Thursday, April 16, 2015

Space Matt Button Array Idea

OK so in the spirit of trying an experimental idea that I'm sure it far from original, but new for me in any event, I figured I would try and see if I can do an experiment with some buttons from an old Texas Instruments Calculator that I found on eBay. The buttons are pretty close to what is seen in the actual Knight Rider Lower Console Space Matt array. Obviously they will need to be painted and then the coloured rectangles added. But hey I figured for $8.00 on eBay it's well worth the experiment just to have something for now until I eventually get the USB keyboard Space Matt buttons from Knight Rider World.

Not The Droids I'm Looking For

OK so one slight snag already with my Oh so brilliant plan. After I dismantled the Calculator I was a little disappointed to see that the buttons inside were not quite the type I was expecting. I thought for sure they might have been the mini Micro Buttons soldered onto a small circuit board. Instead they turned out to be these very tiny brass or copper ever so slight dome shaped sheet type buttons with a plastic back and a sticky black plastic cover that holds them over thin brass or copper wires running through the white plastic bed for the buttons.

I'm still pretty determined though in that I think I can still make them work for what I intend to do with them, they are after all a crap load of tiny buttons that apart from the USB Keyboard variation I can't REALLY think of too much to do with the Space Matt Buttons array out side of simply hooking them up to a DTMF random Tone Generator.

One of my initial thought is to simply hook up the buttons array to the Message Centre and just simply have the array cycle through the messages with random DTMF Tones. This to me so far would be a very simple use for them.

Wiring Up The Individual Buttons

Now even though I have mentioned my very simple usage for these buttons I can't for the life of me see no reason to not at least try and see about wiring up the buttons individually even if for the time being I simply combine all of the individual wires into one that can go to the Message Centre Cycle button and DTMF Tone Generator. That way I can at least later on assign them to something if I want. Here on the right you can see I have already broken the connections that linked the buttons in strips together making them separate. I also drilled in a tiny hole big enough for some black 22 AWG wire to poke in through the back of the white plastic back board and soldered them to the wire.

Testing A Few Buttons

Now I did not want to go super crazy soldering in a whole bunch of wires without at least doing a test on a couple first to see if my somewhat crazy idea was even going to work. So what I did was rig up just a few and then place the sheet of Brass or Copper buttons over top of my make shift switches and see if I get a reading on the Multi Meter when I press the buttons..... I actually do. Now you can see on the back of the actual plastic buttons I had to cut off of the original Texas Instruments Calculator with my Dremel that they will have a much more precise pressure point for pressing the slightly domed metal buttons on the sheet.

So over all I think theoretically anyways that my idea should work. I have even so far made an overlay or bezel for the Space Matt Buttons using some black plastic scrap I had kicking around. I need to even out the edges a little and smooth it all down but I think once it's painted and my buttons are all wired up and I do some testing of the final array before installing it into my Lower Console it should work. Now depending on how well it works I might just say to heck with it and just go with it.