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1) Variable Resistance Sensor

? Potentiometer is electrical devices which is a form of Variable resistance.

? The potation meter consists of a sliding contact, which moves over the length
of a resistance element. This sliding contact connects to a plunger, which
links to the objects to a plunger, which links to the object whose
displacement is to be measured.
? The following figure shown a typical layout of a linear Potentiometer.

? There are several designs of sliding contact (sometimes called wipers),

depending on their application.
? Sliding contacts are often made up of alloys. This is because copper alloys
have elastic properties so can be formed to maintain good electrical contact
with the resistance element. They are also good electrical conductors.
? Resistance elements are commonly made up of thinker or platinum wire
wound around a former made of insulating material.
? Resistance elements may also be made up of films of carbon, metal or
conductive plastics to improve resolution.
? Potentiometers suffer from some non-linearity of the former, which affects
the accuracy of the results. The sliding contacts and the resistance elements
are after prone to wear, which adversely affects their performance.
? Linear potentiometers are often used where an electrical signal relating to
displacement is required, but where costs should be kept low and high
accuracy is not paramount.
? There are several different types of potentiometers from liner potentiometers,
which have different output characteristics, these include
1. Wire wound potentiometers
2. The logarithmic potentiometer
3. The sine or cosine potentiometers
4. The Rotary potentiometer
? Potentiometers are designed on the basic of power rating which is related directly to
their heat dissipating capacity. The maximum input voltage is limited on account of
potentiometer heat dissipating capacity. The maximum input voltage is limited on
account of potentiometer heat dissipating capacity and is give by
Vimax = PRt
where R t = Total Resistance of the pot
P= Power rating of a resistor ( P= 5W at 200 c)

E507 – Instrumentation Engineering 1

Ato Sintayehu Challa
Linear potentiometers are used in a variety of applications,
Important Parameter of Potentiometer 1. Sensitivity of Potentiometer
S? i
2. The Output Voltage of the
Vi L x
V0 ? Vi
x VO L
3. The value of displacement x
Example 1 S
The use of variable voltage for instrumentation signals seems a rather obvious option to explore.
Let's see how a voltage signal instrument might be used to measure and relay information about
water tank level.

? The "transmitter" in this diagram contains its own precision regulated source of
voltage, and the potentiometer setting is varied by the motion of a float inside the
water tank following the water level. The "indicator" is nothing more than a
voltmeter with a scale calibrated to read in some unit height of water (inches,
feet, meters) instead of volts.
? As the water tank level changes, the float will move. As the float moves, the
potentiometer wiper will correspondingly be moved, dividing a different
proportion of the battery voltage to go across the two-conductor cable and on to
the level indicator. As a result, the voltage received by the indicator will be
representative of the level of water in the storage tank.
? This elementary transmitter/indicator system is reliable and easy to understand,
but it has its limitations. Perhaps greatest is the fact that the system accuracy can
be influenced by excessive cable resistance.

Exercise on Potentiometer
1. Consider the Linear displacement Circuit. The input voltage is 5-volt the output
voltage is 2.5-volt. The total resistance element length is 100mm. The Linear
displacement of an object causes the sliding contact to move such that the output
voltage 2.65-volt. Determine the displacement of the object and the direction to
which it moves.

E507 – Instrumentation Engineering 2

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2. A linear resistance potentiometer is 50mm long and is uniformly wound with a
wire of total resistance of 5kohm under normal conditions, the slider at the
center of the potentiometer, Determine
a) The linear displacement when the resistance of the potentiometer as
measured by the Bridge is 1.85kohm.
b) The Resolution of the potentiometer in mm, the minimum measurable
value is 5 ohm

E507 – Instrumentation Engineering 3

Ato Sintayehu Challa