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Publication numberUS3927290 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateDec 16, 1975
Filing dateNov 14, 1974
Priority dateNov 14, 1974
Publication numberUS 3927290 A, US 3927290A, US-A-3927290, US3927290 A, US3927290A
InventorsDenley Ronald S
Original AssigneeTeletype Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Selectively illuminated pushbutton switch
US 3927290 A
Abstract
A selectively illuminated pushbutton switch incorporates a light source of extremely small size and low cost, and which is self-contained with durable, parallel extending elongated leads. Such leads not only facilitate the in-line mounting of the light source within the pushbutton, relative to the switch mechanism (which conserves space), but allow reliable, force-fit electrical connections to be made between the lead ends and specially constructed movable conductors of the switch mechanism. Advantageously, such electrical connections may be made after the movable conductors have been mounted in accommodating recesses of a spring-biased slider, and the latter inserted within a close-fitting passageway of a stationary housing. This greatly simplifies the assembly of the composite pushbutton switch, and significantly minimizes the construction costs thereof. An illuminating portion of the light source may be either partially exposed through an aperture formed in the upper wall of the pushbutton, or be mounted beneath an enclosing upper wall when the latter is made of a light transmitting (diaphanous) material.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent Denley Dec. 16, 1975 SELECTIVELY ILLUMINATED PUSHBUTTON SWITCH [57] ABSTRACT 75 Inventor; Ronald s Demey, Woodstock, L A selectively illuminated pushbutton switch incorporates a light source of extremely small size and low Asslgneei Teletype Corporation, Skokleg UL cost, and which is self-contained with durable, parallel 22 Filed; Nov. 4 7 extending elongated leads. Such leads not only facilitate the in-line mounting of the light source within the PP NOJ 523,776 pushbutton, relative to the switch mechanism (which conserves space), but allow reliable, force-fit electri- 52 us Cl. 2 200/159 200/340; cal connections to be made between the lead ends and 240/2 3 specially constructed movable conductors of the [51 Int. (:1. H01H 13/14 Switch mechanism Advantageously, Such electrical 53 Field f Search 240/2 5; 200/16 B, 159 R, connections may be made after the movable conduc- 2 0 59 A, 5 257, 275 314 340 tors have been mounted in accommodating recesses of a spring-biased slider, and the latter inserted within a 56 References Cited close-fitting passageway of a stationary housing. This UNITED STATES PATENTS greatly simplifies the assembly of the composite pushbutton switch, and significantly mlmmizes the cong,;l8,0(5)7 2/1965 Kane 200/314 Struction Costs thereofi An illuminating portion of the 5 1 2:2 light source may be either partially exposed through 3882O56 5/1975 Nakasone"" 200/159 R an aperture formed in the upper wall of the pushbutton, or be mounted beneath an enclosing upper wall Primary Examiner Gerald R Tolin when the latter is made of a light transmitting (diapha- Attorney, Agent, or FirmK. R. Bergum; J. D. nous) matenal' Kaufmann; J. L. Landis 19 Claims, 9 Drawing Figures I91: 2x323 25b 25 US. Patent Dec. 16, 1975 I Sheet 1 of3 3,927,290

mm/ Q US. Patent Dec. 16, 1975 Sheet 2 of3 3,927,290

SELECTIVELY ILLUMINATED PUSHBUTTON SWITCH BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field Of The Invention This invention relates to electrical switches and, more particularly, to those of the operably illuminated, pushbutton type.

2. Description Of The Prior Art There have been a number of different types of illurrrinated pushbutton switches proposed heretofore, most of which have employed indicator lights that have either been spaced an appreciable distance from the upper pushbutton thereof (such as when supported on a mounting plate or bracket), or offset within the button, so as to allow reciprocal movement of contacts associated therewith externally of the stationary switch housing. As thus constructed, such switches necessarily have had an overall size (particularly with respect to their cross-sectional dimensions) that has not been conductive to individual miniaturized packaging, or to high density mounting in arrays on printed circuit boards, keyboards and the like.

Because of the remote or offset position of the indicator light in such prior switches, the composite switch has typically also been of complex and costly construction. Moreover, the indicator light has generally been of the incandescent bulb type, threadably secured within a suitable socket. Such bulbs unfortunately generally have a relatively short life, require appreciable current for the purpose intended, and add appreciable costs to the overall switch assembly because of the need for a separate socket, as well as auxiliary circuit terminals and special mounting structure normally required therewith. Incandescent lamps have also typically restricted the use of colored light, in the absence of special colored bulb coatings, filters or lenses, all of which reduce the degree of illumination or brightness realized for a given wattage rating.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION It, therefore, is an object of the present invention to provide a selectively illuminated pushbutton switch of low cost and simplified design, and which lends itself to miniaturization.

It is another object of the present invention to incorporate in a pushbutton switch an illuminating light source of extremely small size and low cost, which exhibits long life, produces an adequate degree of light in several different pre-selected colors with minimal current drain, and which is self-contained with durable elongated leads that facilitate in-line mounting of the light source and reliable force-fit connections between the leads and associated movable conductors of the switch mechanism.

In accordance with the principles of the present invention, the above and other objects are realized in one preferred illustrative embodiment which includes an insulative stationary housing and a spring-biased reciprocally movable assembly, the latter including a pushbutton top adapted to accommodate and centrally support an exposed miniaturized light source with elongated leads, preferably comprising a light emitting diode (LED).

The stationary housing has an axially disposed passageway extending therethrough with a plurality of spaced, stationary contacts that extend across. and

preferably in two parallel rows longitudinally along the passageway. The reciprocally movable assembly in cludes a slider adapted for reciprocal movement within the passageway of the housing, with the slider preferably having two longitudinally disposed recesses respec tively formed in opposite side walls thereof. Each recess is dimensioned to receive an elongated, resilient conductor therewithin. Each conductor is positioned within the associated recess so as to make wiping contact with selected ones of the array of stationary contacts associated therewith in response to movement of the slider.

