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500K Preset (pack of 5) £1.04

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Preset Resistor trim pot 500K

A potentiometer, informally a pot, is a three-terminal resistor with a sliding or rotating contact that forms an adjustable voltage divider. If only two terminals are used, one end and the wiper, it acts as a variable resistor or rheostat.

The measuring instrument called a potentiometer is essentially a voltage divider used for measuring electric potential (voltage); the component is an implementation of the same principle, hence its name.

Potentiometers are commonly used to control electrical devices such as volume controls on audio equipment. Potentiometers operated by a mechanism can be used as position transducers, for example, in a joystick. Potentiometers are rarely used to directly control significant power (more than a watt), since the power dissipated in the potentiometer would be comparable to the power in the controlled load.

Tech Tin Files: The Different Types of Resistor

  • All modern fixed value resistors can be classified into four broad groups;
    • Carbon Composition Resistor - Made of carbon dust or graphite paste, low wattage values
    • Film or Cermet Resistor - Made from conductive metal oxide paste, very low wattage values
    • Wire-wound Resistor - Metallic bodies for heatsink mounting, very high wattage ratings
    • Semiconductor Resistor - High frequency/precision surface mount thin film technology
  • Carbon Resistors are the most common type of Composition Resistors. Carbon resistors are a cheap general purpose resistor used in electrical and electronic circuits. Their resistive element is manufactured from a mixture of finely ground carbon dust or graphite (similar to pencil lead) and a non-conducting ceramic (clay) powder to bind it all together. The Carbon Composite Resistor is a low to medium type power resistor which has a low inductance making them ideal for high frequency applications but they can also suffer from noise and stability when hot.
  • The generic term "Film Resistor" consist of Metal Film, Carbon Film and Metal Oxide Film resistor types, which are generally made by depositing pure metals, such as nickel, or an oxide film, such as tin-oxide, onto an insulating ceramic rod or substrate. The resistive value of the resistor is controlled by increasing the desired thickness of the deposited film giving them the names of either "thick-film resistors" or "thin-film resistors". Their method of manufacture allows for much closer tolerance resistors (1% or less) as compared to the simpler carbon composition types. Metal Film Resistors have much better temperature stability than their carbon equivalents, lower noise and are generally better for high frequency or radio frequency applications. Metal Oxide Resistors have better high surge current capability with a much higher temperature rating than the equivalent metal film resistors.
  • Another type of resistor, called a Wirewound Resistor, is made by winding a thin metal alloy wire (Nichrome) or similar wire onto an insulating ceramic former in the form of a spiral helix similar to the film resistor above. These types of resistor are generally only available in very low ohmic high precision values (from 0.01 to 100k) due to the gauge of the wire and number of turns possible on the former making them ideal for use in measuring circuits and Whetstone bridge type applications. They are also able to handle much higher electrical currents than other resistors of the same ohmic value with power ratings in excess of 300 Watts. These high power resistors are moulded or pressed into an aluminium heat sink body with fins attached to increase their overall surface area to promote heat loss and cooling. Because the wire of standard wire wound resistors is wound into a coil inside the resistors body, it acts like an inductor causing them to have inductance as well as resistance. This affects the way the resistor behaves in AC circuits by producing a phase shift at high frequencies especially in the larger size resistors.