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Mechatronic Aeropendulum: Demonstration of Linear and Nonlinear Feedback Control Principles With MATLAB/Simulink Real-Time Windows Target

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2 Author(s)
Eniko T. Enikov ; College of Engineering, Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, University of Arizona, Tucson ; Giampiero Campa

This paper presents a low-cost hands-on experiment for a classical undergraduate controls course for non-electrical engineering majors. The setup consists of a small dc electrical motor attached to one of the ends of a light rod. The motor drives a 2-in propeller and allows the rod to swing. Angular position is measured by a potentiometer attached to the pivot point. A custom-designed circuit board produces the controlled voltage input to the motor. The target board is powered and communicates with the PC through its USB port using a virtual RS-232 port. A simple MATLAB/Simulink module has been created to read the pendulum angle and send a command signal to the motor. The module is based on Real-time Windows Target software, which allows a sampling rate of up to 200 Hz. Students are able to design and test classical PID and phase lead-lag controllers, as well as modern controllers, including state-space controller design combined with feedback linearization. A semester-long series of assignments is described that can be carried out without the need for a specialized laboratory or teaching assistants. The project was tested in a classical control systems design class of senior-level mechanical engineering students. Student feedback and survey data on the effectiveness of the modules are also presented.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Education  (Volume:55 ,  Issue: 4 )