Bumper Sensor selection

I am looking for ideas of something to use as a bumper sensor for the small wheeled robot I am designing. This sensor would serve as a backup
for the optical primary sensors. I could, of course, just use a couple of switches with long actuators, however I would prefer something more elegant. Optimum would be some sort of narrow strip (<~.5") about 3.5" long that I could wrap around the front of my chassis which outputs a digital signal when it comes in contact with something. I am open to other suggestions as well however. Cost is a big issue, I do not want to pay more than a couple of dollars for such a device. Thanks.
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rubber tube and a presure sw.

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Thanks. That is a good idea, and would almost certainly work, provided I could find a soft enough and small enough rubber hose (<.5" in diameter, and able to deform under minimal pressure) and a sensitive enough pressure switch. Any suggestions on those? The only problem I could see is that not being flat, this solution could add significantly to the width of my robot, which would be a bad thing-space is VERY limited, and I want my bot as small as possible. Perhaps some sort of flat tubing? Especially any ready-made solutions? Thanks again.

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Try surgical tubing. Small diameter with thick wall for strength, yet very flexible. The inner diameter would be very small, so slight external deformations should cause a measurable increase in the internal air pressure. Cheap and readily available.

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Look for lever switches. Here is an example from Jameco: http://www.jameco.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId 001&catalogId001&productId5393
or with a short URL: http://snipurl.com/anki
Mitch Berkson
Israel Brewster wrote:

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