Along with the digital pins, the Arduino also has 6 pins which can be used for analog input. These inputs take a voltage (from 0 to 5 volts) and convert it to a digital number between 0 (0 volts) and 1024 (5 volts) (10 bits of resolution). A very useful device that exploits these inputs is a potentiometer (also called a variable resistor). When it is connected with 5 volts across its outer pins the middle pin will read some value between 0 and 5 volts dependent on the angle to which it is turned (ie. 2.5 volts in the middle). We can then use the returned values as a variable in our program.


  • 2 pin header x 4
  • Potentiometer 10k ohm
  • 5mm LED
  • 330 ohm resistor (orange-orange-brown)
  • jumper wires

Circuit Layout

Circuit Layout

Circuit Assembly

Assembly Diagram

Assembly video:


You can find this code in code/CIRC-08-code-pot.js

var five = require("johnny-five"),
    board, myPotentiometer;
board = new five.Board();
board.on("ready", function() {
  myPotentiometer = new five.Sensor({
    pin: "A0",
    freq: 250
  myLed = new five.Led(9);
  myPotentiometer.on("read", function() {
    var rawValue = this.raw;
    myLed.brightness(Math.floor(rawValue / 4));


Sporadically Working

This is most likely due to a slightly dodgy connection with the potentiometer's pins. This can usually be conquered by taping the potentiometer down.

Not Working

Make sure you haven't accidentally connected the potentiometer's wiper to digital pin 2 rather than analog pin 2 (the row of pins beneath the power pins)

Still Backward

You can try operating the circuit upside down. Sometimes this helps.

Extending the Code

Threshold switching

Sometimes you will want to switch an output when a value exceeds a certain threshold. To do this with a potentiometer, add a variable for the threshold value to your program (e.g. var threshold = 512;) and change the code in the "data" handler to:

if (this.raw > threshold) {
} else {;   

Alternatively, Johnny-Five Sensor objects can have a boolean threshold assigned to them, like this:

myPotentiometer.booleanAt(512).on("data", function() {
  if (this.boolean) {
  } else {;   

Controlling a servo:

This is a really neat example and brings a couple of circuits together. Wire up the servo like you did in Exercise 4, then modify the "read" handler to set the position of the servo using servo.move(someValue). You can use the map function to map a number from one range to another.e.g., 0, 1023, 0, 179) to map the value from the potentiometer to an angle between 0 and 180 for the servo.

Run your program and then watch as the servo shaft turns as you turn the potentiometer.


For more details on this circuit, see