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Description: Want to control a standard wall outlet device with your micro controller, but don't want to mess with the high voltage wiring? This might just be the right device for you!

The PowerSwitch Tail II is designed to allow you to safely control an outlet device without exposing any
120VAC voltages. You can plug in any standard 120VAC 3-prong outlet to be controlled by most any microcontroller. This will work great with Arduino! The PowerSwitch Tail II improves on the original PowerSwitch Tail by allowing you to switch a bigger load (now up to 15A) with a wider range of control signals (3-12VDC).

Features:

  • Connect to Arduino, PIC, Stamp, or other MCU with driver transistor or ULN2803
  • LED indicator shows status of control signal
  • Connect output receptacle to a single powered device or to a power strip to control multiple loads.
  • Switches up to 15A (resistive loads) with a 3-12VDC, 3-30mA control signal.

Documents:

Comments 46 comments

  • A 240v version with IEC plugs would be ideal for us non-us folk.

  • Finally, a Sparkfun product that doesn’t try to kill you.
    It sure beats the old relay on the bench with test clips trick. It only works with 120 VAC, but it’s controllable with a single I/O port at 3V to 5V. I’d leave the ground terminal unconnected to avoid a possible ground loop; it’s fully isolated anyway.
    Plus it costs less here than from the OEM. Gotta have it!

  • This is a very cool product. But if you are just looking for an easy way to avoid being exposed to high voltage, an alternative is to modify one of those remote controlled switches. They are wireless and come with a remote and one or several power sockets. You can get them in many retail or online stores for cheap. All you need to do is to modify the remote – use a MCU to simulate a button press, (often as simple as sinking one button pin to ground). I’ve tried this before and it works quite well. And it’s even wireless!

    (Update) check this page: <a href=“http://rayshobby.net/blog/?p=936”>http://rayshobby.net/blog/?p=936</a> for example.

    • Watch out for RFI. During thunderstorms I get to watch a lot of on-off switching with my wireless outlets.

  • So… Why not just buy a relay?
    Two of these: http://www.sparkfun.com/products/10636 in parallel would be rated at one amp higher, and all for less than half the price of this.

    • The whole point of these is so you never have to deal with exposed high voltages.
      The relay, you’d have to wire them manually to 120volt sources.
      A lot of people (like me) aren’t really comfortable with that.
      This is just plug in the appliance, and plug in a low voltage controller circuit, whether its an arduino, or whatever.

      • 120 volts is no problem. You just have to go with the one hand rule, and know what you are doing. The worst thing that could happen is the circuit breaker getting blown, and maybe part of your project is a little darker than it was. ;)

        • That’s the problem “know what you are doing” a lot of people don’t. I’ve used these and you can’t make it easier for people to not electrocute themselves with mains power.

        • I don’t understand why one would have to work with hot 120VAC wires when making a device using relays? Why not pre-wire everything in an enclosure with proper AC wires/plugs and plug into the wall socket only when the project is 100% ready and there’s no 120VAC circuitry exposed? I think it’s so easy to do.
          But this product is clearly for those who doesn’t want to or can’t create smth like that.

          • Some people are afraid to have any vulnerabilities to error so they use these. If you wired something wrong in that box, there is a chance that it could short out your power.

          • Ditto.

  • If anyone wants some Arduino example code, see the following. This makes it so when you press a button it goes on for as long as you press it.

    Button is connected to Ground and 2. Relay is connected to 13, 5 volts, and Gnd.

    Code:

    const int relayPin = 13;  //change these to change pin numbers
    const int buttonPin = 2;
    
    void setup() {
    pinMode(relayPin, OUTPUT);  //initializes the pins defined above
    pinMode(buttonPin, INPUT);
    } 
    void loop() {
    if (buttonPin == LOW) {    //if the button is grounded
    digitalWrite(relayPin, HIGH);     //turn the relay on
    else {
    digitalWrite(relayPin, LOW);  //if the button is not grounded, turn the relay off
    }
    }
    

    Edited to clarify.

  • These sell out to quick but I found a good video on how to make one of these. DIYPowerTail

  • I keep putting moving this back and forth between my wishlist and shopping cart because they always seem to be out of stock when the rest of my order is ready. Just wondering, is it because they are really popular, or is supply really scarce, or what? Seems like they would not be that hard to make and it surprises me that someone hasn’t come up with a competitive product with a bit more constant supply.

  • I try to control the on off of a LED light bulb, in the on position the bulb light up very bright but in the off position the bulb still has a extremely dim light (not totally off), is it normal?

  • When will this be back in stock?

  • A while back, I found a device that looked like a octopus, with each of its arms being an outlet that was controllable by a build in relay. Does anyone know what product i’m talking about? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

  • Do you sell just the PCB? I wanted to make an Arduino clone on a perfboard and solder wires to this.

    Edit: Never mind. Found a Sparkfun schematic for a relay control thingy and I soldered it up on a stripboard and it works! Find the schematic that I used here, just scroll down to the schematic.

  • Did this go up in price or am I misremembering?

  • A demo code example for mbed with photos and a video is available at http://mbed.org/users/4180_1/notebook/powerswitch-tail-ii/

  • Woohoo back in stock. Let’s see how long these last.

  • Dang!! Out of stock already? Any idea when you guys will get more?

  • Where there be one with european plugs (2 round pins) ?

  • How fast can this be cycled? Enough to do fading/pwm?

    • Also, only rated for 100,000 cycles. You could run the lights and heaters in your internet connected chicken coop for years, but you’d wear it out in a few minutes if you tried to use it for PWM.

    • I wouldn’t think so. The linked data sheet states this:
      Operate times: 15 ms max actuate, 10 ms max release

  • Wow, I’ve been building these things for years now at work to switch equipment on and off in unison with other equipment.
    I had a crappy cable modem a while back that would randomly lock up, so I set up a cron job on my firewall box to ping a server periodically.
    If it didn’t get a response, it would pulse one of the parallel port’s polling lines that was connected to a relay in line with the cable modem’s power.
    It’s nice to know I can get them ready-made now. That will make my boss happy.

    • Had a similar setup on my router except that I also made the control program log the date/time of the downtime it helped me get out of a contract with a ISP, the routers they issued to costumers would just lock at peak hours and had to be power cycled to try to get a new connection.

    • Which relay control schematic did you use? Can you provide a link, if there’s one you know? Thanks

  • What’s the max inductive load? I’m thinking about controlling a small air conditioner (or maybe refrigerator) with one of these.


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