In accordance with one aspect of the invention, the LED is mounted within a central aperture formed in the upper surface of the pushbutton, so as to be partially exposed and, thereby, not only function as the source of illumination, but as a part of the pushbutton top. Such mounting of the LED also facilitates the assembly thereof within the pushbutton (such as by the expediency of a simple force-fit insertion thereof within the aperture of the pushbutton), and enhances the degree of illumination or brightness produced by the LED when energized for a given (and exceedingly small) amount of current. Minimizing current drain is veryimportant, of course, in many applications where large numbers of illuminated pushbutton switches are employed, and becomes particularly critical in mobile equipment, for example, which often must be operated with battery power sources.

In order to selectively energize the LED in accordance with one illustrative switch embodiment, the slider is formed with two mutually disposed and longitudinally extending grooves which accommodate the elongated leads of the LED. The leads are dimensioned such that each terminating end thereof cooperates with an upper slotted end of an associated one of the pair of movable conductors so as to effect a reliable, force-fit connection therebetween.

As thus assembled, the LED of the switch is energized whenever the pushbutton is depressed so as to cause the slider to move the elongated conductors carried within the recesses thereof into engagement with the proper pair of stationary contacts (biased externally) that extend across the passageway of the stationary housing. These contacts are also preferably dimensioned to extend outwardly a short distance from at least one side wallof the stationary housing so as to facilitate their connection to external circuitry, prefer ably in a plug-in manner into a receptacle mounted on a circuit board, or directly within aligned plated-thru holes formed in the latter.

In an alternative embodiment of the invention, the terminating end of each LED lead is dimensioned so as to be force-fit into an upper notch formed in an auxiliary metallic member of essentially inverted L-shaped configuration, which is dimensioned so as to be firmly seated within one of the two recesses formed in the slider. Each metallic member has a curved or V-shaped intermediate region that extends outwardly into an open area of the housing passageway. The outer extremity of this protruding region continuously makes contact with an adjacent surface of the inner resilient leg of an associated and essentially elliptically shaped slidable conductor.

In this arrangement, the elongated conductor is dimensioned so as to effectively float within that portion of the passageway that is longitudinally coextensive with the adjacent recess formed in the slider. More specifically, each conductor is allowed to shift longitudinally and pivot slightly as the conductor is successively wiped across different stationary contacts (or pairs thereof) supported by the housing. Such a switch mechanism insures the attainment of uniform conductor-contact pressure at all times, while in no way disturbing the force-fit lead-metallic member connections.

In an alternative arrangement for mounting the LED, and which is applicable for use with either of the aforementioned switch mechanism embodiments, the LED is positioned immediately below the upper, smooth, continuous surface of the pushbutton, so as to be completely enclosed therewithin. In this arrangement, at least the upper surface of the pushbutton has either a translucent or transparent (diaphanous) surface which may selectively function as a lens or filter, as well as a protective cover for the LED.

In still another embodiment of the invention, only one of the two leads of the light source is connected to selective stationary contacts through a movable conductor, the other lead being connected permanently to an auxiliary stationary contact.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a front sectional view of one illustrative, selectively illuminated pushbutton switch embodying the principles of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a side view, partially in section, taken along the line Il of FIG. 1, of the switch in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged cross-sectional view, taken along the line 3-3 in FIG. 2, showing in greater detail the structural relationship between the various elements comprising the pushbutton mechanism of the switch in FIGS. 1 and 2;

FIG. 4 is an enlarged, perspective view, partially broken away, showing in greater detail the manner in which the upper end of the slider and an LED light source are mounted within a central cavity which communicates with the upper surface of the pushbutton so as to partially expose the LED in accordance with one illustrative embodiment;

FIG. 5 is a front sectional view of an alternative illuminated pushbutton switch embodiment in accordance with the principles of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is an enlarged, fragmentary detail perspective view showing the manner in which each terminating lead end of the LED light source is force-fit into an accommodating notch formed in the firmly positioned member of the associated movable conductor assembly in the switch mechanism of FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is an enlarged, perspective detail view, partially broken away, illustrating the manner in which the LED light source may be mounted beneath the upper surface of, and be completely enclosed by, a pushbutton with a diaphanous top surface in accordance with another alternative illustrative embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 8 is an enlarged, fragmentary detail front view, partially broken away and partially in section, showing an alternative manner in which the leads of the LED are connected through both conductor-connected stationary contacts and an auxiliary contact of the switch to external circuitry for energization, and

FIG. 9 is an enlarged, detail sectional view taken along the line 9-9 of FIG. 8, showing the manner in which one of the two leads of the LED is permanently .connected through the biasing spring to the auxiliary 4 stationary contact which forms part of a metallic washer.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION Referring now in greater detail to one preferred illustrative embodiment of the invention as depicted in FIGS. 1-4, a pushbutton switch designated generally by the reference numeral 10 comprises an insulative stationary housing 11 and a spring-biased, reciprocally movable assembly 13. The housing 11, molded out of any suitable resinous material, such as Nylon plastic, sold by E. I. DuPont deNemours and Company, has an axially disposed passageway 15 of the rectangular cross-section (best seen in FIG. 3) that extends therethrough. In one preferred embodiment of the invention, two laterally disposed rows of spaced contacts l7, 18 extend both across and in parallel relationship longitudinally along the passageway 15. The contacts, preferably of silver or gold plated copper, are supported by opposite common side walls 11a, b of the housing 11, and extend outwardly a short distance from at least one, but preferably both supporting side walls, as shown, so as to function as male type plug-in terminal block or circuit board terminals.

