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A Modeling And Controls Course Using Microcontrollers

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Portable/Embedded Computing II

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.68.1 - 9.68.13



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

Session 3620

A Modeling and Controls Course using Microcontrollers

Hugh Jack, Andy Blauch Associate Professor / Assistant Professor Padnos School of Engineering Grand Valley State University Grand Rapids, MI email:,

1. Introduction

As with most engineering programs, we offer a dynamic systems modeling and control course (EGR 345) to our students in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering [1][2]. This course has evolved since it was originally offered, with the goal of producing graduates who are capable of successfully implementing control systems. Towards this goal, the laboratory component of the course is very important. Originally the laboratories were based on experiments with discrete mechanical components and data acquisition to allow analysis of the results. While this was very effective in improving laboratory skills, it did not help prepare the students to implement actual control systems.

Previously the laboratory made extensive use of Labview for data acquisition and control. This did allow students to quickly build systems, but students rarely saw beyond the graphical inter- face. The laboratory component of EGR 345 was revised to build upon two previous courses, one in basic programming with C (EGR 261) or Java (CS 162), and a subsequent course in digital sys- tems using 68HC11 microcontrollers (EGR 226). In the laboratory students use 68HC11 single board computers with 32K of memory for data collection and control [3][4]. Programs are written in the C programming language and compiled with the free GCC compiler. The typical laboratory focuses on motor control using a transistor for speed control, or an H-bridge for bidirectional motion. The motor speed or position is read using a potentiometer, tachometer or encoder. The students learn to construct feedback loops by converting block diagrams to C programs, circuits and mechanical systems. Similar efforts have been reported before in mechatronics courses for non-electrical engineering students [6], but dynamic systems modeling courses tend to focus on more traditional approaches [7].

The sequence of the laboratories basically begins with a review of C programming, analog inputs, Pulse Width Modulated (PWM) outputs and interrupt driven subroutines. Through the following

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Blauch, A., & Jack, H. (2004, June), A Modeling And Controls Course Using Microcontrollers Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13537

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