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These electromechanical components are classed as adjustable resistors. They consist of at least two contacts, one resistor and one wiper contact. The resistance value can be adjusted steplessly by the position of the wiper contact on the resistor. Because of the adjustment facility, potentiometers are used for instance as frequency controllers in broadcasting equipment. They differ principally in devices such as trimmer potentiometers, which are adjusted only infrequently, and others which are used in applications that demand frequent adjustment. Devices such as for instance wire and helicoidal potentiometers belong to the second group.

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