What is the name of this kind of switch?

Hey guys,
I’ll be soon in need of a switch that doesn’t only do 1-0. Instead, it should allow me to choose between 4 or 5 options and, whenever it gets moved, it comes back to the initial position in the centre.
What am I looking for?

I can recall seeing it on the Korg Minilogue XD octave shift control if that can help. The XD is actually a good example because it also has “fader-type” switches that allow choosing between three options. Those would work for me as well.

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If you want only three positions, you have these: Mini Toggle Momentary Switch SPDT On-Off-On
But I never saw momentary switches with more than three positions… What’s the application?

Maybe with a bit of software and relays you can make a selector where you have to push multiple times the switch? It seems like this is what is done on the XD.


The application would be selecting one of the 5 options of a routing system made in Max/Msp. Probably I could write in the code that whenever Max receives a signal from the switch, it moves one step forward in the list. Right?

rotary switch would be the usual solution…

except a joystick i don’t see :slight_smile:
momentary switch but like said @telec16 not with 5 positions

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Found a 4 position momentary:

$37 ouch


You are looking for a 5PST momentary

I would imagine the 4pole or maybe 8-pole is going to be much more common, kind of like an old school Nintendo “D-pad”


If you want a switch like the octave of a Minilogue XD, you want the switch @telec16 mentioned. The Korg uses software to control the “state” of the octave. Think of it like the off is “do nothing”, and one side increments the octave number, and one side decrements the octave number.

This of course can be done for things other than octaves. The software would just detect the rising or falling edge to update a variable. As @twinturbo has said, you can also go the direction of a rotary encoder. The added benefit there is you can also have a button press to signify another control, and scroll through the values your variable can be.

Though i get it, if you want a specific feel, go with what feels good.

Arduino can easily handle either case. Feel free to take a gander at my thread about DIY controllers, though i haven’t updated it in a while.


I think a “cross” like on the gameboy will be the right thing.
I once saw one on AliExpress, with an added switch when you press it down, but I can’t find it again…

Or else go for a “PlayStation2” joystick and put thresholds on the analog values to convert to digital…


Thank you all for the replies!
I’m already using these rotary encoders to control other functions; I find them great because when I push one down I get access over another control as @Caustic suggested. However, I want something that doesn’t spin infinite times but rather a fixed amount of times. I saw on ebay these potentiometers that would probably do the job right?
The problem is that I want them to stop exactly at the two edges of the menu.

Otherwise I could use the rotary encoders that I have. In this scenario, the count goes back to the first position in the menu as soon as I overcome the last position. I think that makes sense!

If I understand you correctly, you can use a rotary switch, if you need a max of 12 positions.
They look like these:

They can be mechanically limited from 2 to 12 positions (with the washer with the tab in the picture).
Mount a string of Rs from leg to leg, one end to GND, the other to +V, the center lug to an analog in.

I don’t know of any with a switch when you press it down, but I’m (almost…) sure they exists…


uuuh seems interesting… what is this thing about the poles?

The common ones exist in :
1 pole 12 positions
2 poles 6 positions
3 poles 4 positions
4 poles 3 positions
(Positions are the max number of positions, can be limited to less)

But for usage with an MPU, 1 pole is enough, the others are just for complex “analog” switching…

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So basically the pole defines the range of clicks of the potentiometer?

Positions is the number of clicks.
Poles is the number of independent electrical circuits.

For example, a 2 poles 6 positions can route a stereo signal to one of up to 6 destinations.


So in my case I would buy a 3 poles 4 positions to choose between 4 options right?
And I could send the same signal to other 2 destinations at the same time?

It really depends on what you want to do…
If it is an input to an MCU to display a menu, that’s what i understood

You just need 1 pole.
You can then put the washer with the tab in a position that will limit the rotation to the 4 first positions.

If your usage is something else… maybe a 3 pole 4 positions is better, it depends on the application…

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Nono you got it right! The destination will be one at a time. I’ll purchase the one you suggested above then!

Then go for 1 pole 12 positions, you can limit it to 4 positions, and if the need arises for a fifth position, no problem, just move the washer’s tab one hole…

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You can probably find them cheaper elsewhere !
This was just the first google hit to show you a picture.
Search for “rotary switch” at your favorite component store.