Super Simple Potentiometer Switch Hack




If you need a potentiometer with a power switch, but you only have a dual gang potentiometer without a switch, then what could you do?

Step 1: Open the Potentiometer Back Cover

Step 2: Remove the Potentiometer Back Cover

Leave the top portion, shaft and the bottom slider in place.

Step 3: Cut the Carbon Track

By cutting the carbon track, the voltage on the track no longer follows the original taper of the potentiometer. When the potentiometer slider crosses the gap, the voltage chances suddenly.

It might be a good idea to make the cut V- shaped, otherwise the slider slowly smears the carbon on the surface.

You have just created a slide switch! (The track still has its original resistance, but that does not matter after you add a MOSFET.)

Step 4:

Now replace the pcb, bend those notches back and mark the terminals. NO is normally open, C is common and NC is normally closed.

Step 5:

The circuit depends on your application. The pulldown resistor should be about ten times higher than the potentiometer resistance. For low current devices you can substitute the mosfet with a bipolar transistor (you need a base resistor then.) You can also use the switch with a microcontroller input, but there might be noise since this is not a really high quality switch. The hack works with linear and logarithmic potentiometers. Log potentiometer would be great for a PWM light dimmer circuit, maybe with a 555 IC.



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    5 Discussions

    Alex in NZ

    7 months ago

    Not only is this a brilliant idea, but if you can remove and replace the tracks, then you could hack together a dual-gang with different values on each track by swapping boards between stock dual-gangs. I have no idea what that could be useful for, but I really want to try it!
    Thank you for sharing the method!


    3 years ago

    How can this function as a potentiometer? Without a complete track it becomes a rheostat. Granted it's a rheostat with a switch.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    It has to be a dual gang potentiometer. It has two potentiometers in one shaft. We modify only the bottom one to be in the switch circuit, the top one still has a complete track and it works as a potentiometer.


    3 years ago

    Nice and simple!


    BRILLIANT!!! This is a great idea. I can't believe I never thought of this. Thank you for sharing this.