Cool Components IV: LCD Pushbuttons
These pushbuttons aren’t well suited for the typical system integrator.Â They’re all designed to mount on a PCB, use a SPI interface (readily available on microcontrollers, but not on PCs or PLCs), and require complex programming.
Most models use a monochrome LCD with a backlights of varying complexity.Â Here’s some product highlights from the three companies I know about:
NKK has the best distribution by far; their distributors include Mouser and Digikey.Â NKK has the widest product range, with prices ranging from about $45 to $80.Â NKK also the most support; for example, I’ve seen SmartSwitch articles in Circuit Cellar Ink.
- Basic buttons include 36×24 and 64×32 monochrome LCDs with single, bicolor, and RGB backlights.
- The OLED models provide 65536 colors with a 64×48 pixel resolution, with prices around $80.
- The OLED rocker switch is unique; it includes a white monochrome 96×64 pixel OLED display, and is also around $80.
ScreenKeys is an Irish company with some normal and one unique product.
- Basic buttons include 32×16 and 36×24 monochrome LCDs with bicolor or RGB backlighting.
- The unique product is the TFT128 button, which has a 128×128 pixel, 65536 color TFT LCD display.Â One minus is that the TFT128 uses a flat, LCD-style cable for communications.Â SparkFun used to carry it at a reasonable price (~$50 IIRC), but does not anymore.
[E3] is a German company that makes pushbuttons with 32×16, 36×24, and 64×32 pixel monochrome LCDs with RGB backlights.Â The RGB backlights provide either 64 or >10,000 calibrated colors.
The SB6432 is available on-line from FunGizmos for $36.
RJS currently offers pushbuttons with 64×32 pixel resolution, a profile similar to that of [E3] pushbuttons, and RGB backlights.Â (Added 5/18/2013)
I’d still like to have an excuse to use one of these buttons in a project; maybe someday…