ECE 557: Control, Signals, and Systems Laboratory

808 Dreese Laboratories

Sample syllabus (instructor’s syllabus takes precedence): PDF

Text: Control Systems Technology Lab by Stephen Yurkovich and Elio Abiakel
The text is available in The Ohio State University Bookstore. It has not been significantly changed since 1998, and so used or borrowed copies will typically be fine.
Sample schedule (instructor’s ordering, pre-lab activities, and exams take precedence): Due to hardware and time constraints, Labs 8 and 9 are typically combined in the same week.
Lab 1: Introduction to Data Acquisition (DAQ), dSPACE, and Simulink
Lab 2: Introduction to Digital Signal Processing (DSP)
Lab 3: Time Domain System Identification for a DC Servo
Lab 4: Gain Compensation and Feedback for a DC Servo
Lab 5: Lag Compensation for Speed Control of a DC Servo
Lab 6: Lead Compensation for Position Control of a DC Servo
Lab 7: Tuning a Proportional–Integral–Derivative (PID) Controller
Labs 8 AND 9: Position Control for a Flexible Joint and a Flexible Link
In-class exam: theory and practice


Lab Resources

SOURCE CODE: LaTeX has been used to generate the digital documents for this class below. The Mercurial repository at archives the source code of these lab resources.

LICENSING AND REUSE: Unless otherwise expressly stated, all original material of whatever nature created by Theodore P. Pavlic and included in this website and any related pages, including its archives, is protected by copyright and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License ("CCPL"). Use of this website is expressly conditioned upon the user’s acceptance of the terms and provisions of the CCPL. Use of this site and any of the materials thereon constitutes acceptance of the CCPL by the user.

On-line Resources

Control, Signals, Systems, and Electronics Texts

Lab Report Writing Resources

Engineers are not scientists in the traditional sense. Scientists generate knowledge about the natural world by observing natural phenomena (in fact, the word "science" comes from the Latin for "knowledge" or "knowing"). Engineers use that knowledge to generate new technologies that aid in human activities, but they are rarely concerned with generating new knowledge about the natural world. Instead, engineers generate knowledge about their own creations. While the subject matter is different, the method behind the generation of knowledge is identical. That is, engineers are "technoscientists"; they use the scientific method to generate knowledge about technology.

In the engineering laboratory, you should practice all of the steps of the scientific method. In particular,

  1. Define the question (e.g., "How does a certain filter respond to a generic input signal?")
  2. Gather information and resources (e.g., recall your operational amplifier theory and the physical characteristics of passive electronic devices)
  3. Form hypothesis (e.g., "The filter will act like an abstract linear time-invariant system with transfer function H(s).")
  4. Perform experiment and collect data (e.g., measure magnitude and phase response at several frequencies)
  5. Analyze data (e.g., plot the data)
  6. Interpret data and draw conclusions that serve as starting point for new hypothesis (e.g., compare measured and expected responses and draw the conclusion that the theoretical model matches the qualitative low-pass behavior of the system but matches poorly in the neighborhood of the corner frequency. Suggest that cable resistance or component tolerances may have changed the effective corner frequency. Suggest a new experiment that measures cable resistance and repeats trials over several components with tight tolerances)
  7. Publish results (e.g., submit your lab report)
  8. Retest (e.g., assume that others will read and respond to your published report by following your suggestions for future work)
These steps should influence everything you do in the lab and everything you write in your report.

Section Structure

A good section structure inspired by the scientific method is:
  1. Introduction – the purpose of the lab (i.e., define the questions that you are trying to answer during the experience)
  2. Procedure – what was done (i.e., describe the experimental method)
  3. Theoretical results – what was expected (e.g., your hypothesis would fit nicely here)
  4. Measured results – what was observed (i.e., present your data without drawing conclusions)
  5. Conclusions – explanation of measured results and suggestions for future work
    • Interpret the data to show how it responds to the relevant questions of the experience – use the data to test your hypothesis.
    • Suggest starting points for new hypotheses that explain the observed differences from the theoretical results – if possible, suggest new experiments to test these new hypotheses.
Alternatively, the conclusions section could be called an "Analysis" section and a new "Conclusions" section could be added that summarizes the report. The section structure you choose should help reinforce the message you are communicating in your report; keep the steps of the scientific method in mind.

