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REVIEW: Ultimarc Ultralux lighted pushbuttons

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Ginsu Victim:

   As many of you may have noticed, lighted pushbuttons are becoming increasingly popular with many home cabinet DIY-ers these days. One provider of such buttons is Ultimarc, maker of the Ultralux comtemporary (sic) arcade pushbuttons. These use a custom LED (5v or 12v) held in place by a custom bayonet LED holder. They come with Sanwa microswitches, a top name in the world of arcade parts. Let's have a look at this product.....

SHIPPING:

   I live in the United States (Oklahoma, to be exact) and have been quite impressed with the DHL service Ultimarc (located in the UK) ships through. My past orders have typically been received within two days of shipping. This time out, my order shipped on a Monday and I had it Tuesday morning. WOW! At this point, I'm considering ordering more parts from Ultimarc simply because they come faster than anything I've ordered in the US. Coming from such a distance, you can expect shipping to be a bit higher, but for the speed, the extra money is worth it.

PACKING:

   The size of the box I received was shockingly small. They waste no more material than they must, but they do a great job of wrapping the individual products. Each pushbutton came in their own small ziplock bag, the LEDs were in a bag together, the bayonets their own bag, microswitches, etc, and everything wrapped in bubblewrap. Nothing had room to shake around and it all seem well protected.

PUSHBUTTONS:


   Replacing my Happ concave pushbuttons with the Ultraluxes was a concern. I've never cared much for convex, but luckily, these aren't. The tops are completely flat.

   The first thing I noticed about the buttons was their lightness compared to the Happs. They lack the solid feel of a Happ, but these don't feel cheap either. Their translucence seems to be to blame, not to mention the caps on the top of each plunger that allow you to insert a logo.

   Another concern I had was the notches the legs of the plunger fit into. Sometimes the legs would catch slightly, but it never created a problem once installed.

   The only real gripe I have about the pushbuttons is that once while playing a round of King of Fighters, my fourth button became stuck and I had to reach under the control panel to free it. I'm not sure why it got caught, but it happened three times. After the third time, I pulled the plunger out, turned it 180, and reinserted it. I haven't had the problem since.

   Allow me to address one question I've heard in relation to the real chrome-plate pushbuttons:

        "Will the chrome-plate come off?"

   When I received the pushbuttons, the first thing I did was take a screwdriver to the chrome, trying to scratch it. I also slid my wedding band down my finger and whacked away at the button bezel. I never made a scratch. So, unless you or your friends all have lost their hands and have hooks instead, normal wear and tear shouldn't cause a problem.

LEDs:


   I've only tested the 5v LEDs. They put out a LOT of light and have a nice, wide beam to them. When combined with the diffusers in the pushbuttons, they shine brilliantly in a well-lit room or in the dark. (Pictures further down)

   One issue I ran into when using these through the Pacdrive LED driver was power. When running them through USB from my old PC with a weak power supply, the lights were slightly dim. This wasn't the biggest issue, though, as I was also losing power to my Ultrastik 360s because of the drain. To combat this, I simply ran the Pacdrive from a powered USB hub and all was well.

   Overall, I'm VERY impressed with the amount of light these LEDs put out.

BAYONETS:


   The bayonet LED holder uses a locking feature to hold the LED and microswitch. Simply insert the LED, push the bayonet into the pushbutton, and twist. There is a mark showing which side the positive leg of the LED should face, taking the guess work out of things. Don't be scared when installing these bayonets, because you have to put a bit of force on them to twist them properly into place. Once locked in, they'll hold fine. I never had a problem with any bayonets fitting improperly. Everything worked as it should.

SANWA MICROSWITCH:


   Though Sanwa is a big name in the world of arcade products, their microswitches are not to my liking. I wired up a test panel with both Sanwa switches and Cherry switches. I tried both, and I had my wife take the Pepsi challenge with it. I asked which she liked better and she immediately said the one on the right (Cherry).

   Sanwa microswitches are very stiff (though very well made). They also have a strange PING to them I just didn't like.

   The Sanwas are still sitting in the bag they came in. When it came time to wire everything up, the Cherries were staying on my control panel.

EDIT (Sept-21-2010):

--- Quote from: AndyWarne on September 21, 2010, 03:19:11 pm ---
An update on these pushbuttons: We have now changed the microswitches we supply with these, from Sanwa (which many people found too "hard") to Happ-sourced E-Switch which have a far lower spring pressure.

--- End quote ---

INSTALL NOTE:

   When you first go to install a pushbutton, you may notice it seems smaller than the 1 1/8" hole in your control panel. This is not a problem. Just beneath the outer bezel of the pushbutton, there is a wider section that fits perfectly in the hole. All is well.

GAMEPLAY:

   Note: gameplay may vary for those using these buttons with the Sanwa microswitches.

   Having played several games with these buttons for the last week and a half, I feel that my responses have actually improved with the flat plungers versus the concave Happs. There is a new lightness to the feel of gameplay, and I've been seeing an improvement in many of my scores. I was worried that after my review, I might have to remove these and switch back to my Happs, but that's not the case at all. I've not run into another stuck button like I mentioned earlier, and my control panel feels revitalized thanks to these pushbuttons.

OVERALL:

   The pros outweigh the few cons of these pushbuttons. If you have a large control panel, be prepared to spend quite a bit of money if you're looking to improve the overall look of your cabinet with these. Though buying several will start to add up, the combination of function and flair makes the Ultralux pushbutton a winner in my book. (However, see the update below for my current perspective on these buttons.)

MY SCORE

   9 / 10 7.5 / 10 (with Cherries)

   8 / 10 7 / 10 (with the stock Sanwas)

-----------------------------------------

Update:
Been playing on these for over a month now and I'm not as happy with them. They are squeaky and nowhere near as fluid as my Happ concaves. (I'm missing the concave, as well)

I'm considering changing back to my Happs. My gameplay has actually degraded using these, despite what I thought when I first reviewed these.

I've reduced the score.

-----------------------------------------

PICTURES:

Lights in room ON, pushbutton lights OFF:





Lights in room ON, pushbutton lights ON:









Lights in room OFF, pushbuttons lights ON:


Hoopz:
Nice review.  I especially liked the part about the chrome and trying to take it off...   ;D

Ginsu Victim:
Well, the way that previous thread went, it was something I had to address.

CheffoJeffo:
My contributions to the derailing of the original thread aside, I think this was a good, comprehensive review of the product in question.

 :applaud:

Ginsu Victim:
Thank you. I tried my best to cover as much as possible with my admittedly limited knowledge of all this.

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