A potentiometer or pot is an analog sensor that tracks angular position. The angular position is measured by turning a shaft at the center of the sensor which acts as a resistor. Turning the center shaft will change the voltage going through the sensor, effectively turning it into a variable voltage divider. The microcontroller then measures the voltage to determine angular position. Potentiometers are commonly used for determining the angular position of mechanisms with limited rotation, such as lifts and claws.
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As potentiometers have a 250 degree range of rotation, they are used in mechanisms that have limited rotation. Pots are generally seen attached to a robot’s lift tower or the base of a claw and serve to track the positions of the lift and claw respectively. This allows programmers to regulate said position during autonomous as well as driver control. Some teams have also made use of the way pots track angular position to make an autonomous selector from the sensor 1)
Due to its limited range in motion and the amount of space one takes, it is highly advised to include the potentiometer in the robot design ahead of time and to mark the stops where the sensor’s maximum and minimum values are. Potentiometers use the axle attached to the rotating mechanism, or the output axle, to rotate a white shaft located at the center of the pot. The housing itself is secured to the axle supports, not on the rotating mechanism.