In June of this year I had the opportunity to attend our DISTek-led Modeling and Simulation training course. Currently, I am the lead of the Automation and Test group here at DISTek, but in my previous roles I have been heavily involved in desktop application development, as well as test system development primarily using LabVIEW. My exposure to modeling and embedded has been somewhat limited thus far, so I thought it would be a good experience to learn some of the basics.
Going into the training I had very few preconceived notions about what Simulink might be like. I knew it was programmed in a visual sort of way, so I thought my background in LabVIEW would be helpful in understanding how things work. One thing I learned early on, however, is that there are actually several different ways of performing the same tasks inside the MATLAB software set. One of those ways is Simulink and that is similar to the visual data-flow programming I was used to from working with LabVIEW. Another way of programming something is to use a tool I didn’t know about before called Stateflow, which is better at representing logic flow and state machines. It is also possible to do things directly in MATLAB via scripting if desired.
Another thing that I learned was the difference between plant models and control models. I had heard the two terms thrown around a lot but didn’t have a good understanding of what they mean. As it turns out, plant modeling is creating a model of the physical components that go around the controller; whereas control modeling is the process of designing and simulating the algorithms and controls that will go on the controller itself.
The training had us going through several exercises using the different methods of model development, as well as good modeling architecture practices, fixed-point data operations, and how to generate embedded code when the model is complete. I took this course in order to get a high-level overview of the simulation world but for a 2-day course it was really very comprehensive and well explained. I would recommend it to anyone looking to get a detailed introduction to the MATLAB toolset and modeling or to someone who wants an in depth picture of what modeling and simulation is all about.
Our next training class is scheduled to be held November 7th & 8th, 2018, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. If you are interested, please contact us for more information.