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mechanically-adjustable special-type variable resistor with 3 legs and it is used as a potential-divider. (It is not a meter at-all, but got the name from its historical ancestor which was a meter.)

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I've seen that a number of schematics will connect the center (common) pin of a potentiometer to one or the other leg, and it then functions more like a rheostat. Is that how a rheostat is wired … internally? What's the difference between a potentiometer and a rheostat? Finally, why connect the common to a leg at all on a potentiometer, instead of just ignoring the unused leg? …
asked Mar 4 '11 by JYelton