I am an engineering student and I took my second dedicated controls class last semester. It was cool math and whatnot, but after all was said and done: I still have no idea how to make an actual working control system.
In other words, there was no tie-in to reality at all; it was all Laplace-domain mathematics that somehow affected our result.
What I want to know is: how do I go from real-space, to controls-space, and back to real-space? To help with understanding, I have prepared an example:
I have platform that is supported by a vertical rod. This rod can freely move up and down, or rather, it would be able to if it was not held in position by a motor (either a servo or a gear). The job of this motor is to keep the platform at the same height. E.g., if I place a mass on the platform, the motor must be able to adjust to it and respond accordingly such that after the response, the height of the platform is the same as before. (Of course, with a specified rise time, maximum overshoot, yada yada...).
This might sound trivial to you controls engineers out there, but I really don't know how to do this. I get that it is a closed loop system, but what I don't know is what all these laplace-space block diagrams correlate to in the real world. How do I get the block diagram for this system, and how do I build a controller inside of it?
The point of this example is to extend it to other problems, like airplane control, but I figure if I don't understand this I probably won't be able to do those other (cooler) things!