Potentiometers (variable resistors) are probably the most common and cheap position encoder; commonly used in RC Servos. The resistor is connected between power and ground, and the wiper then produces a voltage related to the position. Advantages: Cheap, fast, small. Disadvantages: Low accuracy, short life, intermittant operation (especially when grit, grime, or wear damages the resistive surface).
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<A HREF="http://techref.massmind.org/techref/io/sensor/pos/encoders.htm"> Shaft / Slide Position Encoders</A>
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