2 DOF Helicopter

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Teach Aerospace Fundamentals More Effectively

The 2 DOF Helicopter system is a simplified helicopter model, ideally suited to introduce intermediate to advanced control concepts and theories relevant to real world applications of flight dynamics and control in the rigid body helicopters, spacecraft or underwater vessels. Students learn how to:

  • develop a state-space model of the system
  • design a state-feedback controller to regulate the elevation and travel angels of the 2 DOF Helicopter
  • investigate the closed-loop position control performance of the feed-forward and the LQR PID position controller using a nonlinear model of the system
  • implement the controller on the 2 DOF Helicopter system and evaluate its performance

In addition to teaching control concepts, the 2 DOF Helicopter can be used for research in various areas, including adaptive control and system identification.

How It Works

The 2 DOF Helicopter consists of a model helicopter body and a metal base. The helicopter has two propellers mounted perpendicularly to each other, both are actuated by DC motors. This emulates the common helicopter configuration with a main rotor and anti-torque tail rotor. The front propeller controls the pitch axis - rotating the center of the body about the horizontal (i.e. front propeller goes up and down). The back propeller controls the yaw axis - the angle about the vertical base. Both axes are measured using high-resolution encoders. The slip ring mechanism on the vertical axis allows the body to freely rotate about the yaw angle, by eliminating the need for any wires to connect the motors and encoders to the base. The inherent torque effect from the front propeller causes the body to rotate and must be compensated by the tail rotor, just like in full-sized helicopters, which can make for interesting modeling and control challenges.

Quanser-developed Courseware Included

The 2 DOF Helicopter comes with Quanser-developed courseware. The Laboratory Guide, together with quick start resources, a comprehensive User Manual, pre-designed controllers and system model allow you to get your lab running faster, saving months of time typically required to develop lab materials.

  • Two degrees of freedom (2 DOF): body rotates about pitch and yaw axes
  • Propellers driven by high-quality MICROMO and Pittman DC motors
  • High-resolution optical encoders for precise position measurements
  • Slip ring allows infinite motion about the vertical and yaw axis
  • Easy-connect cables and connectors
  • Precise, stiff and heavy-duty machined components
  • Fully compatible with MATLAB®/Simulink® and LabVIEW™
  • Fully documented system models and parameters provided for MATLAB®, Simulink®, LabVIEW™ and Maple™
  • Open architecture design, allowing users to design their own controller
Device mass 3.46 kg
Device height (ground to top of base) 45 cm
Helicopter body mass 1.39 kg
Helicopter body length 48 cm
Base dimensions ( W × L) 17.5 cm x 17.5 cm
Pitch encoder resolution (in quadrature) 4096 counts/rev
Yaw/travel encoder resolution (in quadrature) 8192 counts/rev
Pitch angle range 75 (± 37.5 deg)
Yaw angle range 360 deg
Pitch force thrust constant   0.22 N/V¹
Yaw pitch thrust constant 0.43 N/V¹
Propeller diameter 20.3 cm
Propeller pitch 15.2 cm
Pitch/front motor resistance 0.83 Ω
Pitch/front motor - current-torque constant 0.0182 Nm/A
Yaw/back motor resistance 1.60 Ω
Yaw/back motor - current-torque constant 0.0109 Nm/A

¹ These parameters were identified experimentally and will be different on each system

Topics included in the Quanser-developed courseware:

  • Derivation of simple dynamic model
  • State space representation
  • State feedback control with feed-forward and integral anti-windup
  • LQR control design
  • Control parameters tuning
The 2 DOF Helicopter can be used to teach also other topics not included in the Quanser-developed courseware.

To set up your 2 DOF Helicopter workstation, you need additional components. Quanser engineers recommend:

for MATLAB®/Simulink® users for LabVIEW™ users
1x Q2-USB data acquisition device¹ 1x VoltPAQ-X2 linear voltage amplifier²
1x VoltPAQ-X2 linear voltage amplifier² Quanser Rapid Control Prototyping toolkit software
QUARC real-time control software and one of the following options:
  - 1x NI myRIO with 1x Quanser Terminal Board for NI myRIO
  - 1x NI CompactRIO³ controller with 2x Quanser Q1-CRIO module
  - 1x NI M- or X-series data acquisition device4 with 1x Quanser NI Terminal Board

¹ alternatively, you can use Q8-USB, QPIDe or any equivalent NI DAQ device supported by QUARC
² alternatively, you can use two VoltPAQ-X1 amplifiers

³ NI cRIO-9074, or NI cRIO-9024 with cRIO-9113 chassis
4 NI DAQ device must be supported by Quanser RCP toolkit. Alternatively, you can use Quanser Q2-USBQ8-USB, or QPIDe

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