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Publication numberUS3170057 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateFeb 16, 1965
Filing dateDec 22, 1960
Priority dateDec 22, 1960
Publication numberUS 3170057 A, US 3170057A, US-A-3170057, US3170057 A, US3170057A
InventorsKane Hugh, Robert A Pusch
Original AssigneeGen Electric
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Illuminated push putton switch
US 3170057 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
Next page
Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Feb. 16, 1965 H. KANE ETAL 3,170,057

ILLUMINATED PUSH BUTTON SWITCH Filed Dec. 22, 1960 79. I 2 emf/l 6 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 6 46 56 I HUGH Ki ls 3 36 By ROBERT A. PUSCH I24 ATTORNEY Feb. 16, 1965 H- KANE ETAL 3,170,057

ILLUMINATED PUSH BUTTON SWITCH Filed Dec. 22, 1960 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 INVENTORS HUGO KANE ROBERT A. PUSCH ATTORNEY United sesame 3,170,057 ILLUMINATED PUSH PUTTON SWHTCH Hugh Kane, Normal, and Robert A. Pusch, Le Roy, Ill., assignors to General Electric Company, a corporation of New York Filed Dec. 22, 1960, Ser. No..77,748 7 Claims. (Cl. 200-467) This invention relates to manually operated electrical selector switches and particularly to illuminated switches.

Selector switches are mechanisms for making or breaking electrical contacts. The operation may be momen-l tary under actuation, or the actuated condition may be latched. The switch contacts, in turn, control the energization of various electrical or electromechanical devices or motors. Such selector switches have actuator mechanisrns that are of the push button or turn button types; the former term is often used to'describe both modes of actuation and is so used hereinafter. With such push buttons, illumination is sometimes used to provide a visual indication of the state of actuation of the switch or of its associated circuit. That is, the illuminated condition indicates that a push button has been operated or requires operation.

In mounting these push button switches on a panel, presently available components generally require more than square inches of panel space per unit. This invention is concerned with providing a push button switch construction that is adapted for about half that size.

In providing a small-size'push buttonswitch it is desirable to retain a high level of operational and constru tion characteristics. For example, theactuators should be oil tig ht, and should be stable and reliable in their operation. The electrical connections to the illuminatinglamp should be reliable notwithstanding movement of the actuator containing the lamp. The lamp should be accessible for replacement. The area of illumination should be large and readily visible to the operator and, if possible, larger than the operators finger so as to be visible during opera;

tion. of the push button. Moreover, the illuminated condition of the lamp should be evident in actuated as well as unactuated positions of the push button involving asubstantial. movement therebetween. e I Accordingly, it is an object of this invention to provide a new and improved illuminated switch. Another object is to provide a new and improved illuminated'switch actuator that is small in size and effective and reliable in operation. v Another object is to provide a new and improved illuminated switch actuator that is small in size and has a large visible area of illumination.

Another object is to provide a new and improved illu-- minated switch actuator in which the illuminated condition isvisible in various states of the actuator. 11 In carrying out this invention in one preferred embodiment, an illuminated switch actuator mechanism includes a 'push button actuating member having a signal lamp housing. The lamp housing is movable with the actuat ing member in a base that has an adjacent reflecting surface. The refiecting surface-receives light froma lamp within the movable-housing when the housing is in differ ent operating positions to provide a large visible illuminated area. v,

.With this arrangement, a refracting means forming part of a push button lamp housing directs the light to a reflecting surface from one of the housing positions. The threaded portion of a transparent lamp housing is used as the reflecting, means to direct the light to the reflecting surface.

a The reflecting surface is formed as a concave ring around the push button lamp housing, which ring is effection when read ice.

in which the push the lamp include'a collar therearound which makes. con-.

tact with a resilient side contact in the housing, and a central resilient contact in the housing for the central base terminal of the lamp.

