Are Rotary Encoders Digital Potentiometers ?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by monster_catfish, Mar 26, 2011.

  1. monster_catfish

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Mar 17, 2011
    Not being familiar with the function of rotary encoders, am I right in assuming they are essentially potentiometers with digital rather than analog outputs ?

    I ask because I was wondering if a rotary encoder would generate a more precise and consistent output than a regular potentiometer.
    I did a Wikipedia search, but got bogged down in the sheer wealth of performance criteria offered there.

    For the proposed construction of my flight-sim twin-engine throttle quadrant, I am trying to decide whether I would get better performance if rotary encoders, rather than regular pots, are used for reading the position of the flaps and speed brake levers, both of which have several detents at fixed positions along their axis of travel.

    Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks
  2. bertus


    Apr 5, 2008
  3. monster_catfish

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Mar 17, 2011
    Thanks Bertus. Checking that now.

    Looking at your thoughts on asking questions, I don't feel so bad having asked such a basic one in this instance.
  4. SgtWookie


    Jul 17, 2007
    One of the things you might run into on your exploration is Hall-effect rotary position sensors. These are quite interesting, as you can get very good resolution even over a narrow rotational range.

    Just for an example, have a look at this PDF: Export/S...480/PDF/Honeywell_HallEffect.pdf?redirected=1

    Here's a press release from Vishay:

    These Hall-effect rotary encoders act more or less like pots, but are available in smaller ranges of travel than pots are - and last far, far longer.
  5. GetDeviceInfo

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jun 7, 2009
    Although encoders in themselves are not potentiometers, they are often configured with supportive logic to perform the task of a digital pot. The real advantage is to remove the mechanics, which is typically the demise of most pots.