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Publication numberUS3600528 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication date17 Aug 1971
Filing date25 Sep 1969
Priority date25 Sep 1969
Also published asDE2046612A1, US3742157
Publication numberUS 3600528 A, US 3600528A, US-A-3600528, US3600528 A, US3600528A
InventorsLeposavic Wayne V
Original AssigneeLematex Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Multiple switch construction
US 3600528 A
Abstract
A multiple switch construction for a keyboard or the like produced as a flat panel embodying laminates of electrical conductors in desired patterns, assembled as stratifications in close proximity and separated by spacers. Individual depressible means operating through resilient members urge movable switch elements into contact with fixed electrical conductors with a rotary, wiping action to insure positive electrical contact.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent Inventor Wayne V. Leposavic Saratoga, Calif. Appl. No. 860,861 Filed Sept. 25, 1969 Patented Aug. 17, 1971.

Assignee Lematex Corporation Cupertino, Calif.

MULTIPLE SWITCH CONSTRUCTION 17 Claims, 18 Drawing Figs.

U.S.Cl 200/5, 200/159 Int. Cl H0111 9/26 Field of Search 200/5, 86, 159 B; 339/18 [56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,966,559 12/ 1960 Meyer 200/ 6 3,240,885 3/ 1966 Grunfelder et al 200/5 Primary Examiner-D. X. Sliney Attorney-Leslie M. Hansen ABSTRACT: Multiple switches produced as a flat panel embodying the basic principle of laminates of electrical conductors in desired patterns assembled as stratifications in close proximity but separated by spacers and covered by resilient material facilitating momentary pushbutton operation of com- II .IIIIIIIII-II IAVI'IIIIII I, QIIIII'II'IZIIA panion switch elements thereof, the separators isolating companion switch elements of the Stratified laminates within switching zones identified by indicia or pushbutton pads on the resilient cover.

PATENTED we: 1 an SHEET 1 OF 3 INVENTOR \Wayne V. Leposavlc H15 ATTOQNEK PATENTEUAUBI'IIBYI 3, 00,528

SHEET 2 [1F 3 I NVENTOR.

Wayne V Leposavic lls OTTORNEY.

PATENTEU M81719?! 3,600,528

SHEET 3 [IF 3 igs INVENTOR. Wayne V [Leposavic B 35.41 1% M #15 drraws/ to close proxirnity of finger tab pushbuttons as 'in'a keyboard such as computer keyboards, electric typewriters and the like printedcircuitry.

MULTIPLE SWITCH CONSTRUCTION BACKGROUND This invention relates to multiple switches: in a single keyboard and the like and more particularly to the provision of momentary switches in large blocks as'distinguished from numerous independentswitches assembled into acommon block or unit.

Heretofore, most pushbutton type have been produced as individual .units. Normally, such switches include a'plunger. which when depressed will either mechanically engage or. magnetically energize a pair of contacts to close an electrical circuit. In some casesa plunger carries a magnet for shifting the latter into a'position toexcite or energize an active element to effect a sensor used in'a remainingcircuit'as an indication of closed contact.

Such momentaryswitches of the priorartare notconducive or'the like. This is so because the mounting of individual switches, leverages andsensors in close relation becomes a tedious and time consuming task often fraught with errorand faulty connections when later tested. in some "applications the output currents from individual 'switches have to be encoded'in order-to be understoodby the remaining circuits. Such encoding usually requires solid state elements such as diodes, transistorsand/or integrated circuits.

THEPRESENT'INVENTION It is an object of the present invention to overcome the foregoing objectionable aspectsinthe'manufacture and construction of multiple switches. To this "end it is an object -to provide momentary type switches in large blocksarranged in various configurations and=patternsfrhis object contemplates producing suchmu'ltiple switches by photography and chemical milling or metal etchingprocesses commonly known as It is another'object ofthis invention toproduce multiple conventional momentary switches of the 'llustration;

2 1 FIG. 3 is a'fragmentary perspective view of a portion of FIG. 1, at larger scale and partially broken away for purpose of ii- "FlG. -4is.an enlarge'd detail sectiontaken substantially along FIG. 5 is a section similar to that of FIG '4 showing modified *fixed'conductorelements;