The stationary contacts l7, 18 may be secured to opposite side walls of the stationary housing in any one of a number of ways. For example, they may be inserted within accommodating notches formed along the peripheral edges of the longest mutually disposed side walls of one or both halves of a two-piece stationary housing, with the two halves of the housing and the associated contacts thereafter being secured together as an integral unit through an ultrasonic bonding process, or through the use of a suitable adhesive epoxy cement or glue. Alternatively, the stationary contacts may also be secured to either a one-piece or two-piece stationary housing by crimping the contacts immediately adjacent the outer apertured walls of the housing. In the case of a two-piece housing, the base wall of each half would be formed with the requisite number of contact accommodating apertures, with the crimped contacts thereafter holding the two halves together. While only three stationary contacts 17 (or 18) are shown associated with each row thereof, it is obvious that any desired number of contacts may be employed with equal or different spacings in each row.

The reciprocally movable assembly 13 includes an elongated member 19, basically of rectangular crosssection, dimensioned so as to closely fit within the housing passageway 15 (see FIG. 3), but with enough clearance so as to allow relative slidable movement with minimal friction therebetween. The elongated member 19, hereinafter referred to simply as a slider, is likewise preferably molded out of a suitable plastic material such as Nylon, or any other synthetic plastic material resistant to heat and abrasion, and which exhibits low dielectric losses.

As best seen in FIG. I, the slider 19 is formed with two mutually disposed side wall recesses 21, 22. These recesses extend longitudinally along a lower end region of the slider so as to always be positioned within the passageway 15 of the assembled switch. The recesses are separated by a narrow, axially disposed rib 19a formed as an integral part of the slider 19, with an outwardly extending protuberance 19/) formed along an intermediate region of each recess-defining side wall of the rib. The base of each recess 21, 22 is formed by a ledge 19(- (best seen in FIG; 1), which is also formed as an integral part of the slider.

A pair of elongated, resilient conductors 25, 26 are respectively mounted in the recesses 21, 22. Each conductor is formed into a substantially U-shaped configuration, with an intermediate region of the shorter leg a, for example, of the conductor 25 being resiliently biased against the protuberance 19b formed on the adjacent wall of the slider rib 19a. With each of the protuberances 19b positioned at the midpoint of the associated recess, this results in the longer leg portions 25b and 26b of the conductors applying substantially uniform pressure against any two (or more) respectively bridged stationary contacts 17, 18.

In order to further facilitate the wiping action of the conductor leg portions 25b, 26b across the respectively associated contacts 17, 18, the conductors in the switch embodiment of FIGS. 1-4 are preferably dimensioned so as to be slightly shorter than the longitudinal length of the respectively associated recesses 21, 22. As such, each of the conductor leg portions 25b, 26b allowed to shift or flex slightly while being moved across a single associated contact into a bridged relationship with two (or more) contacts. In this manner, the force applied by the conductors 25, 26 against the respectively bridged sets of contacts 17, 18 will always be substantially evenly distributed. It is also apparent, of course, that the wiping action effected by the conductor leg portions 25b, 26b further insures the attainment of consistently reliable conductive continuity with the respectively mating stationary contacts 17, 18. This is particularly important when certain pushbutton switches are used infrequently, and/or when used in environments that are not substantially free of dust, or

other foreign matter.

With particular reference to FIGS. 3 and 4, a rectangular open-ended nest or cavity 41 is formed by an essentially segmented, integral annular wall 43 comprised of mutually opposed pairs of wall segments 43a and 43b. The upper end of these walls are preferably formed as an integral part of the upper wall portion of; the pushbutton 35. The cavity 41 is dimensioned so as.

to frictionally receive an upper end portion 19d (best seen in FIG. 4) of the slider 19, with the lower ends 4311' of the wall segments 43b providing stops for two mating shoulders 19e formed in the slider.

As best seen in FIG. 2, the upper end of the cavity 41 merges into a cylindrical aperture 44 formed in a central region of the upper wall (or top) of the pushbutton 35. An undercut shoulder 46 surrounds the aperture 44 and provides a positive stop for and supports the underside of a flange 40a of the light source. As such, the light source is accurately positioned at the desired elevation relative to the upper surface of the pushbutton when inserted therewithin from the top side.

In accordance with the principles of the present invention, the light source 40 preferably comprises a light.

vided with a flat side (not shown), and the outer wall of the flange 40a of the LED is formed with a corresponding flat side 40a (see FIGS. 2 and 4). As such, the

aperture 44 and undercut shoulder 46 in the pushbutton 35, and the flange 40a of the LED cooperate not only to accurately position, but orient the LED partially within the cavity 41 during assembly.

mented wall 43 (defining the cavity 41) and the mating outer wall area of a shank portion 40b of the LED,

and/or by frictional engagement between the periphery of the flange 40a and the side wall of the aperture 44.

' It is understood, of course, that the LED 40 may also be readily secured to the segmented wall 43 or the side wall defining the aperture 44 by the use, for example, of epoxy cement or glue, or through a staking or an ultrasonic bonding operation.

Regardless how the LED (or any other suitable light source) is secured to the pushbutton 35 in the structural arrangement depicted in FIGS. 1 and 2, the upper bulb portion of the LED preferably is allowed to protrude slightly above the upper surface of the pushbutton 35. In this manner, the LED is not only readily observable when energized, but it also forms a structural part of the pushbutton top.

