New laboratory kit

A bring your own experiment (BYOE) is a special category of papers at the ASEE Annual Conference in the Division Experimentation and Lab-Oriented Studies.  In a BYOE paper the author describes how to develop equipment and/or a novel set of experiments.  At the 2015 ASEE Annual Conference, I published a BYOE paper about the GE 320 laboratory kit I developed and the experiments that can be performed with the kit.  During the conference, instead of a traditional paper presentation, I demonstrated an experiment with the kit in a science fair style session.  The full paper can be found on the ASEE PEER website.  


The kit includes a Raspberry Pi (a single-board computer), DC motor, and other circuits and sensors. The kit’s custom components were 3D printed. All other components of the kit can be purchased from online retailers such as Adafruit or Sparkfun for a total cost of about $130. This kit could replace expensive equipment with an affordable alternative that can be easily shipped anywhere in the world and used by students with any computer. The low cost and portability of the kit greatly enhance the accessibility of the laboratory experience to students in budget-strapped campus laboratories and those participating in distance education.  Five experiments have been designed for this kit: introduction to the sensors, introduction to the equipment, first principles system identification, black box system identification, and proportional-integral-derivative (PID) control. The two introductory experiments enable students to get acquainted to the sensors and the equipment that will be used throughout the course. In the first principles system identification experiment, students measure the motor’s individual parameters including the armature resistance and inductance to create a mathematical model. In the black box system identification, the students confirm their model from the previous experiment by analyzing the step and frequency response of the motor. In the final experiment, the students design, simulate, and test proportional, proportional + derivative, and proportional + speed controllers for the position of the motor. For all of the experiments, the students use MATLAB and Simulink to program the Raspberry Pi and collect data.  Currently the kit is being tested in a traditional laboratory space with limited contact hours.  However, once the kit has been proven effective, pedagogies that take advantage of the size and cost will be explored, such as studio learning, project based learning, or additions to an online course or MOOC. Add-ons will also be designed so that the kit can be used in more advancedcontrols courses.


Reck, R. M. (2015, June), BYOE: Affordable and Portable Laboratory Kit for Controls Courses Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23653