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collins lab toggle switch

Component of the Month: SwitchesCollin Cunningham has a way with breaking down components to the basics and makes understanding them abundantly easy. He’s like the science teacher I always wished I had. In this Collin’s Lab video, he gives a comprehensive overview of the humble switch, demonstrating switches of the toggle, DIP, slide, rocker, rotary, and momentary variety, and explains the difference between SPST and DPDT switches in the process.

Here’s his original intro:

Easily overlooked, but elemental to electronics hardware, the manually operated switch is the simplest of electromechanical devices — and likely the most familiar. While the most basic switch is… well, quite basic, there’s a crazy-huge variety of switch types and sizes available to the electronics maker nowadays. Those new to the soldering and schematics scene will surely benefit from an introduction to some of the terms and formats relevant to various switch species.

Collin’s video is perfect for folks just getting started, and would even be a great resource for teachers:!

Goli Mohammadi

I’m senior editor at MAKE and have worked on MAKE magazine since the first issue. I’m a word nerd who particularly loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon as a whole. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for the ideal alpine lake or hunting for snow to feed my inner snowboard addict.

The maker movement provides me with endless inspiration, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. The specific beat I cover is art, and I’m a huge proponent of STEAM (as opposed to STEM). After all, the first thing most of us ever made was art.

Contact me at goli (at) makermedia (dot) com.



  1. James says:

    Thank you – THANK YOU – so much for this *NOT* being one of those terrible and unreadable “slideshows” that Make has been using lately.

    1. craig says:

      Hear, hear!

  2. chuck says:

    I always enjoy your videos. Can you do one about various kinds of motors?

  3. T.E.Stuart says:

    Collin left some switches on the table. Tilt, make before break, break before make, knife (for those with a steampunk bent), micro, pressure. Not to mention how switches operate to keep internal arcing down, which leads to an explanation of why the light switches in your room are called “snap” switches. From there you should at least give a nod to the switches cousin, the relay.

  4. Rick Estep says:

    Collin, I “had” to hack into my old GE alarm clock to “fix” the button action. It has a similar design of the remote in your video; momentary buttons with conductive material. However, I was surprised to see that the “conductive” material seemed to be nothing more than rubber. Does rubber have some conductive properties?
    BTW, love your show.