Those low profile switches

These look good and come in a few varieties. I tried these out when first saw thinking the would allow a little more space for components. These days I’m not including a battery 🔋 and making batter layouts with two sided boards and space is not an issue.

3PDT Latched Foot Switch – Low Profile – PCB Mount – Long Bushing.

here are specs from Lovemyswitches.com :

The Specs:

3PDT latched foot switch

Low profile

Two hex nuts, 1 spring washer, and 1 flat washer assembly

PCB mount

10,000 cycles

Hand solder temp: 662°F / 350°C for 3 seconds

Dip solder temp: 500°F / 260°C for 5-10 seconds

12mm mounting hole

If it’s not a requirement the blue 3PDT is the better choice it’s got twice the life and costs less: $2.50 vs $3.99. Then there’s the life expectancy of a meager 10,000 cycles. Wow that’s half the estimate for the blue 3PDT. With a smaller body the internals have to be smaller which might account for the shorter life expectancy.

Notice the throw of the plunger is also much shorter than the blue 3PDT. This could also effect the life of the switch. It would also affect the feel.

The hardware is good, it comes with steel washers. The switch action has a short positive throw with a solid snap. These come in both solder lugs or PCB mount.

3PDT Latched Foot Switch – Low Profile – PCB Mount

there was no info available for this I’ll assume it’s the same as the long shaft version above. At $3.69 it’s a little cheaper but still more than the blue 3PDT. The short shaft model seems to come with a plastic washer go figure.

The Fulltone 3PDT

When I got started in the DIY pedal hobby the switches that were available were the Carling DPDT. These were about $9 but didn’t allow for easily wiring an LED and true bypass. Small Bear Electronics started offering a 3PDT switch labeled “Fulltone”. These switches were $13 if I recall.

I suspect that Fulltone really wanted to offer true bypass pedals with an LED and had them made for that purpose. Since demand was nonexistent they probably had to order enough to make the manufacturing worthwhile. I guess Steve Daniels at Small Bear got in touch and gave Fulltone an outlet for excess switches.

I bought two of these around 2000. I’m usually trying to build things cheap as possible so I only bought two. Small Bear was the only place I know of that had these switches at the time. I guess they were popular and Steve Daniels was able to get his own line on the switches because soon after the blue version that everyone is using today became available and the prices started coming down. These days the cost is $2.50 to $5.00 and there are several versions of the switch to choose from.

This Fulltone switch is a little different from the blue version. First it’s labeled Fulltone. Second the body of the switch is made from a harder Bakelite where the blue switches seem to be made of a softer plastic. Fulltone still sells these switches for $16. Here’s what they say about the switch:

3PDT Footswitch

15 years ago I designed and started manufacturing the best 3PDT switch money can buy. I did it because the available 3PDTs sucked… badly.

Both the Blue ones, and the Black ones.

The rest of the world has copied the look of my 3PDT, but they have not copied the construction or quality!

  1. All others use a plastic body… plastic and heat don’t mix. Apply some heat while soldering wires and the terminals come loose resulting in either immediate or eventual FAILURE.Mine is Bakelite, it doesn’t melt.
  2. All other switches use a plastic internal plunger! Plastic flexes, especially if there is a 200-lb person with army boots on top of it. The plunger collapses and pops right out of its socket.Buh bye switch. My plunger is made out of metal.

Before I started making my own I used the very same as everyone else, and spent many hours a day replacing failed footswitches. Now I’m free and life is good.

Sounds like it’s different on the inside! Seems like if you want a better 3PDT you can get it but it will cost you. I’m not sure that at $16 you’ll sway anyone from those blue switches for $3.50 a piece. Not too mention there’s another super premium switch out there for $15.40. More to come on this switch. For myself I’m not making products that need to live up to quality and durability claims so I’m still making things cheap as possible for now.

I couldn’t find a spec sheet for this switch. It might be more sturdy but it’s hard to say what that might add to the life expectancy. I doubt it would last 4 to 5 times the life expectancy of the cheaper blue switches makes it hard to justify the cost. That said of it did last that much longer it might be worth it.

That blue 3PDT stomp switch


The Specs*: (from Lovemyswitches see my notes below)

  • 3PDT Latched Foot Switch
  • Nickel plated solder lug
  • Two hex nuts, one plastic washer, one lock washer
  • 50,000 cycles
  • 12mm mounting hole
  • Solder temp: 482°F / 250℃ max for 3 seconds
  • 3A 250VAC 
  • 6A 125VAC
  • 4A 30VDC

The specs are pretty good I see these used everywhere. At 50,000 cycles these would last a while. Stories of life in the wild tell the tale of switches going bad but not often enough where consumers cry foul. Imagine you stepped on this for the chorus of every song in a 10 song set. That might be 60 stomps a night, 3 choruses on and off times 10 song. You play 833 sets before reaching the predicted life. It would last more than two years if you practiced your set daily and gigged on weekends. More likely you would use the pedal less often. Figure you used the pedal on the intro and solo for every song on a ten song set you could stomp it 40 times in a night. That would be 1250 stomps pers set. It should last almost 3.5 years. All of us that aren’t wearing out stomp-switches at this rate are not playing often enough!

The hardware is the most mysterious and yawn inspiring. It domes with two skinny hex nuts, a serrated lock washer, and a big white plastic washer. This plastic washer is seen on almost every pedal out there these days. I don’t understand why these comes with a plastic washer? Is there some mechanical advantage, doesn’t seem likely. The, plastic washer just looks cheap if I could get one of these with a metal washer I’d buy that every time.

The switch has positive click and takes a good amount of pressure to activate. I’d say it’s in the same ballpark as the Carling call it 6 to 8 lbs.

Searching the internet for data sheets I found this information from Tayda Electronics which gives the switch a poorer rating.

Rating: 4A 125V AC/2A 250V AC; 4A 30V DC

Electrical
3.1. Contact Resistance: 20mΩ(Max)
3.2. Insulation resistance: 500V DC 100MΩ(Min) 3.3. Dielectrical strength: AC 1500V/minute.

Temperature: Under 100°C for 1 Hour,ametabolic and still works well. 5. Electrical Life: 20000 Cycles at full load.

These specs give the switch a life of 20,000 cycles. Note this is electrical life. The specs above are from Lovemyswitches which may represent the mechanical life, I’m not sure. At 20,000 cycles the life is shorter, less than half the examples above! While that’s significant the life is still pretty long. You could step on this thing once per second continuously for 5 and half hours straight before it would start to get unreliable.

Tayda mix up

I order some parts on 1/4/21 a big box showed up on 1/20/21 and nothing on the box was anything that I ordered. It was all pedal making parts. Including:

  • 5x 125B enclosures
  • knobs
  • resistors
  • caps
  • 2x PT2399
  • 4x TL072
  • LT1054
  • 7805
  • 2N3904
  • LEDs and other diodes
  • pots
  • big bag of jacks

I’m like seriously someone was going to build a couple delays, Klon clone, and some other things, maybe a fuzz and a tube screamer variants. I recognize all these parts. Tayda was very they got back to me the next day and offered to ship my order.

Sadly these are all useful but not the parts I would use. I’d use 1590B over 12B, I would have ordered open jacks. I would ordered different knobs in different colors. All in all it was sort of a windfall.

Vulcan by Joe Davisson

This is Joe Davisson’s Vulcan overdrive. Starting with a prototype board made at home with the Othermill, then turned this into a board from OSHPARK. Boxed up and is working well. This is an interesting overdrive with a couple unique circuit features.