DIP Switches: How DIP Function on Media Converters Works?

DIP switches are miniature devices designed to enable dual inline signal transmission function. These manual switches are mounted on electronic devices such as printed circuit boards (PCBs), media converters, computer equipment, etc. Generally, the term DIP switches refer to individual miniature elements inside a dual inline package (DIP). The DIP function controls the flow of electric signals. These DIP switches are commonly utilized to control the signal/electricity transmission in computer peripherals. The media converters have found the great application of DIP switches.  In order to toggle the simple on and off operations, the media converters are integrated with the DIP switches. Commonly, on the unmanaged gigabit media converters, the DIP switches are integrated.

Before implementing the DIP function on media converters or choosing media converters with DIP function, it is essential to know what DIP switches are, how they work, and what they offer to media converters. This white introduces you to DIP switches followed by different types of interfaces. Further, it discusses the function of DIP switches and potential enhancement in the performance of unmanaged gigabit media converters due to DIP functions.

An Overview of DIP Switches

The DIP switch is an integrated structure of multiple miniature switches. These miniature switches are called pins. The entire structure of a DIP switch is made from multiple pins/contact terminals arranged in order inside a casing. Each pin represents a computer numeric address and the data transmission occurs from pin to pin as the switch ON/OFF function permits. These switches help customize the direction of electric signals.

The pins are linked with the toggle interfaces so that the ON/OFF function can be operated. Since the term DIP switches refer to multiple DIP units, there are multiple toggles attached to the pins. The overall construction of DIP switches features the following components.

  • Casing: The casing is the housing that protects the DIP pins/contact terminals.
  • Strikers: The striker is the operating-end of the DIP unit. The striker can be a rotary, slider-type, and rocker/button type. The DIP switches can be operated by shifting the positions of strikers.  
  • Sliders: The slider is a v-shaped flexible metal element that makes or breaks the contact during ON/OFF operations.
  • Contact Terminals: The contact terminals are called pins, which transmit signals to the links.

Types/Interfaces of DIP Switches

The DIP switches are available in multiple types of interfaces that only differ the way DIP switches are used by the operator. The three main interfaces of DIP switches are as follows.

  • Rotary DIP Interface: The rotary type of DIP interface offers a 360-degree mechanism. The rotation of the DIP interface determines hexadecimal or binary code. The generated hexadecimal or binary code determines the direction of output in terms of data flow. These types of DIP interfaces are directly mounted on the PCBs or electro-mechanical assemblies like Gigabit media converters.
  • Slider/Rocker DIP Interface: Slider or rocker are traditional toggle switch mechanisms of DIP switches. These mechanisms often have only two modes of operation such as normally open (NO) and normally close (NC). In the normally open (NO) mode, the DIP function enables the connection between the input and output terminals of an electromechanical assembly. On the other hand, in the normally closed (NC) mode, the DIP function disables the connection, which terminates the flow of signals. These DIP switches are available with three or more switches with NO-NC-NO-NC and ongoing modes of operations.
    Different pole and throw configurations are available in slider or rocker DIP interfaces, listed as follows.
    • Single-Pole-Single-Throw (SPST): This type of configuration is adopted when a single terminal control is required. Each switch only toggles one terminal for to/from transmission.
    • Single-Pole-Double-Throw (SPDT): This type of configuration has one input and two outputs. The operator has the authority to choose between both the throw/output terminals. One of the two output terminals has to be active in many SPDT types of DIP switches. However, modern DIP switches also offer a third option that is “neither”. During this mode, the operation of the SPDT DIP interface remains inactive.
    • Double-Pole-Single-Throw (DPST): In this mode, the functions of two different SPDT switches are merged in one device. This offers two poles and a single throw. This means the operator can choose the flow of data from input. The operator can decide from where the input is to be taken and sent to the output.

Any of these DIP interfaces can be implemented on the gigabit media converters. Let us discuss the significance of DIP switches on media converters.

Significance of DIP Switches on Media Converters

The DIP switches are of high significance in unmanaged media converters. The DIP function on media converters helps enhance the performance of unmanaged media converters. However, the DIP function on media converters has to be operated manually.

  • The DIP function on unmanaged gigabit media converters is of significance because it allows a few functions of managed switches in unmanaged switches. These enabled features include auto-negotiation, cross-over, duplex mode transmission, etc.
  • The performance monitoring is enhanced by using the DIP function on the media converter as an integration of DIP offers warnings on potential errors in the link. This is achieved during the mode selection process.
  • Fault identification, fault propagation, loopback mode, etc can be achieved by using DIP functions.
  • The flow of data can be manually controlled in order to reduce link failure.  

Role of DIP Function on Media Converters

The unmanaged media converter can perform a few functions of managed media converter if integrated with a set of DIP switches. The usual functions performed by the DIP switches on the unmanaged media converters are listed below.

  • Link Fault Pass-Through (LFT): In dual media connections such as copper-fiber links, the media converters enable the transmission of electric and optical signals at a time. During this, the ON/OFF feature of link fault pass-through (LFT) can be toggled by using a DIP switch. In the unmanaged type of media converters, when the transmission from copper and fiber cables is taking place via a converter, any of the transmission links may drop. To prevent this error, the DIP switches can be utilized to manually toggle on or off function for transmission.
  • Port Isolation: The DIP switches play an important role in the port separation in the unmanaged media converters. Generally, the TP1 and TP2 ports of a media converter can receive and forward the same type of information. However, isolating both the ports can help in sending different information ahead in the networks. By using the DIP switches, the ports can be isolated and the ON/OFF function of individual ports can also be managed.
  • Selection of Forward Mode: The chances of a fiber link failure cannot be denied in the copper-fiber networks. It is essential to detect the possibilities of link failure and forward data without suffering losses. This can be done by using DIP switches as the DIP switches enable mode selection before forwarding the data to the next link.
    Although there are 4 common modes, such as store and forward, smart pass-through, pass-through, and modified cut-through, only the following two modes can be handled in unmanaged media converters.
    • Store and Forward: If the store and forward mode is chosen by the DIP switch, the data frame is first stored at a DIP pin memory location. Then the media converter inspects the link, CRC delivery address. If no error is found, then only the data frame is forwarded to the next link. By using a DIP switch, this type of transmission mode tests the condition of delivering the link as if it is impacted by the truncated or corrupt frames.
    • Modified Cut-Through: If this mode is chosen by the DIP function on the media converter, the data frame is forwarded as soon as the delivery address is detected. By adopting this mode of data transmission, the DIP switches can reduce the latency in data transmission over an unmanaged media converter.
  • Jumbo Frame: The DIP switches enable jumbo frame transmission over a media converter. A data frame over 9000 bytes can be transmitted via a link of 1500 maximum transmission units (MTU) if jumbo frame transmission is switched on by the DIP function on the media converter.


DIP switches are devices designed to offer manual control over the transmission of signals. The DIP switches offer an easy way to toggle the operations. In this white paper, the DIP switches are introduced along with their components. The interfaces of DIP switches make a significant difference between the operation and function of DIP switches on the applications. That is why the interfaces of DIP switches are discussed. Since DIP switches are implemented in the unmanaged Gigabit media converters to enhance the functions, the significance of DIP function on media converters is discussed. All the roles played by DIP switches on media converters are discussed in this white paper.