Trimpot – Trimmer potentiometer – Voltage divider – Variable resistor

Trimmer potentiometers (trimpots) are a resistance based, three terminal component that can be used as a variable resistor or voltage divider. The most common ones can be plugged directly into an electronics prototype breadboard. Some are a tight fit though and may damage the slots that hey are inserted into. I generally devote certain breadboard slots to the trimpot in those cases.

Simple trimmer potentiometer trimpot component as voltage divider circuit fragment diagram by electronzap electronzapdotom
Simple trimmer potentiometer trimpot component as voltage divider circuit fragment diagram by electronzap electronzapdotom

Diagram

Beginner electronics variable resistor component basics by electronzap electronzapdotcom
Beginner electronics variable resistor component basics by electronzap electronzapdotcom

Basic trimpot (trimmer potentiometer) properties

  • 3 terminals: 2 of the terminals, usually the ones on opposing sides of the component, are connected to the ends of a resistive element. The third terminal is connected to a wiper that slides anywhere along the resistive element. A rotatable knob or screwdriver slot is usually how the wiper position is adjusted.
  • Variable resistor: When only one side of the resistive element and the wiper are connect to a circuit, a resistance will be provided based on how far the wiper is positioned from the connected resistive end.

Instead of leaving the unused terminal of the resistive element end floating, it can be connected directly to the wiper. The wiper output will ignore this connection unless the wiper loses connection to the resistive element. If that happens, then the full resistance will be delivered to the output.

  • Voltage divider: When both ends of the trimpot resistive element terminals are connected to a voltage, then the wiper will output a fraction of that voltage based on the position of the trimpot wiper. The trimpot is commonly connected across the power supply, and the output voltage is usually in relationship to 0V ground.

Video

Trimpot trimmer potentiometer variable resistor voltage divider electronics component explained

 

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555 timer is an integrated circuit (IC). Being an IC, it has complex circuitry combined in a single package with external pins/terminals to connect to other circuitry. You can easily make all kinds of fun circuits with just a 555 timer and the components covered above, so I think it’s a good component to learn next.

Transistors will probably be the most challenging components to learn. Understanding them will help you understand all of electronics much better, and help you the most in being creative while designing your own circuits.

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