OKW’s Control Knobs with LEDs are Designed for High-Volume Manufacturing

June 01, 2021 by Robin Mitchell

OKW announced the release of advanced rotary/click control knobs for use on potentiometers and rotary encoders.

What are Menu-driven Devices?

Menu-driven electronics are devices that utilize a menu interface, including options and lists. Unlike other devices that use a menu interface for practicality, the menu interface on a menu-driven device is key to the product (i.e., the menu interface is the central selling point of that product). 

For example, environmental controls in a house can be achieved using a standard thermostat utilizing a mechanical wheel. However, a menu-driven thermostat would use a display (such as an LCD), a high-quality rotary potentiometer for menu navigation, and a button built into the potentiometer for selecting options. The menu-driven device is not necessarily crucial for a functioning system, but it can dramatically improve user experience as well as integrate more complex features than a standard interface.


OKW’s Control Knobs are designed for encoders and potentiometers. Image used courtesy of OKW


Menu-driven interfaces can be found around the home and are becoming more common in smart devices. Such devices include washing machines, thermostats, fridges, and freezers. Industrial systems can also use menu interfaces; these are readily found in test equipment such as oscilloscopes, power supplies, and frequency generators.


Control Knobs With Optional LED

Recently, OKW (who develop interfaces and enclosures) announced their latest range of control knobs for potentiometers and rotary encoders. The new knobs are ergonomic in design (i.e., easy to grab and comfortable to operate thanks to their soft-touch surface). A soft-touch surface also gives the control knob anti-slip properties, making it difficult to accidentally change the reading of the connected potentiometer or rotary encoder.


One application of the control knob can be adding it to a device to find compressed air leaks. Image used courtesy of OKW


The controller knobs are designed to be used with round shafts (DIN 41591) and use a collet fixture system. Furthermore, the maximum torque for installation is 1.5 Nm, and the control knobs are available in both 36 mm and 46 mm diameters. 

The control knobs are also available with an optional LED for illumination, which can be useful for visual feedback during operation. Additionally, the control knobs can include a pointer line for visual inspection of a setting (such as temperature).


Control Knob Applications

While the new control knobs are suited for most menu-driven systems, their ergonomic design makes them especially applicable for high-end products, emphasizing appearance and user interface. Furthermore, the anti-slip nature of the knobs also makes them suitable for environments where users may struggle to use fine control (i.e., those in industrial environments wearing PPE).  

Regarding application areas, the new control knobs can be utilized in health care, heating and air conditioning, communication, smart factories, and building control systems. The ability to illuminate the control knobs allows for quick user feedback without needing to read a display, while the benefit of adding a menu to a device allows for the integration of advanced options (such as timers, alerts, fine control, and interconnecting to other devices).