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Reed Switches

Updated: May 27, 2023

Lots of people want to add technology to their escape rooms. Reed switches are an easy way to do that. A reed switch is a switch that is activated by a magnet, inside a glass tube filled with an inert gas. The idea was that some applications might have a switch that when activated, would spark. Which might cause a fire. Fires are bad. So if you put a switch inside a glass tube of inert gas, even if it does spark, there's no fire.

For escape room applications there's much less of a concern about sparking a fire, but magnets are darned easy to hide inside statues, inside common every day items, inside resin molds. So reed switches are a very easy way to trigger a magnetic lock. You can also generally put them closer together than RFID readers, because the components are so small.

The "trick," if there is one, is in the power supply. The UHPPOTE power supply has built in relays to control a mag lock, since that was what it was designed for. So it's pretty much perfect for this application. What this means is that you don't need a micro controller - no arduino, no raspberry pi. Which means you don't need to know how to program anything. This is a big plus if you're new to the industry and don't have a computing background. Around here we usually get an extension cord and cut off the female end to wire into the power supply and plug into the wall, though there are other solutions to that.

So how do you actually wire a reed switch puzzle? I'm glad you asked. We have a diagram for that. Check it out.

Some quick notes;

  • You'll get more range and a stronger connection out of the little round magnets if you can embed them vertically in whatever object you want to use.

  • You can make the order of the objects matter with some creative placements.

  • You should try not to use material between your reed switches and your magnets that is no more than 1/4 inch thick.

  • You should test your placement of your reed switches and your magnets before you glue anything down permanently. Sometimes magnetic fields do funny things

  • The stronger and bigger your magnet the more reliable these are - but we've gotten them to work with magnets 1/4 inch in diameter.

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