Unlike input deadband, the sandwiched deadband between actuator and plant dynamics is very difficult to be explicitly compensated for due to the proceeding actuator dynamics whose effect may not be negligible. The paper presents a practical way to overcome the design conservativeness of existing methods in dealing with sandwiched deadband. Specifically, a describing function based nonlinear analysis method is proposed to characterize the effect of the sandwiched deadband on the stability and performance of the overall closed-loop system. The analysis results can be used to determine the highest closed-loop bandwidth that can be achieved without inducing residual limit cycles and instability. Optimal controller parameters can then be found to maximize the achievable closed-loop control performance. The technique is applied to an electrohydraulic system controlled by closed-center valves and a nonlinear feedback controller. Simulation results showed severe oscillations as the feedback control gains are increased to the predicted threshold values. Comparative experimental results also showed the effectiveness of the proposed method in reducing the conservativeness of traditional design and the improved closed-loop control performance in implementation.

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