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SpectraLite vs. Ultralux vs. Paradise Arcade Illuminated Buttons

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blind_dado:
What is the difference, if any, between Groovy Game Gear's SpectraLite buttons and Ultimarc's Ultralux buttons?  From the pictures on their websites, they look almost identical.

SpectraLite:
http://groovygamegear.com/webstore/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=73&products_id=343

Ultralux:
http://www.ultimarc.com/ultralux.html

markronz:
Thought I might as well make myself useful since it's a boring day at work today...

I happen to have a blue SpectraLite and a blue Ultralux button here.   So my disclaimer is that I only have the color blue available to me.  I have not tested other colors.   But I believe that despite having only compared this one color, I can give some honest feedback regarding these two products.

Ok, first thing of note.  The Ultralux button does not come stock with a LED.   However Ultimarc does offer some quality 5v LED's for an additional 90 cents each.   The SpectraLite DOES come with a stock LED.  This LED is a 12v LED.  I believe Randy from GGG said once that he did intend to offer different lighting options for the Spectralite button at some point, however, based on his site, it does not appear he has any yet.  You are of course able to use whatever LEDs you want, and are not limited to these two options.  But just know that the SpectraLite comes with a stock 12V LED and the Ultralux comes with nothing, but you can purchase a 5v one through them for 90 cents.


In the picture below you will see the Ultimarc 5v single LED on the LEFT.  On the 12v Spectralite LED on the RIGHT



Next, the button itself.   In the picture below, you will see the Ultralux button on the LEFT and the SpectraLite on the RIGHT.   You can see that they are slightly different in color.  The Ultralux has a brighter more pleasing color to it.  It just pops a little more.  The SpectraLite appears to be a little bit "murky" if you will.  It's not truly displeasing to the eye on its own, but when placed next to the Ultralux one, you can certainly tell the difference.


Here is just another sideview of the two buttons where you can see the color difference a bit as well.


Now, I thought it only fair when testing the two buttons to use the same LED in each of them, so that the side by side photos would be equal.   So in the pictures below I am using the Ultralux 5v LED in BOTH buttons.   You can see that there is some color difference here as well.  The SpectraLite button, on the right, appears to be brighter.   The Ultralux button, on the left, is still bright, and the quality of the plastic looks a little more clear.  Which makes the button look a little cleaner and more crisp.


The next thing you will notice, which is visible in this next picture, is how the light from the LED is diffused through the two buttons.  The Ultralux on the left has the light dispersed really evenly, giving it that same clean, crisp look.  The Spectralite, on the right has a pretty apparent circle of light showing in the middle.   This is not the camera playing tricks on us, it looks that way to the naked eye as well.


Here is a closer look at the Spectralite button, lit up, on its own.


Here is a closer look at the Ultralux button, lit up, on its own.


Both buttons do have a diffuser disc in the top of the button.   It just seems that one of them does a better job spreading the light out than the other.

I thought it was only fair to at least show one shot of the SpectraLite button lit up with it's stock 12v LED, so here it is.   It seems to have a much more direct one light dot in the middle.  This, I believe, just comes from the style of light bulb it is.  It's a smaller LED, whereas the one from Ultimarc has a much wider bulb on it.  The provided 12v LED appears to have some level of success getting rid of the distinct circle of light, however it replaces it with that more direct light in the very center.



I will not comment on the switches provided with the two buttons, as I am no expert on that sort of thing. They both feel fine to me. I believe both sites probably offer different options available for switches anyway.  

So, in my assessment, I would have to conclude that the Ultralux button is the superior product.  The plastic appears more clear.  It diffuses the light more equally through out.   And it just looks more pleasing.  

Now that said, the Spectralite button seems to still be a fine product.   It's really just when compared side by side with the Ultralux that it pails in comparison.   When on its own, it does do a pretty decent job, especially at it's current price.

I guess what it comes down to, is that, you get what you pay for.  The Ultralux is $3.95 + $0.90 for the LED.  So $4.85.   The SpectraLite is $2.15 with an LED included.   So at over twice the price, the Ultralux is a better product, and you are paying for it.

Thus concludes my button comparison.   ;D  Back to work!  
Let me know if you have any further questions.

Edit:   typos, other small corrections.

blind_dado:
Awesome review with great photos!  Very helpful indeed. 

One correction: on the Ultimarc order page for the Ultralux (after you click "add to cart") it states "Includes LED."  On the store page for joysticks & buttons it states that the Ultralux comes "with Microswitch and same color ... LED."  For an additional $2.00 you can get an RGB LED with the Ultrlux (an option that is not available on GGG's SpectraLite). 

