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Block Diagrams

Introduction

Any system can be describes by a set of differential equations or can be represented by the schematic diagram containing all components and their connections.

The objectives of a block diagram


To provide an understanding of the signal flows in the system To enable modelling of complex systems from simple building blocks To allow us to generate the overall system transfer function A few rules allow us to simplify complex block diagrams into familiar forms

Component of Block Diagram


Transfer Function Variables Processes Summing point Take off point

Transfer Function

Variables

Variables are represented by arrows in block diagrams Variables correspond to a physical and measurable quantity
Example: suppose youre modeling a process for

producing a dye for clothing You must have a way of quantifying the dye color!

Variables must have physical units


Actual speed units are MPH or km/hr

Physical units

Determining the physical units of some quantities is not a trivial task! Example - setting the desired speed in the cruise control system This is actually an electrical signal in volts, but can we still call it MPH? It depends on what youre looking at how the vehicle speed will vary on a steep slope vs. the function of the cruise control electronics

Processes

Processes are represented by the blocks in block diagrams:


variable variable

Process

Processes must have at least one input variable and at least one output variable

Processes

Most processes transform units:


Accelerator depth (deg) Engine Engine speed (rpm)

glucagon (mg/dl)
insulin (mg/dl) Tissues

Glucose (mg/sec)

Processes

Processes can encompass sub-processes A system is just a process w/ sub-processes!


Actual glucose a & b cells measure glucose Actual glucose Measured glucose a & b cells release hormones Glucagon Insulin

a & b cell process

Glucagon Insulin

Measurement Processes

Processes that measure system outputs are called sensors Input is physical property (MPH, mg/dl, etc.) Output is electrical or mechanical signal Typically model output to have units of input
Actual speed Measured speed

Speedometer

Feedback Control Systems


Many systems measure their output and use this measurement to control system behavior This is known as feedback control the output is fed back into the system The summing junction is a special process that compares the input and the feedback Inputs to summing junction must have same units!
input process output

sensor

Summing point

Moving past a summing point

To the left past a summing junction

To the right past a summing junction

Take off Point

Moving past take off point

To the left past a summing junction

To the right past a summing junction

Typical Block Diagram Elements


Cascaded Systems

Parallel Systems

Generic Feedback Control System

Input is the output we want the system to have Summing junction subtracts the measured output from the desired output, difference is error signal Controller acts based on magnitude of error signal Actuator provides external power to system and effects changes based on controller output Plant is the process we are trying to control
desired output
controller actuator plant

output

sensor

Generic Feedback Control System

This is a general model, and may not be the same for every feedback control system Systems can have additional inputs known as disturbances into or between processes Can combine processes; typically controller and actuator are combined Describe and draw schematic, then recast your model into this form if possible
desired output
controller actuator plant

output

sensor

Cruise Control System Revisited


input: desired speed output: actual speed error: desired speed minus measured speed disturbance: wind, hills, etc.

controller: cruise control unit actuator: engine plant: vehicle dynamics sensor: speedometer

wind, hills

desired speed

cruise control

engine

vehicle

actual speed

speedometer

Glucose Regulation Revisited


input: desired blood glucose output: actual blood glucose error: desired minus measured blood glucose disturbance: eating, fasting, etc.

controller: a and b cells actuator: glucose storing or releasing tissues plant: glucose metabolism sensor: a and b cells (again)

eating, fasting

desired glucose

a&b cells

glucose tissues

glucose metabol.

actual glucose

a&b cells

Thermostat Example

Set thermostat to desired room temperature Thermostat measures room temperature Furnace or AC turn on if measured <> desired Air from furnace or AC changes room air temperature
external air

desired temp.

thermostat

furnace or AC

room air

actual temp.

thermostat

Toilet Flush Example

Float height determines desired water level Flush empties tank, float is lowered and valve opens Open valve allows water to enter tank Float returns to desired level and valve closes
flush

desired level

float

valve

water tank

actual level

float