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Investigation of Controller Design for Small Robot Arms
Brian Armknecht and David Malohn
Advisor: Dr. Gary Dempsey

The focus of this investigation is to examine various controllers for a small robot arm system manufactured by Quanser Consulting. The system consists of a DC motor-driven gear train, robot arm, and potentiometer used to determine position. Two cases were considered, including the horizontal plane level-arm system, and the more complicated inverted arm configuration in which the arm moves in a vertical plane. After determining the respective mathematical models of the systems and designing and constructing protection circuitry for the equipment, frequency and time domain data was collected. Experimental results were in agreement with these mathematical models. Proportional and proportional-derivative controllers were designed, simulated, implemented, and observed for the level-arm system. Several non-linearities surfaced in this work, prompting more data collection, analysis, and design adaptation. Similar steps were taken in examining the inverted-arm case, where a highly non-linear system was coupled with the unexpected non-linear properties encountered with the level-arm system. Proportional and proportional-integrator-derivative controllers were simulated and constructed for the system, then examined along with feed-forward compensation and other design techniques. 

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