Instructables
Picture of CD Switch

In the realm of assistive technology, a switch (aka "ability switch") can be anything from a plastic button to a muscle twitch sensor.  This album is a great look at the variety of switches that are available.  These switches are almost always wired to a 3.5mm (1/8") mono plug, and can be connected to anything with a matching jack. They are used with power wheelchairs, computers, speech devices, toys, remote controls, and so on.

The problem is that switches are expensive.  A basic Jellybean Switch or Buddy Button costs around $50-60 (USD), for just a plastic button.  While these are worth their weight in gold, the price is still a bit steep, especially in the low-budget/non-profit world of assistive technology.

Sometimes, it's handy to make your own.

Fortunately, a switch is a very simple thing.  It's just a circuit closing, just two wires touching.  We will use less than $10 (USD) worth of parts to let a person press a surface (in this case a CD), and touch two wires together.  R. J. Cooper also sells CD Switch Kits for about $10 (USD) each, in packs of five or ten.

Save the left over scraps from this project, as you can use them to build a No-Solder Battery Interrupter, which you can use to let this switch control toys and other devices.

 
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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

Materials Needed:

Adhesive backed copper foil sheet.  5"x10".
Adhesive backed Velcro strip.  6" of each side.  
(I used 3/4", but nearly any width should work.  Foam mounting squares will also work.)
- 3.5mm mono cable with male jack.
(Buy a 3.5mm mono extension cable, cut it in half, and use the male end for this, and the female end to make a No-Solder Battery Interrupter.)
- CDs.  2.
(Old software, AOL trials, blanks, whatever you have laying around.)

Tools:

- Scissors
- Ruler
- Sharpie (or other fine point marker)

stop wasting money, spray cd with 3M's delux rubber cement spray then invert onto a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil , use the sticky velcro and wires as shown.

then if it wears out make more they are cheap. you could even take some finer stranded wire and place between cd and foil then press foil on then add the velcro and wire as shown for more areas of contact.

very nice instructable.

enjoy
Heck I swear my brain was in neutral when I wrote that use a disposable pie plate again put wire under the plate as the wires held down by the velcro, and slice them.

If you put say two perforations in the pie cut outs you can "weave the wire through then apply to the cd and the velcro ill make the top stick very nicely while the 3m stuff will keep the underside in place. contact will be longer and spread out.

do not waste time making circles put the cd and plate toghter press down , use tubber roller if you have one , then trim excess off the discs.

For a water resistant switch. snake leads through a tiny slit in a vacuum bag {stripped ends of wire are to be encapsulated with liquid rubber (RTV RUBBER GOO) allowed to cure before you do the bag part}. then you seal the hole with same goo, allow to cure. Put silica packet from pair of shoes whatever in bag, evacuate bag and seal with heat. Your switch is now in a vacuumed bag and is safe from moisture and simple spills and moisture

It is important to seal the wires to the insulator on the leads inside the bag, cause if you do not then it will draw air however slowly through the space betwixt the insulatied coating and the copper core.

walla insta Switch

it will last a good time I believe as I made similar ones in HS .
Help I 'm talking and I can't shut up.....

use a copper PC etching board, no need to make circles solder the leads right to the board (best connection) put tiny bead of rubber goo around the board to connect them. If you wish to make it more sensative drill a tiny hole and make a valve seal and evacute enough to pull board together, but not touch. back up that simple valve with foil patch and rubber cement.

see stuff like this

http://www.minute-man.com/acatalog/Printed_Circuit_Boards___Standard_Copper_Clad.html

they may even sell the sticky copper foil.
gavin.philips (author)  spark master2 years ago
Great idea, and spray adhesive like that may be easier to find than the sticky foil. Thanks!
Oh it is cheap to me as I have the stuff on work shelf, perhaps the sticky copper foil IS cheaper. You gotta do the numbers

none the less nice project
patt393 years ago
How much force does this need to be connected? I'd like to use this as a drum pad. (was just asking to make sure it does make contact at rapid rate and don't shatter on me)
gavin.philips (author)  patt393 years ago
It doesn't take much force to connect, depending where you press on the disc. A person with some weakness (like with muscular dystrophy or ALS) might be able to use it.

