Next step... 

 






I was going to suggest getting replacement buttons from Wico, but it appears they've gone out of business.  There may still be a few parts distributors which stock the original translucent leaf spring buttons, but it appears you've managed to create a decent alternative.

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I was going to suggest getting replacement buttons from Wico, but it appears they've gone out of business.  There may still be a few parts distributors which stock the original translucent leaf spring buttons, but it appears you've managed to create a decent alternative.

 

I could have tried to locate leaf spring buttons, but that would have been to costly. I got the above switches (5 switches total) for $7.99 including shipping. That's only about $1.60 each. I doubt I would have been able to locate the real deal for that cost. 

 

My total scratch build for Robotron can only cost about $250.00 total. Every little bit counts. If you get a chance be sure to read:

 

http://atariage.com/...project-part-1/

 

It lists out what I'm try to build and my constrains. 

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