Also in accordance with the principles of the present invention, the slider 19 is formed with two longitudinally disposed grooves or channels 53a, h(best seen in FIG. 4), which extend longitudinally along the slider 19 in parallel relationship from the upper end thereof down to and in communication with the respective recesses 21, 22. These channels are dimensioned to respectively accommodate a different one of the two leads 47a, b of the LED 40. The lower terminating ends of the leads 47a, b are preferably force-fit into specially shaped slots or notches 57, 58 (the latter best seen in FIGS. 2 and 3), formed in the upper horizontal leg portions 250. 260 of the movable conductors 25 and 26, respectively, and preferably extending partially into the associated leg portions 25b. 26b.

Considered more specifically, each notch, such as 58 depicted in FIG. 2, bisects the upper horizontal leg portion 26:: of the movable conductor 26 so as-to form two outwardly extending tabs 26c and 26c. These tabs are dimensioned so that one of them such as 26c", protrudes slightly into the area of the aligned channel 53b formed in the slider 19. As a result, when the lead 47b is forced downwardly into the channel 53b and through the aligned notch 58 of the conductor 25, the left side wall of the channel 53, as depicted in FIG. 2, and the surface 19e' of a back wall 196 of the slider, effects a force-fit connection between a terminating end region of the lead 47b and the tab 26c" of the associated movable conductor.

As also seen in FIG. 2, the notch 58 in the conductor 26, for example, is dimensioned so as to be wider than the width dimension of the lead 47b. As a result, the tab 26c of the conductor 25 serves no function in the force-fit connection of the latter to the lead 47b as positioned in FIG. 2. However, with the tabs in each of the conductors 25, 26 being of identical size and symmetrically positioned, it is apparent that the tab corresponding to 260' in the conductor 25, positioned on the opposite side of the slider wall 19b (and thus not seen), functions in an identical manner to the tab 26c in effecting an interference fit between the movable conductor 25 and the lead 470. It has been found that the abrasive action effective between the LED leads 47 and the associated movable conductor labs result in a very reliable, mechanically cleaned, frictional connection therebetween.

It, of course, should be readily appreciated that the leads 47a. 12 may be connected to the respectively associated movable conductors 25, 26 in any other suitable manner, such as by a soldering, welding, brazing or ultrasonic bonding operation. Such alternative connection techniques, however, have the common disadvantage that they must normally be performed with the conductors loosely positioned within the exposed respective slider recesses, i.e., before the slider 19, with the conductors mounted therein, is inserted into the confining passageway 15 of the stationary housing 11. In contradistinction, force-fit connections between the leads and conductors are effected in the present switch embodiments only after the conductors have been firmly retained and accurately positioned within the recesses by the confining walls of both the slider and stationary housing. As such, accurate orientation and alignment of the conductors relative to the leads is always assured prior to effecting force-fit connections therebetween. As the movable conductors in miniaturized pushbutton switches are extremely small, often measuring less than 0.250 in length, it is obvious that any non-frictiion type of lead-conductor connection can impose a number of serious assembly problems.

The manner of producing lead-conductor connections embodied herein is thus seen to give rise to very significant advantages in the assembly of the switch, particularly when high volume manufacture is involved. and when the switch components are of extremely small size. In addition, the in-line arrangement of the LED, leads and movable conductors further contributes to the simplified construction and assembly ofthe composite switch, and allows for a very compact, miniaturized switch package. Concomitantly, the use of an LED as the light source, of course, substantially reduces power consumption as compared with conventional incandescent lamps, and allows several different light illuminating colors to be employed without the need for special painted bulb coatings, lenses or filters.

With respect to the assembly of the pushbutton switch in accordance with the principles of the present invention, and digressing for a moment, after the slider 19 has been inserted into the passageway of the stationary housing 11, a coil spring 61 is coaxially positioned about the upper normally exposed end region of the slider 19. Thereafter, the pushbutton 35, with an LED previously mounted therein is brought into engagement with the slider. During this latter operation, the elongated leads 47a, b of the LED are inserted downwardly along the respectively aligned channels 530, 1) formed in the slider until the above described force-fit frictional connections are made between the terminating ends of the leads and the notch-formed tabs of the respectively aligned conductors.

Such downward movement of the pushbutton-LED assembly also results in the upper end region 19d of the slider being resiliently inserted within the cavity 41. Notches 19f in the slider and arcuate detents 43a formed in the inner opposed surfaces of the segmented wall portions 436! (partially defining the cavity 41, and best seen in FIGS. 2 and 4), effect a snap-lock engagement of the pushbutton and slider. The simple compressive force assembly operation just described thus not only effects the force-fit engagement of the LED leads 470. b with the respective movable conductors Z5, 26 ofthe switch, but effects a snap-lock engagement 8 of the pushbutton 35 with the slider 19.

As also depicted in FIGS. l-3, the lower end of the slider 19 is also formed with an integral, outwardly projecting tab 1% which is positioned so as to move along a keying slot 11/) formed in the inner surface of the wall 11b of the stationary housing. This keying slot 11b extends only a predetermined distance inwardly from the lower end of the housing so that the terminating end region thereof provides a positive stop which defines the maximum retracted position of the sliderpushbutton assembly 13 relative to the stationary housing 11, under the biasing force exerted by the coil spring 61. r

The pushbutton switch 10, as well as all of the other switch embodiments disclosed herein, are adapted for mounting singly or in ganged arrays on a mounting plate or bracket 62, positioned as depicted in FIGS. 1 and 2. Such a bracket may be of a simple one-piece U-shaped channel type, for example, with the side walls thereof incorporating apertures or slots (not shown) in a conventional manner so as to engage aligned detents or raised bosses 63 (FIG. 2) formed in the outer adjacent wall surfaces of the stationary housing 11 and, thereby, reliably secure the pushbutton switches on the bracket 62. Suitably spaced and bendable tabs (not shown) formed in the side walls of the bracket may also be employed to facilitate the spacing, as well as securement, of the switches to and along the bracket.

