Introduction: DIY Audio Switch

Picture of DIY Audio Switch

A while back I got an old data switch off Freecycle and I've been eyeing it ever since and thinking "I should really convert that to a stereo audio switch." And so, after about a year of looking at it, I finally converted that old data switch into a cool-looking and extremely useful audio switch. I am now able to select between four audio inputs and route them to a single audio output (or one input to four outputs).

This is useful for a home stereo system when you want to send multiple music sources to a single set of speakers or for home recording to select between input sources.

Step 1: Go Get Stuff

Picture of Go Get Stuff

You will need:

A data switch
5 stereo jacks
10 nuts and bolts
A screwdriver
A soldering iron
A wire stripper
3" x 8" sheet of 1/8" acrylic
A laser cutter
Vinyl coated magnet sheeting
A fine tip black marker

(Note if you don't have a laser cutter, you may be able to get away with a jigsaw and power drill or quite simply 10 appropriate-sized washers (pictured)

Step 2: Open the Case

Picture of Open the Case

Open up the case to expose the wiring inside.

Step 3: Wired

Picture of Wired

Figure out which wires are going to be used as your audio wires.

The way I did it is by pulling the bottom left wire out of the jack and marking it, then repeating for the one next to it and then again for the one next to that. I then cut off all the other wires.

If you repeat this process for each jack, all the wires will be standardized.

You can also figure this out with a multimeter.

Step 4: Re-wired

Picture of Re-wired

Attach the three wires to the jack such that when you move through the sets of wires, you always attach the same numbered wire to the same pin on the jack.

In other words, A1, B1 and C1 should all attach to corresponding pins on each jack.

Step 5: Cut a Bracket

Picture of Cut a Bracket

Laser cut your bracket using the file below.

If you don't have a laser cutter you can print out the file below and use it as a stencil for sawing and drilling.

If you don't want to do that, you can use 10 washers by placing one on the inside and outside of each hole and fastening the jack through them.

Step 6: Mount

Picture of Mount

Mount your jacks into the bracket in the proper order to correspond correctly to the letters on the front of the case.

Fasten the bracket to the case with nuts and bolts by fastening them through the two outermost holes. Once the bracket is secured in place, insert the rest for aesthetic appeal and redundancy.

Step 7: Case Closed

Picture of Case Closed

Close up the case and reinsert the screws.

Step 8: Magnetic Labels

Picture of Magnetic Labels

The nice thing about using a data switch with a metal case is that you can make a seemingly endless supply of magnetic labels that are easy to swap and rearrange.

Simply cut a small square of vinyl coated magnet sheeting and write down what your input/output sources are for easy handling.

Step 9: Plug and Play

Picture of Plug and Play

Plug in your various input (or output) sources and arrange your labels correctly and enjoy.


donia.andrei.1 (author)2017-09-03

Great Instructable, I made one myself, but used a 2PDT switch as I only need to switch between computer and TV. It works alright, but the issue is that on my 5.1 speaker set there is sound only on the center and subwoofer. Any advice of what I could do wrong? Does your switch work on 5.1 speakers?


elbeweg (author)2017-01-18

I have also build a Audio-Switch.

wmdx made it! (author)2016-03-10

Made on myself. Used an old 25 pin serial data switch (more room to switch things in the future :) ). Enjoyed the write-up. Made an instructable myself!

iApple guy (author)2012-03-03

Where did you get that media switch?

The Beef (author)iApple guy2014-05-24

You can find one on ebay for a good price

The Beef made it! (author)2014-05-24

Made mine with only 2 switches instead of 4 and also used a printer switch instead of what ever he used. On the downside that made the holes on the back long and way to big but but with a few adjustments this can be fixed easy but I found this at a warehouse and got it for 2 bucks so I could not say no and I have been wanting to do this for a long time.

isaidwtf (author)2013-07-15

Anybody know where to buy a switch like this online?

davecindi (author)isaidwtf2014-01-07

yes, Niles AXP-1, you can buy it from Crutchfield, or find a used one on ebay. maybe buy it from NILES direct. I've got one it works great

munkero (author)2013-08-29

Nice DIY!
I'm curious to build one to connect my computer & iPhone to stereo, laptop speakers & headphones. For this I'd need to figure out how to build a switch with two inputs, where only one will send the signal/current.
Can someone here help me with the wiring? How should I put the ground wires?
The Output switch would be same as here and the input switch would be lever.
Does my drawing need some improvements?

jribolla (author)2013-02-19

Can you go into more detail about how you figured out how the wires work? I'm a complete beginner and this is the hardest part of the project, as far as I can see. I am trying to recreate this project using a KVM with very similar innards- more wires, of course, but the same switch, etc.- but I have no idea where to start as far as getting the wires figured out.

MrLemmy (author)2012-11-24

I really want to build a audio switch something along the line you did here but a little different. What is the type of switch used here? I cant seem to find anything like it online.

cyberguy91 (author)2012-07-29

If I were to obtain an old LPT printer switch (similar to this one), could I use it for composite video instead?

kool1zero (author)2011-08-04

i have one with parallel ports too. i was thinking maybe get a piece of metal and cut it to the size of the back.i think mine actually has some extra poles on the switches inside so i might be able to shove the parallel ports down inside and just mount the jack inside the parallel port holes

this could be pretty sweet.

i wonder could you make one thats "TV" one thats "computer" and maybe one thats both?

apseubert (author)2011-07-26

Those old rotary switches are a HUGE pain in the butt to figure out =P

jackboot dash (author)2011-01-28

Awesome idea! I just finished making this, but modified just a bit. My switch was RJ45, so I left the RJ45 jacks in place and made custom cables so i can use 1/8" (3.5mm), 1/4", XLR, or whatever kind of jack I need. I just make a new cable. I decided to use OR, BL, GR, on my Cat 5 for Tip, Ring, Sleeve, but whatever makes you happy. I also made three different cables for the output, one female 1/8" mini stereo, one female 1/4' stereo (for my big broadcast headphones) and one male 1/8" plug to send audio to my sound card.

