A Hall effect sensor is a transducer that varies its output voltage in response to a magnetic field. Hall effect sensors are used for proximity switching, positioning, speed detection, and current sensing applications.
In its simplest form, the sensor operates as an analog transducer, directly returning a voltage. With a known magnetic field, its distance from the Hall plate can be determined. Using groups of sensors, the relative position of the magnet can be deduced.
Frequently, a Hall sensor is combined with circuitry that allows the device to act in a digital (on/off) mode, and may be called a switch in this configuration. Commonly seen in industrial applications such as the pictured pneumatic cylinder, they are also used in consumer equipment; for example some computer printers use them to detect missing paper and open covers. When high reliability is required, they are used in keyboards.
A wheel containing two
magnets passing by a Hall effect sensor
Hall sensors are commonly used to time the speed of wheels and shafts, such as for internal combustion engine ignition timing,tachometers and anti-lock braking systems. They are used in brushless DC electric motors to detect the position of the permanent magnet. In the pictured wheel with two equally spaced magnets, the voltage from the sensor will peak twice for each revolution. This arrangement is commonly used to regulate the speed of disk drives.