Hand Grip Joysticks – What is a Digital Potentiometer?

Hand grip joysticks rely on a sensor to convert analog input into digital signals. The most common types of sensors used in joysticks are traditional potentiometers and hall effect potentiometers. The two have been around for quite some time. However, the industry is being reshaped by digital potentiometers. What are they?

What is a digital potentiometer?

A digital potentiometer is also referred to as a digital resistor. It has the same function as a normal potentiometer but it doesn’t use a mechanical action. It uses digital signals and switches. This is achieved using a resistor ladder (a string of tiny resistors arranged in series). At every stage of the resistor ladder, there is an electronic switch. Only one switch is closed at any given time. The closed switch is what determines the position of the ‘wiper’ as well as the resistance ratio.

The number of steps is what determines the resolution of a digital pot. Therefore, when buying hand grip joysticks with a digital potentiometer, you should stick with those with more steps.

Simply put, a digital potentiometer is an integrated circuit. Some variants have nonvolatile memory which means they can remember the potentiometer resistance setting. Although the handgrip joystick will not have onboard memory, the initial position of the wiper is considered the middle or neutral position.

Why go for the digital potentiometer?

The main reason you should opt for the digital potentiometer is they are relatively small. This is more so when they are compared to the conventional potentiometers. The small size is thanks to the fact that multiple potentiometers to be packed within a single chip. You will be able to find joysticks with digital potentiometers with up to 6 channels.

Where are they used?

Desktop controllers using digital potentiometers have many applications. They are used in any application where a preset-resistor or trimming potentiometer is used. The best thing is these joysticks can be controlled in an automated closed loop.

While the digital potentiometer is a great sensor for hand grip joysticks, it has one major drawback. The drawback is most of these sensors are rated at 5V. This is the amount of power needed to power the logic circuits. Consequently, these sensors may not be a viable replacement for conventional potentiometers.

It is always good to keep up with new technologies. However, before embracing them, you need to learn about their pros and cons. Moreover, you should not buy just any hand grip joystick that uses the latest technology. Always buy joysticks from reputable manufacturers.

Hand Grip Joysticks