With just two engineers, ATA used MathWorks tools to model the IRU, which includes actuators, platform dynamics, and sensors. They used Simulink Coder™ and Simulink Real-Time™ to immediately test their control designs on real-time hardware.
Control engineers used Simulink® to develop system models based on first principles. Starting with idealized models, they simulated the dynamics for the motion sensors and the actuators that move the optical platform and cancel vibrations. They used MATLAB® to linearize these models for controller design.
With MATLAB and Simulink, engineers applied balancing and numerical conditioning functions and blocks to reduce the order of the dynamic model subsystems before performing control system design.
Using Signal Processing Toolbox™, they performed frequency and time domain analysis to evaluate model performance. They then used Control System Toolbox™ to explore different control techniques, and Simulink to evaluate model performance parameters.
Next, engineers used DSP System Toolbox™ to build signals into the model. They used the model profiler in Simulink to identify performance bottlenecks. Simulink Design Optimization™ and Optimization Toolbox™ enabled them to refine their filters and controllers to obtain optimal performance.
Finally, ATA used Simulink Coder to automatically generate C code from the Simulink model. They ran the code in real time for each test using Simulink Real-Time, which runs on a desktop PC that includes three General Standards PCI-ADADIO boards. Sixteen analog input channels were dedicated to motion sensor inputs, four for actuator current measurements, and four for laser-scoring sensors on the test system. ATA engineers used four analog outputs to drive the actuators, and 24 digital outputs to set PGA gains for their custom electronics.
“Using Simulink Real-Time is so easy,” Eckelkamp-Baker explains. “You just set up the parameters, create the code, and run it on a desktop PC.”
ATA is in the final stages of testing its first-generation IRU for NASA Goddard.