Standard 2.5 mm or 3.5 mm audio jacks are found in a huge variety of consumer and professional audio products. Widely recognized, easy to use and simple in concept, they can be applied in many ways to enhance convenience for users and manage various features and functions of a product that are not necessarily related to its audio subsystem.
Understanding the various switch mechanisms that can be built into jacks, and how to take advantage of them, can help designers add value to their products and save space that may otherwise have to be devoted to additional mechanical switches.
Basic tip-switch jacks feature a normally closed set of connections that open when a plug is inserted. This can be used for insertion detection, or to control other system responses. Many other configurations are available, including multiple switch contacts, isolated switches that are separated electrically from audio signals, and more complex switches such as SPDT or DPDT types.
Switched jacks can further provide an elegant and cost-effective means of switching audio signals automatically between different sets of speakers or headphones, activating a visual signal as an alert or confirmation of insertion, or implementing a master on/off switch or activating/de-activating various circuits or subsystems.
These seemingly mundane connectors can do much more than meets the eye and CUI Inc’s CUI Insights Blog post, “Understanding Audio Jack Switches and Schematics” takes you inside to discover the basics for implementation into your next product design.