An optical position detector system has a light emitting diode source, two detectors, and a diffraction grating which is frequency mismatched with the frequency of a reference grating. According to one embodiment for use in a reflective system, the source and two detectors are mounted on a single body and a single diffraction grating is placed over the source and detectors. There is no need to control the locations or phase differences between the source grating and the detector gratings because a single grating us used for all three. The spatial frequency of the single grating is chosen such that it is different from the frequency of the reference grating but still produces a signal having a maximized amplitude with the desired phase shift. Two alignments which formerly required tight tolerance are no longer necessary with the system of the invention. In addition, a fabrication feature of introducing a discrete phase step between the gratings covering both detectors is not necessary. In a second embodiment, for a transmissive system, a source with a source grating is mounted on one body and the two detectors are mounted on another body with the reference grating located therebetween. A single grating is applied over the two detectors and only the detector grating is mismatched with the reference grating.