An Overview of Linear Potentiomer Position Sensor Technology

Linear Potentiometer Sensors are a simple yet effective choice for position sensing applications.

The primary sensing components of a linear potentiometer are a flat resistive element and a sliding contact (wiper). Linear Potentiometer resistive elements are often made of graphite, resistance wire, or conductive plastic (carbon particles in plastic).  Wipers are often made from a metal alloy which provides its own spring force against the resistive element.  They are usually multi-fingered to decrease contact resistance against the resistive element. 

Click to See Most Commonly Used Linear Potentiometer Sensors

The circuit is essentially a voltage divider; as the wiper moves along the element, it provides an output voltage proportional to displacement.  If wired as a voltage divider, the full scale output voltage is near 0 to 100% of the excitation voltage.  For example, an excitation voltage of 5 VDC would produce an output of near 0 to 5 VDC.  Or an excitation voltage of 10 VDC would produce an output of near 0 to 10 VDC.


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