The market is filled with all manner of fingertip joysticks. It is easy to find the joystick that serves the purpose you need it for. However, one of the hardest decisions to make is on the type of sensor. There are three main types of sensors used in joysticks. In this post, we will be looking at each of these sensors so that you have the information you need to make an informed choice.
Traditional Precision Potentiometers
These sensors have been around since the birth of the joysticks. They have conductive plastic or wire-wound precision potentiometers with a fixed measuring angle. The conductive plastic potentiometer elements are usually printed from a pattern mold. For every angle, a specific pattern mold is needed. With the wire-wound potentiometers, a mandrel is normally used for the windings to a specific angle. The most economical and abundant potentiometers are those with angles measuring 27, 300, 320, and 340 degrees. If you order fingertip joysticks with a 75-degree measuring angle, you may end up spending 3 times the cost and wait for 8 to 10 weeks for the joystick to be delivered.
Hall Effect Potentiometers
This is a contactless magnetic rotary sensor. It is increasingly being used in place of the traditional precision potentiometers. Unlike the precision potentiometers that rely on hardware, the hall effect potentiometer relies on software. The software works with a modern semiconductor and integrated RISC processors for a range of standard and customized output signals. With the hall effect potentiometers, you will be able to cover multiple positions and convert any rotary movement into an electrical signal. Regardless of your selected angle, the factory settings of the measuring angle are always the same. No machine reconfigurations or molds are required in making this sensor.
The digitally programmable potentiometer is a newer entry. It serves the same function as the precision potentiometer only that it doesn’t rely on a mechanical action. The sensor uses digital signals and switches. This is achieved by having a string of resistors that are arranged in series and separated by switches. The sensors are positioned in a chip. This means the sensor is better protected from such external interferences as vibrations and magnetic fields. It is also more compact which means the fingertip joystick can be even smaller.
Deciding on the sensor to settle for is not easy. The best thing you can do, however, is to think about where you will be using the joystick and stick with reputable manufacturers and distributors.