Quanser AERO: Fundamentals of Controls

Quanser AERO
This set of labs explores fundamental concepts in controls using LabVIEW, myRIO, and the Quanser AERO. Students will explore six different labs that each build upon the concepts of the previous labs, beginning with modeling principles and system identification, and progressing through concepts of PID control, gain scheduling, and measurement and filtering.
by Quanser Inc.

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  • Students will gain proficiency in various control theories.
  • Students will gain first-hand experience in working with control theory applications.
  • Students will integrate LabVIEW, myRIO, and the Quanser Aero to simulate, create, and test control theories.


Level University
Topic Controls
Style Laboratory
Prerequisite Skills  Basic Understanding of Controls, LabVIEW Experience


This lab introduces students to the principles of modeling in control theory and its importance within engineering. In the field of control systems, modeling is the established technique for initial control design allowing engineers to hone in on a set of control parameters, and test the predicted performance of the system. In this lab, students use LabVIEW to develop a model for the Quanser AERO’s thrusters to relate the voltage applied to the angular speed of the propellers.
In the First Principles Modeling Concept Review, students developed a model to represent the relation between the applied motor voltage and the angular speed of the spinning propellers. With a thruster model for both of the Quanser AERO’s thrusters from the previous lab, students proceed to model the AERO itself. The goal in this lab is for students to relate the voltage applied to both the motors to the AERO’s pitch angle.
Students will be introduced to one of the methods of tuning gains of a PID controller to achieve the required specifications in the system response, known as qualitative tuning. Students will also be exposed to the expertise and knowledge regarding the control strategy required for qualitative tuning. In this lab, students use LabVIEW to manually tune a PID controller based on the quality of the system response of the Aero plant.
Although manual tuning is a simple and effective way to tune the gains of a system, it requires expertise and knowledge of the device. Students will learn about quantitative methods that can be used to get close to optimal gains as a starting point, such as the Ziegler Nichols method, the Tyreus Luyben method, etc. In this lab, students will model the Quanser Aero as a second-order system, and the corresponding PID design by specification.
In this lab, students will explore the concept of gain scheduling, a process in which multiple linear controllers are designed for each operating region in a control system. One of the standard approaches in dealing with closed-loop systems is linearizing the system and then using a linear control approach. However, linearizing works in a nominal region, outside of which, the linearized model fails. The control strategy therefore also fails outside this operating region. A solution to this is to use multiple linear models, linearized about different operating points, which is known as gain scheduling.
It is important to measure the pitch of an flying system accurately for the control system to work. In this lab, students will learn about the applications of an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), which is a combination of an accelerometer and a gyroscope with coincident axes. Students will explore the concept of measurement and filtering by measuring the acceleration in each linear axis along with the angular velocity about those axes allows for a complete description of the attitude of the sensor.


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Quanser AERO

The Quanser AERO is a fully integrated lab experiment consisting of two propellers, powered by DC motors, designed for teaching mechatronics and controls concepts at the undergraduate level, as well as for advanced aerospace research applications.

Required Software

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  • myRIO Software Bundle (2013 or later)
    • LabVIEW (Requires license)
    • LabVIEW Real-Time Module (Requires license)
    • LabVIEW myRIO Toolkit
    • LabVIEW Quanser Rapid Control Prototyping (QRCP) Toolkit
    • LabVIEW Control Design and Simulation Module
    • LabVIEW MathScript RT Module (only used in certain VIs)

Required Hardware

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