For the lab reports you submit to me, you do not need an abstract nor any appendices. All material should be in-line with the text of the document.

Regardless of your section choices, be sure to pay attention to the course policies on lab reports (e.g., include a cover page with table number, group member names, my name, section, etc.).

Technical Details

More Resources

Help Getting Started Using TeX/LaTeX

For myriad reasons, professional technical documents are rarely produced with popular programs like Microsoft Word. In areas that are highly influenced by mathematics (e.g., engineering), the free TeX typesetting system dominates. Many TeX (pronounced "tech") users prefer the LaTeX suite of macros to simplify common typesetting tasks.

TeX documents, like the source code for computer programs, start as text files that are later "compiled" into their final document form. A typical TeX workflow is

  1. Edit document source code in a standard or specialized text editor. For example, a text file called "mydocument.tex" could contain the LaTeX code:
    \textbf{Hello world!}
  2. "Compile" source code to produce printable document. The "mydocument.tex" file would produce a "mydocument.pdf" that would contain the bold text:
    Hello world!
    A good editor will typically provide a quick way (e.g., a "LaTeX" button on the graphical user interface) to compile your code.

    If you want to compile your code manually, you can use PDFLaTeX with the command
    pdflatex mydocument.tex
    or you can use LaTeX with the commands
    latex mydocument.tex
    dvips mydocument.dvi
    The difference between these two methods has an impact on what type of figures you can include (i.e., EPS files versus PDF, GIF, JPG, or PNG files). See below for details.

  3. View printable document and repeat process to make changes (e.g., you could change the \textbf{Hello world!} line to be simply Hello world! to get rid of the bold).

Thus, many people feel that TeX typesetting is more like programming than it is like using standard word processing tools. So it’s not surprising that you’ll need a "compiler", editor, and viewer (note: the ECE computer labs are already equipped with everything you need to get started).

  1. If you want to submit lab reports or pre-lab homework assignments using TeX, you will need one of the free TeX distributions. These distributions contain TeX and the popular LaTeX macros.
    • Windows users should get MiKTeX. Click on the link under Download.
      • Alternatively, Windows users can try TeX Live. For the moment, I recommend that new users stick with MiKTeX.
    • Mac OS X users should get MacTeX. Download the MacTeX Installer.
    • Unix users should get TeX Live. Follow the quick installation directions.
    These distributions contain programs that can "compile" TeX source files into a nice-looking printable form.

  2. Once you have installed a TeX distribution, you will need an editor. Any text editor can be used to edit TeX files, but some are more friendly than others.
    • TeXmaker is a popular free LaTeX editor for Windows, Mac OS X, and Unix.
    • WinShell is the free LaTeX editor used in the ECE computer labs.
    • TeXnicCenter is a popular free LaTeX editor for Windows.
    • WinEdt is a popular commercial shareware LaTeX editor for Windows.
    • The combination of Vim with the VIM-LaTeX suite makes for a powerful LaTeX editor for Windows, Mac OS X, and Unix.
      • Mac users may want to check out MacVim.
    • TeXShop is a free and minimal LaTeX editor and PDF previewer (with auto-refresh) for Mac OS X.
    • TeXworks is a free and minimal LaTeX editor and auto-refreshing PDF previewer (based on TeXShop) that is still in development for Windows, Mac OS X, and Unix. It is available for download. It is based on Qt and Poppler.
    • Kile is a popular free LaTeX editor for KDE (i.e., for Windows, Mac OS X, and Unix).
    • iTeXMac is a popular free TeX editor and PDF previewer for Mac OS X.

