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Fun With Snap Circuits 2: I’d Rather Fight Than Switch.

March 2, 2011

When you retire, you switch bosses – from the one who hired you to the one who married you.  ~Gene Perret

When you enter a dark room, what is the first thing you usually do? Look for a light switch. You flip the switch on and let there be light.

A switch is probably the simplest electronic device. When the switch is off, the circuit is open and no electricity can flow. In the water pipe analogy recall the tank of water with a pipe connected at the bottom. To stop the water from running out of the tank, we can add a valve–more commonly called a faucet. When the valve is off, no water can flow through the pipe.

When the switch (valve or faucet) is off water cannot drain out of the tank.

Conversely, when the valve is on, water can drain out of the tank and flow through the pipe.

When the switch (valve or faucet) is on, water can drain out of the tank and flow through the pipe.

The switches that you will usually use with  Snap Circtuits are the pushbutton switch and the Single Pole Single Throw switch.

The pushbutton switch, or “Press Switch” as it is labeled in Snap Circuits, is a simple button that you push to switch it on. The switch will remain on for as long as you hold the button down. When you release the button it will switch off.

The Snap Circuits Press Switch will remain on for as long as you hold the button down and will switch off when you release the button (Source: Elenco Electronics, Inc.)

When the Press Switch is in the off position, the circuit is open. In the water pipe analogy, no water can drain out of the tank and flow through the pipe.

In the off position no current can flow through the circuit, in the on position, current can flow through the circuit.

When the Press Switch is in the on position, the circuit is closed. In the water pipe analogy, water can drain out of the tank and flow through the pipe.

The Single Pole Single Throw switch, or “Slide Switch” as it is labeled in Snap Circuits, is similar to a light switch in your home that you flip to switch it on. The switch will remain on until you slide the switch to the off position.

The Snap Circuits Slide Switch is similar to a light switch in your home.

When the Slide Switch is in the off position, the circuit is open. In the water pipe analogy, no water can drain out of the tank and flow through the pipe.

In the off position no current can flow through the circuit, in the on position, current can flow through the circuit.

When the Slide Switch is in the on position, the circuit is closed. In the water pipe analogy, water can drain out of the tank and flow through the pipe.

Now you know what a switch does, how some of the Snap Circuits switches work, and what their schematic symbols look like.

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