Hall effect sensors vs. potentiometers: understanding joystick displacement technologies 

For these demanding applications, there are two different technologies being used to measure displacement of joysticks. The first uses potentiometers, variable resistors that create a voltage change in response to movement. Potentiometers represent a tried and trusted technology that has been used for many years in a wide range of controls. However, potentiometers are electromechanical devices that can wear out.  

How does a Hall effect sensor work? 

The alternative is to use sensors that employ the Hall effect. It continuously measures a magnet’s magnetic field to determine its position and therefore its movements. The strength of the change is proportional to the movement of the magnet, making it an ideal solution to deliver the precision that industrial joysticks require. In addition to the accuracy that Hall effect sensors provide, they are also contactless devices, which means that there are fewer moving parts to wear out. Joysticks utilizing this technology have a long life expectancy, often in excess of over 10 million cycles, and are therefore ideal for repetitive industrial applications. 

Hall-effect sensors’ main advantages include resistance to shock and vibration 

Another advantage of the contactless construction of the Hall effect sensor is that it is more resistant to shock and vibration, making this technology invaluable in high-vibration applications such as industrial vehicles and heavy machinery. Their construction is also low-profile and does not need the depth behind the panel that a conventional potentiometer joystick requires, a significant advantage in today’s cramped vehicle cabs.  

Discover APEM’s range of Hall effect joysticks