Ok, to be fair, it’s not the reed switches fault. They get put into situations that are far less than ideal for them to live in their glory. Yes, they can be very reliable in well-defined environment like a reed relay and or other well controlled switching equipment, but put them in an uncontrolled environment of a live escape game, then we have problems.
Reed switches magnetically activated switches are high precision, sensitive devices. They are manufactured to high tolerances. Escape game props may be of high quality, but the players are rough on props. Additionally, for reed switch alignment, props need to be designed to tight tolerances to keep the magnets aligned with the reed switches. Over time, the game pieces can shift or loosen increasing player frustration when something doesn’t work as expected.
Electrically they can be abused too. Each reed switch has a very limited ability to carry current and hold off input voltages. A single overcurrent event can fuse the contacts together or a voltage spike can cause pits on the contacts causing them to not reliably contact anymore. Now you have to pull the prop apart to replace it.
Mechanically there are problems as well. Even a nice sealed device can only survive 30 Gs. That could be a drop on the floor. During wiring, the flexing of the leads can lead to failure too (for glass types).
Anidea has solved many of these problems with the introduction of the AEI FX50, the reed switch replacement controller. It integrates a sensitive, analog hall sensor, a small micro-controller, and a relay output. It has the ability to monitor the magnetic fields of various positions of your game piece to increase the reliability of the detection. No more are the days of creating tight alignment between game pieces and the reed switch to make the game work reliably. Furthermore, we’ve added a controller to filter out magnetic noise which can be caused by the loose fit of game pieces. It is smart enough to just wait a few hundredths of a second to ensure the game piece is seated properly. And for output modes, each device comes with a solid state relay with normally open contacts which can switch much higher currents than any reed switch could ever handle. We used a solid state relay so that you’ll never hear any noise or clicks from operation. Completely silent! It also supports pulse and state modes with hold off.
With these modules, they can be daisy chained in various configurations to solve puzzles or a simple contact to release a door magnet lock directly. Try that with a reed switch.
A note for the purist: Yes, a relay is much like a reed switch, however, there is one key difference, the environment! Relays are designed and built in similar ways, but they are sealed and self-contained, and most importantly, they are in a controlled environment. There is not a user/player aspect to the relay. We use the hall sensor that is incredibly reliable with no moving parts, add some brains to it, then use a relay for the power switch which has far more capacity than the reed switch.
The original device we created was the FX50. It as been replaced with the FX51-A which has additional features.