Manufacturing Monday – Outlets


Manufacturing Monday – Outlets. You have equipment – you need to power it! This little tip is one that we find so useful, we can’t imagine how we did without: being able to turn an entire outlet strip on and off, easily without having to reach behind some machinery on the floor.

For example, if you have a laser cutter and a filter, you need to make sure that the filter is turned on whenever the laser cutter is used. Once in a while, we’d forget to turn on the filter, and 3 minutes later the room would smell of acrylic. Yuk! After trying signs, notes, and beatings we just bought this awesome (but sadly a little expensive) outlet with remote switch (McMaster #69565K21 / Wiremold UL207RSBC) The switch is lightweight and easily mounts anywhere, the actual button itself is lit when the power is on which is a nice extra…

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  1. There used to be these neat auto-switching powerstrips at radioShack of all places. They’d sense the power status of a “control device” and switch several of their other outlets ON when the control device was on. I used to have one on the monitor/etc of my computer, but it became confused when “standby” rather than “off” became popular.

    Looks like you can still get variations of these too. One brand is “Smart Strip SCG4”, available via Amazon.

    Beware that such things probably use TRIACs for switching, and may not be suitable for all types of loads (especially if you start talking about industrial equipment.)

    (I also recall seeing a schematic for these, perhaps in one of the EE magazine “design idea” columns. IIRC, they used the drop across a couple of back-to-back diodes as the sensing mechanism.)

  2. A couple things… the link in your tutorial would work better as:


    Also, Belkin has a few similar products worth considering. I use this in my entertainment center:


    It has a thin 6 foot wire to the remote switch, which has a small light in it (not as clear as the McMaster-Carr model). It also has 6 switched and 2 always on outlets with lots of clearance for wall warts, and it has an 11 hour timer that will switch it off if you forget to at the end of your day.

    Then there’s this one, without a timer but with a wireless remote switch:


    They’re both *slightly* cheaper than the one you picked, ($35 and $40, respectively) and I’m happy with mine.

    I’d be curious to hear about more things like this, because I had to do a bit of searching to find these Belkin products. I’m sure there’s more out there, and maybe better and cheaper.

  3. @bruce – every product from belkin i’ve had was awful and not what i would use in our shop. the one you linked to is likely fine (thanks) but i’ve just been burnt on belkin too many times to consider them for mission critical anything.

    adafruit (pt)

  4. Well, I’m not using it industrially; it doesn’t matter if my TV turns off on me mid-show. Your fans or other equipment would be a different story, no doubt. Until it starts flaking out I don’t have to feel bad about all that standby power I was wasting before, so I’m happy. 🙂

    But now that you mention it, I had a terrible time with a Belkin KVM a couple years back, and I was assuming it was just how I hooked it up or my monitor to blame. Hmm, maybe you’re on to something…

  5. We use aux switching units used in woodworking. They turn on the sawdust vacuums when you turn on saws, etc. Nice thing is they are rugged and can handle a lot of current. Latest innovation is wireless with one to many capability.

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