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This paper presents low-cost experiments for a control systems laboratory module that is worth one and a third credits. The experiments are organized around the microcontroller-based control of a permanent magnet dc motor. The experimental setups were built in-house. Except for the operating system, the software used is primarily freeware or free for academic use. The objective of this module is that students—fresh from a first course in control systems theory, which introduces them to proportional-integral-derivative control and to design using Bode plots and root locus—learn how a simple modern control system is built. Student feedback and a 90-min end-of-semester practical exam show that, although the students find the experiments challenging, this module helps meet this objective. After having taken the first course and this laboratory module, the students feel that they can build control systems in addition to discussing them theoretically. This module is easy to set up and administer using the supporting material provided by the authors.
Date of Publication: Nov. 2012