DIP Switches - what are they and what are they used for?

E-Switch is one of the leading suppliers of quality electromechanical switches to the telecom, medical, electronics, instrumentation, industrial, audio/visual, appliance and consumer markets since 1979.

With a wide variety of switches available, they offer expert technical knowledge for providing the right types of switches for different end applications.


  • E-Switch DIP switch types

What is a DIP Switch?

DIP is short for Dual In-Line Package. A 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. Typically, they are arranged in a line or circle (rotary DIP).

DIP switches are an alternative to jumper blocks. Their main advantages are the ability to quickly change positions and the fact there are no parts to lose. In recent times DIP switches have lessened in popularity due to the rise of easily customizable software configurations.

Different kinds of DIP switches

Some of the most common types of DIP switches are the slide, rocker, piano (side) and rotary types.

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. Typically, rotary types are available in two different types of output;

  • A binary encoded output, where 10 (BCD) or 16 (hex) choices are encoded into a 4-bit binary output, or 5 to 8 choices are encoded into a 3-bit binary output
  • A rotary version of a multipole slide switch where one signal has a choice between multiple connections, such as SPDT, SP3T, SP4T
The slide/rocker/piano types are arrays of simple single-pole, single-throw (SPST) contacts, which can be either on or off. This allows each switch to select a one-bit binary value. The values of all switches in the package can also be interpreted as one number. For example, seven switches offer 128 combinations, allowing them to select a standard ASCII character. Eight switches offer 256 combinations, which is equivalent to one byte.

A tri-state type DIP switch, with setting function (+, 0, -) obtain more codes than a binary DIP switch. For example, an 8 poles tri-state type offers 6,561combinations/codes which is much more than an 8 poles binary type offers 256 combinations/codes. These are especially suitable for encoding devices such as remote controllers.

 The DIP switch package also has socket pins or mounting leads to provide an electrical path from the switch contacts to the circuit board. Although circuits can use the electrical contacts directly, it is more common to convert them into high and low signals. In this case, the circuit board also needs interface circuitry for the DIP switch, consisting of a series of pull-up or pull-down resistors, a buffer, decode logic, and other components. Typically, the device's firmware reads the DIP switches when the device is powered on.

With the increased popularity of surface-mount technology, switches are now available in non-DIP surface-mount package types. They are still referred to as DIP switches, as the term has become associated with the style of switch.

DIP Switches are used for a variety of functions and are especially popular within industrial equipment. DIP switches provide an inexpensive solution for circuit design, with the convenience of checking system configurations without the equipment being turned on.

Common uses for DIP switches include PC expansion cards, motherboards, arcade game machines, garage door openers and remote controls.

Wavelength Electronics Ltd is your direct link to E-Switch in the UK. For more information about DIP switches, or any other type of electromechanical switch, please contact our team on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 01843 609 380.

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