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This paper presents the design and implementation of a digital signal processor (DSP)-based generator control unit (GCU) for a variable frequency synchronous generator with brush-less exciter. A novel model-based control algorithm is proposed to better account for the wide operating frequency range and various load conditions. In addition to the model-based inner-loop exciter field current regulator and outer-loop generator voltage regulator, the control algorithm also adopts a generator-model-based d-axis current feed-forward loop to compensate for the load disturbance. Simulation and test results show a considerable performance improvement for the new controller when compared to the existing controllers, including better dynamics, better damping stability margin, and more uniform response over the operating range.