Electrical connections for the lamp circuit of the push button actuating member include .twocoil springs'at least partly housed in the actuating member. 7

The foregoing and other objects of this invention, the various features thereof, as wellas the invention itself may be more fully appreciated from the following descriptogether with the accompanying drawing,

in which:

FIGURE 1 is an enlarged sectional view of an illuminated push button switch actuator embodying this invention; FIGURE 2 is an exploded View in perspective of the actuator of FIGURE 1 and a contact switch block embodying this invention;

' FIGURE 3 is an exploded view in perspective of a lamp housing embodying this' invention;

FIGURE 4 is partially a schematic circuit diagram and partially a perspective 'view of the switch operating member in the contact block of FIGURE 2;

FIGURE 5 is a fragmentary view similar to that of FIGURE 1 with the movable parts illustrated in a different position; and FIGURE 6 is a sectional fragmentary view similar to that of FIGURE 1 illustrating'a modification of theelec:

trical connections invention. 7

r In the drawing corresponding parts are referenced by in the: lamp housing embodying this similar numerals.

An illuminated push button switch actuator mechanism is shown in FIGURE I mounted on an instrument panel iii. The switch actuator mechanism includes a base 12 of generally cylindrical form with a cylindrical passage 14'- extending therethrough except for two annular flanges l6 and 18 that break the passage at the outer end of the base 14. A packing gland 20 is mounted in the annular space 1 between the flanges 16 and 13. Slidably mounted Within the passage 14 is a movable actuating member 21 that includes a lamp housing 22. This lamp housing 2.2 has a hollow cylindrical member 24 of plastic material that is at least partially transparent or translucent which slides within the circular passage formed by the flanges 16 and 18 and the packing gland 20. The cylinder '24 is internally threaded for engagement with the threads26 of a hollow transparent cap 28 which fits withinthe cylinder 24. The cap 28 has a'flanged head portion 30 which 7 overlaps the end of thecylinder 24 to. provide a smooth" continuation thereof. A sealingring 321at the flanged' head 30 keeps the threads 26 clean of difta'nd'moisture.

A lamp 34 is mounted within the cap ZS'and the hollow cylinder24. The lamp 34 is of the type having acdnductive collar 36 and abase terminal 38 which form the, circuit contacts for the lamp; A stepped conductive"re-' taining sleeve 40 is normally mounted to enclose the conductive collar 36. of the lampand to engage :a conductive flange at the base of the lamp with the shoulder formed by the step 42therein. A bent up ear 44 forms a central spring contact for the lamp base terminal 38. This con- 0 spring contacts 52 in the arms'thereof for enclosing, the

sleeve 40 is also pinned to the bottom housing wall 46 by a pin 54.

" Paie ied F-eb. 16,1935 I The pins 48 and 54 are fastened to conductive bushings 52' formed in recesses in the bottom housing wall 46. Conductive coil springs 54' are frictionally secured around the bushings 52 to provide yieldable electrical connections externally of the housing 22.

In positioning the lamp 34 within the lamp housing 22, the cap 28 is effective to engage the step 42 of the retaining sleeve 40, which, in turn, is effective to engage the flanged base of the lamp collar 36 and press that lamp firmly into position for engagement with the contact 44. The cap 28 also presses the sleeve 40 into engagement with the contacts 52 to insure a reliable electrical connection. The lamp 34 substantially fills the hollow cap and extends into the head portion 30. To replace the lamp 34, the cap 28 is unscrewed, and a new lamp 34 is inserted in the sleeve 40 and firmly seated into place between the spring contacts 52 by the action of the cap 28. This construction is effective in operation even for a lamp housing that is about one-half inch in external diameter and a lamp that is one-half inch in length.

The lamp housing 22 has an outwardly projecting annular flange 56 formed therearound in the lower half thereof. The flange 56 engages the lower surface of the base flange 18 which forms a limit stop for the upward travel of the lamp housing 22. A coil spring 58 surrounds the lower end 59 of lamp housing 22 and is seated between the lower surface of the flange 56 and a flange 60 of a retaining and guiding cylinder 62. The cylinder 62 slidably embraces the lower end 59 of the lamp housing 22 and has a key tongue 64 that slides in a groove 66 formed along the length of the housing portion 59 to the flange 56 to prevent rotation of the housing 22 in the base 12. The flange 62 of the ring 60 is fastened in a recess at the lower end of the base 12 by suitable means such as staking. The height of the ring 62 is chosen to provide a lower limit stop for the flange 56 which corresponds to the lower, flat surface of the housing wall 46 being substantially even with the lower end of the base 12. The lamp housing 22 is then positioned with the cap head 30 projecting from the base 12 as indicated in FIGURE 5.