With the composite pushbutton switch 10 constructed, assembled and mounted as described above, the LED 40 is readily energized whenever the pushbutton 35 is depressed so as to cause the slider 19 to move the conductors 25, 26 downwardly within the passageway 15 of the stationary housing 11 so, as to engage simultaneously the proper pair of stationary contacts 17, 18 respectively associated therewith. It is understood, of course, that the stationary contacts 17, 18 are connected to external circuitry, including a voltage source (not shown) for that purpose. As previously mentioned, the wiping action effected by the movable conductor leg portions 25a, 26b in being moved along the respectively associated rows of contacts 17, 18 consistently insures that reliable conductive continuity is effected therebetween.

In connection with the actuation of the pushbutton switch 10 of FIGS. l-4, as well as the respect to all of the other embodiments described hereinbelow, it should be appreciated that they may also incorporate a conventional orbital or heart cam formed in one side wall of the slider 19 (not shown) with a locking pin (not shown) associated therewith in a well known manner. Such associated structure, of course, would provide multiple pushbutton controlled switching states in which the transition from one state to the next is effected directly by the degree of pushbutton displace ment.

Similarly, when the pushbuttons are to be employed in ganged arrays, all or selective ones of the pushbutton switches may further be provided with selective combinations of preformed camming side wall notches formed along the lower terminating end regions of the sliders. Each of such sliders would be dimensioned such that the carnming region thereof would protrude slightly beyond the lower end of the stationary housing 11 when the associated pushbutton 35 is fully depressed. Such camming notches may then be utilized in a well known manner in conjunction with a cross-slide assembly (not shown), including one or more latching bars or plates, to provide actuable operation of all or selected ones of a ganged array of pushbutton switches in response to the switching state pushbutton position) of one or more selected switches, such as a master switch. Such a cross-slide assembly would typically be secured to the lower ends of the stationary housings of the ganged array of switches in a manner similar to that described above for the mounting plate.

Attention is now directed to FIGS. and 6 which disclose an alternative pushbutton switch designated by the reference numeral 10'. This switch, with the exception of the movable conductors, is essentially identical to the pushbutton switch 10 of FIGS. 1-4. For that reason, like reference numerals are used to identify parts in the embodiment of FIGS. 5 and 6 (as well as with respect to the other embodiments to be described hereinbelow) that correspond identically with those in the embodiment of FIGS. 14, with prime reference numerals being used to denote those parts that are modified in some way, and additional numbers being used for completely new parts.

Considered more specifically, a pair of movable conductor assemblies 65, 66 are respectively mounted in the recesses 21, 22 of the slider 19, with each of the assemblies 65 comprising a substantially elliptically shaped conductor 65a (or 66a) having two straight legs and an open gap near the upper end of the inner leg, and an essentially inverted L-shaped member 65b (or 66b). With reference now only to the conductor assembly 65, as assembly 66 is identical thereto, it is seen that the movable conductor 65a is preferably dimensioned longitudinally so as to loosely fit within the associated recess 21 of the slider 19. Conversely, the inverted L-shaped member 65b is dimensioned longitudinally so as to be resiliently force-fit within and against the longitudinally disposed undercut end walls of the recess 21. As best seen in FIG. 5, the inverted L-shaped member 65b has an outwardly protruding V-shaped portion 65b which coincides with the adjacent one of the protuberances 19b formed on opposite sides of the rib 19a of the slider. As such, the apex of the V-shaped portion 65b protrudes into the associated recess 21 so as to bias against the inner and shorter leg of the associated conductor 65a.

As best seen in FIG. 6, the upper end of the member 65b (65a being identical) is formed with a central notch 67 that bifurcates the upper horizontal and short vertical legs of the member into two tabs designated 71a and b. These tabs function in the same manner as the previously described tabs 250', c-' in establishing a force-fit connection with the lead 47b (or 47a). As such, the nature and functions of the notches 67 and tabs 71 need not be described in further detail in con nection with the pushbutton switch 10'.

A significant advantage of the conductor assemblies 65, 66, compared to the similar conductor 25, 26 (of FIGS. 1-4), however, is that the inverted L-shaped members 65b, 66b thereof maintain fixed, permanent positions relative to the ends of the respective LED leads 47a, b frictionally connected thereto. This is true regardless of the degree of pivotal or longitudinal movement of the adjacent conductors 65a. 66a within the associated recesses 21, 22.

Considered more particularly, the conductor 65a, for example, is relatively free to not only pivot about the V-shaped portion 65b of the adjacent member 65b, but is allowed to shift slightly in a longitudinal direction within the recess while being wiped across successive stationary contacts 17. During such freedom of movement by the conductors, their respectively associated 10 L-shaped members and. thereby, the terminating ends of the leads, remain substantially fixed within the associated recesses.

Thus, not only are reliable and permanent force-fit lead-L-shaped member connections assured, but the conductors are in no way inhibited from physically floating or becoming slightly skewed within the recesses as may be required in order to produce substantially uniform pressure against selective ones of the associated stationary contacts. As previously mentioned in connection with the pushbutton switch embodiment of FIGS. 1-4, the need of only frictional force-fit connections between the leads and movable conductors greatly simplifies not only the cost of as sembling the pushbutton switch, but the time required to do so.