  3. You will probably also want a good PDF viewer. Some of the editors above include decent PDF previewers, but others depend on you to find one.
    • Members of the Adobe Acrobat family (including the free reader) are sufficient so long as your editor knows how to kick them whenever your PDF is regenerated. Unfortunately, they are big and bloated and have a stagnant feature set.
    • Mac users should check out the free Skim, which supports auto-refreshing and lots of other helpful features.
    • Windows users might want to check out the free Sumatra PDF, which is a minimal PDF viewer that supports auto-refreshing and has some other nice features.

  4. You may want some examples to get you started. It might be helpful to see a sample homework template too.

  5. You will often want to include figures in your documents. To make this process easier, make sure you have these two lines in your LaTeX preamble:
    Then, in the main part of your document, you can choose whether to include your graphics as "floats" or not. Most figures in books are "floats." That is, they do not appear exactly where they are mentioned in the text. Instead, they "float" to a convenient place (e.g., the top of the next page). In lab reports, people sometimes prefer that their graphics do not float.

    To include a graphic as a float, use lines like
            \caption{A nice caption for my figure.}
    Alternatively, if you want the figure to be typeset EXACTLY where you place it within your source code, use lines like
            \captionof{figure}{A nice caption for my figure.}
    That is, replace the figure environment with a center environment and replace the \caption line with a \captionof{figure} line.

    A similar procedure exists for tables (i.e., tables can be included as floats as well).

    In the \includegraphics lines above, a "width" parameter is set to half of the column width (i.e., 0.5\columnwidth). You can change this to an absolute dimension as well (e.g., [width=3in] for a three inch width). You can even use height instead (e.g., [height=3in] for three inch height). In either case, the image is scaled so it maintains the correct height:width ratio.

    In the example above, a PNG file was included.
    • If you want to include PNG, GIF, JPG, or PDF files, you must use PDFLaTeX.
    • If you want to include EPS files, you must use LaTeX.
    So when you export files from MATLAB, make sure you choose an appropriate file format.

  6. Additional LaTeX examples (e.g., LaTeX code for electronic circuits, graphs, and block diagrams) can be found in Ted Pavlic’s OSU Course Mercurial repositories for
    • ECE 209 (not too much here),
    • ECE 327 (a circuits lab with lots of documents with lots of circuit diagrams),
    • ECE 557 (a controls lab with lots of LaTeX and MATLAB generated figures).
    Click on the files links and navigate the tree.

  7. Some other terrific examples can be found on the web.
    • PSTricks lets you harness the power of PostScript to draw great looking line drawings inside TeX.
    • PGF/TikZ has been growing in popularity as a more portable alternative to PSTricks.
    • The TeX Users Group (TUG) links to lots of helpful resources.
    • The Comprehensive TeX Archive Network (CTAN) is a huge central store of useful TeX material.
    • The LaTeX Community forum can be a great resource that can quickly answer some of your questions.
    • The comp.text.tex (CTT) Usenet newsgroup has been a resource for TeX users for a long time. Search and participate.

Course Policies (instructor’s policies take precedence)

  1. Course grading (instructor policy takes precedence):
    • Pre-lab assignments (individual): 30%
    • Lab reports (group): 40%
    • Lab clean-up (group): 10%
    • Final exam (individual): 20%

    Grades may be made available on Carmen.
  2. Pre-lab Reports (instructor policy takes precedence):
    • At the beginning of each lab, the Laboratory Preparation section from the book for that lab should be submitted for a grade.
    • Most of the theoretical work for each lab is completed here, and so you should keep a copy of your results to assist you in class.
    • Pre-lab reports should be completed INDIVIDUALLY by EACH STUDENT. Pre-lab submissions are NOT group assignments.
  3. Final Exam (instructor policy takes precedence):
    • The final exam will be given during the last day of regularly schedule class.
    • It will have a purely theoretical section as well as a practical laboratory component.
    • It will be completed individually, and so all students should be familiar with both the software and hardware used in the lab.
  4. Labs (instructor policy takes precedence):
    • Students are required to attend all labs.
    • Students will work in groups of two.
    • Disk space has been prepared at each bench for storing laboratory results. However, for their lab reports, students should save their results either over the ECE network or on some other portable storage device.
  5. Lab reports (instructor policy takes precedence):
    • See the lab report writing resources for more information about the contents of a good lab report.