The base 12 is mounted on an instrument panel by means of a knurled clamping ring 70 which is internally threaded and fastened to the threaded upper end of the base 12. Washers 72, a sealing ring 74, and a positioning plate 76 are used in a well known manner to ensure proper clamping and sealing of the panel 10 between the shoulder formed at the lower surface of the clamping ring 70 and an annular flange 78 projecting outwardly from the lower portion of the base 12. The positioning plate 76 includes a bent-down lug 80 that fits in a notch in the panel 10 and a tongue that fits in a groove 82 along the base 12 to index the positioning of the base on the panel 10.

The portion 83 of the base 12 below the flange 78 is octagonal in shape to mate with a similar shaped vestibule 84 at the upper end of a contact switch block 86. The contact block 86 is made of insulating material and formed in two halves 88, 90 similarly shaped at the upper vestibule portion to form the aforementioned octagon shape. Attached to the upper vestibule wall of one block half 88 is a pair of convex contact terminals 92 that are embraced by the lower ends of the connecting springs 54' (see FIGURE 4). Within the block half 88 electrical conductors 94 (FIGURE 4) connect the contact terminals 92 via a voltage-dropping resistor 96 to a pair of suitable externally accessible connector terminals 98. The external circuit (not shown) for energizing the lamp filament 100 is controlled by the fixed contacts 102 and 104 and movable contacts 106 and 108, respectively, all positioned in the other block half 90. Connector terminals 110 and 112 are accessible from outside of the block 85 for connection to the fixed contacts 102, 104. Separate contact bars for the movable contacts 106 and .of the switch.

108 are resiliently spaced by a spring 114 therebetween and movably mounted in an operating plunger 116. The plunger 116 is biased by a spring 118 so that an upstanding finger 120 thereof projects into the vestibule 84 for actuation by the lower flat surface of the lamp housing wall 46. The two halves of the contact block are separated by an insulating sheet 122.

, The contact block 86 is mounted on the actuator base 12 by inserting the lower base portion 83 into the vestibule 84 of the contact block. The connecting springs 54' overlie the terminals 92 so that movement of the lamp housing 24 down and up causes contraction and expansion of the springs within guiding recesses 124 formed in the relatively thick housing wall 46. The vestibule portion 84 of the contact block in depth corresponds to the height of the retaining ring 62 to that of the base portion 46. The base flange 78 forms a seal over the top edge of the contact block. The vestibule 84 is the space common to the actuator 12 and the contact block 86, in which actuation of the switch operating plunger 116 takes place. Screws set through the side vestibule walls into the base portion 83 fasten the units together.

In addition to mounting the base 12 on the panel 10, the clamping ring 70 is used as a reflector in order to provide an enlarged illumination area for the lamp housing 22. That is, the upper surface 126 of the clamping ring 70 which may be of the order of one inch in diameter is concave and polished. Light from the lamp 34 is directed outwardly through the transparent cap head 30 and, in addition, is directed downwardly to the reflecting surface 126, whence it is reflected upwardly and outwardly. The threaded portion 26 of the transparent cap 28 disperses a substantial amount of light into the concave reflector 126. A refractive effect is attained by an appropriate choice of materials for the cap 28 and the housing cylinder 24.

It has been found that a larger amount of light is directed into the reflector 126 when different materials are used for the cap 28 and the housing cylinder 24. Such different materials also prevent binding between these two elements. Suitable materials are tenite for the cap 28 and polystyrene for the cylinder 24. The cap 28 lends itself to use as an indicator by using different colors therefor, which may be changed in use without change of the switch block 84 or the actuator. The aforementioned materials for the cap 28 and cylinder 24 preferably have different indices of refraction to assure a refractive interface therebetween.

With this arrangement, a substantial area of illumination is provided even when the push button cap 28 is covered by an operators finger or the like during actuation Thus, although the source of illumination is covered, the condition of the lamp 34 will be apparent from in front of the push button. This condition is achieved even with very small units and with units that may be spaced only by as little as one-fourth inch.

