Ball and Beam

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Introduce Unstable Closed Loop System Control Concepts

The Ball and Beam module is ideal to introduce various control concepts related to unstable closed loop systems. You can use it to demonstrate real-world control challenges such as aircraft roll control.

The Ball and Beam module attaches to the Rotary Servo Base Unit (SRV02). Using this experiment, students learn to:

  • design a proportional-velocity compensator to control the servo load shaft
  • design a cascade control to stabilize the ball
  • implement the controllers and evaluate the performance of the system

In addition to teaching intermediate control concepts, the Ball and Beam can be used for research in various areas, including neural networks and nonlinear control.

How It Works

The Ball and Beam module consists of a steel rod in parallel with a nickel-chromium, wire-wound resistor forming the track on which the metal ball is free to roll. The track is effectively a potentiometer, outputting a voltage that’s proportional to the position of the ball.

When coupled to the Rotary Servo Base Unit, the tilt angle of the beam can be controlled by changing the servo gear angle. The Ball and Beam module can be operated in stand-alone mode, and the ball position can be controlled via the user interface. The Ball and Beam module can also be paired with an additional Remote Sensor module, in which case the system operates in a Master/Slave mode where the ball on the beam will follow the reference ball position of the second Ball and Beam module.

Quanser-developed ABET-aligned Courseware Included

The Ball and Beam module comes with Quanser-developed courseware standardized for ABET evaluation criteria. The workbook with exercises, together with the quick setup resources, a comprehensive User Guide, pre-designed controllers and the system model allow you to get your lab running faster, saving months of time typically required to develop lab materials.

  • High quality aluminum chassis with precision-crafted parts
  • Robust machined aluminum casing with stainless steel rod
  • Ball and Beam module easily attaches to Rotary Servo Base Unit
  • Optional Master/Slave configuration with additional Ball and Beam module
  • Easy-connect cables and connectors
  • Fully compatible with MATLAB®/Simulink® and LabVIEW™
  • Fully documented system models & parameters provided for MATLAB®, Simulink®, LabVIEW™ and Maple™
  • Open architecture design, allowing users to design their own controller
Calibrationed base dimensions (L x W) 50 cm  x 22.5 cm
Beam length 42.55 cm
Lever arm length 12 cm
Support arm length 16 cm
Ball diameter 2.54 cm
Ball mass 0.064 kg
Ball position sensor bias power ±12 V
Ball position sensor measurement range ±5 V
Ball and Beam module mass 0.65 kg

Topics Included in Quanser-developed Courseware:

Modeling Topics

  • First-principles derivation
  • Transfer function representation
  • Linearization
  • Model validation

Control Topics

  • Multiple loops
  • PID
The Ball and Beam can be also used to teach other topics that are not included in Quanser-developed courseware.

To set up your Ball and Beam workstation, you need additional components. Quanser engineers recommend:

for MATLAB®/Simulink® users for LabVIEW™ users
1x SRV02 Rotary Servo Base Unit 1x SRV02 Rotary Servo Base Unit
1x Q2-USB data acquisition device¹ 1x VoltPAQ-X1 linear voltage amplifier
1x VoltPAQ-X1 linear voltage amplifier 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 myRIO
  - 1x NI CompactRIO controller² with 1x Quanser Q1-CRIO module
  - 1x NI M- or X-series data acquisition device³ with 1x Quanser NI Terminal Board

¹ alternatively, you can use Q8-USB, QPIDe or any equivalent NI DAQ device supported by QUARC
² NI cRIO-9074, or NI cRIO-9024 with cRIO-9113 chassis
³ NI DAQ device must be supported by Quanser RCP toolkit. Alternatively, you can use Quanser Q2-USBQ8-USB, or QPIDe

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