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Incremental Rotary Encoders

Clive "Max" Maxfield

Incremental Rotary Encoders
Clive "Max" Maxfield

Incremental rotary encoders are either something you know about, or you don’t. This is, of course, true of everything, but more-so in the case of these little scamps.

Most people come into contact with these rotary encoding rascals many times each day without even realizing it or thinking about it. Not-so-long ago, for example, the volume control on your car radio was implemented using a potentiometer. This had a smooth motion and a limited rotational range of say 270 degrees. Today, this function will almost invariably have been replaced with an incremental rotary encoder that has a tactile “click-click-click” feel as it turns, and that has no limit on how far you can rotate it clockwise or widdershins.

The cheap-and-cheerful versions of these devices, which are proliferating everywhere, are mechanical in nature. Although conceptually simple, their internal mechanisms vary wildly, while their switch bounce characteristics can make your eyes water.

In this MicroTalk, we will take a short, sharp plunge into the world of incremental rotary encoders, answering all the questions you never even thought to ask.

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No comments or questions yet. Will you be the one who will break the ice?