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CHAPTER

Introduction to Digital Control

In most modern engineering systems, there is a need to control the evolution with time of one or more of the system variables. Controllers are required to ensure satisfactory transient and steady-state behavior for these engineering systems. To guarantee satisfactory performance in the presence of disturbances and model uncertainty, most controllers in use today employ some form of negative feedback. A sensor is needed to measure the controlled variable and compare its behavior to a reference signal. Control action is based on an error signal dened as the difference between the reference and the actual values. The controller that manipulates the error signal to determine the desired control action has classically been an analog system, which includes electrical, uid, pneumatic, or mechanical components. These systems all have analog inputs and outputs (i.e., their input and output signals are dened over a continuous time interval and have values that are dened over a continuous range of amplitudes). In the past few decades, analog controllers have often been replaced by digital controllers whose inputs and outputs are dened at discrete time instances. The digital controllers are in the form of digital circuits, digital computers, or microprocessors. Intuitively, one would think that controllers that continuously monitor the output of a system would be superior to those that base their control on sampled values of the output. It would seem that control variables (controller outputs) that change continuously would achieve better control than those that change periodically. This is in fact true! Had all other factors been identical for digital and analog control, analog control would be superior to digital control. What then is the reason behind the change from analog to digital that has occurred over the past few decades?

Objectives
After completing this chapter, the reader will be able to do the following: 1. Explain the reasons for the popularity of digital control systems. 2. Draw a block diagram for digital control of a given analog control system. 3. Explain the structure and components of a typical digital control system.

CHAPTER 1 Introduction to Digital Control

1.1 WHY DIGITAL CONTROL?


Digital control offers distinct advantages over analog control that explain its popularity. Here are some of its many advantages: Accuracy. Digital signals are represented in terms of zeros and ones with typically 12 bits or more to represent a single number. This involves a very small error as compared to analog signals where noise and power supply drift are always present. Implementation errors. Digital processing of control signals involves addition and multiplication by stored numerical values. The errors that result from digital representation and arithmetic are negligible. By contrast, the processing of analog signals is performed using components such as resistors and capacitors with actual values that vary signicantly from the nominal design values. Flexibility. An analog controller is difcult to modify or redesign once implemented in hardware. A digital controller is implemented in rmware or software, and its modication is possible without a complete replacement of the original controller. Furthermore, the structure of the digital controller need not follow one of the simple forms that are typically used in analog control. More complex controller structures involve a few extra arithmetic operations and are easily realizable. Speed. The speed of computer hardware has increased exponentially since the 1980s. This increase in processing speed has made it possible to sample and process control signals at very high speeds. Because the interval between samples, the sampling period, can be made very small, digital controllers achieve performance that is essentially the same as that based on continuous monitoring of the controlled variable. Cost. Although the prices of most goods and services have steadily increased, the cost of digital circuitry continues to decrease. Advances in very large scale integration (VLSI) technology have made it possible to manufacture better, faster, and more reliable integrated circuits and to offer them to the consumer at a lower price. This has made the use of digital controllers more economical even for small, low-cost applications.

1.2 THE STRUCTURE OF A DIGITAL CONTROL SYSTEM


To control a physical system or process using a digital controller, the controller must receive measurements from the system, process them, and then send control signals to the actuator that effects the control action. In almost all applications, both the plant and the actuator are analog systems. This is a situation

1.3 Examples of Digital Control Systems

Reference Input Computer

DAC

Actuator and Process

Controlled Variable

ADC
FIGURE 1.1 Conguration of a digital control system.

Sensor

where the controller and the controlled do not speak the same language and some form of translation is required. The translation from controller language (digital) to physical process language (analog) is performed by a digital-to-analog converter, or DAC. The translation from process language to digital controller language is performed by an analog-to-digital converter, or ADC. A sensor is needed to monitor the controlled variable for feedback control. The combination of the elements discussed here in a control loop is shown in Figure 1.1. Variations on this control conguration are possible. For example, the system could have several reference inputs and controlled variables, each with a loop similar to that of Figure 1.1. The system could also include an inner loop with digital or analog control.

1.3 EXAMPLES OF DIGITAL CONTROL SYSTEMS


In this section, we briey discuss examples of control systems where digital implementation is now the norm. There are many other examples of industrial processes that are digitally controlled, and the reader is encouraged to seek other examples from the literature.

1.3.1 Closed-Loop Drug Delivery System


Several chronic diseases require the regulation of the patients blood levels of a specic drug or hormone. For example, some diseases involve the failure of the bodys natural closed-loop control of blood levels of nutrients. Most prominent among these is the disease diabetes, where the production of the hormone insulin that controls blood glucose levels is impaired. To design a closed-loop drug delivery system, a sensor is utilized to measure the levels of the regulated drug or nutrient in the blood. This measurement is converted to digital form and fed to the control computer, which drives a pump that injects the drug into the patients blood. A block diagram of the drug delivery system is shown in Figure 1.2. Refer to Carson and Deutsch (1992) for a more detailed example of a drug delivery system.

