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Publication numberUS3723673 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMar 27, 1973
Filing dateOct 13, 1971
Priority dateOct 13, 1971
Publication numberUS 3723673 A, US 3723673A, US-A-3723673, US3723673 A, US3723673A
InventorsClary J, Wirtz L
Original AssigneeAddmaster Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Keyboard switch assembly with wire conductor matrix contact array
US 3723673 A
Abstract
A keyboard switch device comprising rows and columns of intersecting wires conductors held taut and normally spaced slightly from each other by a separator sheet of non-conducting material having openings therein aligned with the intersections of at least certain of the conductors. The conductors are engaged by depressing different keys aligned with the conductor intersections and a relatively thick layer of soft elastomeric materialis interposed between the keys and conductors to normally hold the keys in raised position and to transmit pressure from the keys to engage the conductors. By merely changing the sizes, shapes and positions of the openings, the switching device can be made to produce different output coded signals. Also, by changing the configuration of the various rows and columns of conductors different switch matrix patterns can be produced.
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United States Patent Clary et a1.

[ 1 Mar. 27, 1 973 KEYBOARD SWITCH ASSEMBLY 3,382,338 5/1968 Arseneault et al. ..200/159 B Primary Examiner-J. R. Scott AttorneyFred N. Schwend [75] Inventors: John G. Clary, Pasadena; Larry K.

Wirtz, La Habra, both of Calif. [57] ABSTRACT Assigneel Addnlastel' Corporations A keyboard switch device comprising rows and Gabrlel, Callfcolumns of intersecting wires conductors held taut and [22] Filed; Oct. 9 normally spaced slightly from each other by a separator sheet of non-conducting material having openings PP 188,956 therein aligned with the intersections of at least certain of the conductors. The conductors are engaged by 52 US. Cl ..200/1 R, 200/5 A, 200/159 B .depremfg keys l' the 51 Int. Cl. ..H01h 13/52 z'ii flgl s f tg'j f [58] Field of Search... ..200/1 R, 159 B, 5 A, 5 R and conductors to normally hold the keys in raised position and to transmit pressure from the keys to en- [56] References C'ted gage the conductors. By merely changing the sizes, UNITED STATES PATENTS shapes and positions of the openings, the switching device can be made to roduce different out ut coded P P 3,617,660 11/1971 Kraki nowski ..200/1 R ignals. Also, by changing the configuration of the 3,584,162 6/1971 Krakmowskl B X various rows and columns of conductors different al i switch matrix patterns can be produced. 3,592I979 7/1971 Redman ..200/l R 3 Claims, 8 Drawing Figures /4 C' i; 4 a" \I\\\\\\\\\\\\ IQ r I f I r p T I 2 I I r Z 1 1 PATENTEUmzmn 3,723,673

SHEET 2 BF 4 PATENTEUmzmva SHEET 3 [IF 4 PATENTEDMARZ'HHYES SHEET H 0F 4 FIG. 7.

KEYBOARD SWITCH ASSEMBLY WITH WIRE CONDUCTOR MATRIX CONTACT ARRAY BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention This invention relates to switches and has particular reference to low cost keyboard'switchingdevices which can be readily modified to produce different matrix patterns or coded signals.

2. Description of the Prior Art Low cost switching devices have been available heretofore having incorporated therein, or forming part of, printed or etched circuit boards, commonly called printed circuit boards.

Although such switching devices are generally satisfactory, the printed circuit boards are relatively expensive and whenever changes in switch patterns are to -be made new art work, master patterns and tooling must be made which further adds to the expense.

Cross-wire switches have been used heretofore but without much success, principally because they establish only a single point of contact for each connection point and are therefore greatly-limited in the amount of current that can be switched. Also, such switches tend to be unreliable since any dirt or products of oxidation formed over a single point of contact may prevent electrical contact from being established.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In accordance with the present invention, a low cost keyboard switching device is provided using cross-wire connectors which are stretched taut and separated by a thin separator sheet of non-conducting material having openings therein located at the intersections of at least certain of the conductors. A relatively thick and soft elastomeric layer is interposed between the keys and the conductors to transmit pressure to engage the conductors. Because of the compressibility of the layer, the upper conductors are bent or partially wrapped around the lower crossed conductors to establish a line of contact instead of a point of contact thereby providing greater area of contact. Such layer also transmits equal contacting pressure to any ,number of conductors which may be located under agiven key.

