While one of the stated goals of the Mechanical Engineering Controls course is to develop the tools to design a controller, previous lab experiences did not include an experimental exercise in controller design. This was primarily due to the difficulty in implementing a controller that is robust and flexible enough to accommodate different student designs within the short time constraints of a three hour lab period. This paper describes an effort to use the Mathworks Real Time Windows Target to implement student controller designs on real hardware in a lab setting. Students use experimental data and a physically based model to design the controller for a hydraulic servo control system. A system transfer function is estimated from a frequency response experiment. Then a controller design is conducted using classical PID controller design techniques and a Simulink model. Finally when students have completed a controller design, they are allowed to implement it on the experimental apparatus and measure the system performance. They are then given a second chance to fine tune the model. The control is implemented with the Real Time Windows Target using a data acquisition card on a PC. A competition for the best performance also creates an exciting and competitive learning atmosphere. Assessments are presented that indicate the improvement in learning outcomes from the change in the lab exercise.


Mechanical Engineering

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URL: http://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/meng_fac/21