Newbie needing help with a simple project

Thread Starter


Joined May 24, 2014
I am working on a theatrical project with a fake elevator panel. I need to back light the "Up / Down" arrows over the door and would like to design a simple and clean switchbox that would use a single toggle that remains off in a center position and will turn the top light on when switched up and the bottom light when switched down. I have the option of using Mini Bulbs or LED, but am not sure which is the best way to go. Also, I am not experienced with electrical / electronic wiring and powering. If someone can walk me through with a wiring diagram indicating size and placements of any resistors and type of AC adaptor to prevent overheating, I would appreciate it. I have experience soldering and enjoy tinkering around in the shop and would really like to make this a clean and compact rig and not just a couple of Home Depot light switches.


Joined Feb 11, 2008
It's a very simple project if you get the right kind of toggle switch.

You need a "centre off" toggle switch. Sometimes called a 3-position centre-off toggle switch.

Then you get the power from a DC plugpack (a 12v DC one will do) and connect the + wire to the middle pin of the toggle switch.

Each of the two outer pins has a wire that goes to the two lightbulbs. Then the return wire from the other side of the light bulbs goes back tot he - or gnd wire of the plugpack.

Instead of small 12v lightbulbs you can use LEDs, but each LED requires a resistor, which sets its current and brightness.


Joined Nov 12, 2008
Welcome to AAC.

Since you've stated you're not experienced with electronics, I've put together a very simple circuit with parts that are all available at RadioShack. This circuit uses incandescent bulbs, so no resistors are needed. Incandescent bulbs require more current/power than LEDs and they tend to get very warm. However, since you plan to use wall power and heat shouldn't be an issue, this should work just fine.

The power supply is an AC to DC wall wart. The ones RadioShack sells require a plug - this plug is included in the price, but not in the box, so you need to make sure you get it with your purchase. In place of plug which requires a mating jack, I've called out a bare wire adapter so you can connect it more easily to your circuit using wire nuts or a terminal strip.

I have not included wire or wire nuts, but you may already have these. If not, RadioShack should have these as well.

You could put multiple bulbs in series (up to a certain number) to form an arrow if you'd like. Or you could put the bulbs behind a piece of translucent plastic in the shape of an arrow.

You can opt instead to use LEDs and we can provide a schematic, but it will involve soldering, adding resistors and either using a PCB to hold the LED's or cutting holes in a base of some kind to mount them. Not terribly difficult, but it will be more work and a little harder to explain if you've never soldered before.