Introduction: Rocker Switch and Joystick Wiring W/ Linear Actuators

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In this Instructable we'll be going over three different switches and learning how to control an actuators extension and retraction. The three rocker switches we will be going over are our RC-03 rectangular switch, our RC-07 round switch with a light, and our RC-08 4 position joystick.

There are two rocker switch varieties, momentary and non-momentary (or latching and non latching). The momentary (non latching) ones must be held down to maintain the connection, while the non-momentary (latching) ones are just pressed and stay in place until you press again. We will be using the momentary (non latching) switches for this Instructable.

For this project, we will be using:

- 1x Linear Actuator

- 1x 12V Power Supply

- 1x RC-03 Momentary Rocker Switch (rectangle)

- 1x RC-07 Momentary Rocker Switch (round w/ light)

- 1x RC-08 Joystick

- 2x AC-22 12V Relays

Step 1: Wiring the Rectangle Rocker Switch

The rectangle rocker switch is the simplest of the three switches, so we'll cover it first. It is a double pole, double throw (DPDT) switch with a neutral position. The two center connections (T2 and T5) are the common connections. When you press the switch in one direction, you connect T2 to T1 and T5 to T4. Pressing the switch in the other direction connects T2 to T3 and T5 to T6. We can use this to switch the polarity on the actuator, causing it to extend and retract.

Connect the pins as follows, see the picture for a wiring diagram:

- T3 and T4 to the negative terminal (GND) on your power supply

- T1 and T6 to the positive terminal (12V) on your power supply

- T2 to one actuator wire

- T5 to the other actuator wire

Now when you press the switch to one side +12V is applied across the actuator causing it to extend. Pressing the switch to the other side gives -12V across the actuator causing it to retract. When the switch is in the neutral position the actuator isn't connected to any voltage so it stays still.

Step 2: Wiring the Round Rocker Switch

The round rocker switch has different switches inside of it then the rectangle rocker switch. It is actually 2 switches, each with a Normally Open (NO) connection and a Normally Closed (NC) connection. It also has a 12V LED that you can wire as a status indicator. The LED is bidirectional so it doesn't matter which side you connect to 12V and GND.

This switch has a lower current limit then our rectangular rocker switch. If you are going to be controlling more than 2A you should connect this switch through a relay. Click here to see more information on the 12V relay.

By following the wiring diagram above the actuator will move one direction when the switch is not pressed and the other direction when it is pressed. You can switch directions by swapping the actuator connections.

With no relay, wire the switch as follows: (see wiring diagram for Uni Directional Control)

- Connect T1 and T7 to the negative terminal (GND) of your power supply

- Connect T3 and T5 to the positive terminal (12V) of your power supply

- Connect T2 and T4 to one side of the actuator

- Connect T6 and T8 to the other side of the actuator

- OPTIONAL Connect 12V across the LED

To include a relay, wire the switch as follows: (see wiring diagram for Relay Control and 12V Relay)

- Wire the relay according to the diagram above (12V Relay Wiring)

- Connect T3 and T7 to the positive terminal (12V) of your power supply

- Connect T4 and T8 to pin 8 of the relay

- Connect the positive side of the actuator (red wire) to pin 5 of the relay

- Connect the negative side of the actuator (black wire) to pin 6 of the relay

Step 3: Wiring the Joystick

The joystick is a combination of 4 Normally Open (NO) switches. When you move the joystick to the left, the left switch closes, when you move it up, the upper switch closes etc... It's very logical. Since the joystick is the same in every direction it doesn't matter which connection to specify as "up", "down", "left" or "right". The joystick can only close one switch at a time so you can only go forwards, backwards, left or right. No diagonals are possible.

For this example we'll be wiring the joystick to control 2 actuators. One will be our "left/right" actuator, the other will be "front/back". When you leave the joystick in the middle (neutral position) neither actuator will move. Moving it to the left will extend actuator A, moving it to the right will retract actuator A. Moving the joystick forwards will extend the actuator B, moving it backwards will retract actuator B.

We're using 2 relays in this example so that the direction can be changed.

Step 4: Conclusion

In this Instructable we learned how to wire a rocker switch and a joystick to control the motion of an actuator. These wiring diagrams can be combined with the examples in our other Instructables to make your project however you like.

If you'd like to take a look at our selection of linear actuators, motions control systems and microcontrollers then please visit us at for all your actuator needs! We can even build a custom actuator or control system for you based on your own custom specifications with the help of our highly trained staff of engineers! You can learn more about the custom order process right here.

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