Cross-sections of phone plug tilt switch in open (left) and closed positions.

Cross-sections of phone plug tilt switch in open (left) and closed positions.

Component of the Month: SwitchesHere’s another cool improvised switch hack from Forrest Mims’ 1996 Sensor Projects mini-notebook for RadioShack (now available as a compilation with two other classic Mims books in Electronic Sensor Circuits & Projects).

All it requires is a spare tip/shield male connector with a removable housing, and a BB or other conductive metal ball. The version I built and photographed below uses RadioShack’s #274-286 1/8” mono phone plug (2-Pack) and a 7/32″ chrome steel ball (such as Amazon Supply’s BS-0219-C). The dimensions of the ball are not too critical.

Phone plug tilt switch detail

To put it together, all you have to do is remove the housing, set the ball in place between the contacts, as shown, and then put the housing back on. I built two of these, for testing purposes; the first worked like a champ, and second one was a bit wonky until I polished the plug contacts with a Q-tip moistened with rubbing alcohol and then touched to a pile of table salt.

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c’t – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.


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