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How Potentiometers Are Used In Marine Steering Systems?

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  • How Potentiometers Are Used In Marine Steering Systems?
  • February 15, 2019

How Potentiometers Are Used In Marine Steering Systems?

A potentiometer is a variable sensor used to create an analogue signal to a control mechanism or a processor. It’s used as a feedback device or even as a command device. In marine steering systems, a potentiometer is used to help position the rudder at the desired angle.

In this article, we will explore how a potentiometer is used to achieve this.

The Command Signal

In a marine steering system, the potentiometer is housed in the wheelhouse. The wheelhouse contains either a wheel or a lever and this is where a potentiometer is found. This is referred to as the Command signal.

The Feedback Signal A ship’s rudder positioning system helps in positioning the rudder at an angle according to the signal received by the unit. The mechanical steering system of a ship contains a device that identifies the exact position of the rudder at any point in time. This is known as the Rudder Feedback Unit. Let’s refer to this as the Feedback signal.

The Rudder Order

The Rudder Order is the desired position of the rudder – the location you want the rudder to be placed at. The processor that controls the steering system makes use of the Command signal as the Rudder Order.

The Signal Value

The Command potentiometer, as well as the Feedback potentiometer, will make use of a fixed Voltage anywhere in the range of the + and – terminals. They will then produce a variable voltage, which is the signal value.

The Mechanism

When the captain moves the wheel or the lever, the Command potentiometer sends a particular voltage value to the processor to indicate the rudder angle that’s desired. The processor will now convert this Command into a degree angle. This will help drive the steering rudder to the desired position. For instance, 12 Degrees to Starboard (in other words, the right side of the ship).

The Feedback potentiometer will identify the position of the rudder in similar voltage value as used by the Command. The processor will now identify the direction the rudder should move in, and begins to move the rudder until it reaches the desired position. In this example, the desired position is 12 Degrees to Starboard.

So as we can see from this explanation, a potentiometer helps in moving a ship’s rudder to the desired position. It begins by identifying the rudder’s current position and then identifies the rudder’s desired position – in a voltage value.

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