The only other structural difference between pushbuttons 10 and 10 is that in the latter a pushbutton 35' is formed with an inner segmented cavity-defining wall 43' that is constructed so as to allow the LED 40 to be inserted within a cavity 41 from the underside thereof. To accomplish this, the cavity 41' is necessarily dimensioned and configured so as to accommodate not only the upper end region 19d of the slider 19, but the flange 40a of the LED. In this arrangement, the upper end region of the slider 19 and the periphery of the flange 40a may either have rectangular cross-sections (as shown), or they may have cylindrical crosssections, with the exception of each having flat side, or a rib (neither shown) formed therein for keyed orientation within the the cavity 41 In order to accurately position the LED 40 within the pushbutton 35 from the underside thereof, so that the upper bulb portion of the LED will protrude a predetemined distance upwardly through an aperture 44 (as in FIGS. 1-4), and undercut shoulder 46' is formed in the underside of the top wall portion of the pushbutton 35 As such, the shoulder 46 functions as a nest receiving stop for the upper mating annular surface of the LED flange 40a. In a similar manner, the cavity-defining wall 43' is formed with an undercut shoulder 43a so as to provide a positioning stop for the upper end of the slider 19. Such a shoulder may be formed, for example, in two mutually opposed wall segments of the type designated 43b in FIG. 4. In all other respects, the pushbutton 35, LED 40 and slider 19 are assembled in the same manner as described hereinabove for the corresponding counterparts employed in the pushbutton switch 10.

FIG. 7 illustrates an alternative pushbutton applicable for use with pushbutton switch mechanisms of either FIGS. 14 or 5-6. As illustrated, the pushbutton 75 is preferably formed of two parts, namely, an outer side wall portion 75a, preferably of a suitable opaque plastic material, land an upper wall portion 75b of a diaphanous material, i.e., a material which is either translucent or transparent to light. The upper wall portion 75b may be removably secured to the upper peripheral edge of the side wall portion 75a of the pushbutton by any suitable means, such as with integrally formed snap-in detents 75b, as shown, or through a threaded engagement therebetween. Permanent securement of the pushbutton top and side walls may be readily effected with epoxy cement or glue, or through the use of an ultrasonic bonding or staking operation.

The light source, preferably an LED 40 with elongated leads 47, as employed in the previously described illustrative embodiment. is force-fit (or otherwise secured) within a cavity 77 formed, for example. by a segmented, resilient wall 78 supported by ribs 79 formed as an integral part of the pushbutton wall portion 75a. The cavity 77, however. distinguished from cavities 41 and 41 in the previously described embodiments by terminating in an aperture 81 which does not extend through the upper pushbutton wall portion 75b. Rather, the aperture 81 defines an upper end of the cavity 77 that has an undercut shoulder 83 (similar to 46 in FIG. 5). the base of which accurately positions the upper annular surface of the LED flange 40a. As thus constructed, the aperture 81 accommodates and positions the upper cylindrical bulb portion of the LED 40 (or any other light source) immediately beneath the underside of the push-button wall portion 75b, and within a sealed cavity 84. As such, whenever the LED is energized, the illuminated light therefrom is clearly seen by an observer through the diaphanous upper wall 75b of the pushbutton.

It becomes readily apparent, of course, that the upper wall portion 75b of the pushbutton 75 may be made of two or more discrete materials, one being opaque and the other translucent, for example, such as in a so-called two shot (or three shot) molding process, so as to produce permanently distinctive alphanumeric characters, or other indicia. Such indicia could thus be readily observable to a viewer at all times, but with different selectively controlled degrees of contrast, dependent on whether the LED therebelow was energized or not. Such indicia could, of course, also be stamped, painted or baked on the upper pushbutton wall portion 75b in accordance with well known techniques.

Similarly, the upper wall portion 7512 may be readily formed of suitable material so as to function as both a protective lens and a filter, thereby selective controlling, for example, light diffusion, color intensity and the tint of the light otherwise produced by the LED, or by any other type of light source employed. The degree of flexibility in this regard can be even further expanded by forming the upper pushbutton wall portion 75b as a two-piece lens-filter combination, with or without a physical spacing therebetween.

It is obvious that when such lens-filter elements would be used in a spaced relationship, that one of them could easily be supported by suitable ribs or ridge (not shown) that could extend outwardly from the inner side wall 75b of the pushbutton as an integral part thereof, or, be supported in a raised ride (not shown) formed on the upper surface of the rib structure 79 defining in part the cavities 77 and 84.

FIGS. 8 and 9 illustrate another pushbutton switch designated by the numeral 10 which distinguishes over the switch 10' of FIG. 5 in the manner in which one of the leads, such as 47b, is mounted and employed in a slider 19. More specifically, it is seen in FIG. 9 that the lead 47b is only partially seated in a channel 53b formed in an arcuate (as distinguished from flat) side wall of the slider 19. As thus supported, the LED lead 47b protrudes outwardly a short distance from the adjacent arcuate wall of the slider along its longitudinal length. In this manner the lead 471) is exposed to and makes multiple point contact with a relatively close-fitting biasing coil spring 61 coaxially mounted on the upper portion of the slider 19'.

. The lower end of the coil spring 61 is supported on a conductive washer 87 which, as seen in FIG. 9, is formed with a central aperture 871: that is dimensioned to conform with the crosssection of and freely accommodate the slider 19'. The washer 87 is also formed with an integral contact 88 which is preferably located and oriented so as to be aligned with a given row of stationary contacts 17 (or 18) associated with the same LED lead. The contact 88, of course, may extend outwardly from any side of the housing 11, regardless of whether stationary contacts are on the same side or not, as may be desired for a particular circuit application. In any event, the lead 47b, rather than being connected to a movable conductor (which is optional), is connected permanently to the coil spring 61, and through the latter to the auxiliary stationary washerdefined contact 88. Should the cross-section of the upper region of the slider 19 be circular rather than essentially rectangular as shown, it is appreciated that in addition to the presence of the outwardly protruding and keyed lead 4717, a longitudinal ridge (not shown) could be formed in the slider and an accommodating notch (not shown) formed in the washer 87 (or vice versa), so as to further insure accurate and continuous keyed alignment therebetween.

