Date of Award

Spring 1996

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Electrical Engineering - (M.S.)


Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Timothy Nam Chang

Second Advisor

Walter F. Kosonocky

Third Advisor

Philip R. Goode


A Digital Signal Processor (DSP) based optical position sensor was developed. The sensor system consists of the following components: 1) analog electronics, 2) the DSP based synchronous demodulation software, 3) PC based interface software which samples and saves the data, and 4) PC based control codes for a flexible beam. experiment.

The ability of the system to determine the distance from the optical sensor to the power modulated light source was assessed by the following tests: 1) a stationary drift test to evaluate the system's noise, 2) a short-range test to determine the resolution of the optical sensor over a 25mm range and, 3) a long-range test to evaluate the ability of the system to predict the location of the optical sensor over a 600mm range. It was found that the resolution of the system is approximately 0.5mm for the short range test and 5mm for the long range test.

Finally, the sensor was deployed for the position feedback of a flexible beam experiment. Performance indices used to evaluate the response of the system were: 1) the sum of the squared position error, 2) the final steady state position error of the end of the flexible beam, and 3) the 5% settling time of the flexible beam. A number of control laws were evaluated and it was determined that a variable PID controller produced the best overall performance. The system can consistently position the end of the flexible beam from a +1-20cm to within 5mm of the command position in approximately 8 seconds with a properly tuned controller.