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On/Off

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If a machine has a switch with the word "On" next to it,
what does that mean to you?

a) Flipping the switch will turn it on.
b) Flipping the switch will turn it off.

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Re:

What are the possible configurations?

A) The switch lever is pointing left. The label is in the middle above the switch.

B) The switch lever is pointing down. The label is above the lever.

C) The switch lever is pointing up. The label is below the lever.

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For me:

A. Meaningless.

B and C: Flipping the switch will turn the machine on in both cases.

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Short answer: B


Long answer:
From a logical view the lever should point down in the default state (off). The reason is quite simple, because everything is falling down . So the (secure) default state should be pointing down so that there will be only a small chance of activating it by accident.

To underline it a "on" label above the lever will help to identify the meaning of a lever (lever pointing to label = desired action).

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c) Without further information this is ambiguous; my presumption without any additional information however would be that the machine performs a single action when turned "on", and that flipping the switch will cause that action to be carried out. i.e. without further information I would assume that the switch is a single-action device rather than a toggle. For example, if we were looking at a donut machine, flipping the switch would produce a donut, and flipping it again would produce another donut.


The first potential source of additional information I would look for is what state the machine currently appear to be in? If I can see it working I would assume it is already on, and therefore that the switch would turn it off. If I can not see that it is working I would look to see whether or not I would likely to be able to tell - are there exposed parts that would obviously be doing something when the machine is on, or is it completely enclosed.

Assuming I need/want to find out the answer and that the consequences aren't overly bad -- or that the consequences are bad but I must know how the switch works, I would try the switch and see what happens.

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Make the switch red/green. If you see it being green it mean it is on, if you click it it changes to red which means it is off. You will never get confuzed by colours, while on/off is more tricky and the answer depends on a person.

It also matters how you draw the switch. If it's Off+On and the On part looks "pressed" then it means it is on.

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All important flipswitches such as for example fault-current circuit breakers or switches on machinery generally operate in a "up is on" fashion.
Add to this that "press" usually means "on" for sunken buttons and "off" for elevated buttons.

Those conventions ensure that you can always instantly (without having to think) stop a machine or turn off the current. Even if you fall unconscious and literally drop onto the switch, it will turn off the current, which is normally (very few exceptions) considered "on the safe side".

This is normally the case for "unimportant" switches too, although there are exceptions. Many people have their light switches installed in the wrong sense because they think it looks better and because dust does not accumulate so much on the protruding edge (since most switches are "off" for a longer time than "on").
And of course, in a two-changeover-switch configuration, one switch's function depends on the status of the other. If they point in the same direction, regardless of whether that's up or down (assuming one of them is not installed upside down), the current is on, otherwise off.

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Quote:
Original post by Acharis
Make the switch red/green. If you see it being green it mean it is on, if you click it it changes to red which means it is off. You will never get confuzed by colours, while on/off is more tricky and the answer depends on a person.

It also matters how you draw the switch. If it's Off+On and the On part looks "pressed" then it means it is on.


But red is not Always off. Many dangerous and critical systems have red as the 'on' state, and it is "Warning, this thing is on and you are in danger!"

See firearms and fire control systems. When the green light is on, the system is in 'safe' mode. Green is good, and not accidentally shooting yourself or a buddy is good. Red means you're dead. If you see red, it means the system is live and you should pay attention to it.

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The most clear configuration:

The switch has two labels, one "On" and one "Off". The lever always point to either one of the labels. When the lever points toward "Off", it means that the machine is off, and flipping the lever to the "On" position will turn on the machine.

In this configuration, if the lever is so long that it covers one of the labels, the visible label is always on the opposite side of the lever. Therefore, the visible label always show the effect of the switch when the lever is flipped.

In summary:
o When you see "On" and you flip the lever, it turns the machine ON
o When you see "Off" and you flip the lever, it turns the machine OFF


Another common configuration:

This switch also has two labels, but one of the label is always hidden by the cover of the lever. As a result, when the lever is pointing down, you can only see the word "Off" above its base. When the lever is pointing up, you can only see the word "On" below its base.

These switches are designed to tell you the state of the machine. When you see "Off", it means that the machine is currently off, and vice versa.

In summary:
o When you see "On" and you flip the lever, it turns the machine OFF
o When you see "Off" and you flip the lever, it turns the machine ON

I think this second configuration is messed up because the label, which corresponds to the state of the machine is always opposite to the direction of the lever.

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