Magic Switchboard

Andrew Cowan

Senior Member
See the video here to see what it is:

If you don't want to watch the video, there are four coloured switches, four coloured light bulbs. Unscrew any number of bulbs, re-install in any order in any bulb sockets and each coloured switch still controls the bulb of the same colour.

The coloured switch caps (mine are paper discs) can also be removed and swapped over and will still control the same coloured bulb as the cap.

I got the idea from this forum

This is the magic switchboard which I have built. The body is made of two layers of 17mm pine and one layer (at the bottom) of 4mm pine. The middle layer is hollow, for the electronics.

Power: 4 AA cells
PIC: 18X
Driver: Darlington driver chip
Bulbs: 6.5V 300ma bulbs (screw)
Switches: Miniture toggle switches
On/off switch: In base
Coloured bulbs: Painted with glass paints.

I was going to have red/yellow/blue/green, but the green dropped and smashed as it was drying, so I replaced it with a white one.

The switch covers are paper - I was going to make better ones but never got around to it.

It is amazing to show people - no-one ever works out how it works.

Any questions?



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New Member
I think that they have worked on the problem, just looked at their video again, seems better.
Have you notice that they seems to be able to start with any bulb and switch in both dirrection, still a picaxe???



Technical Support
Staff member
@lowa : I'm glad you mentioned that because I thought there was something 'odd' but got side-tracked then forgot to go and re-check !

Yes, the order does change. Once the yellow bulb is swapped the sequence isn't right to left it becomes left to right, and it's different again after the switch caps are changed.

It can still be a PICAXE or other micro though - let's be honest, it's not really Specific Current !

Whereas the original design always had fixed left-to-right bulb lighting there's no reason that couldn't alternate, left-to-right, then right-to-left or be a more complicated set of sequences. One just has to know the sequence in which the lights should be lit at each step and the same auto-mapping of switch to bulb can be automatically determined.

It makes it more difficult to operate but does make it even harder for the audience to perceive what is really going on or spot the mapping algorithm.

One possibility to make it very difficult for the audience would be to have four sequences which would be selected by whichever switch was turned off first after all bulbs were lit.

A smart magician might even have a setup which always does left-to-right, mystifies the audience, then tells them the secret, shows them the secret, finishing with, but that's not how it really works because it is really magic ... here's the bulbs not lighting in that order :)


The direction can easily be changed by a flag(s) that respond to the way the lamps are turned off before the timed reset, 12 combinations to play with
Impressive programming, although the on/off switch and on LED show there is something complex going on.
I have one of these boxes from Quebec. I think they've done a good job but the On/Off LED and switch reflect the "non-magician" aspects of being an engineer! :)

Seriously, the speed doesn't seem to be an issue. The "Confused Mode" again seems to be more of a non-magicians' idea of what an improvement might be. There clearly is a significant delay in finding the 'right' bulb for any given switch throw.

Anyway, the originator of the product, Wellington Enterprises has dropped the price on their Magic Switchboard to $395. Similarly, there has been a drop in the price of the FLoating Table effect ($2000 for the pro model but now a $500 version for the 'basic' product by the originator of the effect) with a flood of knock offs on eBay. I'd like to say that sweat equity and development should be rewarded but these effects have been overpriced for 15+ years. It seems reasonable that good old fashioned competition might help the price drop and newer, more novel effects to be developed. A lot of the mentalism effects rely on RFID or wireless technology that was once, rare and very expensive. Now, it's the topic of discussion on forum's like this.

Don't you love the internet? :)



New Member
Here's mine. I used the idea from Alpacaman (thanks) for the wiring method and hiding the picaxe in the battery box. I managed to remove the outer aluminium sleeve from an AA battery to further hide the circuit.
I used Technicals code with the only additions bieng that if a switch was turned off before the 'learn' process was complete, then the code would restart, and the reset time reduced to 7 secs.
My coloured discs are painted washers and the lights are white MES LEDs which are also painted.
I agree with Andrew that the extra switch & LED suggest that there is more to it than meets the eye.

I wonder if this 'specific current' is the reason behind the UK 3 phase wiring changing colour from red/yellow/blue to brown/black/grey??



New Member
Good Job

The idea of hiding the board in the battery box, and making the board transparent is a great variation. Because everything is visible, it eliminates the suspicion that there are some hidden electronics. Nice job!
I have to say that you did a great job with cleaning up the wiring.
Now, did you put a reed switch in there somewhere to act as a momentary on/off switch? I suppose the gimmicked battery shell is "open" on the back or end to allow the wires room to contact the circuit board.

Anyway, great job.


New Member
Hello I am in France and wish to build magic switchboard can you advise(recommend) to me
Picaxe 18M2?
Thank you for advising(recommending) to me