The availability of low-cost, readily programmable digital hardware offers numerous opportunities for novel modeling and control approaches. One such opportunity is the realization of hardware modeling of distributed dynamic systems. Such models could be useful for control algorithms that require high-fidelity models operating in real-time. The ultimate goal is to utilize digital systems with programmable hardware. As a proof-of-concept, multiple discrete microcontrollers have been used to emulate how programmable hardware devices may be used to simulate a distributed vibrating system. Specifically, each microcontroller is treated as a single vibrating mass with stiffness and damping coupling between the masses. Each microcontroller has associated position and velocity variables. The only additional knowledge required to compute the acceleration of each “mass” is thus the position and velocity of each immediate neighboring mass/microcontroller. The computation time is independent of the number of nodes; adding nodes results in no reduction in processing speed. Consequently, the computational approach will be applicable to very high order models. Practical implementation of such models will require digitally programmable hardware such as field-programmable gate arrays (FPGA), however an added benefit will be a still greater reduction in cost, as multiple microcontrollers are replaced by a single FPGA. It is expected that the hardware modeling approach described in this work will have application not only in the field of vibration modeling and control, but also in other fields where control of distributed dynamic systems is desired.

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