CHAPTER 1 Introduction to Digital Control

Drug Tank

Computer Drug Pump Blood Sensor


(a)

Regulated Drug or Nutrient

Reference Blood Level

Computer

DAC

Drug Pump Blood Sensor


(b)

Patient

Regulated Drug or Nutrient

ADC

FIGURE 1.2 Drug delivery digital control system. (a) Schematic of a drug delivery system. (b) Block diagram of a drug delivery system.

1.3.2 Computer Control of an Aircraft Turbojet Engine


To achieve the high performance required for todays aircraft, turbojet engines employ sophisticated computer control strategies. A simplied block diagram for turbojet computer control is shown in Figure 1.3. The control requires feedback of the engine state (speed, temperature, and pressure), measurements of the aircraft state (speed and direction), and pilot command.

1.3.3 Control of a Robotic Manipulator


Robotic manipulators are capable of performing repetitive tasks at speeds and accuracies that far exceed those of human operators. They are now widely used in manufacturing processes such as spot welding and painting. To perform their tasks accurately and reliably, manipulator hand (or end-effector) positions and velocities are controlled digitally. Each motion or degree of freedom (D.O.F.) of the manipulator is positioned using a separate position control system. All the

1.3 Examples of Digital Control Systems

(a)

Pilot Command

Computer

DAC

Turbojet Engine Engine Sensors Aircraft Sensors


(b)

Aircraft

Aircraft State

ADC

Engine State

ADC

FIGURE 1.3 Turbojet engine control system. (a) F-22 military ghter aircraft. (b) Block diagram of an engine control system.

motions are coordinated by a supervisory computer to achieve the desired speed and positioning of the end-effector. The computer also provides an interface between the robot and the operator that allows programming the lower-level controllers and directing their actions. The control algorithms are downloaded from the supervisory computer to the control computers, which are typically specialized microprocessors known as digital signal processing (DSP) chips. The DSP chips execute the control algorithms and provide closed-loop control for the manipulator. A simple robotic manipulator is shown in Figure 1.4a, and a block diagram of its digital control system is shown in Figure 1.4b. For simplicity, only one motion control loop is shown in Figure 1.4, but there are actually n loops for an n-D.O.F. manipulator.

CHAPTER 1 Introduction to Digital Control

Reference Trajectory

(a)
Supervisory Computer

Computers

DAC

Manipulator

ADC

Position Sensors Velocity Sensors

ADC
(b)
FIGURE 1.4

Robotic manipulator control system. (a) 3-D.O.F. robotic manipulator. (b) Block diagram of a manipulator control system.

RESOURCES
Carson, E. R., and T. Deutsch, A spectrum of approaches for controlling diabetes, Control Syst. Mag., 12(6):25-31, 1992. Chen, C. T., Analog and Digital Control System Design, SaundersHBJ, 1993. Koivo, A. J., Fundamentals for Control of Robotic Manipulators, Wiley, 1989. Shaffer, P. L., A multiprocessor implementation of a real-time control of turbojet engine, Control Syst. Mag., 10(4):38-42, 1990.

Problems

PROBLEMS
1.1 A uid level control system includes a tank, a level sensor, a uid source, and an actuator to control uid inow. Consult any classical control text1 to obtain a block diagram of an analog uid control system. Modify the block diagram to show how the uid level could be digitally controlled. 1.2 If the temperature of the uid in Problem 1.1 is to be regulated together with its level, modify the analog control system to achieve the additional control. (Hint: An additional actuator and sensor are needed.) Obtain a block diagram for the two-input-two-output control system with digital control. 1.3 Position control servos are discussed extensively in classical control texts. Draw a block diagram for a direct current motor position control system after consulting your classical control text. Modify the block diagram to obtain a digital position control servo. 1.4 Repeat Problem 1.3 for a velocity control servo. 1.5 A ballistic missile is required to follow a predetermined ight path by adjusting its angle of attack a (the angle between its axis and its velocity vector v). The angle of attack is controlled by adjusting the thrust angle d (angle between the thrust direction and the axis of the missile). Draw a block diagram for a digital control system for the angle of attack including a gyroscope to measure the angle a and a motor to adjust the thrust angle d.

Vct elo iy Vv ec t o r Tt hu rs D to irecn i

FIGURE P1.5 Missile angle-of-attack control.

1.6 A system is proposed to remotely control a missile from an earth station. Because of cost and technical constraints, the missile coordinates would be measured every 20 seconds for a missile speed of up to 500 m/s. Is such a control scheme feasible? What would the designers need to do to eliminate potential problems?
1

See, for example, J. Van deVegte, Feedback Control Systems, Prentice Hall, 1994.

CHAPTER 1 Introduction to Digital Control

1.7 The control of the recording head of a dual actuator hard disk drive (HDD) requires two types of actuators to achieve the required a high real density. The rst is a coarse voice coil motor (VCM) with a large stroke but slow dynamics, and the second is a ne piezoelectric transducer (PZT) with a small stroke and fast dynamics. A sensor measures the head position and the position error is fed to a separate controller for each actuator. Draw a block diagram for a dual actuator digital control system for the HDD.2

J. Ding, F. Marcassa, S.-C. Wu, and M. Tomizuka, Multirate control for computational saving, IEEE Trans. Control Systems Tech., 14(1):165-169, 2006.