A Look at DIP Switches

A Dual In-Line Package (DIP) switch is a set of electrical switches packaged in a small box or housing. They are designed to be mounted on printed circuit boards to provide a range of electrical inputs to an electronic device based on the position of the individual switches. They are typically arranged in a line or, in the case of a rotary DIP, a circle. DIP switches serve as an alternative to jumper blocks. Their main advantages are their ability to quickly change positions and the fact that there are no parts to lose. However, the popularity of DIP switches has waned in recent times thanks to the rise of customizable software configurations.

 Types of DIP switches

The most common types of DIP switches are slide, rocker, piano, and rotary. Rotary DIP switches contain multiple electrical contacts, one of which is selected by rotating the switch to align it with a number printed on the package. Rotary DIP switches are typically available in two different types of output:

  • A binary encoded output, wherein 10 or 16 choices are encoded onto a 4-bit binary output, or 5 to 8 choices are encoded into a 3-bit binary output.
  • A rotary version of a multi-pole slide switch where one signal has a choice between multiple connections, such as SPDT, SP3T, or SP4T.

The slide, rocker, and piano types are arrays of simple single-pole, single-throw (SPST) contacts, which can be either on or off, allowing each switch to select a one-bit binary value. The values of all switches in the package can also be interpreted as a single number. For example, seven switches offer 128 combinations, allowing them to select a standard ASCII character. Eight switches offer 256 combinations, the equivalent of one byte. A tri-state type DIP switch, with setting function (+, 0, -) is able to obtain more codes than a binary DIP switch. For instance, an 8 pole tri-state type offers 6,561 combinations or codes. This is significantly more than an 8 pole binary type that offers 256 combinations or codes. These are highly useful for encoding devices such as remote controllers.

DIP switch packages also feature socket pins or mounting leads to create an electrical path from the switch contacts to the circuit board. While circuits are able to use the electrical contacts directly, it is more common to convert them into separate high and low signals. In this case, the circuit board also needs interface circuitry for the DIP switch, which includes an array of pull-up or pull-down resistors, a buffer, decode logic, and other components. The device's firmware usually reads the DIP switches when the device is powered on. Due to the increased popularity of surface-mount technology, switches are now available in non-DIP surface-mount package types. Despite this, they are still referred to as DIP switches, because the term has become associated with this style of switch.

DIP Switches are used for a variety of functions but are especially popular within industrial applications. They are able to provide an inexpensive solution for circuit design and the convenience of checking system configurations without the equipment being turned on. Among the most common uses for DIP switches are PC expansion cards, motherboards, arcade game machines, garage door openers and remote controls.

For all types of DIP switches and much more, look no further than NSN Fulfillment, a trusted supplier of parts for a wide range of industries. Owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we are an online distributor of aircraft parts as well as parts pertaining to the aerospace, civil aviation, defense, industrial, electronics, and IT hardware markets. We are always available and ready to help you find all the parts and equipment you need, 24/7-365. For a quick & competitive quote, call us at 1-914-359-2001 or email us at sales@nsnfulfillment.com. Let us show you why we consider ourselves the future of purchasing.


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