: element for ring-type pressure switching means;

FIG, 11 isza section through a switching means embodying the-element of FIG. '10;

*FIG. 12 is a perspective view of the contact element of FIGS. loandil'l';

EFIG. .l3 isafragmentaryplan view-of another form of flexible'contactelement for'center-type pressure switching means;

"FIG.=1'4 is .a section through a switching means embodying the element o'f'FIGJS;

"FIG. '15 'is aperspective view of the contact element of FIGS. '14 and I5;

FIG. 16 is aperspective view of another form of flexible supportforthe resilient press button .tab cover of the switches;

FIG. 17 "-is a section through an assembly embodying the 'switchmechanisms'o'f FIGS. '10, l2and l6; and

switches by the vuse of printed circuits ori base blocks coordinated with gang contacts produced as metal stampings'in such-a mannerastorequirelittle or'notooling and aminimum of laborin assembly,

It is a still further-object to'providea relatively simple-and compact multiple switch assembly with components :produced 7 as laminates directly over a flat base block to thereby minimize cost=in both assembly and manufacturefln this connection it is contemplated that the components ofthe'multiple switches can be printed and cut out in anydesignor configuration of a keyboard or switch panel as desired superimposed one above the other whereby upon assembly 'of such .components complete switching means is achieved.

It is yet another object to massproduce multiple switch panels by laminates of electrical conductors-Stratified in close proximity for operation of each'individual'switchupon finger pressure applie'dthereto. In this connection it is contemplated that the laminates be spaced bydividers beneath a resilient cover having indicia locating andlorjdentifying the'individual switch therebelow. v

With the'foregoing objects in minditwill be understoodthat the multiple-switches of the present invention-contemplate a construction requiring a minimum of parts within a minimum of space, eliminating soldering and hand assembly of individual switches to thereby produce keyboards and switch panels withgreatereconomy. I

These and other objectsrand advantages of the present inventionwilllbecome apparent from a'reading'of the following description of the light of theaccompanyin'g threesheets of FIG. 18 is a section through an assembly embodying the switch mechanism o'fFIGS. =13, 'I'Sand 16.

GENERAL'DESCRlPTlON The :multiple switches of the present invention utilize the basic principle of a'printed circuithaving a selected number of fixed contact elementsetched on a base panel-and divided into switching areasby spacers which separate a resilient membrane cover therefrom, the resilient membrane having a plurality of integrallyfcrmedmovablecontact elements superimposed-therebeneath for independent flexing into connection withthe fixed contactsupon depression of the membrane cover by'a human'fingerat any selected switching area.

Three-forms of'multiple switches'embodying the basic principle of theipresent invention are illustrated in the accomz anying drawingsz' I AJThe most simple form is shown in'FIGS. 1 through 9;

B. A modification and more sophisticated form thereof is .shown inFIGS. l0 through l5; and

C, The;:preferred form of thepresentinvention is shown in FIGS. 16 through 18.

A; SIMPLEFQRM Referring'to-FIGS. l through-4 thesimplest form of the multiple switches of the present inventionacomprises a nonconductivebase panel 20 having a photographically printed circuit'etched on its uppersurface to provide a plurality of fixed contact elementslZlthereon divided by a screen-of spacers 23 into separate switch areas or zones 22. Each of the contact elements 21 have independent electrical connection to one the base. The film 28 supported on'the spacers and lower-surface of the resilient cover 27 may be plated with suitable,

spacers 23 as in the basic structure. To this end the movable contact. elementmay take various forms 28' (FIG. or 28b (FIG- 13) conducive to the Grid,'clustered or segmental arrangement of fixed contact elements 21' as the case may be.

In the present disclosure themovable contact elements are I preferably formed in a gang stamping 35 on asheet of temmaterial to reduce the danger of corrosion. This electrically f conductive film 28 is adapted to have electrical connection to the other side of the aforementioned electrical circuit through a plug and jack 29. This side of theelectrical circuit may be the hot line or ground line of the circuit as desired. Itis also contemplated that the film 28 may be a printed circuit similar to that of the one on the base to provide independent switches of separate circuits.

