Common Questions About ALPS Potentiometers

If you need to find the right potentiometer for a repair or electronics project, ALPS potentiometers may fit your needs. They are available on eBay in a variety of sizes and electrical specifications to meet the requirements for their common use as controls for electronic devices or custom settings for industrial equipment.

What are potentiometers?

Potentiometers are also called variable resistors because they adjust the amount of resistance that's applied to a current flowing through them. This has the effect of increasing or decreasing the voltage that leaves the potentiometer as it's being measured. They are commonly used as frequency dials or volume controls because they allow a user to choose a specific setting within a large range. These devices come in several formats, but they are all comprised of a combination of highly conductive and resistant materials.

What kinds of potentiometers are there?

Potentiometers come in a few different formats to consider when designing the controls for an electronic device.

  • Rotary: These are adjusted with a rotating shaft. A groove is often cut into the shaft that allows it to be turned with a flat screwdriver, and many are designed to have a knob installed onto them, so they can be turned by hand.
  • Slider: These come with a lever than moves back and forth along a straight slide to adjust their setting. They take up more horizontal space than rotary potentiometers but offer greater precision and fit into low-profile spaces.
  • Linear taper: Linear potentiometers adjust their resistance at a constant rate, such that half the range is traversed by moving its control half the distance that it moves.
  • Logarithmic: These potentiometers are designed to compress a large range of settings into a shorter distance as you adjust them. The result is faster travel from minimum to maximum values at the cost of less precision.
What are the features to look for when comparing potentiometers?
  • Rotary versus slider: A slider-style potentiometer can give you a greater range of motion than a rotary control, but rotary potentiometers are more user-friendly.
  • Exterior versus interior: Potentiometers can be used as internal settings that are used by technicians or external controls used by end users. If it will be an external control, make sure the potentiometer you choose is designed to fit a knob or lever.
  • Maximum resistance: This is the upper limit of the range that the potentiometer can accommodate. A larger maximum resistance yields greater precision for the user.
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