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New Life for Process Control Trainers in a Microcontroller Course

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Conference

2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Embedded Control and Instrumentation

Tagged Division

Instrumentation

Page Count

18

Page Numbers

25.974.1 - 25.974.18

DOI

10.18260/1-2--21731

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/21731

Download Count

123

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Paper Authors

biography

Dale H. Litwhiler Pennsylvania State University, Berks

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Dale H. Litwhiler is an Associate Professor at Penn State, Berks, in Reading, Penn. He received his B.S. from Penn State University, his M.S. from Syracuse University, and his Ph.D. from Lehigh University, all in electrical engineering. Prior to beginning his academic career, he worked with IBM Federal Systems and Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems as a Hardware and Software Design Engineer.

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Abstract

New Life for a Process Control Trainer in a Microcontroller CourseAbstractTo improve student enthusiasm and demonstrate the power of embedded control, a controlsystems laboratory process control trainer was adapted and repurposed for use in an introductorymicrocontroller course. While some students are able to extrapolate the ideas conveyed bymaking an LED flash using assembly code, other students need to see their code doingsomething more powerful and realistic. Control system training rigs are common in engineeringand technology laboratories. These setups, from manufacturers such as Feedback®, typicallyhave some type of “plant” that is the controllable center of the system. The parameters of theplant are then measureable via several types of process sensors. To complete the control loop, aprogrammable or otherwise adjustable control unit is provided to be used to demonstrate variousclosed-loop control techniques such as PID control. The system used here was the FeedbackBasic Process Rig model 38-100. This system is comprised of a water process in which the fluidlevel in a tank is regulated by controlling flow into and out of the tank using solenoid and/orservo valves. Tank level and system flow rate sensors are used as inputs to the control unit. Forthe microcontroller course, the manufacturer’s control unit was disconnected from the systemand replaced with a microcontroller trainer board and a simple, custom interface box to make theappropriate interconnections. The students designed their own assembly code to read the systemsensors and control the water level to a user-determined and variable set point. The required codecomponents were developed throughout the semester as each peripheral of the microcontrollerwas discussed. The process control served as a culminating project for the course. This paperpresents the system hardware and example student software. Course curriculum is also presentedand discussed.

Litwhiler, D. H. (2012, June), New Life for Process Control Trainers in a Microcontroller Course Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21731

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