PendCon: Experiments for Education in Dynamics and Control Systems Design

Students in front of a pendulum
Discover the fascinating world of feedback systems by laboratory experiments!

Control system theory is probably one of the most exiting disciplines of the engineering sciences. The design methods depend heavily on advanced mathematics and in some sense, they can be viewed as a part of applied mathematics. Practical applications are possible to almost all fields of engineering. In order to help the students to understand the theory, to convince them that a sophisticated theory is actually needed and to give them a feeling what can happen in a practical situation, carefully designed experiments are very helpful. PendCon offers a great variety of such experiments. They can be divided into the following three categories.

PendCon Basic

These are experiments which are comparatively simple and mainly intended to help the students to understand the fundamental concepts of dynamics and of feedback systems. They are asked to design PID controllers by simple formulas or by the frequency response method. These experiments can be used in a lab for a first course on control systems.

PendCon Advanced

These are experiments for a second course on control systems design. The most important design methods for linear controllers are applied to the experiments. Robustness and performance are compared for these methods. Moreover, the students learn that the real plant always behaves a little bit different than the simulated plant and he sees how this effects the application of the designed controller to the real plant.

PendCon Research

PendCon also offers two experiments which are hard to stabilize: the uncertain double pendulum and the triple pendulum. They require a sophisticated application of Hinf and mue controller design methods. These experiments are also available as workshops. PendCon is also open for cooperation. The outcome of such a cooperation can be a new experiment or the application of a new method to an already existing experiment.