DIP Switch

The term “DIP switch” has often been used to describe a small piece of plastic that can be moved up or down, effectively working similar to a light switch. Typically a device relying on such a DIP switch would use multiple numbered DIP switches stored next to each other.

These DIP switches would be used to adjust how a circuit board operates. DIP switches could be placed on a motherboard, but an “expansion card” (designed to be plugged into an “expansion slot” on a motherboard) would typically install the DIP switches into the card's “slot cover”, allowing a person to make adjustments without needing to open up a computer's case. Such a position could make re-configuration more convenient than relying on a “jumper” which could not be easily adjusted without needing to open up a computer case. Another reason why DIP switches were nicer than jumpers is that a series of DIP switches were permanently mounted in place, while jumpers involve a piece that is fully removable and therefore much more prone to getting lost.

For some free pictures, check out Wikipedia's article for “DIP switch”.

The term “DIP” stands for “dual inline package” (or “dual in-line package”, with a hyphen between syllables for “in-line”). The term “dual inline” likely refers to having two rows of electrical connections which are arranged by being nicely lined up. The term “package” refers to the switches, the plastic containing the switches, and the electrical connections which connect the series of switches to something else. These terms likely make quite a bit of sense to the electricians that install a DIP switch and make connections between a circuit board and the dual inline package. In many cases, the electrical connections may be hidden behind some plastic, so there may be low or no visibility of the electrical connections. The main reason that a typical “end user” might know to call this a DIP switch is from technical documentation that refers to the DIP switch. (Basically, white switches that are of a specific small size would often be called a DIP switch.)

Moving a DIP switch may be a bit difficult, especially if trying to make an adjustment by just using fingers. This is largely due to the rather small size of the switch. There is also a risk that an attempt to move one switch could easily result in moving two (or even three) switches by accident. Still, willpower may motivate people to persist until getting all of the switches set as desired. An effective way to help move a DIP switch is to use a tool to help push the DIP switch into a newer setting. A typical pen (designed for writing) would often work quite well, and a screwdriver could also be rather effective.

Related Resource

For a similar topic, see: [shunt] jumper.