Essentials of Mechatronics  ISBN: 0-471-72341-X- ©John Billingsley 2006 - published John Wiley & Sons, Inc

Essentials of Mechatronics


John Billingsley

    Table of Contents - with links to web demonstrations and simulation examples
    John Wiley & Sons, Inc website with links to publishing details
    John Billingsley's home page at the University of Southern Queensland
    Errata  - corrections to errors in the text and software improvements


    There are many definitions of mechatronics, but most involve the concept of blending mechanisms, electronics, sensors and control strategies into a design, knitted together with software.
    With an abundant wealth of topics to choose from, authors of mechatronics textbooks are tempted to bundle them all into a massive compendium.  This book seeks to throw out all but the essentials, though perhaps in hanging onto the baby, some bathwater will still remain.
    There are a hundred ways of achieving all but the simplest of mechatronic design tasks.  At every step, choice and compromise will be involved.  Should a precision motor be used or will a simple sensor and a sprinkle of feedback allow something cheaper and easier to do the trick?  What does the end-user ask for, really want, actually need – or eventually buy?
    Specialists can handle the fine detail, the composition of the molded plastic, the choice of components for the electronic interface, machining drawings, embedded computer or software development platform.  At the top of the pyramid, however, there must be a mechatronic designer capable of making the design trade-offs that will transform a client’s demands or a bright idea into a successful commercial product.
    In some ways, mechatronics is as much a philosophy as a science.  At its heart is a way of looking at tasks that will if necessary achieve their object by ducking aside into an alternative technology.  The mechatronic engineer knows where to look for the side-roads and has a shrewd idea of the merits of the diversion.


Chapter 1 - Introduction
    1.1 A personal view.
    1.2.  What is and is not mechatronics.
Chapter 2.  The bare essentials
    2.1 Actuators
    2.2 Sensors
    2.3 Sensors for vision
    2.4 The computer
    2.5 Interface electronics for output
    2.6 Interface electronics for output
    2.7 Pragmatic control
    2.8 Robotics and kinematics
Chapter 3.  Gaining experience
    3.1 Getting to grips with QBasic
    3.2 The simplest mobile robot
    3.3 Ball and beam
    3.4 'Professional' position control
    3.5 An inverted pendulum
Chapter 4.  Introduction to the next level
    4.1 The web site
Chapter 5.  Electronic design
    5.1 The rudiments of circuit theory
    5.2 The operational amplifier
    5.3 Filters for sensors
    5.4 Logic and latches
Chapter 6. Essential control theory
    6.1 State variables
    6.2 Simulation
    6.3 Solving the first-order equation
    6.4 Second order problems
    6.5 Modeling position control
    6.6 Matrix state equations
    6.7 Analogue simulation
    6.8 More formal computer simulation
Chapter 7.  Vectors, matrices and tensors
    7.1 Meet the matrix
    7.2 More on vectors
    7.3 Matrix multiplication
    7.4 Transposition of matrices
    7.5 The unit matrix
    7.6 Coordinate transformations
    7.7 Matrices, notation and computing
    7.8 Eigenvectors
Chapter 8.  Mathematics for control
    8.1 Differential equations
    8.2 The Laplace transform
    8.3 Difference equations
    8.4 The z-transform
    8.5 Correlation and convolution
Chapter 9.  Robotics, Dynamics and Kinematics
    9.1 Gears, motors and mechanisms
    9.2 Three dimensional motion
    9.3 Kinematic Chains
    9.4 Robot dynamics
    9.5 Simulating a robot
Chapter 10.  Further control theory
    10.1 Control topology and non-linear systems
    10.2 Phase-plane methods
    10.3 Optimisation
Chapter 11.  Computer implementation
    11.1 Essentials of computing
    11.2 Software implications
    11.3 Embedded processors
Chapter 12.  Machine vision
    12.1 Vision sensors
    12.2 Acquiring an image
    12.3 Analyzing an image
Chapter 13.  Case studies
    13.1 Robocow - a mobile robot for training horses
    13.2 Vision guidance for tractors
    13.3 A shape recognition example
Chapter 14.  The human element
    14.1 The user interface
    14.2 If all else fails, read the instructions
    14.3 It just takes imagination
An email address is printed on the last page of the book.
I would be delighted to receive comments, suggestions, questions and pointers to any errors that I have overlooked.
Please put EssMech in the subject line.


A number of typographic errors are starting to come to light.  There are also some (rather obvious) errors in some matrix expressions and some software listings have been improved.

5.3.5  A single chip ADC.
A corrected version of the code shown on p.109 is here.  As printed, a reduced range of central voltages are converted.  The new code gives correct conversion over the full range.
9.3.1 Chains of axes. 
On pages 175 and 176, a number of matrices show the individual transformations associated with the Unimation Puma.  The bottom right coefficient in each case should be 1, not zero as shown in the third, fifth and seventh matrices.

With warm thanks to the University of Southern Queensland, Australia, for hosting this web site.

Essentials of Mechatronics
John Billingsley
ISBN: 0-471-72341-X
Hardcover, 264 pages
Pub. May 2006