Backer Membrane Keypad: Application and Advantages of Keypad
Backer Membrane Keypad: The Anatomy of Membrane Keypad
A backer membrane keypad or keyboard is a computerized keypad without separate keys and moving parts, unlike many other keypads. A membrane keypad is a pressure pad that has just symbols and outlines printed on the flexible, flat surface. The user will feel very little tactile feedback while pressing the keypad’s keys. These keypads are very compact and used for many applications.
In this article, we will discuss the application areas and anatomy of this keypad. Let’s begin by going through the basic details of a membrane keyboard.
About Backer Membrane Keypad
Membrane keypads operate through a connection between underlying circuits and keypad surfaces. This connection establishes when you press the keypad. This type of model was first used in the early 1980s in home computers. From there on, these computerized keypads became an integral part of many devices in the consumer electronics market. The best thing about a backer membrane keypad is that it is very affordable in terms of mass-production. Another benefit of this keypad is that they are not prone to liquids and dirt, unlike many other keypads.
Though, the non-existent or low tactile feedback of the keypad may make typing a little difficult for some people. The typing becomes relatively difficult especially when the user is typing larger characters. However, a high-quality membrane keypad can make the typing experience very convenient for the users. All you need is to make sure that the membrane keypad is of top-notch quality and fulfills your specific requirements.
Role of Membrane Keypads in Industries
Apart from the gaming consoles and home computers, these keypads are also used widely in industrial computers. These membrane-based QWERTY keypads are found in portable designs for portable computing such as PDAs. Sometimes, they are found as even roll-able collapsible devices for the convenience of the users.
These specialized, smaller membrane keypads usually come with only a few numeric and control keys. Therefore, they are used widely in access control computers (for restricted areas and buildings), home remote controls, handheld calculators, and microwave ovens, etc. Membrane keypads are commonly used in the devices that are usually used for infrequent typing, such as remote controls and cell phones.
A modern-day personal computer is principally a membrane-based keyboard. Its keypad mechanism consists of several dome switches. These dome switches provide a positive tactile user experience. Therefore, you can understand that the role of these keypads in industrial applications is very common these days. Now, let’s go through the anatomy of the membrane keypads for a better understanding.
Backer Membrane Keypad Mechanism
A backer membrane keypad comprises multiple layers. These layers are very similar to the thin cardstocks and papers in terms of thickness. There are a total of three layers out of which two are the membrane layers that contain conductive traces. The middle layer of the keypad is a spacer that contains holes in the areas where keys are present. The role of this layer is to make sure that the other two keypad layers do not get in contact with each other.
The key, also known as a switch, is open in normal conditions because the gap between the bottom layer’s traces doesn’t allow the current to cross. However, when a user presses down the upper layer with his/her finger, it gets in touch with the keypad’s bottom layer. A conductive trace present under the upper layer bridges the gap that promotes the flow of current. After that, the switch gets closed and a keypress is registered with the parent device.
The mechanism of the membrane keypad makes it an ideal keypad for many applications in different industries. Here are the most common application areas of these keypads or keyboards:
- Industrial Controls
- Medical Equipment
- Access Control Computers
- Household appliances
- Telephone Systems
- Security Systems
- Telecommunication Apparatus
- Office Use
Apart from the above-mentioned applications, these keypads are common for many other home and office applications.
Benefits of a Membrane Keypad/Keyboard
The membrane keypads and keyboards are popular for many reasons. Here are some of the top advantages that come with these devices.
The easy maintenance of these keypads is a big plus. You can keep your membrane keypads and keyboard clean with minimal effort. As compared to a membrane-based keypad, all other types of keypads/keyboards attract grime and dirt. The grime and dirt often become embedded or ingrained into the cervices of the socket. On the other hand, a membrane keypad has a smooth design and sealed surface that doesn’t allow grime or dirt to embed in. Hence, these keypads have very easy maintenance.
Water can easily get into the mechanical keypads through crevices and cracks. After seeping in, water can cause damage by the short circuit. Fortunately, there is no such risk with a backer membrane keypad because of its smooth and sealed surface design. The membrane keypads even come with waterproofing capability making them a risk-free option.
Flexibility and Versatility
The construction of a membrane keypad is easy and simple as compared to its mechanical counterpart. Because of that, you can buy a custom-made keypad just according to your specific requirements and needs. These keyboards and keypads can easily be printed using a digital or screen-printer without compromising on the graphics quality. Therefore, the membrane-based keypads are flexible and handy.
Membrane keyboards and keypads can withstand hostile or harsher conditions. They provide better protection against the ultraviolet rays that can easily damage electronic devices or gadgets. Apart from that, some membrane keypads also resist the chemicals due to their specific design.
Every device or gadget is prone to malfunction or damages. One big advantage that comes with the membrane keypads is that they are easily repairable. The Mechanical keypads are very hard to repair, but a damaged membrane keypad can easily be fixed. Fixing a mechanical keypad requires removing its keys. In the case of a membrane keypad, simply take off its overlay to find the damaged part. Once you have found the damaged part, just replace it and your keypad will be fully functional once again.
6. Low Price
The best thing about membrane keypads is that they are very affordable when compared with mechanical keypads. Their price is low and they can easily be repaired when they turn faulty. Therefore, you will save money, while enjoying many other great features that it offers.
7. Low Typing Sound
The sound that a mechanical keyboard’s keys produce while pressing sometimes feels very loud and irritating. If you don’t like that loud sound of pressing keys, then you can opt for the membrane keypads. These keypads hardly produce any sound and are very comfortable to use.
Because of the above-listed benefits, the membrane keypads and keyboards have become extremely popular. All you need is to ensure that you are buying an appropriate and high-quality membrane keypad for your home or commercial use.
List of Membrane-Based Keypads
Here are some of the membrane-based keypads for different application areas:
- Atari 400
- Magnavox Odyssey
- Cambridge Z88
- Elektronika BK0010
- Sinclair ZX80
- Robotron Z1013
- RCA COSMAC
- Sega SC3000
- Timex Sinclair-1000
- Speak & Spell
- Sinclair ZX81
- Synertek SYM1
Apart from these, there are many other membrane keypads available in the market.
Membrane Keyboard and Gaming
Some people assume that the membrane keypads and keyboards are not good for gaming purposes. However, this perception is not true. The keys of a membrane keypad are very soft and can easily be pressed with a gentle touch of your fingers. Therefore, these keypads can also be used for gaming if you are irritated by the loud sound of your mechanical gaming keypad.