CPI Waterproof Switch Applications for Military Vehicles.

Military grade waterproof switches

CPI has a long history of providing switching solutions to friendly military operations in the US and across the globe. In fact our first switching solutions back in 1946 were targeted at the military aircraft of the day. Since then our line of waterproof switches, and thermal switches have found a home in light tactical vehicles, military construction vehicles and transports, avionics bays, ships, weapon systems, even submarine’s, wherever durability and reliability are paramount design considerations.

Law of diminishing returns as applied to Waterproof Switches.

One corollary to this law might be stated as follows: to get the last 20% of performance, you incur 80% of the cost in design/manufacturing. But what constitutes the last 20% of performance in a waterproof switch? Aren’t they all waterproof, stainless steel etc? Isn’t a $6 Offshore manufactured waterproof switch going to meet the requirements of most applications as long as specs are met?

After doing this for over 70 years, we can tell you that there are about as many ways to make a sealed switch as there are applications for them to go into. And that the joy of a $6 switch quickly evaporates when the EAR’s (Engineering Action Reports) start flying in from the field. At CPI we are sometimes the ones asked to diagnose and replace the engineering problems of other switch manufacturers with something that works.

Here is what we’ve found:

  1. Your double seal design needs to actually work. – When a ball or plunger switch depresses, it is the perfect opportunity for particulates to leak into the housing. Just a little bit of sand, mud or wind dust and your switch becomes all but useless. But in the CPI J4 ball switch we use a custom designed exclusion seal and our patented ball carrier that is tightly dimensioned to the plunger bore. In this proven configuration, our switch completely eliminates liquid and contaminate ingress. Your $6 switch? Not so much…
  2. News Flash: Switches on Military Vehicles Vibrate….A lot – Vibration problems are a leading cause of early switch failure. It occurs because a standard switch does not come with a specifically hardened actuator. CPI learned how to do this over decades of feedback in battlefield conditions and our hardened switch design is arguably the longest lasting and most dependable solution you will find for a given endurance rating.
  3. Many solve the hot problem, few solve the cold problem – Many switches will simply freeze up in one position or another when things get really chilly. In our qualification testing, our J4 ball switch is held in actuated position, then submerged in cold water in a -40C freeze chamber. Just before the switch completely freezes into a block ice, the switch is released. In our testing our J4 switch deactivates every time.
  4. Made in the USA – For some, the distribution of the supply chain into foreign nations of questionable economic and political stability is a non-starter. For others it’s the uncertainty of quality control and raw materials in 3rd world nations. It turns out that for many projects, the use of a 100% USA sourced product and supply chain is really worth something. We always thought so, which is why CPI has resisted for over 70 years, the temptation to move manufacturing offshore. The reliability you demand, comes from your ability to rely on us.

Other Military Applications for our Waterproof switches

  1. “Cab Down” detection on Oshkosh LTAS vehicle made for US Army. This was a variation of our J4 Plunger Switch.
  2. Hatch Door Open – our J4 ball switch is keeping US Navy personnel dry on navy ships and submarines.
  3. The Army’s Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station (CROWS) rely’s on our K1005 waterproof rocker for PON control of the sensitive targeting electronics.
  4. Army HMMWV (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle) Program – The Army’s fleet of Humvee’s are used to take troops in and out of battle, and many other tactical operations. In this vehicle, both our pedal limit switch and Thermal switch are used in a thermal management design for the engine. Our switches are designed to operate completely submerged in 6 feet of water in this application.

Waterproof Switch Law of Diminishing Returns – Revisited.

I had an elderly aunt who used to say “Cheap is just another name for expensive”. Of course she was usually referring to cars, furniture, or badly baked pastries that upset her stomach but you get the idea.

And after all this discussion about why you get what you pay for in the world of waterproof switches, the final bit of irony is this… for similar offerings to our waterproof switch line from Otto, Honeywell and SquareD, CPI Switches are up to 80% less expensive in production quantities.

If you have a military vehicle application that requires waterproof or thermal switches, contact CPI today. Let us show you how inexpensive real performance can be.