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What Is a DIP Switch?


A dual in-line package switch, or DIP switch, is a very small electrical component constructed with a row, or dial, of switches designed to control the electrical output of a device. Allowing the user to determine the electrical flow around a printed circuit board (PBC), expansion card, and various other computer hardware and electronics, DIP switches provide advanced customization over the circuits they are packaged with. Capable of controlling up to thirty contacts depending on the number of switches present on a dual in-line package, to better understand these components, we will discuss commonly used DIP switches and how they function.

Patented in 1971 by Pierre Schwab, mechanical DIP switches are not as widely used as they once were, but can still be utilized in a few common applications. Revolutionary for its time, DIP switches could often be found in PC hardware accessories, arcade games predating the use of RAM, computer circuit boards, early cordless phones, and numerous other consumer products. In modern applications, these instruments have evolved to be used in smaller electronics such as PC expansion cards, automatic garage doors, measurement & test devices, industrial sectors & machinery tools, production, and editing equipment.

Due to an exponential growth in demand for transportable personal electronics after the 1970s and the utilization of advanced technology exceeding that of a DIP switch, such components took a sharp decline in manufacturing rates within the early 1990s. Continuously shrinking in size, the use for switches diminished as the increase for consumer electronics grew. As newer devices utilizing compact designs arose, this ultimately rendered the DIP switch obsolete for many electronics. Though fundamentally the same and not as prevalent as they once were, switches can often still be found constructed in the form of rotary, slide, rocker, and piano types. Currently, these components are often implemented in industrial, test circuit, and remote control devices. Packaged in such a way that allows the user to customize and actuate toggles, each switch serves a specific functional purpose, especially in industrial and test circuit systems.

Serving their respective functions, rotary DIP switches can be found in two types: binary encoded output switches and multipole slide switches. Binary encoded output systems, unlike multipole slide switches, incorporate anywhere from ten to sixteen choices encoded into a 4-bit output. Meanwhile, multipole slide switches rely on rotary knobs to direct a single signal through multiple outputs depending on the user's choice. Consisting of a circular dial that can be adjusted by a knob with your fingers, or by inserting a screwdriver into a groove within the device and turning it to a specified output, rotary switches are suitable for smaller PBCs and where access is limited. Although sharing the same function, unlike rotary switches, slide, rocker, and piano switches all utilize toggle methods of actuation. Multiple variations of these devices include normally open (NO), normally closed (NC), three-stage (On/Off/On), and double pole double through (DPDT) types.

When looking for a DIP switch best fit for your applications, there are a variety of options to consider. For all of your reliable parts, look no further than ASAP Semiconductor. We are your trusted source for various electromechanical switches, test equipment, breadboards, electrical parts, and more. Due to our quality control and export compliance, we operate with AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 00-56B certification and accreditation. If you would like to request a quote for your comparisons, you can submit an RFQ form as provided on our website. Upon receipt, a dedicated account manager will quickly review and respond with a personalized solution to your needs in just 15 minutes or less, 24/7x365.


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October 23, 2020

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