The resilient cover 26 has switch identifying indicia 30 thereon directly above each switch area 22 and is of sufficient elasticity as to be depressed by a persons finger as'illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 4 to close circuit through the fixed contact element 21 in a particular zone. The elasticity of the resilient cover 26 is such as to snap back to its'normally stretched con-. dition upon release of the finger pressure to thereby only momentarily close the respective switch thus operated.

The foregoing construction thus provides multiple switches I 19 which may be arranged as a keyboard as shown in FIG.; 1; in lineal strips or cut up into independent individual switches within each of the areas 22 divided by the spacers 23. The,

space between the cover 26 and panel 20 is hermetically sealed about the perimeter of the base panel 20 to protect the contact elements 21 and 28 from the effects of humidity-and dust. The hermetically sealed space may also be filled with a pered berylliumcopper or the like having.;a-.high degree of electrical conductivity. In the gang stamping :35, thus formed the contact element for each switch unit is'confined within a frame 36 which registers with the screen of spacers 23 on the base panel 20 for support thereon. Withinthis frame 36 one or more spider legs 37 extend centrally inward to the movable contact element 28' or 28b as the case may be to support the same in yieldable suspension above the fixed contact element in each switch cavity or area 32 as shown in FIGS. 1 l and 14.

As illustrated in FIGS. l0, l1 and l2the movable contact elements 28' is in the form of an annular flat ring 38 having special gas conducive to improved electrical transmission between the contact elements upon closure thereof.

GRID-TYPE CONTACTS Referring to FIGS. 5 through the construction of themulspokelike fingers 39 extending radially inward therefrom toward an open center. In FIGS. 13, 14 and 15 the movable contact element 28b is in the form of a solid fiat center 38' from which a plurality of spiderlike fingers 39' extend radially outward for yieldable contact with a ringlike fixed contact ele- I ment 21'.

. In either form of movable contact 38' or 28b the spiderlike legs 37 afford yieldable suspension thereto. Four such legs 37 is preferable in each frame 36, each leg '37 having integral connection at its base end 40 to one side of the frame 36 adjacent one corner thereof. The legs 37 are separated form the adjacent right angled side of the frame and extend approximately half way across the square frame 36. Each leg 37 terminates in a hooklikebend 41 the extreme end 42 of which is integrally connected to the contact element 28. or 28b as the ease may be. In the case'of the spoked center element 38 for mately 90 from the corner of the frame 36 where the particu- I 'lar spider leg 37 is connected to the frame. In'the case of the elements 21b on the upper surface of the base panel 20 as illustrated in FIGS. 5, 6 and 7. The several fixed contact elements 21b of each group thereof may be interconnected clusters of contacts as illustrated in FIG. 9 such that contact of any one or more contact 21b of each group thereof by the movable contact element 28 will assure completionof the desired electrical circuit.

As shown in FIGS. 7 and 8 each of the fixed contact elements 21)) may have connection to independent wiring 31 for closing multiple encoded circuits such as would occur in a computer keyboard. If desired each of the fixed elements 21b may be a gridlike cluster separately wired as in FIG. 9 or utilizing the binary system shown in FIG. 8.

B. MODIFIED FORM Referring to FIGS. 10 through 15 a modification of the simthereof as desired. This isto achieve more positive electrical t contact or in theease of segmental fixed elements 21', to provide for binary circuitry as exemplified in FIG. 8.

In this modified embodiment the movable contact elements although not directly attached to the resilient cover are beneathjthe latter and superimposed over and in proximity to the fixed contact elements within the areas 22 defined by the solid centered contact 38' having spiderlike fingers 39 for center-type pressure, the extreme end 42 of each spider leg 37 terminates at approximately a full 180 relative to the corner of the frame 36 where the particular spider leg 37 is connected to the frame. I

By this arrangement when any downward pressure is applied against either the open center Contact 38 or the solid center contact 38' the spider legs 37 associated therewith are flexedwhile the center contacts and their spokes or fingers move spirally perpendicular to the flat upper surface of the printed circuit; i.e., turning while moving vertically within the switch zone 22 confining;the same. I

