This collection of four labs guides students through modeling, PD control, state-feedback control, and attitude LQG design of a 2-DOF helicopter using the Quanser Aero.

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The Quanser Aero can be configured as a conventional dual-rotor helicopter to allow students to explore the control theories of a 2-DOF application. This collection of four labs guides students through modeling, PD control, state-feedback control, and attitude LQG design of a 2-DOF helicopter.

Quanser Inc.



  • Students will learn control theory in the context of a 2-DOF helicopter.
  • Students will gain proficiency deriving equations of motion and transfer functions.
  • Students will gain first-hand experience simulating and experimenting with control theory applications.
  • Students will integrate LabVIEW, myRIO, and the Quanser Aero to design and implement a PD control, state-feedback control using LQR optimization, and a Kalman-based LQR observer and controller.




Level University
Topic Controls
Style Laboratory
Prerequisite Skills  Understanding of Controls, LabVIEW Experience


Lab 1: 2-DOF Modeling

This lab introduces students to the principles of modeling in control theory and its importance within engineering using the configuration of a 2-DOF helicopter. In the field of control systems, modeling is the established technique for initial control design allowing engineers to hone in on a set of control parameters, and test the predicted performance of the system. In this lab, students use LabVIEW to develop a model for the Quanser AERO’s thrusters to relate the voltage applied to the angular speed of the propellers for a 2-DOF helicopter.

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Lab 2: 2-DOF PD Control

In this lab, students will be exposed to some basic specifications for a 2-DOF helicopter, and learn how to design a controller to meet those specifications. In most systems, there are two types of control methodologies - open loop control and closed loop control. In the former, the control effort is proportional to the output variable. To automate this system, feedback from the system can be used to modulate the control effort and bring the output variable to a setpoint or the desired value.

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Lab 3: 2-DOF State-Feedback Control

In this lab, students will learn about the limitations of PID or PD control, and the benefits of an optimal controller such as the Linear Quadratic Regulator (LQR). Students will explore the Linear Quadratic Regulator State-Feedback Control with regards to the 2-DOF helicopter Aero configuration in this lab.

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Lab 4: 2-DOF Attitude LQG Design

In this lab, students will learn about the applications of an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), which is usually a combination of accelerometers and a gyroscope with coincident axes, and its drawbacks. Students will also be introduced to the Linear Quadratic Gaussian controller, a combination of an LQR to find the optimal control gains and a Kalman filter to estimate the state in a noisy system. Such a combination is common in various aerospace systems. In this lab, students will apply the concepts of the Linear Quadratic Gaussian controller to the 2-DOF Aero configuration.

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Quanser AERO

Quanser AERO

The Quanser AERO is a fully integrated lab experiment consisting of two propellers, powered by DC motors, designed for teaching mechatronics and controls concepts at the undergraduate level, as well as for advanced aerospace research applications.

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Detailed Requirements

Required Software

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  • myRIO Software Bundle (2013 or later)
    • LabVIEW (Requires license)
    • LabVIEW Real-Time Module (Requires license)
    • LabVIEW myRIO Toolkit
    • LabVIEW Quanser Rapid Control Prototyping (QRCP) Toolkit
    • LabVIEW Control Design and Simulation Module
    • LabVIEW MathScript RT Module (only used in certain VIs)

Required Hardware

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