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From "System Modeling" to "Controller Hardware Testing" in Three Hours: A Robotic Arm Controller Design Lab Using MATLAB Real Time Windows Target to Reinforce Classical Control Theory

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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

Instrumentation Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.798.1 - 26.798.16



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Paper Authors


Charles Birdsong California Polytechnic State University

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Charles Birdsong has expertise in automotive safety, vibrations, controls, signal processing, instrumentation, real-time control, active noise control, and dynamic system modeling. He received his B.S.M.E. at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and his M.S. and Ph.D. at Michigan State University, where he worked on active noise control applications for the automotive industry. He has worked in the vibration test and measurement industry helping to drive new technologies to market and working with industry to meet their emerging needs. He is currently a Professor at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo in the Department of Mechanical Engineering teaching dynamics, vibrations and controls. He is involved in several undergraduate and master’s level multidisciplinary projects and interested in engineering education research.

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From system modeling to controller hardware testing in three hours: arobotic arm controller design lab using MATLAB Real Time Windows Target to reinforce classical control theoryA 3 hour hands-on lab experience was designed to give students the opportunity tomodel, design and test a controller for a nonlinear electro-mechanical robot-arm systemas a culminating project in mechanical engineering controls course. Students usedlinearization to model a nonlinear pendulum DC servo system using first principles. Theyused experimental frequency response data to derive a numerical transfer function model.Next they used analytical techniques including root locus and Simulink modeling todesign a PID controller. Finally they tested their controller design using a hardware-in-the-loop system with MATLAB’s real-time windows target system to assess theperformance of their controller. The goals of the exercise were to give students thechance to complete an entire control system design cycle from modeling to hardwaretesting in a single three hour lab, incorporate as many of the course concepts, and give thestudents a practical understanding of the application of the theory. Assessment wasconducted using pre and post online quizzes testing conceptual understanding of themajor topics such as linearization, frequency response, and the effect of proportional,integral and derivative control.

Birdsong, C. (2015, June), From "System Modeling" to "Controller Hardware Testing" in Three Hours: A Robotic Arm Controller Design Lab Using MATLAB Real Time Windows Target to Reinforce Classical Control Theory Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24135

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