What are DIP Switches?
In electrical engineering, a switch is used to interrupt current or divert it from one conductor to another. When an electrical contact is open, it means that the switch is off and not conducting because the contacts are separated; when an electrical contact is closed, it means that the switch is on and conducting because the contacts are touching.
A dual in-line package (DIP) switch is a manual electric switch; it’s used to select the operating mode of a device. One of the best ways to visualize a DIP switch is to think of a circuit breaker— all of those switches are actually DIP switches. These switches are used to configure computer peripherals such as hard drives, modems, sound cards, and motherboards. As non-volatile memory became less expensive, smaller, and easier to work with, electronic manufacturers started replacing DIP switches in video game consoles and consumer electronics. However, industrial equipment continues to utilize them because they are cheaper and easy to incorporate. Different types of DIP switches include the slide, rocker, piano (side), and rotary. The specifications of the different types of switches are dependent upon the connections they make of the circuit.
Contact pins inside of the switch are made of bronze, coated, and dipped in sulfide. The material that is chosen for the coat is dependent on the rating of the switch. It is coated in sulfide to protect them from chemicals present in the atmosphere, making them more durable and able to work in different environments.
The most common types of DIP switches are slide and rocker actuator DIP switches, and rotary DIP switches. Slide and rocker actuator DIP switches are the typical on and off switches with single-pole, single-throw (SPST) contacts. Rotary DIP switches have several electrical contacts that are rotated and aligned. The least common are SPDT, DPST, DPDT, MPST, and MTSP DIP switches. Regardless, it’s always important to remember to take the time to figure out which pins you need for your applications. You wouldn’t want to use the wrong switch.
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