The University of Waterloo (UW), located at the heart of Canada's Technology Triangle, has one of Canada’s largest Engineering faculties, with 6 Engineering Departments plus the School of Architecture. The Systems Design Engineering (SYDE) Department of the UW is presently using an electric model train to demonstrate a basic concept of system control to the students, as well as an example of how circuit theories are applied in the real world. The model train was originally designed to be controlled by a simple power switch and had no other functions. A team of engineers in SYDE chose to design a circuit that would allow the model train to be controlled by a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) board due to its ease-of-use and versatility. This circuit would act as the interface between the FPGA board and the model train, as shown in Figure 1. The switches on the FPGA board were to be selected by the user to energize corresponding electric signals and control the speed of the model train.
GuanLong Li, a co-op student from the University of Waterloo, along with other team members in SYDE was asked to design a circuit board which would be connected between a Xilinx Spartan-3 FPGA board and a model train, in order to control the model train.
This case study is intended for use in System design and Electrical engineering courses covering topics in circuit theories and system control. The case is proposed to be used in ECE124 (Digital Circuits and Systems), SYDE 101 (Introduction to Systems Design Engineering) and SYDE 352 (Introduction to Control Systems).