In applications where a plurality of pushbutton switches of the type depicted in FIG. 8 are to be arranged in ganged arrays on a mounting bracket 63, the washer 87 could either be separated from the bracket by an insulating washer 91, or have an insulating coating formed on one surface thereof adjacent the bracket so as to electrically insulate the permanent lead-connected contact 88 from the supporting bracket.

In all other respects, the pushbutton switch 10" is the same as the pushbutton switch 10 shown in FIG. 5. It is understood, of course, that the pushbutton switch 10" may incorporate movable conductors 25, 26 of the type depicted in FIG. 1, as well as pushbutton-light source arrangements of the types depicted in either FIGS. 1-4, or FIG. 7.

In summary, several selectively illuminated push-button switch embodiments have been disclosed and claimed herein which incorporate a light source of extremely small size and low cost, and which is selfcontained with durable, base connected parallel extending elongated leads. Such leads facilitate not only the inline mounting of the light source relative to the switch mechanism, but the effecting of reliable, forcefit electrical connections between the leads and spe' cially constructed movable conductors of the switch mechanism. Advantageously. such electrical connections may be made after the movable conductors have been mounted in accommodating recesses of a springbiased slider, and the latter inserted within a close-fitting passageway of a stationary housing. The resulting confinement and positioning of the movable conductors prior to their being force-fit'connected to the leads greatly simplifies the assembly of the composite pushbutton switch, and minimizes both the construction and assembly costs thereof.

In view of the foregoing, it is obvious that various modifications may be made to the present illustrative embodiments of the invention. and that a number of alternatives may be provided without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

What is claimed is:

1. An electrical pushbutton switch of the type including a stationary housing with a longitudinal passageway formed therein. a plurality of spaced stationary contacts extending across and disposed in at least one array along said passageway, and a reciprocally movable assembly, including a slider adapted for movement within the housing passageway, apushbutton mounted at the upper end of said slider, and conductor means carried by the slider within said passageway and positioned to engage selective ones of the spaced contacts in response to said sliderbeing moved withinthe passageway, characterized in that saidcombination further includes;

at least one channel formed in and extending longitudinally externally along the length of said slider;

a receiving cavity formed in said pushbutton, and a light source at least partially mounted within the cavity of said pushbutton, and having at least one elongated lead attachedv thereto, said lead being dimensioned so as to extending longitudinally within said slider channel, with the free end thereof being conductively coupled to at least an associated portion of said conductor means carried by said slider, and through said conductor means to selective ones of said array of stationary contacts, while another lead attached to said light source is simultaneously conductively coupledto at least one other stationary contact so as, to complete circuit continuity to said light source through dif-' ferent selective ones of said array of contacts and different one of said spaced arrays of contacts, and

wherein said slider includes a separate channel for each of two elongated leads of said light source, the length of each lead being dimensioned so that thefree end thereof makes continuous, conductive contact with an associated one of said movable conductors.

3. An electrical pushbutton switch in accordance cavity thereof, with at least said upper surface being formed of a diaphanous material so as to allow visual observation of said light source when energized.

4. An electrical pushbutton switch -in accordance with claim 2, wherein said light source comprises a light emitting diode.

5. An electrical pushbutton switch in accordance with claim 4, wherein the upper surface of said pushbutton has an aperture formed therein which communicates with said cavity, the latter accommodating at least a portion of said light emitting diode therewithin such that the upper illuminating surfaceof said diode is exposed for direct viewing while simultaneously com prising a portion of the upper surface of said pushbutton.

6. An electrical pushbutton switch in accordance with claim 5, wherein said slider is formed with mutupositioned in a retracted position relative to said housing passageway.

7. An electrical pushbutton switch inaccordance with claim 2, wherein said conductor means further includes two elongated metallic members respectively positioned adjacent different ones of said conductors, with both saidconductors and metallic members being carried by said slider within said housing passageway, and wherein the terminating end of each light source lead is continuously conductively coupled to the upper endof an associated one of said metallic members, with each of the latter having an intermediate region that protrudes outwardly so as to make substantially point contact with, and allow said adjacent conductor to pivot slightly about said protruding region within said passageway while said conductor is wiped across selective stationary contacts of said associated array thereof in response to movement of said slider.

8. An electrical pushbutton switch in accordance with claim 7, wherein the upper surface of said pushbutton has a central aperture formed therein which communicates with said cavity, the latter accommodating said light source therewithin such that the upper illuminating bulb surface of said light source is exposed for direct viewing while simultaneously comprising a portion of the upper surface of said pushbutton.

9. An elecrtical pushbutton switch in accordance with claim 7, wherein said light source is mounted beneath the upper surface of said pushbutton in the cavity thereof, with at least said upper surface being formed of a diaphanous material so as to allow visual observation of said light source when energized through selected ones of said stationary contacts. wherein said pushbutton, diode and slider are springbiased as a unit in a direction relative to said stationary housing such that said slider is normally positioned in at least a partially retracted position relative to said hous ing passageway. and wherein each of said conductors has a substantially elliptically shaped, open gap config uration, and is positioned, together with the associated one of said metallic members, each of the latter having an essentially inverted L-shaped configuration, within an associated one of two side wall recesses formed in said slider such that a shorter leg of said conductor is continuously resiliently biased against the protruding region in the longer leg of said adjacent metallic member, while the longer leg of said conductor is disposed so as to resiliently wipe across selective stationary contacts of said associated array thereof in response to movement of said slider.

