A rotary switch is a device that has a rotating shaft connected to one terminal capable of making or breaking a connection to one or more other terminals. Compared to many other types of electrical switching mechanisms, the electromechanical rotary switch provides a desirable means to control large numbers of circuits over a wide range of currents, voltages and power requirements. Rotary switches provide electrical control for instrumentation, medical equipment, aircraft, computers, industrial controls, communication, ordnance, as well as ground support equipment. Rotary switches of different constructions are used in a variety of electric devices. They are in the form of at least two parts and have a rotatable switching means arranged in a housing and a rotary knob having a coupling element which can be pushed into or onto the switching means. The rotary switches are provided with a contact/sensor system and with a detent mechanism. The detent mechanism determines the number of possible switch positions. Rotary switches may feature different switch positions that can be set by rotating the switch spindle in one or another direction. Rotary switches may convert positions into binary numbers; such switches are known as coded switches. A rotary electromechanical encoder includes the overall characteristics of a rotary switch, but has additional mechanical movements.
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