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Getting Technical: What Is a Linear Potentiometer?

You probably have no idea what a linear potentiometer is, but they are present in some of the things that we own. Are you intrigued to find out what it is now?

Well, in premise, a potentiometer is a variable resistor. It might not make sense now, but knowing what a potentiometer is will allow us to understand what it does. 

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about the liner potentiometer sensor. So that you can outshine others with your intricate technical knowledge of things unknown to most. 

So whenever you’re ready to traverse from unknowing to crystal clarity, keep reading.

What Is A Potentiometer?

As mentioned earlier, a potentiometer is a variable resistor, which means it enables a device to adjust the rate of blinking for an LED without sacrificing the components within the circuit. 

Potentiometers come in various sizes, shapes, and values, but they do have some things in common. 

For instance, they all have three connection points, also known as terminals. They also have a screw, knob, or slider that is moved to adjust the resistance between the outer terminal and the one in the middle.

The resistance between the two external terminals is constant, and it holds the maximum resistance of the entire potentiometer. The resistance is not variable even when the adjustment is changed. 

The resistance between either external terminal and the middle terminal is variable from 0Ω to the maximum resistance of the device as the slider, screw, or knob moves.

The maximum resistance is usually found by looking at the back of the case.

What Are Linear Potentiometers?

A linear potentiometer, in essence, is the same, but the only change is the fact that the rotary movement of the contact on the resistor is subject to move linearly.

In this case, the two ends of the resistor connect through a voltage source. A sliding adjustment is mobile throughout the entire track along with the resistor. 

The terminal is subject to unite with the sliding, thus connected to one end of the circuit output. The same goes for the other side. This potentiometer type is used to measure the voltage across the length of a circuit, for comparing battery cells, measuring battery cell internal resistance. But also used in many sound mixing systems and music equalizers.

How Does A Potentiometer Work?

Being a passive electronic component, a potentiometer works by having the sliding contact position vary on the uniform resistance panel. In a potentiometer, the voltage input is applied across the entire resistor length, the voltage output is the change between the sliding and fixed contacts on the resistor.

The two terminals of the source input link to the ends of the resistor. To adjust the voltage output, the contact is moved along the output side of the resistor. This is unlike a rheostat, in which one end is fixed but the terminal connects to the circuit.

A potentiometer is capable of comparing EMF between cells, calibrating watt-meters, voltmeters, and ammeters. The principle is quite simple behind this. 

Imagine you have two connected batteries within a galvanometer and they are parallel. The negative terminals united together and the positive terminals are connected as well.

If the electric capacity of both cells is equal, there will be no current circulation in the circuit. Thus, the galvanometer will provision a null deflection. The working principle of the device is dependent upon this concept.

Further Explanation

Let’s imagine another circuit, in which the battery connects through the resistor via a rheostat and a switch. The resistor has an electrical resistance that is consistent per unit length across the entire size. 

Thus, the voltage drop per unit length would be equal to its length. By adjusting the rheostat, you would get an x-volt voltage drop of a certain number appearing per each unit length.

Now, the positive connection point of the cell connects to point 1 on the resistor. But the negative connection point of the same point is joined with a galvanometer. 

The other end of it would be in contact with the resistor via the contact. By adjusting the slider (linear sensor), a point like 2 would be found in which there is no current. Thus, no deflection in the galvanometer. 

EMF of the standard cell is subject to balance via the voltage that is consistent across points 1 and 2. Now if the distance between points 1 and 2 is Z, then the EMF of the cell is E = Zx volt.

This is how the potentiometer measures the voltage between points without taking a component current from the circuit. This is the specialty of the device, it allows voltage measurement to be accurate.

Digital Potentiometers

A digital potentiometer is also a 3 terminal device, two of which do not move and one wipers through which varies the voltage.

Digital devices help calibrate systems, tune filters, adjust offset voltage, control sound volume, and control screen brightness.

Mechanical potentiometers will suffer from serious disadvantages which would make them unusable for some applications in which precision is necessary. Wiper contamination, size, resistance drift, mechanical wear, humidity, and sensitivity to vibration can all be present.

Hence to overcome these issues, digital potentiometers can deliver greater accuracy. So you might think linear potentiometers are an exception. But digital potentiometers can have a linear configuration.

Potentiometers Potentiated

Now that you know what a linear potentiometer is, as well as how it operates, you are well on your way to outshine the unknowing with your newfound knowledge. In any case, a potentiometer can be found in practically all modern devices, so it’s good that you know what you’re using.

If you’re interested in similar content, feel free to check out the rest of the articles on the sidebar or click on the filter category applied to this blog.

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