10. An electrical pushbutton switch in accordance with claim 8, wherein said light source comprises a light emitting diode, wherein said pushbutton, diode and slider are spring-biased as a unit in a direction relative to said stationary housing such that said slider is normally positioned in at least a partially retracted position relative to said housing passageway, and wherein each of said conductors has a substantially elliptically shaped, open gap configuration, and is positioned. together with the associated one of said metallic members, each of the latter having an essentially inverted L-shaped configuration, within an associated one of two side wall recesses formed in said slider such that a shorter leg of said conductor is continuously resiliently biased against the protruding region in the longer led of said adjacent metallic member. while the longer leg of said conductor is disposed so as to resiliently wipe across selective stationary contacts of said associated array thereof in response to movement of said slider.

11. A selectively actuated and illuminated electrical pushbutton switch comprising:

an insulated stationaryhousing having a longitudinally disposed passageway formed therein; a plurality of spaced stationary contacts extending across said passageway and arranged longitudinally therealong into two spaced, parallel extending arrays, said contacts being secured to opposite side walls of said housing, and extending a short distance outwardly from at least one wall thereof; reciprocally movable assembly including an elongated slider having two recessed areas respectively formed in opposite side walls thereof, each of said recesses supporting and positioning therewithin a different one of two conductor means such that at least a portion of each of the latter selectively wipe across said respectively associated arrays of stationary contacts in response to said slider being moved within said housing passageway, said slider further having two externally opening longitudinally extending channels formed therein, with each channel extending into a different one of said recesses; pushbutton mounted on the upper, exposed end of said slider, and formed with a central cavity therein, and light source at least partially mounted within the cavity of said pushbutton, and having two elongated leads, said leads respectively extending through said slider channels and terminating at their lower ends in conductively coupled relationship with difierent ones of said conductor means.

12. A selectively actuated and illuminated pushbutton switch in accordance with claim 11, wherein each of said conductor means comprises an essentially U- shaped conductor, wherein each of said elongated leads is connected to an upper horizontal extension of one leg of the associated conductor, and wherein said light source comprise a light emitting diode.

13. A selectively actuated and illuminated pushbutton switch in accordance with claim 12, wherein said reciprocally movable assembly is spring-biased in a direction relative to said stationary housing so as to normally position said slider in a retracted position relative to said housing passageway, and wherein the upper surface of said pushbutton has a central aperture formed therein which communicates with said cavity, and is dimensioned so as to accommodate and expose at least a portion of the upper illuminating surface of said light emitting diode therewithin for direct viewing.

14. A selectively actuated and illuminated pushbutton switch in accordance with claim 12, wherein said reciprocally movable assembly is spring-biased in a direction relative to said stationary housing so as to normally position said slider in a retracted position relative to said housing passageway, and wherein said light emitting diode is mounted beneath the upper surface of said pushbutton in the cavity thereon, with at least said upper surface being formed of a diaphanous material which allows visual observation of said light source when energized through selected ones of said stationary contacts.

15. A selectively actuated and illuminated pushbutton switch in accordance with claim 11 wherein said light source comprises a light emitting diode, and wherein each of said conductor means comprises an elongated conductor of substantially elliptically shaped, open gap configuration and a juxtaposed elongated metallic member of substantially inverted L- 16 shaped configuration, with both a different one of said conductors and metallic members being positioned within each of said slider recesses, each conductor being interposed between said associated metallic member and said stationary contacts of the associated array thereof such that a longer leg of said conductor is positioned to resiliently wipe across said contacts in response to movement of said slider, while said shorter leg of said conductor is positioned to continuously resiliently bias against an outwardly protruding intermediate region of a longer leg of said adjacent metallic member, the upper end of the shorter leg of said metallic member having a slot formed therein to at least frictionally receive the terminating end of said associated light emitting diode lead.

16. A selectively actuated and illuminated electrical pushbutton switch in accordance with claim 15, wherein said reciprocally movable assembly is springbiased in a direction relative to said stationary housing so as to normally position said slider in a retracted position relative to said housing passageway, and wherein said light emitting diode is mounted beneath the upper surface of said pushbutton in the cavity thereof, with at least said upper surface being formed of a diaphanous material which allows visual observation of said light source when energized through selected ones of said stationary contacts.

17. A selectively actuated and illuminated pushbutton switch in accordance with claim 15, wherein said reciprocally movable assembly is spring-biased in a direction relative to said stationary housing so as to normally position said slider in a retracted position relative to said housing passageway, and wherein the upper surface of said pushbutton has a central aperture formed therein which communicates with said cavity, and accommodates and exposes at least a portion of the upper illuminating surface of said light emitting diode therewithin for direct viewing.

18. A selectively actuated and illuminated pushbutton switch in accordance with claim 15, wherein a coil spring is coaxially mounted on the upper end region of said slider and interposed between the upper end of said stationary housing and the lower end of said pushbutton so as to position said slider in a normally retracted position relative to said housing passageway, wherein one of said channels in said slider is dimensioned so as to expose a portion of the one of said leads mounted therein to said spring and to effect multiple point contact therebetween along the variable axial length of said spring, and said pushbutton switch further including metallic means supported on the upper end of said stationary housing so as to be in contact with the base of said spring, said matallic means being formed with at least one integral, outwardly extending portion defining an auxiliary stationary contact which provides continuity to the lead of said light source in contact with said spring.

19. A selectively actuated and illuminated pushbutton switch in accordance with claim 18, wherein said metallic means comprises a thin, planar member which associated apparatus.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification200/314, 200/536, 362/253
International ClassificationH01H13/02
Cooperative ClassificationH01H13/023
European ClassificationH01H13/02B
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Mar 11, 1985ASAssignment
Owner name: AT&T TELETYPE CORPORATION A CORP OF DE
Free format text: CHANGE OF NAME;ASSIGNOR:TELETYPE CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:004372/0404
Effective date: 19840817