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A Laboratory On The Microprocessor Control Of A Floating Ping Pong Ball

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.32.1 - 5.32.8



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Paper Authors

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Peter Wild

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Brian Surgenor

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Aaron Dellah

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2520

A Laboratory on the Microprocessor Control of a Floating Ping Pong Ball

A. Dellah, P.M. Wild, B.W. Surgenor Department of Mechanical Engineering Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada

Abstract An undergraduate laboratory has been developed for a course in mechatronics that involves the control of a floating ping pong ball with a microprocessor. The apparatus consists of a ping pong ball located in a vertically oriented Plexiglas tube. At the top end of the tube, an ultrasonic transducer measures the position of the ball in the tube. A small cooling fan at the bottom end of the tube is used to control the height of the ball. Proportional-Integral-Derivative (PID) closed loop control is implemented by means of the microprocessor. In the laboratory, the students are required to program the microprocessor and conduct experiments in controller tuning. This paper describes a mechatronics laboratory that is easy to duplicate and exposes the students to various mechatronics issues.

I. Introduction Since its introduction as an elective in 1997, the Mechatronic Systems Design (MECH 452) course offered through the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Queen’s University has become very popular. This is reflected in positive student feedback and with a class size higher than the average for an elective course in Mechanical Engineering at Queen’s (45 versus the average of 25). The course and its popularity are not isolated cases, but follow a growing trend towards including “mechatronics” type courses in traditional Mechanical Engineering curriculums 1. However, the availability of resource material specific to “mechatronics” courses is still, like the courses, in an early stage of development. Although there are widely differing interpretations of the meaning of the word “mechatronics”, a common feature of courses entitled “Mechatronics” is the use of hardware oriented laboratories involving apparatus with dedicated microprocessor control. For example, faculty at San Jose State University have been running a “mechatronics engineering laboratory” since 1995 2. Their laboratory sequence has 12 experiments. Initially students are required to build and work on the analog control of simple electro-mechanical systems. Near the end of the sequence, students have progressed to more complex microprocessor controlled mechatronic systems. Thus, the experiments range from a light controlled switch assembled from basic electronic components to a microprocessor controlled parts sorter with multiple inputs and outputs. The latter involves a stepper motor driven conveyor belt paired with a table top electric robot in combination with photoemitters for part detection. Students are required to interface and program the microprocessor to sort parts between bins. A slightly different approach was taken at Cal Poly where the facility for laboratory experiments is referred to as the “Mechatronics Design Studio” 3. The experiments are more group project

Wild, P., & Surgenor, B., & Dellah, A. (2000, June), A Laboratory On The Microprocessor Control Of A Floating Ping Pong Ball Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. 10.18260/1-2--8528

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