Temperature Control Lab

This lab is an application of feedback control for a temperature control device. There are two heaters and two temperature sensors. The heater power output is adjusted to maintain a desired temperature setpoint. Thermal energy from the heater is transferred by conduction, convection, and radiation to the temperature sensor. Heat is also transferred away from the device to the surroundings. This lab is a resource for model identification and controller development. It is a pocket-sized lab with the purpose of reinforcing control theory for students.

Portable Temperature Control Lab for Learning Process Control

This lab teaches principles of system dynamics and control. In particular, this lab reinforces:

Download Files

Student Resources (MATLAB/Simulink and Python)

Instructor and Development Resources

Lab Instructions

The following activities should be completed with this lab.

A report is due at the end of the project that details the modeling, parameter estimation, and control performance.

Students are assembled into groups of two for this lab. One report should be submitted for each group.

Tutorial Videos (MATLAB/Simulink and Python)

Solutions include additional advanced methods for control that are not covered in this class but are learned in Dynamic Optimization.

  • Dynamic modeling
    • First principles
    • Empirical / machine learning
  • Dynamic Estimation
    • Parameter regression
    • Kalman filter
    • Moving Horizon Estimation
  • Process control
    • ON/OFF control
    • PID control
    • Stability analysis
  • Advanced control
    • Linear and Nonlinear
    • Model Predictive Control
    • SISO - Single Input Single Output
    • MIMO - Multiple Input Multiple Output

Moving Horizon Estimation

The 2015 NSF-sponsored report Chemical Engineering Academia-Industry Alignment: Expectations about New Graduates identifies a strong industrial need for practical understanding of process control and system dynamics. Industry feedback also suggests more weight on translating process control theory to practice. To meet this need, laboratory experiences are integrated into many process control courses. With the growth of enrollment in chemical engineering, laboratory resources are often strained and scheduling for these labs can be difficult to manage. For this reason, we developed a pocket-sized process control lab that reinforces process control theory and is available to groups of two students each.

We give the small and inexpensive process control experiment to students to reinforce concepts in dynamics and control theory. A few other universities are currently adopting this lab for process control instruction. Current participating universities include Notre Dame, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech, New York University, Louisiana Tech, McMaster University, Christian Brothers University, Villanova, University of Iowa, Brigham Young University, and others. This lab was presented at the 2017 ASEE Summer School at NCSU as part of resources for teaching process transient analysis. Lab solutions for instructors are provided in Python and MATLAB. Instructors can join a bulk order by filling out an information form. The lab is also available for purchase from the PayPal link below. A first version of the lab at BYU was $49 each as shown in the parts list but is now reduced due to bulk suppliers. The lab kit includes:

  • Arduino Uno
  • Temperature control PCB shield
  • USB barrel jack power cable for heaters
  • 5V USB power supply (US plug)
  • USB cable for serial connection to MacOS, Windows, or Linux computer
  • Small cardboard box
Lab Type
Arduino Firmware (can change later)
Other notes (e.g. EU Plug)

Over 700 lab kits have been distributed as of February 2018.