Button and Switch Basics

Contributors: jimblom
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Resources and Going Further

Well, that about covers the basics of switches. Next up, you could explore some of these other conceptual tutorials:

  • Pull-up Resistors - Pull-up resistors complement most momentary button circuits. They ensure that power and ground don’t short, and they make sure I/O lines don’t float.
  • Transistors - These can be used (among many other things) as sort-of electronically controlled switches.
  • Relays - Another electronically controlled switch. Great for turning on and off high-power circuits.
  • Accelerometer Basics - Motion-sensing accelerometers -- like those in most smartphones and new video game controllers -- are fast-replacing these boring switches as human input devices.
  • How to Power a Project - What kind of power source will your switch be turning on and off?

Or check out some of our project tutorials for some inspiration for your own projects. Switches are so widely used, we could probably link all of our projects. But here are a couple which make really ingenious use of switches to do their thing:

  • MP3 Player Shield Music Box - This project (bigger on the inside) uses one of those non-traditional switches -- a reed switch -- to trigger it’s action.
  • The Uncertain 7-Cube - Well, this project doesn’t actually have any switches, but that’s what makes it so special! This project is a great example of how an accelerometer could replace a switch as an input device.
  • Reaction Timer - Use giant dome push buttons to create a fun reaction game.

MP3 Player Shield Music Box

Music Box Project based on the Dr. Who TARDIS.

The Uncertain 7-Cube

The Uncertain 7-Cube is a non-committal, less-than-helpful, but also entirely honest fortune teller. Simply ask it a yes or no question, give it a nudge, and the 7-Cube will dutifully inform you that it doesn’t have all the facts and doesn’t feel comfortable making a guess.

Reaction Timer

Demonstrate mental chronometry with this simple reaction timer!

Or check out this blog post for more ideas.