Slide potentiometers

Slide potentiometers are set instead of the well-known rotary potentiometers via touch or a slider.
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The 3 most popular Slide potentiometers

What is a potentiometer?

A potentiometer, also known as a "pot" is a type of variable resistor that is commonly used to adjust the level of electrical signal in a circuit. Potentiometers are versatile components that can be used in a wide variety of applications, including audio equipment, automotive systems, and industrial control systems.

One of the main advantages of using a potentiometer is its ability to adjust the level of electrical signal in a circuit. For example, in an audio system, a potentiometer can be used to adjust the volume level. By turning the knob of the potentiometer, the resistance between the terminals changes, which results in a different level of signal being sent to the amplifier.

Potentiometers can also be used as sensors in a variety of applications. For example, in robotics, a potentiometer can be used as a position sensor to determine the position of a robotic arm. In other applications, such as strain gauges, potentiometers can be used to measure physical forces or displacements.

There are different types of potentiometers, based on their constructions and characteristics, such as linear potentiometer, logarithmic potentiometer, and digital potentiometer. They have different resistive element, and provide different electrical characteristic, like resistance range, tolerance, etc. It's important to choose the right one based on the specific requirements of your application.

How does a potentiometer work?

A potentiometer consists of a resistive element, a wiper, and two terminals.

The resistive element is typically made of carbon or cermet and is in the form of a strip or track. The strip or track has a resistance value, for example 10K Ohms. The wiper is a moving contact that can be adjusted along the track to change the resistance between the two terminals.

When the wiper is set to the one end of the track, it will make contact with one of the terminals, this is known as the "low end" terminal, and the resistance between it and the other terminal, the "high end" terminal, is at its minimum. When the wiper is set to the other end of the track, it will make contact with the other terminal, and the resistance between the low end and the high end terminal will be at its maximum.

When you adjust the position of the wiper, it changes the resistance between the low end and the middle terminals, which in turn changes the amount of current flowing through the circuit.

How to connect a potentiometer?

There are several ways to connect a potentiometer in a circuit, and the specific method will depend on the type of circuit and the desired application.

Here are some common ways to connect a potentiometer:

  1. Voltage divider: A potentiometer can be connected as a voltage divider, which allows you to adjust the voltage level in a circuit. In this configuration, one end of the potentiometer is connected to a voltage source, the middle terminal is connected to the circuit, and the other end of the potentiometer is connected to ground. This way, the voltage at the middle terminal can be adjusted by rotating the potentiometer knob.
  2. Current control: Potentiometer can also be connected in series with a load, in this way, the potentiometer can be used to adjust the current flowing through the load.
  3. Feedback control: Potentiometer can be used as a feedback element to control the gain of an operational amplifier circuit or the angle of a servo motor.
  4. Digital interface: Digital potentiometer can be controlled via a digital interface, such as I2C, SPI, or UART, which allows you to adjust the resistance digitally, this way they can be used in microcontroller based systems.

It's important to note that the specific way to connect a potentiometer will depend on the desired application and the circuit requirements. It is crucial to consult the potentiometer data sheet and the specific circuit design to ensure that the potentiometer is connected correctly and will work properly. In addition, when installing the potentiometer, make sure that the wiring is correct and secure, and that the potentiometer is properly supported and grounded.

What should I pay attention to when installing a potentiometer?

When installing a potentiometer, there are several things you should check to ensure that it is working properly and will provide the desired performance in your circuit:

  1. Verify that the potentiometer has the correct resistance value for your application. Different applications require different resistance values, so it's important to choose the right one.
  2. Check that the potentiometer is properly connected in your circuit. Different configurations are possible depending on the application.
  3. Check the insulation resistance of the potentiometer, this is essential in some high voltage or high current applications.
  4. Check the current rating of the potentiometer, it should be able to handle the current that flows through it, based on the specific application.
  5. Make sure that the potentiometer has the appropriate mechanical and environmental specifications for your application. It should be able to withstand the temperature, humidity, and other environmental factors of your application.

There are different things to check for specific types of potentiometers:

  1. For rotary potentiometers; check that the potentiometer's shaft is properly supported and can rotate freely. If the shaft is not supported or is stiff, it may not be able to rotate properly and will not adjust the resistance in the desired manner.
  2. If you are using a digital potentiometer, check that the digital interface and control protocol is compatible with your microcontroller or other controller.

It's important to note that installing a potentiometer is a simple task but it's crucial to check all of the above before installing it, to ensure that the potentiometer will work properly and meet the requirements of your application.

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