The RAPCON platform offers a seamless interface between physical plants and MATLAB/Simulink for implementation of hardware-in-the-loop real-time control systems. It is fully integrated into MATLAB/Simulink and has a broad range of inputs and outputs. It allows quick test and iteration of control strategies in real-time with a real plant in the loop. The platform is a complete and low-cost real-time control system development package for both educational and industrial applications.
The RAPCON platform consists of the real-time control board (hardware) and the associated MATLAB interface (software). The hardware of the RAPCON platform has versatile inputs and outputs. The board also contains two H-bridges with 5 A capability to drive external heavy loads. Some inputs and outputs are multiplexed to simplify the hardware. The board is interfaced to the host computer that runs MATLAB through a serial port. The software of the RAPCON platform is fully integrated into MATLAB/Simulink and comes with Simulink library blocks associated with each hardware input and output. The platform achieves real-time operation with sampling rates up to 15.2 kHz.
The RAPCON platform can be used to control various plants such as servo motors, stepper motors, brushless DC motors, magnetic levitation systems, inverted or rotary pendulums, robotic platforms; read analog, digital and PWM output sensors, such as temperature sensors, Hall effect sensors, accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers, ultrasonic distance sensors. It can also be used generate variable pulse width and frequency outputs, measure pulse width and frequency of signals, read from files and write to files. The RAPCON platform allows the user to implement any desired control strategy using the graphical environment of MATLAB/Simulink, tune the controller parameters while the system is running, and observe the response of the system in real-time.
The RAPCON platform has been developed to extend and optimize the real-time operation of MATLAB and Simulink. The developed system is uniquely integrated into MATLAB and Simulink to achieve real-time operation in MATLAB under Windows. The salient features of the RAPCON platform make it ideal for implementation of hardware-in-the-loop real-time control systems in both educational and industrial applications.