I haven't tried hitting one with a drumstick or a mallet, but it would probably work.

If you want to change the amount of force needed, change the "buffer" material that holds the discs apart. If the velcro is too much, try gluing in some soft cloth, a few piece of a sponge, or whatever you have on hand. I find that foam mounting squares work well ( http://goo.gl/yfupg ).
vittal3 years ago
pretty cool
RDSawicki3 years ago
can u do this with tin foil ????
You could use double sided tapes, like carpet tape, to attach tin foil.
gavin.philips (author)  mostly water3 years ago
Good call! I wasn't sure if double sided Scotch tape would last very long, but carpet tape might be perfect.
gavin.philips (author)  RDSawicki3 years ago
Sure, you would just have to find another way to solidly attach the foil to the CDs. Super glue or something might get the job done.

You just need a nice conductive surface on each CD, so that the circuit completes when they touch.
Jodex RDSawicki3 years ago
Yes you can.
Great job of showing how simple & affordable making a switch can be. Thank you Gavin.
YES IT IS POSSIBLE
dweb984 years ago
In steps 2-4, I would do things a little differently my self. Instead of cutting out Circles and trying to then match them back to the CD's most likely ending up with miss matched pieces that are permanently stuck in place... If you've ever worked with Decals or Sticky Tape. You know how hard exact placement of something sticky and the object you want to stick it too can be! This should save you some time and frustration... I would just sit the CD's on the Sticky Foil to mark out squares slightly bigger than the CD's. Then cut out the Squares. Then, Peel the Backing off the Sticky Foil, with the Sticky Side up on your Work Bench - Table, what ever you have that it flat. Then just lay the CD's down on the Sticky Foil. Then flip them over and trim the Excess Foil with a Box Cutter or ExactO Knife, something with a thin sharp blade. Don't to this on your Wife or Mothers Kitchen Counter Top!:O She will whip your Butt if you do! And never let you forget how you completely ruined her Kitchen Counter Top! You've been warned!...;) You can use a flexible, straight edged plastic Squeegee to push the Air Bubbles out to the edge of the CD's, to get rid of them. Now a Days, I just use the ones that came in Some Auto Body Bondo that I bought a few years ago ( I keep them clean enough to reuse).They sell them all over for putting on Decals though. You can also use your fingers and thumb to Push the Air Bubbles to the Edges of the CD and eliminate them that way. An old trick for putting on Decals may help here. But, I'm not sure just how sticky the Sticky Foil is, since I've never actually worked with it. But, you may be able to use a wet sponge, dipped in water, squeezed out so that it does not drip, just leave it damp. Before you stick the CD's down on the Sticky Foil, just swipe them lightly withe the Wet Sponge. This will make it allot easier to wipe out the Air Bubbles after you stick them onto the Sticky Foil. I would just try one first and see how well this works, before doing them all this way... Ok, now you're ready to finish building your CD Switch and you didn't mess up any of your Foil and end up with stuck together forever pieces, good for nothing but the trash;)

Don
Thank you for realizing that my wife is worth just as much as my mother's kitchen counter.
Oh! and I think I forgot to say... Nice Switch and a good idea!:)

Don
Ha Ha! Well, I just didn't know if you or the readers, would have a wife or a mother... But I figured one of the two would apply:) Either way, I've been there and done both;)

Don
RDSawicki3 years ago
this thing was actually pretty cool =]
fallental3 years ago
Finally...A practical use for blackmailer cd's. Thanks for sharing, great 'ible!
Very ingenious! I just joined and I'm really enjoying reading all these brilliant inventions!
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depotdevoid3 years ago
Nice instructable, thanks for sharing!