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Voltage Divider With a Potentiometer

In actual practice, use is mainly made of a continuously adjustable voltage divider in the form of a so-called potentiometer. This device has three connections, one of them is a variable sliding contact permitting the potentiometer's total resistance to be divided into two partial resistances R1 and R2. As a result, the output voltage U2 present across the potentiometer's sliding contact can be divided at any point between the full value U (i.e. the value applied to the potentiometer's outer terminals) and zero. The diagrams below illustrate the principle of a potentiometer (left) and its circuit symbol (right).

Voltage Dividers !

Potentiometers are available in a variety of designs such as rotary and sliding formats.  These two designs are illustrated below (left: rotary potentiometer; right: sliding potentiometer).

Voltage Dividers !
The interactive animation below shows a potentiometer whose voltage supply and total resistance are adjustable. The sliding control on the right is used to vary the tapping point for the output voltage U2. Move the tap and observe the resulting effects on the partial resistances and output voltage.

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