Means are provided to limit the extent of pressure applied by the keys to prevent permanent deformation of the conductors. The elastomeric layer also permits the keys to be depressed through a normal stroke of appreciable length even though the separated conductors are spaced very close together.

A further feature of the invention is that different separator sheets having different sizes, shapes and patterns of openings may be readily substituted to provide different coded output signals. Also, according to the invention, the paths of the various conductors may be readily changed to provide different switch matrix patterns.

It therefore becomes a principal object of the present invention to provide a cross-wire type keyboard switching device having a relatively large area of contact for each of the conductors.

Another object is to provide a cross-wire type keyboard switching device having a multiple number of switch contacts for each contact connection.

Another object is to provide a cross-wire keyboard switching device which can be readily modified to produce different coded outputs or switch matrix patterns.

A further object is to provide a cross-wire keyboard switching device which incorporates a large number of stacked independent or dependent switching levels.

A further object is to provide a cross wire keyboard switching device which is simple and economical to manufacture.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is an enlarged sectional view through a keyboard switching device embodying one form of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a sectional plan view taken along line 2-2 of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a sectional view through a modified form of the invention, illustrating a stacked three level assembly.

FIG. 4 is a sectional plan view of another modified form 'of the invention which may be considered as taken along line 22 of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a fragmentary sectional view of another modified form of the invention and is taken along line 5-5 of FIG. 6.

FIG. 6 is a sectional plan view taken along line 66 of FIG. 5.

FIG. 7 is a sectional plan view through a still further modified form of the invention and may be considered as being taken along line 22 of FIG. I. I

FIG. 8 is a greatly enlarged fragmentary section view illustrating two cross-wire conductors in contacting condition. I

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENT Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, the keyboard switching device shown therein comprises a rigid base of. plastic or other non-conducting material. Surrounding upstanding walls 12 are suitably fastened to the base 11 and an upper key plate 13 is secured to the walls 12. Slide bearings 14 are formed in the cover plate to receive depressible keys l5.

Rows of spaced pairs, i.e. l6, 17, of wire conductors 18 are laid over the base 11 and are aligned with rows of the keys 15. Such conductors are passed through openings in the walls 12 and are maintained taut as by bonding them within the openings, using a suitable adhesive (not shown). The wires 18 are shown in exaggerated form and are preferably on the order of 0.008 inch to 0.010 inch in diameter and may be formed, for example, of mangenese bronze to which a thin layer of gold is bonded.

A thin separator sheet 20 of Mylar or similar nonconductive material having a thickness on the order of 0.005 inch is layed over the conductors'l8. The sheet 20 has a series of round openings 21 formed therein in alignment with the keys.

Columns of spaced pairs, i.e. 22 and 23, of wire conductors 24 are laid over the separator sheet 20 and are aligned with columns of the keys 15, thus intersecting the pairs 16 and 17 directly below the keys 15 and openings 21. Such conductors 24 are of the same diameter as the conductors 18 and are also passed through openings in the walls 12 and held taut by bonding the same within the openings with a suitable adhesive.

A thin imperforate cover sheet 25 of Mylar or similar flexible non-conductive material on the order of 0.005 inch thick is laid over the conductors 24. A relatively thick layer 26 of soft elastomeric material, such as is commonly known as Polyfoam or sponge rubber, is interposed between the cover sheet 25 and feet 27 formed on the lower ends of the keys to normally hold the keys in raised position and to transmit a downward pressure effective to engage the underlying and intersecting conductors l8 and 24 upon depression of the keys.

It will be noted on reference to the enlarged view of FIG. 8 that upon depression of a key 15 the soft yielding layer 26 and the underlying cover sheet 25 will apply pressure over a relatively large area around the intersections of the underlying conductors, causing each conductor 18 to wrap or bend around the underlying conductor 24 so as to contact the same along a line having a length, instead of merely a point of contact, thereby establishing a much greater area of contact.

When the conductors first contact each other a very high contact pressure is established because of the FIG. 4 illustrates a modified form of the invention which may be incorporated in either the single level switching device of FIG. 1 or the multiple level switching device of FIG. 3. This form is intended particularly for emitting coded signals such as a binary coded output over groups, i.e. 35, of conductors upon depression of different keys having decimal values indicated in parentheses. In this case, each group includes four conductors having the .weighted values indicated within quotation marks.