As in the basic form of the invention pressure against any one of the center contacts 38 or 38', of the movable contact elements 28' or 28b is applied through the resilient cover referred to as 26 in FIGS. 11 and 14. The resilient cover 26 may be secured adjacent the upper surface of the sheet of gang stamping 35. Thus upon finger pressure against an identifying tab 30' formed on the upper surface of the cover 26' the v center contact 38 or 38' will move vertically and spirally into wiping electrical contact with the fixed contact element 21' below it. a

To assure complete finger pressure and release thereof via the resilient cover 26' the latter may be spaced slightly from the yieldable stamping 35 which by its own resiliency will assume a flat condition, spaced fromthe fixed contact element below. In such case the resilient cover 26' is mounted on extensions 23' of the spacers 23 and aligned perfectly above the same. In addition thereto the fingering tab 30 may be provided with a downwardly projecting bead 43 for engaging the ,zcentei 38 or 38' of the movable contact element 28 or 28b as the case may be. 1

In the case of the solid center-type movable contact element 38' the bead 43 on the cover is centrally located as in FIG. 14. In the case of the open center-type movable contact element 1 38 the bead 43' on the cover 26' is of annular form as shown in FIG. 11 so as to apply annular pressure uniformly to the inner ends of all of the spokelike fingers 39 extending radially inwardly from the ring 38.

In either case, upon downward pressure of the depending bead 43 or 43 the radially extending arms 39' or spokes 39, respectively, may flex slightly upon engagement with the fixed contact element or elements 21b therebelow. In other words, although full pressure downwardly by either the solid bead 43 or ring-type bead 43 forces the contact elements 38 or 38' all the way down to the upper surface of the base panel 20 the spokelike fingers 39 or the spider fingers 39 will flex by reason of their extreme ends engaging the fixed contact elements 21b on the base. This is an important feature of the present invention because by thisph enomenon a wiping action of the finger tips over the fixed contacts occurs. Moreover, in the case of the spider fingers 39 of FIGS. 13, these fingers tend to effect a wrap around connection with annularly arranged fixed contact elements 21b as will be apparent in FIG. 14.

C. PREFERRED FORM Referring now to FIGS. 16, 17 and 18 the preferred embodimen t of the present invention is concerned with a more substantial support for the resilient cover. Under. extreme variations in temperature the resilient cover may have a tendency to become too soft or too rigid as the case may be. For this reason it is proposed to reinforce the resilient cover 26' with a gang-type stamping of heat treated or tempered spring steel 35'.

This spring steel stamping 35' is formed much the same as the tempered beryllium copper sheet 35 for the movable contact elements'28' and 28b as previously explained in connection with FIGS. 10, I2, .13 and '15. Referring to FIG. 16 it will be noted that the spring steel stamping 35' has the same characteristics as the sheet 35 in FIG. 12. Consequently, like parts thereof are identified by like reference numerals and distinguished therefrom by primed exponents.

' As seen in FIG. 16 the stamping 35' is cut to provide a frame 36 conforming to the screen of spacers 23 for support thereon as illustrated in FIGS. 17 and 18. Within each frame 36' the stamping 35' has a number of .spiderlike legs 37 formed similar to those 37 on the*movable contact elements 28' of FIG. 12. Each of the legs 37 terminates in a hooklike bend 41' the terminal end 42' of which hasintegral connection to a center ring 48 similar to that 38 on the movable contact element 28' of FIG. 12.

As best seen in FIGS. 17 and 18," the frame 36' is supported on 'the extensions 23 of the spacers 23.-The resilient'cover 26C may have depending ribs 23C registerable with the spacers .23 and extensions thereof-23 for support thereon. It should here be noted that the frames 36-36' and extensions 23 of the spacers 23 are secured together by suitable adhesive 'cement'so as to form a continuous=partition between the base 20 and the resilient covering 26C. I Referring again to FIG. 16 it will be noted-that each ringlike center 48 of the spring steel stamping is secured to the resilient cover 26C in annular grooves 49 formed in a depending bead 43C axially below each fingering tab 30C on the cover. This is also clearly illustrated in both FIGS. 17 and 18.