When the lamp housing 22 is pushed to the depressed position shown in FIGURE 5, the light from the lamp is transmitted sideways through the cap head 30 to the reflector 126. Accordingly, in this position also, the reflector 126 provides a large illuminated area which is visible during actuation of the switch when the cap head 30 is normally covered. Accordingly, the operator is informed of the state of the switch and controlled circuitry even when the push button is covered.

The push button housing 22 has two bearing points, one at the flanges 16 and 18 and the packing gland 20, and the other at the retaining cylinder 62. Thereby stable and reliable operation between the two extreme push button positions is assured. The flexible electrical connections via the springs 54 are reliably maintained due to the positioning thereof and the guidance within the recesses 124 of the lamp housing.

In FIGURE 6, a modification of the lamp housing contacts is illustrated. Parts correspondingto those previously described are referenced bythe same numerals.

The spring lamp contacts 130 and 132 within the housing cylinder 24 are each bent wire; one 130 is positioned at the side of the housing 24 to engage the side of the stepped sleeve 40 of the lamp 154, the other 132 is centrally positioned to contact the base terminaliof the lamp 34 (similarly as the contacts '52 and 44, respectively). The wires of these contacts 13%, 132 are slidably mounted through the wall 46 into the recesses 124, where they are fastened to flanged bushings 134. The flanges of the bushings provide shoulders for engagement with the springs 154 which springs bias the bushings 134 and the wire contacts 130, 132 forwardly into the lamp housing. The portions of the wires within the wall 46 are partially flattened into projecting ears 136 that key into corresponding narrowing grooves in the wall to prevent rotation of the contacts 130 and 132 from their proper positions.

In operation, the seating of the lamp 34 and sleeve 49 against the contacts 132 and 130 tends to push the wires thereof downward against the upward bias of the springs 154. This yieldability of the contact mounting affords an automatic adjustment for small variations in size of the components, many of which are replaceable or interchangeable.

Accordingly, the above described illuminated push button switch actuator and switch construction may be constructed to be small in size, yet effective and reliable in operation. A large area of illumination is afforded that is visible under various conditions of operation.

Various modifications of the foregoing features of this invention may be made, and it is not intended that the scope of the invention be limited by the specific form thereof that is described.

What is claimed is:

1. An illuminated switch actuator comprising a base having an opening and a reflecting surface around said opening, and a lamp housing mounted in the opening of said base for movement to different positions in and out of said base, said housing including a transparent hollow cylinder having a threaded portion, means for mounting and electrically connecting a lamp in the housing adjacent said threaded portion, and a transparent cap having a threaded portion in threaded engagement with the threaded portion of said cylinder, and having an unthreaded portion, said unthreaded portion of said cap directing light from a lamp in the housing to said reflecting surface with said housing in one of said positions, and one of said threaded portions retracting light from a lamp in the housing to said reflecting surface with said housing in the other of said positions, the materials of said cylinder and said cap having different indices of refraction. V

2. In a switch actuator, a lamp housing including an internallythreaded hollow cylinder, and an externally threaded cylindrical cap in threaded engagement with said cylinder and having a flanged portion at one end thereof that seals the outer end of said cylinder, said cylinder and said cap being formed of material which is refractive and which is at least partly transparent, means in said housing for mounting an electric lamp and for making electrical contact with the lamp, and a reflecting'surface surrounding said housing and positioned to receive light from a lamp-in the housing refracted through the threaded portions of said cylinder and said cap. I

3. An illuminated push button switch construction comprising a base having a cylindrical opening therethrough, and an annular internal flange projecting from the inside wall of said base and having a cylindrical surface concentric with said opening at an intermediate portion thereof, a cylindrical push button lamp housing having a surprojecting outwardly therefrom at an intermediate portion thereof, a hollow retaining cylinder extending into said base opening at the other end thereof and having a flanged portion for attachment to said base, said retaining cylinder being adapted-to slidably; guide the other end of said lamp housing and having means to prevent rotation of said lamp housing, a coil spring positioned between said retaining cylinder flange andsaid lamp housing flange'for biasing said housing flange against said base flange, and a plurality of yieldable conductors extending from said other end of said lamp housing to'provide electrical connections for a lamp therein.