As a bonus, since I modified the cables and not the switch, it could still be used for data if I ever needed it.

Punkguyta (author)2009-06-22

First off, Props at doing such a clean job on modding the switch. The clean wirejob is much appreciated. Secondly, I passed one of these up at a yard sale thinking, what am I gonna use an old parallel port switch box for, it was only 2 way though :( Now I know lol

agis68 (author)2009-06-21

Very nice idea. I have a dozen I them and this project is very useful for recycling these items. Now because I've read other comments in their the central issue was the laser cutting or etching instead using these paper labels. Personaly I prefer these labels looks more handmade than any professional laser etching for labeling. When I build some I prefer the homemade look but this more personal opinion. 5/5 from me

james.mcglashan (author)2009-06-20

simple y not just get a smail box and a spot switch and wire it up kidding only on a pcb board lol perect and you can evan amplyaphy it if u put a curcit also behind it lol...

a215 (author)2009-06-19

My printer switch changed to VGA switch.

oppie (author)2009-06-18

OK, I'm intrigued with your use of a laser cutter but... I'm unfamiliar with the file type you specified (CDR). Is this specific to a particular Laser cutter? If so, please reference which machine. Please try to give artwork files that will open in generic CAD (dwf, dxf...) or export as a GIF.

randofo (author)oppie2009-06-18

It is a Corel Draw file. That tends to be the program used with laser cutters. That said, the file generally has to be a vector image. If you actually intend to make this I will happily post an EPS file.

askjerry (author)randofo2009-06-18

The Corel file is a combination vector file (lines and shapes) and raster (image) components. In short... anything with a hairline width (0mm thickness) will be cut using vector, the laser head follows the path... anything wider than the minimum software settings will be treated like an image and the laser head will sweep back-and-forth to create the pattern on the material.

If you are creating a file to be cut via a laser, it is best to send the file as a vector format... Corel will import several file types. If you don't have software but wish to make a part to be cut I have found that CADstd works very well... and has a lite version you can download and use for FREE. (No time limits)

Save your work as a DXF and it can be imported directly to Corel and cut. Be sure to draw everything 1:1 and specify if it is mm or inch to the person doing the cutting.

Note: I have an Epilog 35W laser and use Corel 12 because it was specified by the manufacturer. I have also used Photoshop with some success, but sometimes the print driver needs some twiddling to get it right.


oppie (author)askjerry2009-06-18

Nice information, thanks! I was wondering what program would open the files. showed it as Corel but nothing I had in my toolbox would open it. More out of curiosity than need. I'm an engineer and mostly design PC boards with the Eagle 5 CAD software. Output for this is to a Gerber plotter which is to my understanding, very similar to the laser cutter. It just uses a low power laser to photoplot to film.

askjerry (author)oppie2009-06-18

Gerber files are more similar to CNC G-Code than a laser. A G-Code file is a text file that has commands like...

G00 X5.0 Y4.0

The above would say, "(G00) Move rapidly along the X axis 5 inches, (X5.0) and along the Y axis 4 inches (Y4.0)"

In fact... if you look at the gerber files... you will see they are a collection of several files... one for drilling, one for plotting, etc. You can open some in Wordpad or "Notepad" and actually make out what each line of code does.

The laser is basically a printer... you select it from the list of printers and click "PRINT" to send the file to the machine. Then you walk over to the laser and press the START button to actually make the part.

Corel files are proprietary to Corel Software... I don't know of anything besides Corel that will open them. Adobe Photoshopmay open them... CS4... but I haven't tried so I don't know. I like to use DXF format for making cutting patterns because there are hundreds of software packages that can open them.

SPGWhistler (author)2009-06-11

If you have an amplified output and it is loud enough - when you change sources, you'll hear a loud pop. To mitigate this, I would suggest turning down the volume of your output before changing the source.

srilyk (author)SPGWhistler2009-06-18

You could also figure out a way to cut the ground out of the loop when you switch the hot, and then bring it back in. A surprisingly helpful guy at Radio Shack taught me this when I was buying some toggle switches to hook up my pickups on my guitar. I suppose if you just added a toggle switch on the "ground" side of the output, that should fix it. I think :P

tsukdotcom (author)2009-06-16

haha I have the exact same switch but for VGA switching. :D

ReCreate (author)tsukdotcom2009-06-17

Yeah those are utterly useful...

beddings (author)2009-06-11

I did the very same thing but used it as a A-B MIDI switch, nice werk!

Boss_Sauce (author)beddings2009-06-11

Ha, me too, but using an old A-B KVM switch-- VGA and PS2-- so (I think) 21 connections getting switched...:o I kept the original ports and just drilled and hot glued 3-conductor stereo mini jacks, connecting each jack to three of the VGA pins.

Swishercutter (author)2009-06-11

I have a couple of these in my "scrap electronics" box. I have been saving them for something like this to come along. Thanks.

gmjhowe (author)2009-06-11

I was thinking about building one of these also! I have an old 4way VGA switch, can i achieve a similar end result?

Da_Fudge (author)gmjhowe2009-06-11

In theory, yes. Your switch will just have a larger switch with more poles, but it should still work. Good Luck!

About This Instructable




Bio: My name is Randy and I founded the Instructables Design Studio. I'm also the author of the books 'Simple Bots,' and '62 Projects to ... More »
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