Development of a Control Interface for the Twin Rotor Rig

As part of my MEng I had to design a control interface for a piece of laboratory equipment called the Twin Rotor Rig:

Rig

The Twin Rotor Rig is a simple piece of laboratory equipment that consists of two spinning discs (white and black).  These discs are each driven my a simple hobby motor and another is used as a tachometer to measure rotational velocity.  The two discs are additionally coupled to each other, so by spinning one it induces the other to spin in the same direction.  The purpose of this rig is to demonstrate control methods (such as P, PI, PD, PID, etc…).  The rig used to be controlled by a PC via a dSPACE controller, but as the PC was getting dated and the dSPACE controller was needed elsewhere, I was tasked to design and built and completely new control interface for the Twin Rotor Rig.

The final product I built had and Arduino microprocessor at its heart.  It connected to the rig via BNC cables and could be programmed (in C++) to run various control experiments.  It had op-amp circuits to scale the signals from the arduino to the rig and vice versa.  To pick a particular experiment to run the user would navigate the (basic) user interface on the LCD screen.  Finally after being connected to LAN using an ethernet cable control interface could be controlled remotely via a website.  The following pictures show the construction of the device and the final product:

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rig

The final product: a Control Interface for the Twin Rotor Rig


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