I see a lot of text on the internet and here telling us how to de-bounce a switch, in my case a push button. But I have tried all these circuits and I find that nothing other than a 555 monostable worked for me so far.

This is why I ask that you only answer if your knowledge is practical, not textbook, not hear-say, only if you have done it either recently or often enough that you have experienced the difference between theory and practice!

I have tried RC with inverter and that doesn't work except with Schmitt-trigger inverter (and I guess then Schmitt trigger buffer too), but even that not 100% reliably (I would say one extra triggering in about 100.)

My test setup is without a storage scope, just a 74LS161 counter and 4 LEDs hooked up.

My preferred solution is an S-R-latch, with 2 NAND gates (74LS00), but I had no luck whatsoever with that, regardless whether I tied the switch to high or to ground.

One thing nobody seems to mention is the darned make-before-break variety of push-button switches. Those are a total non-starter. But now that I just came home with 2 more buttons, tested and found them to be break-before-make, hooked them up to my DYI S-R-latch and I still get salves of up to more than 16 counts! Rarely, but I can't count a set of 16 without at least one double trigger.

Why am I the only one who has such bad luck? I show you my breadboard photos if you don't believe me. I put it on YouTube.

This is why I don't trust any theoretical answers, I built every circuit in the book(s) and can testify for several of them they totally and utterly fail right out the barn. I think most people who write about this don't actually have the experience.

So far RC with Schmitt-trigger is the only thing I could get working at 99% reliability, but not better, and I don't want the monostable, I really want the S-R latch (push - S, release - R).

UPDATE: people want to see schematics, so here is what I am now targeting. I have built all other circuits I could find. I will try the RC again from one of the answers. But for the SR-latch it's this:


simulate this circuit – Schematic created using CircuitLab

I have three different types of double throw buttons, all I can get my my hands on, and one is MBB, doesn't work, the other is one of those with a little lever, like a morse code switch, supposedly extra precise, but nope, it bounces back and forth. The other is a button like the first but BBM -- at least most of the time.

I find that the double throw buttons are all bad. The third one is the best, but still it has horrible bouncing around, because when I hold it just right it can even do a MBB action. So, that may be the problem I am having. I just can't get a decent switch.

This means, for me the SR-latch trick is out, a no-go.

I need to use a single throw button then and try again with RC. I will work off the other answer below and report back.

UPDATE: I see a lot of negative ratings, but I don't care! I am here representing the experimental truth of the matter and not text book. Yes, we are on breadboards but these things do not work.

It probably has to do with the fact that the double throw buttons are all bad, at least in micro-switch format, they bounce around like crazy, make-before-break and apparently also bouncing between the two sides. The only circuit that I can use to do an push-release action with <10% glitch rate is the one I have described here:

Is it possible to use just a capacitor to debounce a button?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ You do not say what kind of button it is. Most buttons are SPST. But then you start talking about make-before-break which doesn't make sense for a SPST button. Also, you do not make it clear whether you want momentary or latching behaviour. Also, post your schematics. \$\endgroup\$
    – DKNguyen
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 23:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ If you know the debouncing literature, the S-R-latch is a standard -- and often praised as the best -- solution, and it depends on a double throw button. But I take anything at this point. I want to see someone saying: "dude, I have done the SR latch debouncing 100s of times and it always works, you must be doing something wrong!" \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 23:07
  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ Show one circuit schematic and code that doesn't work and we can try to fix it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Transistor
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 23:14
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ If you can't make an S-R latch work with a break-before-make SPDT switch, you're doing something totally wrong! It could be your wiring technique, poor power supply decoupling, or a host of other things. You need to show us more details (schematics, photographs) about your attempts. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dave Tweed
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 23:33
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Please post schematic diagrams of what you have tried. In particular, post the schematic of the R-S version. Even better, add a photo of your breadboard. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 0:06

4 Answers 4


Your problem is not knowing input impedance chances with bias voltage on TTL.

TTL floats to a logic "1" input with Iin =0 uA at 2x Vbe drops or ~1.3V . This is unlike CMOS.

  • The impedance is infinite when floating at this voltage. But at 0.4V the input impedance is 1K due the common base input bias current.
  • To ensure the TTL has a safe margin or a valid "1" input > 2V the input impedance is > 100K with 20uA max at 2.7V.
  • So to make it work, I biased the input towards the tipping point of input current between 1 and 0 so that the target voltage is lowered and transition time is extended during switch bounce.
  • this is somewhat nonlinear Ohm's Law so I won't explain beyond this for now.
  • Naturally, a Schmitt Trigger works better but still not good enough unless you use a much larger Cap.

For a 10ms bounce time and T=RC= 10ms so C=10ms/3.3k = 3uF


simulate this circuit – Schematic created using CircuitLab

This is one way to do it with short twisted pair wires.

