Visual Tilt Switch

Thread Starter


Joined Aug 16, 2009
Hey was wanting to get some expertise on the subject of making essentially a 'visual tilt switch'. We are doing an installation for Architecture Week in Auckland New Zealand as part of an inter-university competiton.

Ive made a couple of prototype circuits using mercury switches and superbright LED's to make a light that when it is moved in different ways, it changes colour. To do this ive had to use two separate circuits with their own mercury switches - one circuit turns off while the other turns on etc.

Was just wondering if there was anyway that this could be achieved using less components, have a more compact size, and (fingers crossed) alot cheaper? The circuit has to be replicated between 4 - 500 times so any reduction in cost would be greatly apreciated



Joined May 2, 2008
I doubt they'd be much cheaper, but there are tiny ball-in-tube switches used for tilt sensing. I'm sure Mouser or Digikey has them in their switches sections.

John Luciani

Joined Apr 3, 2007
I just did a project that used a Signal Quest SQ-SEN-645B electrolytic tilt sensor.
When vertical the sensor is open. When tilted past 45deg it opens. They make
a variety of other angles. The sensors are around $4. They will send you a couple
of free samples of their standard product.

Mouser sells a rolling ball tilt switch made by Mountain. The part number is 107-2006-EV.
It is around $1.50

(* jcl *)


Joined Aug 7, 2008
The Electronic Goldmine Has several types of tilt switches, # G16165, PN BT411-2 , rolling ball, small, +_ 30deg., US $ 1.00. Optical $1.50.


Joined Nov 6, 2005
If I follow what you are trying to achieve, how about a pendulum weight supported on a potentiometer spindle?

Feed it to a LED bar graph made with a LM3914 IC and you have a 'tilt meter'.

If you need two axis (front to back as well as side to side), you could attach a second pot at 90' to the spindle of the first and have two bar graphs from the same pendulum weight.

You don't have to use ten LEDs, as long as you use the 'dot' mode of the IC you can feed several outputs to the same LED. You could have Left / Middle / Right or Left / Off / Right.

If you use a common-anode multi colour LED you could have that change colour at different points on the tilt scale.

Alternatively, you could use the Pot with a simple dual comparator which could indicate tilt one way or the other at specific thresholds.