    • Each group will submit one lab report.

    • On your cover page, include:
      1. the class identifier (i.e., "ECE 557")
      2. the section day and time (e.g., "Thursday 1:30")
      3. instructor name (e.g., "Instructor: Jane Engineer")
      4. names of all members of group (grades are given to these members)
      5. your bench number from label on each table

    • Lab reports are due at the beginning of the next lab session and will be penalized 10% per day late.

    • Lab reports must be typed and pages must be numbered.

    • Tables and figures should be numbered and have descriptive captions. Because these items naturally float to the best location on the page, they should be referred to by their name and not be their relative position (e.g., refer to "Table 1" and not "the table below").

    • Lab report grading (instructor policy takes precedence):

      • Lab work (30%) – evidence of having successfully completed the lab tasks.
      • Figures/Tables/Equations (20%) – the main technical details of the report
      • Discussion (50%) – usually divided (depending on lab) into:
        • Purpose – the purpose of the lab
        • Procedures – how the lab was done
        • Theoretical results – expected results (you should not re-do your laboratory preparation work on your lab report; instead, just use those results, but be sure to interpret them as expectations of experimental outcomes)
        • Measurement results – actual results
        • Conclusions – explanation of actual results

    • Again, see the lab report writing resources for more information about the contents of a good lab report.
  6. Attendance (instructor policy takes precedence):
    Students must attend all labs. If a lab needs to be missed, arrangements should be made with the instructor at least 24 hours prior to the lab so that the lab work can be made up. The instructor reserves the right to determine when make-up work is allowed. Students are responsible for all assignments, change of assignments, announcements, and other course-related materials.
  7. Late policy (instructor policy takes precedence):
    Late lab reports will not be accepted unless prior (i.e., at least 24 hours in advance) arrangements have been made with the instructor.
  8. Honor code:

    While groups may work together outside of class when deciphering their results, all handed-in material must be unique. That is, each group should actually compose their lab reports separately.

    Likewise, students may help each other outside of class when completing the pre-lab assignments, but the assignment submissions should reflect individual work and not any sort of collaboration.

    Any written material turned in to me (lab reports, pre-labs, exams, etc.) falls under the purview of the University and the ECE Honor System rules. If a lab report does not represent a group’s understanding of the material or a pre-lab or exam does not represent an individual’s understanding of the material, I will consider it to be an honor code violation. In these cases, I must report the incident to the ECE department.

  9. Disability services:
    Students with disabilities that have been certified by the Office for Disability Services will be appropriately accommodated and should inform the instructor as soon as possible of their needs.
    The Office for Disability Services
    150 Pomerene Hall
    1760 Neil Avenue
    Telephone: 614-292-3307, TDD: 614-292-0901

Course Information

From ECE Department ABET Syllabus for ECE 557 (as of 2010):
Course supervisor: Professor Stephen Yurkovich

Catalog Description:

Laboratory study of signal processing, control systems and their components, computer-controlled instrumentation, sampled data systems, analog and digital control.

Course Prerequisites or Concurring: 551

Courses that require 551 as prerequisite: 758

Prerequisites by Topic:

Laplace transforms, Z-transforms, stability, transfer functions, sampling, signals, systems.

Course Objectives:

  1. Utilization of real-world plants for computer control (Criteria 3(a),(b),(k)).
  2. Introduction of concepts from sampled-data systems and digital control (Criteria 3(a),(e)).
  3. Implementation of design with accompanying analysis (Criteria 3(a),(c),(e),(k)).
  4. Promote (interdisciplinary) team efforts via working with lab partner(s) (Criteria 3(d),(g)).
  5. Improve written communication skills through laboratory and project reports (Criterion 3(g)).
  6. Use of a commercially available software package (Matlab) for computer-aided analysis and design (Criteria 3(c),(k)).

Class Meeting Pattern

Related Courses

Other good control labs: ECE 757, ECE 758

Other good communications and signal processing (comm/SP) labs: ECE 508, ECE 609

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