Decoupling cap MUST be near IC and much larger to absorb the transient.

some Hypothetical causes for failure.

  • Using TTL instead of CMOS. (requires a different solution.)
  • Not using a decoupling cap
  • excessive long sig/ground wires.
  • Must be Break Before Make (common type) switch.

It is much preferred to use 2 momentary switches to gnd or toggle 1 switch using TTL due to the large input current.

So learn to use CMOS instead. Input Impedance is > 10M but beware of ESD even if protected.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I suppose that's not a gate with Schmitt trigger input? \$\endgroup\$
    – Justme
    Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 0:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ correct............ \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 0:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ OK so that is the CMOS with RC, I have read about that. I don't have any CMOS right now. The schematics says "for CMOS R1 is not required" but that would mean that this design with R1 is good for TTL? Are you saying there is no RC solution with TTL? But TTL Schmitt? could you elaborate just a little more? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 18:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ I can simulate that works on TTL 74LS00 for 10ms bounce time. Did my explanation make any sense? about input bias currents vs input voltage \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 18:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can't get it to work. I need to make a video for all the suggestions. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 19:26

This always works.

The two push buttons can be replaced by a SPDT switch.


simulate this circuit – Schematic created using CircuitLab

Here is a simulation

  • \$\begingroup\$ I also think it always work, if built properly. If built on a breadboard, without bypass caps, etc, operation might not be guaranteed. \$\endgroup\$
    – Justme
    Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 0:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ As soon as you add a double throw switch the problem starts. And that is the intention here. I think with the 2 separate buttons it would indeed always work. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 18:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Gunther: Once again, please edit your question to show the circuit that doesn't work. \$\endgroup\$
    – Transistor
    Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 19:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GuntherSchadow remove D1 and D2 .... increase R2 to 1 k ohm \$\endgroup\$
    – jsotola
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 1:34
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ even though D1 and D2 produce light, they are still diodes, so view them as such ... a regular diode would pull the high output down to ~ 0.7 V ... an LED would not pull down the output as much, but it would still pull the output down ... a series resistor with the LED may help ... the simplest solution would be to use one of the unused gates as a buffer to drive the LED \$\endgroup\$
    – jsotola
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 19:17

You have no series resistors on your LEDs, which is naughty and eats up noise margin, especially if the LEDs are red color.

You do not show any bypass capacitors. You NEED a bypass capacitor quite near each chip, 100nF ceramic is a good value.

Quite likely your problems will go away when you fix those things.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh come on! I have bypass caps yes, and it doesn't make a difference. Nor do series resistors, they aren't needed here. I can run these chips with a 2 MHz clock on breadboard without a problem. When you say "quite likely" I really doubt you actually dealt with these problems for real. The quality of switches is really bad, that's the primary problem for all I can see. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 22:46
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ So your schematic is incomplete. Poor quality switches will not cause bouncing, it will cause failure to change state. I ran into debouncing in about '71 with RTL flat-pack circuits from Polypacks and tried the SPDT switch method, which, of course worked, but these days it's usually done with a couple lines of code in firmware. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 22:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ "poor quality switches" most definitely cause bouncing. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 18:56
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I apologize, there was clearly a problem with D1 and D2 \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 21:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ No problem. It's better to have the outputs (especially on LSTTL) sinking current and use a series resistor like 1K. Reverses the logic, of course. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 22:05

If you really have LEDs connected between logic signals and ground without current-limiting resistors, that's your problem! LSTTL does not have a lot of high-side drive to begin with, and the bare LED will completely overload it, killing your valid logic levels.

Basically, a red LED has a forward voltage drop somewhere in the vicinity of 1.7 V, and it will easily pull a high LSTTL output down to this level. However, the minimum VIH for a TTL input is 2.0 V — which means that you're operating with a negative noise margin. It's no wonder that the counter behaves in a flaky manner.

If you really want to monitor signal levels, buffer your LEDs with 'LS04 inverters, and connect the LED between the 'LS04 output and Vcc with a 330-ohm series resistor. The LED will light up when the 'LS04 input is high, as desired.


simulate this circuit – Schematic created using CircuitLab

And just to demonstrate that I do indeed have "real world experience" in this area, here are a couple of photographs of a project I did back in the mid-1970s when I was still in high school. It's a "breadboard helper" that includes (left to right):

  • A variable-speed 555 oscillator (note the metal can!)
  • 8 DIP switches to ground
  • 8 buffered digital monitors
  • 2 debounced pushbuttons

The PCB was hand-drawn with a Sharpie pen. The circuit for the debounced pushbuttons is very simple, and you can see that the switch construction is pretty much the cheapest possible. Always worked perfectly.


simulate this circuit

front view

rear view

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, definitely D1 and D2 have contributed to the problem. The outputs A,B,C,D don't matter but definitely D1 and D2 did hurt the test circuit. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 21:34

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