A microswitch will open or close a circuit with a very small movement of the tripping device (1/16 inch or less). This is what gives the switch its name, since micro means small.

Microswitches are usually pushbutton switches. They are used primarily as limit switches to provide automatic control of landing gears, actuator motors, and the like. The diagram in Figure 10-72 shows a normally closed microswitch in cross-section and illustrates how these switches operate. When the operating plunger is pressed in, the spring and the movable contact are pushed, opening the contacts and the circuit.

Rotary Selector Switches

A rotary selector switch takes the place of several switches. When the knob of the switch is rotated, the switch opens one circuit and closes another. Ignition switches and voltmeter selector switches are typical examples of this kind of switch. [Figure 10-73]

Lighted Pushbutton Switches

Another more common switch found in today’s aircraft is the lighted pushbutton switch. This type of switch takes the form of a 5/8-inch to 1-inch cube with incandescent or LED lights to indicate the function of the switch. Switch designs come in a number of configurations; the two most common are the alternate action and momentary action and will usually have a two-pole or four-pole switch body. Other less common switch actions are the alternate and momentary holding coil configurations. The less known holding or latching coil switch bodies are designed to have a magnetic coil inside the switch body that is energized through two contacts in the base of the switch. When the coil is energized and the switch is pressed, the switch contacts will remain latched until power is removed from the coil. This type of design allows for some degree of remote control over the switch body. Figure 10-71 illustrates a schematic representation of this switch design.

The display optics of the lighted pushbutton switch provide the crew with a clear message that is visible under a wide range of lighting conditions with very high luminance and wide viewing angles. While some displays are simply a transparent screen that is backlit by an incandescent light, the higher quality and more reliable switches are available in sunlight readable displays and night vision (NVIS) versions. Due to the sunlight environment of the cockpit, displays utilizing standard lighting techniques will “washout" when viewed in direct sunlight. Sunlight readable displays are designed to minimize this effect.

Lighted pushbutton switches can also be used in applications where a switch is not required and the optics are only for indications. This type of an indicator is commonly called an annunciator.

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