The Basics of Switches Handbook is a comprehensive guide introducing fundamental concepts of electrical switches. It covers switch types, functions, and applications in circuits. This handbook elucidates switch operation. It’s an essential resource for beginners in electrical engineering.
An electrical switch is any device used to interrupt the flow of electrons in a circuit. Switches are essentially binary devices: they are either completely on (”closed”) or completely off (”open”). There are many different types of switches, and we will explore some of these types in this handbook.
Though it may seem strange to cover this elementary electrical topic at such a late stage in this book series, I do so because the chapters that follow explore an older realm of digital technology based on mechanical switch contacts rather than solid-state gate circuits, and a thorough understanding of switch types is necessary for the undertaking. Learning the func- tion of switch-based circuits at the same time that you learn about solid-state logic gates makes both topics easier to grasp, and sets the stage for an enhanced learning experience in Boolean algebra, the mathematics behind digital logic circuits.
The simplest type of switch is one where two electrical conductors are brought in contact with each other by the motion of an actuating mechanism. Other switches are more complex, containing electronic circuits able to turn on or off depending on some physical stimulus (such as light or magnetic field) sensed. In any case, the final output of any switch will be (at least) a pair of wire-connection terminals that will either be connected together by the switch’s internal contact mechanism (”closed”), or not connected together (”open”).