Surprisingly Stomp-able Soft Switches

Competition sure brings out the brute in people, doesn’t it? So what do you do when you need a bunch of switches you can let people fist-pound or stomp on repeatedly without them taking damage? You could look to the guitar pedal industry and their tough latching switches, or you could simply build your own smash-resistant buttons as [wannabemadsci] has done.

The main thing about these switches is that they aren’t easily destroyed by shoes or angry fists. That’s because the shiny red push-me part of the button is made by cutting a foam ball in half.

Not easily crush-able Styrofoam, mind you — squishy, coated foam like an indoor football. This is mounted to the top of a sandwich made of hardboard and a couple pieces of easily-compressible foam from craft paintbrushes.

A brass washer is mounted to the middle of both pieces of hardboard, and these have wires soldered to them to read button presses. Then it’s just a matter of hooking it to a microcontroller like any other momentary.

There are all kinds of things you could cut in half for the top, like maybe tennis balls. Or, do what [Sprite_TM] did and use inverted plastic bowls.

13 thoughts on “Surprisingly Stomp-able Soft Switches

  1. Nice. Still not convinced it’d last that long in a truest abusive environment like a school or public space – foam balls ultimately aren’t that durable.

    I’d probably go for something with no moving parts – a sheet of hardboard with a piezo mounted under it, to detect the noise of a stomp. I had surprising success years ago detecting taps across a desk with two piezos – probably inspired by an old HAD article…

  2. Cool concept, but I would also like to see it after a month of serious use. If people will stamp on it with their feet, there will be a significant sideways load too and I don’t think the foam, glue and wires will hold, I wonder what gives first.

    However, the concept of the ball being a button is far out brilliant.

    1. There are commercial buttons avaliable for flushing toilets that are floor mounted. They survive quite a bit of stomping. It’s the black stretchy rubber kind, has an pneumatic tube inside that triggers the flush when user pinches it.

    1. Seacan container supported on another one with a 3 block high breezeblock wall… nice thick arm sized steel cable welded to each…

      When the circuit is completed there has been a nuclear explosion overhead.

  3. I had to buy something like this for a work project. Only thing: it had to be totally insulated for a medical application.

    The solution was a rubber bulb as in the illustration above, but with a rubber hose, leading to a pressure switch in the equipment. Absolutely no wires needed, just a rubber dome and a tube. Step on it and the switch in the equipment activated.

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