Build A Simple Switch

Forget hacking an easy button, grab a couple of those outdated CD-Rs and build your own switch for that next project. This was developed with handicapped accessibility in mind; assembled easily with common products and it’s fairly robust. In fact, our junk box has everything you need except the adhesive backed copper foil. Combine two old CD’s, covered in copper on facing sides, separated by two strips of Velcro to separate the conductors. When pressure is applied, one CD flexes to make contact with the other and complete the circuit. So easy, yet we never thought of it. We’ll add it to our list of homebrew input devices.

[Thanks Michael]

27 thoughts on “Build A Simple Switch

  1. At first glance the picture made me think it was a capacitive sensor like the puck some add-on touch lamp switches use

    It’s basically a membrane switch/button, just like most keyboards use (flex conductor, spacer, flex conductor)

  2. I’ve done something similar to this with 2 pennies, a small piece of sponge, electrical tape, and speaker wire….great if you place it under rug and use it with batteries and a light as a simple alarm if someone is approaching your door

  3. As suggested you can also use a CD, not CDR for capacitive input sensors. Cut into the foil in the center and attach your sense lead. These should be able to work with the ST8 boards that have capacitive features built in.

  4. Old but good idea. I used to make a switch like this with just 2 stiff pieces of cardboard, some aluminum foil, and drinking straws. When I was a kid, I used to put one under the carpet in front of my room’s door so I could tell if someone was standing outside…

  5. the 5-inch ass-cheek sensitive switch. because paper clips, clothespins, aluminum foil, safety pins, thumbtacks, nails, screws, strips of sheet metal, and plain ol’ wires just don’t cut it.
    i have a fun idea: throw it in the microwave. everybody’s done it with one cd, some have done it with an entire stack, but the whole parallel plate(cd) capacitor thing.. haven’t seen that one yet.

  6. Oh hey, that’s me! Cool!

    Thanks for the comments, criticism, and related ideas, guys.

    Just to be clear, I didn’t make that guide because it’s a new or particularly complex concept. It’s just that many of the teachers, therapists, parents, etc. who work with people who have disabilities don’t have a lot of experience with circuits and such. I wanted to show them how simple it is to make their own inexpensive tools, and give them a clear guide to do so.

  7. Copper foil is a bit elusive in my area, but aluminium foil and tape is readily available though.
    I’m just saying that you should not assume too much of what’s in people’s junk drawer mike.

    Coincidentally I am in some need for some copper foil to close a gap between 2 surfaces that need thermal contact but with a gap that’s too wide for thermal paste, so I’m a bit peeved that I’d have to get it online it seems and pay shipping.
    So if anybody knows where I can retrieve a bit from? The only source I could think of so far is high quality coax cable, but that’s too thin (and costly).

  8. This has been around for over a century. Just because you use a “cd” does not make it innovative.

    Wood, ducks, small churches all have been used for this as long as electricity has been around.

  9. Heh. My first thought was that it was going to be an ethernet switch when I clicked the link. That would have been interesting.

    On the IED angle and the W2K CD, I guess it might give a new meaning to BSOD.

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