Both buttons include a microswitch for no additional charge, although GGG does offer switch upgrades for an addition cost.

So, I believe the cost difference (with a standard switch included) is:
Ultralux: $3.95
SpectraLite: $2.15

Finally, Ultimarc offers a very small selection of logo inserts for their Ultralux buttons.  GGG does not have inserts for their SpectraLite buttons (the site states that their large selection of Pushbutton Graphic Inserts are not compatible with the SpectraLite style buttons).

markronz:
Ah!  You are correct!   It was not always that way.   I thought $3.95 was a little higher than what I paid, so that explains the difference.  That just makes sense to me that they're included now, so that's cool.   I really like those LED's they offer as well.   That big bulb on it just spreads the light out well like I said before.

About the RGB LED option, I guess that doesn't really matter all that much, unless you get a clear button.   The colored buttons would just look weird with a RGB LED in them.

And about the inserts, I actually made my own inserts.   You could do this for either button.  For the images, I used a combination of just normal text that I made up in a Word document playing with different fonts, and also images found on attached to this thread, also the links throughout this thread:
http://forum.arcadecontrols.com/index.php?topic=64645.0;all

I printed them out on normal paper first and cut them out in the circle shapes to make sure they would fit inside the buttons without the image being cut off or anything.   Had to test out a few font sizes and such to get the right one.  This will vary by font I am sure.

Now to cut out the inserts, I had a heck of a time doing this.   At first, I simply used the little light transfuser disc thingy inside the buttons, since I figured this had to be the right size.  I just tried to hold that in place by hand, and then trace around it with an exacto knife.  Problem is that if you don't make smooth uniform cuts, the outsides of the inserts look ragged, and sloppy.  This shows when you put them inside the buttons.  So I had to find a way to make a more perfect circle cut.  I went to a ton of craft stores looking for a hole punch that would cut the right size.   I couldn't find the right size at a store, so I searched online.  What I ended up getting was the Circle Hole Punch - 13/16" inch from the site I have linked below. 
http://www.1stopsquare.com/hole.html
Maybe you could find it somewhere else, but that's where I got mine.   This seemed to make the inserts just about the perfect size.   However it's still not a perfect solution.   This hole punch works GREAT with paper.  However this is transparency paper we're dealing with.  As you can imagine this plastic is harder to cut than paper is.   So the hole punch had a hard time cutting out the circles.    It did eventually work though.   I just had to put the transparency paper in there, and literally slam it with my fist to punch it through.   Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.  More on that in a bit.

I printed the text and images at Kinko's on transparency paper.   I forget the cost but it's extremely reasonable if you want black ink only, something like 50 cents a sheet maybe.  Not sure about color, but they can do that too, but I'm sure it's a little more pricier, but probably just a few bucks I'd imagine.   I printed several of each desired image/text onto a sheet.  This was so that I could try to punch out the circle with the circle cutter several times.   After a few tries, I was able to get a complete set of the inserts I wanted.   After all, Kinko's charges by the sheet, not the amount of ink, so you might as well fit a bunch of them onto a page anyway.

So that's how I did it.   Maybe not the best system, but it worked.   The only part that I'd like to get easier is the circle cutting.  If you come up with a more creative solution that works on how to do this, let me know!  I'd love to hear it!   

blind_dado:
Ok, here is a technique for creating custom PGIs that I experimented with tonight. 
I put an exacto blade in a compass like so:



The eraser bit keeps the compass needle from making a hole in the paper.  This contraption worked for me because I had an attachment for my compass that accepted pens and which could hold the exacto knife.

When I used it to cut out a circle, I got this:



Now, it took quite a bit of practice to get a nice circle like this, but like you said, you can print a whole sheet and just keep trying until you get some good ones.

I tried two types of paper: drafting paper (which is translucent) and normal printer paper.  In both cases, the logo was printed on a standard LaserJet printer.

I also lit the button using my cutout with the supplied diffuser disc as well as just my cutout (no disc).  Here are the results:

Normal printer paper with diffusion disc:


Drafting paper with diffusion disc:


The drafting paper looks nicer because you can see too much of the paperís texture with the normal printer paper.

Normal printer paper without diffusion disc:


Drafting paper without diffusion disc:


The surrounding area in the pictures without the diffusion disc are darker because the button illumination is brighter and the camera had to adjust for that.

I'm still experimenting with this, but it seems like this idea might work!

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