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    A potentiometer, also known as a "pot," is a three-terminal resistor with a sliding or rotating contact that forms an adjustable voltage divider. This component is commonly used to control electrical devices such as volume controls on audio equipment.

    Potentiometers have two terminals that are fixed to a resistive element (the track). The resistive element is typically wirewound or made from carbon, cermet or conductive plastic. The third terminal is connected to the wiper, which is a sliding contact. As the wiper moves along the track, the resistance changes and the current flowing through the circuit changes.

    A potentiometer is a variable resistor. Potentiometers enable you to regulate and change the current flowing through a circuit. Potentiometers can also be called potmeters. You can learn more in our complete guide to potentiometers.

    Types of potentiometer

    Potentiometers come in various types to cater to the diverse needs and applications. The choice of potentiometer depends on the specific requirements of the task at hand, such as the range of motion, precision, durability, and form factor. Different types of potentiometers, such as adjustable, digital, rotary, and motorised potentiometers) are designed to provide optimal performance in specific use cases, ranging from simple volume controls to precise position sensing in industrial equipment.

    Rotary potentiometers

    Rotary potentiometers are easily controlled by turning a spindle or a knob. Rotary potentiometers can be single turn or multiturn.

    Slide potentiometers

    Slide potentiometers are also known as slider potentiometers or fader potentiometers. To use a slide potentiometer, it's simply a case of sliding a fader along a straight track to change the resistance.

    Trimmer potentiometers

    Trimmer potentiometers, sometimes called trimpots, are used to calibrate and fine-tune circuits and can be mounted straight onto a PCB (printed circuit board). Trimmer potentiometers are easy to adjust with a screwdriver.

    String potentiometers

    String potentiometers (or string pots) take movement and transform it into an electrical signal.

    Membrane potentiometers

    Membrane potentiometers are completely flat. Membrane potentiometers change their resistance when pressure is applied to the membrane.

    Do I need a potentiometer with a linear or logarithmic taper?

    The taper you need for your potentiometer depends on the intended application.

    For potentiometers with a linear taper, the resistance between one end of the track and the wiper varies at a constant rate. If you turn the potentiometer halfway or slide the fader halfway along the track, the resistance will be half of the total resistance. Linear taper potentiometers are typically used in applications such as light dimmer switches.

    For logarithmic taper potentiometers, the resistance does not vary at a constant rate. The level of resistance moves exponentially up or down. A potentiometer that has been turned or moved halfway along its track, will not produce resistance that is half the total resistance. Logarithmic potentiometers are commonly used for audio applications.

    What is the difference between a potentiometer and a rheostat?

    The key difference is the number of terminals that each device has. Potentiometers have three terminals while rheostats only have two terminals.

    Potentiometer peripherals and accessories

    Potentiometers are versatile components used in electronics for controlling variables like volume, brightness, and speed. To enhance their functionality and usability, various accessories are available, including potentiometer knobs, potentiometer accessories, and potentiometer mounting nuts.

    • Potentiometer Knobs

    Potentiometer knobs enhance adjustment ease and come in various shapes and materials. They offer ergonomic designs for comfortable handling and can feature indicators for precise adjustments, making them ideal for audio equipment, instrumentation, and control panels.

    Accessories like shaft adapters, pointer knobs, and dust caps customise potentiometers for specific needs. They ensure protection against environmental factors, prolonging potentiometer life in various conditions, whether for DIY projects or industrial installations.

    • Potentiometer Mounting Nuts

    Mounting nuts secure potentiometers to panels or circuit boards. They come in various sizes and materials, ensuring a stable installation. Some feature locking mechanisms or flanges for added reliability in demanding applications.

    Industrial Applications of Potentiometers

    Potentiometers find extensive use across various industrial applications for offering precise control and measurement capabilities. In industries such as automotive manufacturing, aerospace engineering, and robotics, potentiometers serve critical functions. For instance, in automotive assembly lines, 3-turn potentiometers play a pivotal role in controlling robotic arm movements with enhanced accuracy and repeatability. In aerospace applications, 2-gang potentiometers are utilised for controlling flight instrumentation, providing redundancy and reliability in critical systems.

    Moreover, wire wound potentiometers are used for their durability and high-precision features, making them suitable for industrial machinery and process control systems. Our potentiometers not only enhance efficiency across diverse applications but also prioritise machine safety, which in turn ensures your employees’ protection.

    Buying Potentiometers: Ordering & Delivery Information for Australia

    RS is a trusted supplier and distributor of potentiometers in Australia, offering a wide range of products from renowned brands such as RS PRO, Alps Alpine, Bourns, TE Connectivity, Vishay, and more. With a commitment to quality and reliability, RS provides customers with access to a comprehensive selection of potentiometers suitable for various industrial applications.

    To order potentiometer:

    Ready to order potentiometers and other construction must-haves such as coaxial cables, clamp metres, and junction boxes? You can easily order through the RS website or by contacting us directly via telephone, email, or fax.

    Delivery Details:

    For items stocked locally in Australia, place your order before 5 pm AEST Monday to Friday for next working day delivery. Some regional areas may require additional time for delivery.

    Orders placed after 5 pm on Friday will be processed for delivery on Tuesday.

    Global Stock and Extended Range Products typically arrive within 5-10 working days.

    Know what we can do for you by visiting our services page. For more inquiries or concerns, please contact Customer Service or visit our Delivery page

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