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BYOE: Affordable and Portable Laboratory Kit for Controls Courses

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies: Bring-Your-Own-Experiments 1

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.314.1 - 26.314.9



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Paper Authors


Rebecca Marie Reck University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Orcid 16x16

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Rebecca M. Reck is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in systems engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She completed her master’s degree in electrical engineering at Iowa State University during her eight years at Rockwell Collins and her bachelor's degree in electrical engineering with a mathematics minor, from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in 2005. Her research interests include controls, signal processing, and engineering education. Specific areas of controls and signal processing research include the design and modeling of intelligent controls, Kalman filters, and automation. Engineering education research includes curriculum and laboratory development for these concepts.

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BYOE: Affordable and Portable Laboratory Kit for Controls CoursesA laboratory kit for an undergraduate controls course will be demonstrated. The kit includes aRaspberry Pi (a single board computer), DC motor, and other circuits and sensors. The kit’scustom components were 3D printed. All other components of the kit can be purchased fromonline retailers such as Adafruit or Sparkfun for a total cost of about $130. This kit could replaceexpensive equipment with an affordable alternative that can be easily shipped anywhere in theworld and used by students with any computer. The low cost and portability of the kit greatlyenhance the accessibility of the laboratory experience to students in budget-strapped campuslaboratories and those participating in distance education.Five experiments have been designed for this kit: introduction to the sensors, introduction to theequipment, first principles system identification, black box system identification, andproportional-integral-derivative (PID) control. The two introductory experiments enablestudents to get acquainted to the sensors and the equipment that will be used throughout thecourse. In the first principles system identification experiment, students measure the motor’sindividual parameters including the armature resistance and inductance to create a mathematicalmodel. In the black box system identification, the students confirm their model from theprevious experiment by analyzing the step and frequency response of the motor. In the finalexperiment, the students design, simulate, and test proportional, proportional + derivative, andproportional + speed controllers for the position of the motor. For all of the experiments thestudents use MATLAB and Simulink to program the Raspberry Pi and collect data.Currently the kit is being tested in a traditional laboratory space with limited contact hours.However, once the kit has been proven effective, pedagogies that take advantage of the size andcost will be explored, such as studio learning, project based learning, or additions to an onlinecourse or MOOC. Add-ons will also be designed so that the kit can be used in more advancedcontrols courses.Figure 1 - Complete Kit for Introduction to Control Systems Figure 2 - Circuit board layout for the kit

Reck, R. M. (2015, June), BYOE: Affordable and Portable Laboratory Kit for Controls Courses Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23653

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