A snap-action switch and actuator are disclosed in which a resilient columnar compression member is axially loaded to the point of catastrophic buckling. In one embodiment, the column serves as both an electrical conductor and contact. In this embodiment, it buckles into contacting with another conductive member to complete a circuit. Alternatively, the buckled column may actuate a piezoelectric, optical, or other signal producing means to produce signals used for switching or to close other contacts.
A torsional or rocker switch actuator is described that uses the torsional moment of a buckling compression spring column to rock the actuator member on a pivot. A catastrophically buckling compression column spring is used and the reaction moment which occurs as the spring buckles is applied to rock an actuator back and forth between open and closed positions with cooperating contacts beneath the actuator. A non-teasible, snap action, tactile feedback, key mechanism of extreme mechanical simplicity and high reliability is achieved.
Electrical connector assembly comprises a plug and a receptacle which has a plug receiving opening extending into its mating face. The plug has latch arms extending from its endwalls adjacent to the leading end of the plug. The latch arms extend divergently and have rearwardly facing shoulders intermediate the ends and handle portions extending from the shoulders to the free ends. Ears extend from the free ends towards the endwalls and are offset from the adjacent plug sidewall so that the latch arms can be flexed towards the plug endwalls for unlatching. The receptacle opening has shoulders therein for engagement with the plug shoulders.
A pivoting rocking actuator has a first bottom surface, which comprises two spaced portions, resting on an upper surface of a membrane contact switch assembly when the actuator is in its rest position. The actuator has one end of a buckling spring, which is initially buckled in a selected direction, acting against its upper surface with the other end of the spring acting against a key, which is slidably mounted on a frame, of a keyboard. When the key is depressed, the spring catastrophically buckles in the selected direction to cause initial pivoting of the actuator about a forward edge of each of the spaced portions. This causes a curved bottom surface of the actuator to rotate about a pivot point on the bottom curved surface to close a contact switch of the membrane contact switch assembly. When the key is released, the spring unbuckles at a slower rate than its compression so that there is an initial further rotation of the actuator along the curved bottom surface in the same direction as rotation occurred to close the contact switch. Then, the actuator returns to its rest position to open the contact switch.
A multilayer membrane switch structure is disclosed wherein the flexible membrane is fixedly attached to a support frame member by a pattern of adhesive regions, the regions positioned in locations corresponding to the switch locations of the structure. The adhesive engagement of the bottom surface of the membrane structure stabilizes the bottom electrical contact and, at the same time, leaves open regions between the adhesive regions which will accommodate air which is exhausted from the switch cavity through a hole formed in the bottom layer of the multilayered switch structure into communication with the open regions between the adhesive regions. Thus, the open regions act to exhaust the air in a switch cavity when the switch is activated.
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