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This study presents a co-design approach to wireless network control systems (WNCS). Experimental studies are carried out to identify and analyse the delays inherent in WNCS, with a new inverse Gaussian model for their statistical distribution proposed. Two different packet-based predictive control schemes are presented. One uses dynamic matrix control (DMC), the other is a linear quadratic (LQ) controller incorporating multiple observers. Lyapunov stability is derived using linear matrix inequalities (LMIs) for the multi-observer LQ control whereas Monte-Carlo simulation results on a cart-mounted inverted pendulum are presented to confirm the performance advantages of packet-based DMC. Finally, results from a real-time implementation of the multi-observer LQ controller are also presented.