Feedback control applied to a low cost ball-in-tube air levitation plant
Keywords:Control engineering education, Ball and tube air levitation, Classic control tools, PID controller, Mathematical modeling
Commercial educational tools for teaching feedback concepts in control systems engineering and mechatronics are generally expensive, large, complexand sensitive instruments; therefore, it cannot be used in universities with budget constraints, which greatly hinders the teaching of basic concepts of control theory and application. The mathematical tools that are taught in the disciplines of control theory in the undergraduate course are often abstract, especially in terms of practical application in an industrial setting, which makes it necessary to use didactic control plants to complement teaching and hands-on experimentation. This paper presents a low-cost ball and tube air levitation laboratory system as a teaching tool for engineering. Ball and tube laboratory setup is a dynamic benchmark system, designed to control the position of the ball on a vertical upward airflow that counteracts the gravitational force exerted on the ball without mechanical support. A blower feeds airflow, and the position of the ball is measurable by using an ultrasonic distance meter. As the purpose of the article is to serve as support material for undergraduate students who are taking their first steps in the study of control theory and feedback control, detailed modeling by the laws of physics are presented, followed by classic tools for the study of linear control and then a proportional-integral-derivative (PID) control system is developed. A modified structure of the classic PID is used and the results are compared with the classic structure.
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