The separator sheet 20a is formed with openings 21a which uncover different ones or combinations of the conductors 35, depending on the coding, so that depression of the overlying keys will connect a pair of conductors 24 with only the underlying uncovered ones of the conductors 35. Obviously, the arrangement of point-to-point engagement and thus the conductors tend to break through any oxide film that may adhere to the conductors. Thereafter, as the one conductor wraps around the other, the area of contact is increased.

Means are provided to prevent permanent deformation of the conductors due to undue pressure being applied to the keys 15. For this purpose, the feet 27 of the keys are square and extend beyond the underlying openings 21 in the separator sheet. Downwardly extending projections are formed at the corners of the feet 27 which are located out of alignment with the openings 21 in the separator sheet 20. Thus, upon depression of a key, the projections 30 compress the underlying portions of the layer 26 a greater amount FIG. 4 could be incorporated in themulti-level switch arrangement of FIG. 3 in which the different levels could be coded differently by providing appropriately apertured separation sheets so that data signals in different coded forms could be simultaneously established by depression of a single key.

FIGS. 5 and 6 illustrate a still further modified form of the invention in which the lower pairs of wire conductors do not extend under an entire overlying row of keys but instead are guided through different patterns so as to pass under keys of different rows.

For this purpose, the conductors are stitched through holes 36 in the base 11a and along the under surface thereof from one row to another, where they are again passed through similar holes onto the upper surface of the base. The conductors are maintained taut in a than the portion overlying the opening 21 and are arrested in their downward movement before the remainder of the layer is unduly compressed by the foot 27 of the depressed key.

It will be noted that the conductors of each intersecting pair, i.e. 16 and 22, may be connected together as at 29 and in the case of the simple matrix switch depicted in FIG. 2, four areas of contact are established upon depression of a key.

FIG. 3 illustrates a modified form of the invention in which stacked multiple layers of cross-wire pairs are provided. Here elements similar to those shown in FIG. 1 are identified by similar reference numerals.

It will be noted that the second and third levels 31 and 32 are similar to the single level shown in FIG. 1 except that the openings 21 are shown omitted at some of the cross-wire intersections; note, for example 33. Thus, switching may be omitted in certain levels for certain selected keys. For example, the right hand key in FIG. 3 will effect switching in the level 32 only whereas the central key will effect switching in all three levels. v

It will be apparent that the various columns of pairs of conductors in two or more of the different layers can be connected together to form different combinations of matrix patterns.

manner similar to that described in connection with FIG. 1.

In the matrix pattern example shown in FIG. 6, the pair of conductors 37 are common to the keys 7,7, 8, 5" and 6. The pair of conductors 38 are common to the keys 4 and 3, and the pair of conductors 39 are common to the keys 1 and 2. The pair of conductors 40 are common to the key 9 only.

FIG. 7 illustrates a still further modification of the invention in which a single switching level is formed to selectively provide a binary coded output corresponding to the decimal value of a depressed key or to the nines complement thereof. The arrangement comprises groups of four conductors 41 each extending under the different rows of keys and groups of four conductors 42 each extending under the different columns of keys. Here, the leftmost two conductors of each group 42 are connected through a common line 43 and settable switch 44 to a source of power 45. The rightmost two conductors of each group 42 are connected through a second common line 46 and switch 47 to the source of power 45. The separator sheet- 20b, has openings 21b, therein which are so located that when the switch 44 is closed and a key is depressed a binary signal corresponding to the decimal value of such depressed key will be transmitted over appropriately weighted conductors 41. When the switch 47 is closed and a key is depressed a binary signal corresponding to the nines complement of the decimal value of the key depressed will be transmitted over appropriately weighted conductors 41. Obviously, other separator sheets having differently formed openings therein may be readily substituted to provide for other coded outputs.

I claim:

l. A keyboard operated switching device comprising a base,

a first plurality of rows of wire conductors on said base,

a relatively thin separator sheet of non-conductive material over said conductors,

a second plurality of columns of wire conductors over said sheet,

said second plurality of conductors extending across said first plurality of conductors,

means maintaining said second plurality of conductors taut,

a plurality of depressible keys over the intersections of said rows and columns of conductors, and

a relatively thick layer of compressible elastomeric material intermediate said keys and said columns of conductors,

said sheet having openings aligned with certain only of said intersections whereby to establish coded output circuits upon depression of said keys.