In the case of FIG. 17 the depending bead 43C is in the form of an annulus for ring-type pressure engagement with the movable center contact element 38. That is, with the inwardly extending spokelike fingers 39 of FIGS. and 12 as applied in FIG. 17 for applying annular pressure to the spokes 39 as already explained.

In the case of FIG. 18 the depending bead 43C has a solid knoblike center 50 disposed to exert downward pressure axially of and upon the solid center-type contact element 38b of FIGS. 13 and as applied in FIG. 18.

From the foregoing it will be appreciated that the multiple switch construction of the present invention provides a simple form of switching means which is inexpensive from the standpoint of manufacture involving a minimum of number of parts by reason of printed-type circuitry and mass stamping of switching elements and the least effort in labor and assembly. The switching contacts thus formed and constructed results in relatively flat platelike switch banks, keyboards and the like having a wide application in any industry requiring momentary switching functions.

Having thus described my new multiple switch construction in specific detail what I claim as new and desire to protect by Letters Patent is:

1. In a multiple switch construction in which stratified laminates superimposed in spaced relation and in close proximity one upon another comprise in combination:

I. an electrically nonconductive base panel having one surface thereof divided into a plurality of switching areas;

2. a fixed electrically conductive switch element fixed upon said surface of said base panel within each of said switching areas thereon;

3. depressible means supported on said base panel in spaced relation to said surface thereof and selectively depressible toward the latter within any one of said switching areas thereon;

. a flexible electrically conductive switching element sup- ;ported in spaced relation to said base panel with said depressible means for movement by the latter into electrical'contact with the particular fixed electrically conductive switch element within the switching area into which said depressible means is selectively depressed; and

5. each of said fixed electrically conductive elements within a switching area comprising a plurality of fixed contact members arranged on said base panel for collective engagement by said flexible electrically conductive element upon movement thereof under depression of said depressible means toward said base panel.

'2. In a multiple switch construction in which stratified laminatessuperimposedin spaced relation and in close prox- :imity one upon another comprise in combination:

.1. an-electrically nonconductive base panel having one surface'thereof divided into a plurality of switching areas;

2. spacers mounted on said one surface of said base panel for-dividing the same into a plurality of switching areas;

3. afixedelectrically conductive switch element fixed upon said surface of said base panel within each of said switching areas thereon;

4. depressible means supportedon said base panel in spaced relation to said surface thereof and selectively depressible toward the latter within any one of said switching areas thereon; and

'5. a flexible electrically conductive element comprising a stamping of substantially flat-rigid electrically conductive material having framelike portions thereof conforming to and supported on said spacers and integral movable switch elements suspended from said framelike portions for. flexing movement into electrical contact with the fixed electrically conductive switch element within the switching area into which said depressible means is selectively-depressed.

3. A multiple switch construction in accordance with that of claim 2 in which each of said fixed electrically conductive elements within a switching area confined within said spacers comprises a plurality of fixed contact members arranged as a grid on said base panel for collective engagement by said flexible electrically conductive element upon movement thereof under depression of said depressible means toward said base panel.

4. The multiple switch construction in accordance with that of claim 2 in which each of said integral movable switching elements comprises:

a. a medial contact element; 4

b. two or more spider legs each having its base end equidistant from that of the other spider legs an integral to the framelike portions supported on said spacers and extending inwardly therefrom into the switching area defined by the spacers; and

I medial contact element parallel thereto for during perpendicular movement toward said base panel and wiping contact of the medial contact element withthe fixed elec- Y trical contact element within a switching area upon depression of said depressible means into such switching area.

5. A multiple switch construction in accordance with that of claim 4 in which said medial contact element includes a plurality of substantially radially disposed fingers adapted to flexingly engage said fixed electrically conductive element on said base panel.

6. A multiple switch construction in accordance with that of I claim 5 in which each of said fixed electrically conductive elements in a switching area comprises a plurality of segmental contact members arranged on said base panel within the peripheral reach of the radially disposed fingers on said medial contact element for flexing said fingers upon engagement thereof with said segmental contact members upon perpendicular movement of said medial contact element relative to and into engagement with said base panel.

