FlexLab and LevLab: A Portable Control and Mechatronics Educational System

Lei Zhou, Jun Young Yoon (Corresponding author), Alex Andrien, Mohammad Imani Nejad, Blair T. Allison, David L. Trumper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This article describes a compact, low-cost, single-board FlexLab/LevLab electromechanical system for use in teaching modeling, dynamics, and control of mechatronic systems. The portable educational platform proposed in this article enables a flipped-lab approach where students can do experimental work outside a dedicated lab facility and so, achieve a better understanding through more extensive hands-on experiences. The system has actuators, sensors, and power electronics implemented on a 70 × 100 mm printed circuit board. Mechanical motion in up to three degrees of freedom (DoFs) is implemented using on-board spiral coils as Lorentz actuators to drive moving permanent magnets (PM) with Hall effect position sensing on each magnet. The maximum magnet motion range is 4 and 3 mm in the vertical direction for the FlexLab and LevLab, respectively, and the positioning noise of the Hall effect sensors with an oversampling filter is approximately 0.2 μm RMS. In the FlexLab configuration, up to three PM disk pairs can be mounted on a flexible cantilever beam in locations which interact with three spiral coils. This configuration allows modeling, measurement, and control of second-, fourth-, and sixth-order mass-spring system dynamics. In the LevLab configuration, the board can implement both singleand three-DoF magnetic suspension systems via Lorentz forces on either a spherical PM or three pairs of disk PMs on a triangular backbone.
Original languageEnglish
Article number8890908
Pages (from-to)305-315
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020


  • Cantilever beam
  • hands-on education
  • magnetic levitation
  • portable educational system


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