2. A keyboard operated switching device according to claim 1 wherein said separator sheet is replaceable by a second separator sheet having openings aligned with certain different ones of said intersections whereby to establish different coded output circuits upon depression of said keys.

3. A key operated switching device according to claim 1 comprising a second separator sheet of non-conducting material on said columns of wire conductors,

a third plurality of rows of wire conductors on said second separator sheet,

a third separator sheet over said third plurality of wire conductors,

a fourth plurality of columns of wire conductors over said third separator sheet and under said layer,

the intersections of said third and fourth pluralities of conductors being aligned with said intersections of said first and said pluralities of conductors,

said first and third separator sheets having openings aligned with certain only of said intersections,

certain of said openings in said first sheet being out of alignment with certain of said openings in said third sheet whereby to establish different coded output circuits upon depression of a said key.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3240885 *May 7, 1963Mar 15, 1966Western Electric CoMultiple switching apparatus
US3382338 *Apr 26, 1966May 7, 1968IbmPushbutton actuator for elastomeric switch
US3495232 *Oct 7, 1966Feb 10, 1970Westinghouse Electric CorpDisplay screen and switching matrix
US3584162 *Feb 16, 1970Jun 8, 1971IbmElectrical keyboard switch mechanism with improved resilient diaphragm contact actuator
US3592979 *Nov 5, 1969Jul 13, 1971Ncr CoElastomeric keyboard with improved printed circuit contact means
US3617660 *Jan 23, 1970Nov 2, 1971IbmKeyboard actuating mechanism for diaphragm electric switch contact array
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4046975 *Sep 22, 1975Sep 6, 1977Chomerics, Inc.Keyboard switch assembly having internal gas passages preformed in spacer member
US4164634 *Jun 10, 1977Aug 14, 1979Telaris Telecommunications, Inc.Keyboard switch assembly with multiple isolated electrical engagement regions
US4207444 *Jan 6, 1978Jun 10, 1980Kley, Fitting, Fitting, Nalley And SmithPlanar multiple switch
US4322587 *Dec 6, 1979Mar 30, 1982Rogers CorporationKeyboard device
US4359613 *Mar 16, 1981Nov 16, 1982Engineering Research Applications, Inc.Molded keyboard and method of fabricating same
US4362911 *Sep 17, 1980Dec 7, 1982Ncr CorporationMembrane keyboard switch assembly having selectable tactile properties
US4471177 *Aug 13, 1982Sep 11, 1984Press On, Inc.Enlarged switch area membrane switch and method
US4500757 *Jul 7, 1982Feb 19, 1985Engineering Research Applications, Inc.Momentary digital encoding device for keyboards
US4520248 *Aug 15, 1980May 28, 1985Rogers CorporationKeyboard assembly
US5061830 *Apr 16, 1990Oct 29, 1991Ambrose Stephen DExtension electrical switch system and method of manufacture
US6999009Aug 27, 2002Feb 14, 2006Logitech Europe S.A.Sensing keys for keyboard
US7495893 *Jul 13, 2006Feb 24, 2009Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.Portable computer
USRE32419 *Jan 27, 1986May 12, 1987Engineering Research Applications, Inc.Molded keyboard and method of fabricating same
EP0072446A1 *Jul 17, 1982Feb 23, 1983Itt Industries Inc.Flat switch disposition
EP0098531A2 *Jun 30, 1983Jan 18, 1984Engineering Research Applications, Inc.Momentary digital encoding device for keyboards
WO1982001100A1 *Sep 9, 1981Apr 1, 1982Ncr CoKeyboard and method of producing a keyboard
WO1984000847A1 *Jul 28, 1983Mar 1, 1984Press On IncEnlarged switch area membrane switch and method
Classifications
U.S. Classification200/1.00R, 200/517, 200/5.00A
International ClassificationH01H13/807, H01H13/70, H01H13/785, H01H13/80, H01H13/702
Cooperative ClassificationH01H2239/026, H01H13/80, H01H2221/064, H01H2221/042, H01H2227/006, H01H2201/03, H01H13/807, H01H13/785, H01H13/702, H01H2203/008, H01H2225/002, H01H2201/004, H01H2207/016, H01H2207/01
European ClassificationH01H13/807, H01H13/702, H01H13/785, H01H13/80