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Inexpensive Re Configurable Process Simulator For The Feedback Control Lab

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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

5.354.1 - 5.354.10

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Robert Lynn Mueller

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

Session 1359

Inexpensive Re-Configurable Process Simulator for the Feedback Control Lab

Robert Lynn Mueller The Pennsylvania State University New Kensington Campus


A variety of control concepts and techniques must be covered in a comprehensive course on feedback controls. This need for variety imposes severe demands on laboratory facilities if they are to demonstrate an appropriate range of practical control exercises using all or most of the techniques. This problem has been minimized through the development of a re-configurable process simulator for a senior-level feedback control class in electro-mechanical engineering technology.

This paper describes a process simulator that is built from linear circuit components. It simulates the transfer functions of typical processes that would be encountered in an industrial environment. The parameters of the transfer function can be easily changed allowing the simulator to simulate a variety of possible process situations.

It can be used to illustrate the procedures involved in calculating PID parameters in the classroom as well as determining “in the field”. The simulator then can be used to test the results and thereby give the student experience in tuning PID controllers. It can be used to verify the root locus and frequency domain calculations for various compensators such as lead, lag, and lead/lag. It can be also used to investigate steady-state error and process stability.

Problems with Other Simulators

How to demonstrate control concepts in the lab is an age-old problem. While all of these concepts can be demonstrated using a software simulator such as Matlab, nothing beats being able to physically change a setpoint and observe what happens to the process variable on a chart recorder.

There are many commercially available simulators for the control of flow, temperature, etc. These simulators are nice in that they provide the student the opportunity to actually see the process variable change as well as get exposure to the operation of field transmitters. However, they do not offer the ability to change the system’s parameters and are, therefore, somewhat limited as to the variety of control concepts that can be demonstrated. They are also expensive and often bulky leading to storage and/or handling problems.

Mueller, R. L. (2000, June), Inexpensive Re Configurable Process Simulator For The Feedback Control Lab Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri.

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