What is the significance of a Potentiometers: Basic Information’s

A potentiometer is known as a position sensor as it senses the displacement in any direction. Linear potentiometers measure linear displacements whereas rotary potentiometers measure rotary displacement. They are a type of resistors however, they do not carry as much current as resistors.

Potentiometers are three-terminal resistors that consist of a sliding or rotating contact forming an adjustable voltage divider. Out of these three terminals when it only uses two terminals, which is one end and one wiper, it acts as a rheostat. Potentiometers are measuring instruments that are essentially used to measure voltage and hence is a voltage divider. An example of potentiometer control is controlling the volume on audio equipment.

How does a Potentiometer Work?

A potentiometer is also known as optimeters or pot and features a resistive element known as a track and a sliding element known as a wiper. These are present internally where the end terminals are attached to the resistive element. 

The wiper is manual and can be moved to adjust the resistance, touching a resistive strip of material. When the wiper is moved closer to terminal 1 and away from the terminal, the resistance is decreased at terminal 1 and increased at terminal 2. 

Voltage is then supplied as input voltage and the voltage that is produced by the voltage drop between the fixed and sliding contact.

They are effective for measuring the voltage amounts accurately and also derive variable voltage from the affixed voltage source. Potentiometers are passive devices which means that no additional sources of power are needed for them to operate.

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Some common examples of potentiometers include:

  • The measuring position on a gaming remote or joystick.
  • Volume control on audio equipment.

How is a Potentiometer Activated?

A potentiometer might be activated with the utilization of a knobs that is gone to different settings, a slide control, or even a straightforward switch. In all cases, the development of the outward system initiates the capacity of the resistor and assists with accomplishing the ideal impact. The scope of movement permitted will rely upon the development of the electrical gadget and the specific design of the potentiometer. As a rule, one complete circle or turn is allowed among a restricted measure of determinations along a scale. A few gadgets utilize a model that takes into account various revolutions around the reach, nonetheless, expanding the number of settings that might be picked. This is especially evident when the resistor is utilized to control volume levels.

Types of Potentiometers

Currently, there are many types of potentiometers available in the market. Some of these are manually adjustable while others are electrically controllable. Some of the common potentiometer types are as follows:

Rotary Potentiometers

These are the most common types of potentiometers where the wiper moves in a circular motion with the help of a knob. It features two pins that are connected to resistive element placed in a semi-circular pattern and another one that is connected to a rotary knob. They are capable of producing both linear and logarithmic output with tolerances that can range from 10% to 20%. These rotatory types are commonly used in audio equipment to control volume. There are multiple types of rotary potentiometers that are:

  • Single-turn
  • Pot
  • Multi-turn
  • Dual-gang Pot
  • Concentric pot
  • Servo pot
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Linear Potentiometers

Linear potentiometers are also known as sliders and are similar to rotary potentiometers. The only difference is that the wiper in linear potentiometers moves in a linear direction rather than an angular one. It features a pin that is connected to the adjustable slider and the rest of the two pins are connected at the ends of the output circuit where it is easy for the slider to slide along the resistor on a path that is attached along with the resistor. These are commonly used in audio equipment like audio mixers and graphic equalizers as they are simple to be visualized from the point of the slider.  However, it has some disadvantages like:

  • The wiper can easily move up and down due to the long path
  • There is a probability of dust, dirt, or grease entering the open long track from the external environment.

There are some other types of linear Potentiometers:

  • Slide Pot
  • Multi-Turn Slide
  • Dual-Slide Pot
  • Motorized Fader

Digital Potentiometers

A digital potentiometer is an Electronic Component that is digitally controlled and is similar in function to those of analog potentiometers. These feature three terminals with two pins attached to the end of each terminal and the last pin is connected to the wiper terminal. These complicated devices however, are still used in factory equipment because of their high accuracy rate. Digital Potentiometers are more popular than mechanical ones.

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