7. The multiple switch construction in accordance with that of claim 6 in which said segmental contact members are rounded bead like projections above said one surface of the fixed electrical contact element on said base panel whereby to effect a wraparound wiping engagement of said radially disposed fingers during flexing thereof upon downward movement of said medial contact member into engagement with said base panel.

8. The multiple switch construction in accordance with that of claim 7 including a spring steel laminate disposed between said flexible electrically conductive element and said depressible means for supporting the latter and comprising in combination:

a. nonconductive extensions on said spacers disposed on the framelike portions of the flexible electrically conductive element;

b. a plurality of integrated frames formed in said spring steel laminate conforming to said nonconductive extensions of said spacers and secured thereto;

c. a plurality of spring steel spider legs extending inwardly of each of said spring steel framelike portions and having inwardly bowed ends terminating in a common central ring; and

d. a depending central annular pushbutton projection on the underside of said depressible means within each of said switching areas and supported on said common central ring and extending therethrough for engaging the movable medial contact element therebelow for moving the latter into electrical contact with the fixed electrically conductive element on said base panel upon depression of said depressible means in the respective switching area.

9. In a multiple switch construction in which stratified laminates superimposed in spaced relation and in close proximity one upon another comprise in combination:

1. an electrically nonconductive base panel having one surface thereof divided into a plurality of switching areas;

2. a fixed electrically conductive switch element fixed upon said surface of said base panel within each of said switching areas thereon;

3. depressible means supported on said base panel in spaced relation to said surface thereof and selectively depressible toward the latter within any one of said switching areas thereon;

4. a flexible electrically conductive switching element supported in spaced relation to said base panel with said depressible means for movement by the latter into electrical contact with the particular fixed electrically conductive switch element within the switching area into which said depressible means isselectively depressed; and 5. a spring laminate of resilient material interposed between said depressible means and saidflexible switching element, said spring laminate including a'plu'rality of spring stampings corresponding in number and location to each of said plurality of switching areas providing a positive spring return for each of said depressible means.

10. Themultiple switch construction in accordance with that of claim 9, including in combination:

l. spacers mounted on said one surface of said base panel for dividing the same into a plurality of switching areas.

2. nonconductive extensions on said spacers disposed on the framelike portions of the flexible electrically conductive element;

3. a plurality of integrated frames formed in said spring laminate conforming to said nonconductive extensions of said spacers and secured thereto;

4. a plurality of spring spider legs extending inwardly of each of said spring framelike portions and having inwardly bowed ends terminating in a common central ring; and

5. a depending central annular pushbutton projection on the underside of said depressible means within each of said switching areas and supported on said common central ring and extending therethrough for engaging the movable medial contact element therebelow for moving the latter into electrical contact with the fixed electrically conductive element on said base panel upon depression of said depressible means in the respective switching area.

11.- In a multiple switch construction having nonconductive spacers defining independent switching areas, the improvement comprising switching elements constructed of a panel divided into a plurality of framelike portions having integral movable switch elements suspended from said framelike portions for flexing movement, said integral movable switching elements including:

l. a medial contact means;

2. a plurality of spider legs having base ends thereof equally spaced about said medial contact means, said spider legs being integral to the framelike portions supported on said spacers and extending inwardly therefrom into the switching area defined by the spacers; and

3. each of said spider legs being of a length greater than the shortest distance between its base end and said medial contact element to thereby facilitate flexing of said spider legs toward said base panel while supporting said medial contact element parallel thereto for substantially linear movement upon depression thereof in a direction substantially perpendicular to the plane of said panel.

12. A multiple switch construction in accordance with that of claim 11 in which said medial contact element includes a plurality of substantially radially disposed fingers.

13. The multiple switch construction of claim 11 in which the spider legs extend across one side of said framelike portions and then inwardly toward the center thereof.

14. The multiple switch construction of claim 13 in which the inner ends of said spider legs of each frame include a plurality of elongated fingers for providing multiple contact.

15. The multiple switch construction of claim 13 in which the inner ends of said spider legs of each frame are interconnected and include a plurality of elongated fingers for providing multiple contact.

16. The multiple switch of claim in which the elongated

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