4. In an illuminated switch the combination including a lamp housing for use with a lamp having a central base contact and a conductive flanged collar adjacent to the base thereof, said housing comprising a non-conductive hollow casing open at one end and having a wall closing the opposite end, said wall having a plurality of small openings extending therethrough, a plurality of resilient electrical contacts positioned within said casing adjacent to the closed end thereof and electrically connected through said small wall openings, one of said contacts being positioned centrally and the other adjacent to the inside wall of said casing, a conductive sleeve enclosing said collar and having an internal shoulder adapted to surround said lamp and engage said flanged lamp collar and having an external shoulder and a lamp enclosing member having open and closed opposite ends and adapted to fit closely within said hollow casing through the open end thereof, said lamp enclosing member being secured to said casing and having its open end adapted to engage said external sleeve shoulder to press said sleeve and a lamp therewithin into engagement with said resilient contacts upon insertion within said hollow casing, the closed end of said lamp enclosing member closing the open end of said casing.

5. The combination as recited in claim 4 wherein said resilient electrical contacts are slidable within said small wall openings, said combination further comprising an actuator base having an opening for slidably receiving said lamp housing, a contact block fastened to said base and having a contact operating member positioned for actuation by said lamp housing wall, a plurality of terminal contacts positioned oppositely from said small housing wall openings, and a plurality of coil springs positioned between said contacts in said wall openings and said terminal contacts.

6. The combination as recited in claim 5 wherein said base has a reflecting surface surrounding said lamp-housing at an end thereof opposite from said contact block, said lamp housing projecting from said one end of said base and being movable to different operating positions therein for actuating the operating member of said contact block, said lamp housing having means for directing light to said reflecting surface when in each of said operating positions.

7. In a switch actuator, a lamp housing including first and second hollow members made of material that is refractive and at least partly transparent, said first and second members being one within the other and respectively having threaded internal and external walls in threaded engagement, an electrical lamp having an outer conductive flanged surface and a base contact, 'means in at least one of said members for making electrical contact with said lamp and for retaining said lamp in a'certain position, said means including a conductive shouldered collar internally engaging the outer conductive flanged surface of said lamp, a first yieldable contact engaging said collar, a second yieldable contact engaging the base contact of said lamp, one of said first and second members engaging said shouldered collar to retain the lamp in position, and a reflecting surface surrounding one of said members and positioned to receive light from said lamp refracted through the threaded portions of said member walls.

(References on following page) 4 References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS,

Goehrend 200-167 Van Bloem 240-106 De Giers 240-25 Sheidler 200-167 Banner 200-167 Bourne 200-167 Rigel 200-167 MCMains 200-167 FOREIGN PATENTS 9/60 Great Britain.

OTHER REFERENCES German application 1,081,958, KL 21C, May 19, 1960.

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3188881 *Dec 29, 1961Jun 15, 1965Gen ElectricRotary switch actuator
US3283274 *Oct 4, 1963Nov 1, 1966Falco Angelo DePush button reed switch
US3601567 *Sep 10, 1969Aug 24, 1971Globe Union IncIlluminated button switch construction
US3832506 *Sep 17, 1973Aug 27, 1974Dewhurst & Partner LtdIlluminated push button switch
US3927290 *Nov 14, 1974Dec 16, 1975Teletype CorpSelectively illuminated pushbutton switch
US4013856 *Oct 2, 1975Mar 22, 1977General Electric CompanyPush button assembly
US4350857 *Oct 3, 1980Sep 21, 1982Allen-Bradley CompanyIlluminated industrial membrane switch
US4419555 *Jun 1, 1982Dec 6, 1983Wilco CorporationIlluminated push-button switch assembly
US4998318 *Oct 26, 1989Mar 12, 1991Pioneer Electronic CorporationKnob device
US5264825 *Jul 23, 1992Nov 23, 1993Rostra Precision Controls, Inc.Combined switch and indicator light for electronic vehicle security system
U.S. Classification200/314, 362/295, 116/DIG.280, 74/502.4, 340/815.48
International ClassificationH01H13/02
Cooperative ClassificationH01H13/023, Y10S116/28
European ClassificationH01H13/02B