Finally got some free time to sit down and mess with something I’ve been wanting to try for a while now: putting Cherry (“American-style”, “clicky”) microswitches in Sanwa and Seimitsu buttons.
Enter the OBS-30A and OBS-30B buttons.
You might have seen these on Akihabarashop, tucked away under Arcade > Buttons > Special. The buttons themselves are identical to the standard OBSx-30 button, but come fitted with the OBS-M-1 switch assembly (available separately). These use a high operating force Omron microswitch that has been riveted into place, so it is not easily removed. This is a very stiff switch, tested at ~75g on the RipOmeter. Works great in a Start or Select button, but it’s pretty hard for a standard action button, unless you really like them tough.
Again, the OBS-M-1 switch is available by itself; you don’t have to order OBS-30A/OBS-30B buttons if you already have OBSN/OBSF buttons, or other small-switch buttons (see Compatibility, below). Even separate from the buttons, they are still sold only with the riveted-in Omron V-10-1A4 microswitch, and are unfortunately a bit pricey at 380¥.
Luckily the microswitch is in the standard “miniature snap-action” form factor we’re used to from western arcade parts, so if we remove the rivet, we’re free to swap in whatever other switch we like.
Core out the center a little bit with a 3/32" drill bit. Go slow, it is soft aluminum and will give way pretty easily. Something grippy between the clamp and the switch helps keep the slippery plastic from sliding away. I used some shelf liner.
That’s the stuff.
Once you’ve removed several mm of material, step up to a 7/64" bit. Stop after a few seconds and pull out. If you’re lucky, this will separate the riveted end from the rest of the bolt.
If you’re not lucky, you’ll have to manually tear away the remains of the rivet, but nothing should be damaged if you didn’t go buckwild on the poor thing.
Once the riveted end is taken care of, poke out the bolt with a paper clip or something. Here’s a lucky vs. unlucky mangled jerk bolt.
With the switch freed, you’ll see the separate plastic housing and plunger components. 380¥ each to get these pieces of plastic. Maybe Per or another nice person can get Sanwa to do a run of these—sans switch—at a lower price.
The offset switch and plunger setup allows the plunger to be firmly centered over the actuator, giving you essentially direct contact to the switch. This is an improvement from Happ and similar buttons, which center the switch housing, making it necessary to actuate from the side of the plunger.
Of course the Sanwa plunger lacks the auxiliary spring of the Happ button, so the feel is different entirely. More on that in a sec.
Since we killed the only thing holding all of this together, we need something to bolt it back together with. Some #4-40 x 3/4" machine screws and nuts do the trick. I ended up using a nylon set with thumbscrews for later testing, since they were easier to get on and off.
The easiest way to install these is from underneath with the original switch removed, and the plunger already in place. Find the slot and pinch the assembly to get it in. It should click into place.
I found that these install flawlessly into Sanwa 30mm and 24mm buttons, and work pretty well in Seimitsu PS-14-K as well. The cutout in the Sanwa casing is ever so slightly tighter than the Seimitsus; you may need to work it a little in the PS-14-K to get it to seat firmly.
These do NOT work without modification in the low-clearance PS-15 buttons. The inside of the PS-15 where the switch assembly should sit is a little too thick. This could be probably worked around by removing a little material, but I haven’t tried it yet.
[INDENT=1]Update: You need more than 3cm clearance below the bottom of the button casing to fit them into your joystick case. Make sure you factor in the additional clearance of any wiring or quick disconnects.[/INDENT]
3cm clearance photo
These almost, almost fit in a stock Mad Catz TE. The ground post hits the horizontal plastic panel with the button holes in the center. You could probably get the top screwed down, but it’s definitely in need of a couple millimeters of wiggle room. I think it might work with a thicker replacement plexi, but I don’t have any to test with. You could also cut out some of the inner panel, like people have done with Happ mods.
I installed these in my HRAP2 SA test stick without issues. Haven’t yet tried them in any other sticks.
Naturally you need .187 quick connect terminals to mate with these switches; the .110 terminals in most Japanese sticks like the HRAP and TE are too small. For testing purposes you can do this with .110 terminals:
Keep in mind that Sanwas don’t have a spring in the plunger like Happ-styled buttons do, so the feel will be quite different from standard American arcade buttons. There is a certain similarity to them, but gone are the pinngggs of the spring, and the feel of each switch is lighter in comparison. Depending on the switch, the action can be even lighter than a typical Sanwa, or significantly heavier.
The actual feel of the switches, even when the force required to bottom out the switch is similar to stock Sanwas, is very different. In most of these microswitches there is distinct feedback felt when switch is actuated, with an audible click sound. The force required is usually higher at the top of the press, before the click, and softer afterward. This is in contrast to stock Sanwas or Seimitsus, which tend to increase a bit in force as you bottom out, and there is no feedback at the actuation point.
I tried out a few models of microswitches. These are my personal and entirely biased touchy-feely thoughts. Switch photos from Kowal’s page on microswitches.
The overall resistance of these switches is not very different from Sanwas, but with noticeable feedback and ‘give’ after the actuation. They actuate very near the top, then collapse immediately to bottom out. The click is audible. They feel a bit like Sanwas with clicky sounds. Unfortunately these switches are no longer made, but if you have any old Happ buttons around, they likely have this switch installed.
Medium resistance, similar to a Seimitsu or brand new Sanwa button, depending on how you think about it. It engages medium to medium-high, a little lower than the KWJ. Unlike the KWJ, there is still some resistance after the actuation, so there’s a little cushion in the fall. This is what gives it a Sanwa-ish feel, however the buttons are much less sensitive than the Sanwas, requiring more force like Seimitsus. You can rest your fingers on these without pressing them, but they are not slow to respond.
E-Switch LS (image via LizardLick)
These are what come in Happs now that Happ has dropped Cherry. They seem to be reaching for a Cherry KWJ feel. The resistance is very similar, but the actuation point is a LOT lower, like almost near the bottom. The click is there, but happens about the same time as the clack of the button itself, so it is masked. Lacking the distinct click, these seem kind of like a snappy Sanwa.
Zippy 20g, “Groovy SST” (image via Paradise Arcade)
I ordered these from GroovyGameGear, where they were labeled as the Groovy Standard Soft-Touch, and pictured with an embossed Groovy name, but I received what appears to be a Zippy 20g switch that looks identical except for the embossed name. Guessing they are identical to these.
These are extremely light switches that feel like heavily broken-in Sanwas. The actuation point is lower, but they are so light that it is easy not to notice. They do not work well in the PS-14-K, as the heavy plunger will fail to return to the top if it encounters any friction at all.
GroovyMicro Premium Soft-Touch (does not work)
I got these from GroovyGameGear also, marketed as their premium switch. I believe these are only available as an option with their line of buttons. They’re marked “VASCO”, and while they feel like they require a tiny bit more force to depress and are smoother, the return is so light that it does not work even with stock Sanwas. The plungers are too heavy to return. Too bad, they seemed nice otherwise.
I tried the Versa Micro adjustable switch as well, but only on one setting so far. It seems easy to adjust to actuate at the top. I only have 2 so I haven’t messed with these much.
My favorites are the KWJ and D44x, though I’ll probably try the Zippy 20gs again. They’re kinda fun. They’re pretty easy to switch out so it’s not so bad experimenting. D44x might be the best all-around switch for this, and it doesn’t hurt that they are readily available.
Anyway, I hope this encourages someone else to try these out. They’re pretty fly. The new stick I’m working on will have .187 connectors for these, so I’ll experiment more with them once that is finished. Let me know if you build any of these yourself.