Reasons for why this lab is a model worth replicating
Below are some reasons for why this Control Systems Laboratory,
which is organized around a permanent magnet dc (PMDC) motor control
setup, is a model worth replicating in other colleges.
- A college would incur on commercial PMDC motor control
setups about 10 - 11 times the cost they would incur on
building our setups on their own.
Our setups were built in-house at IIT Kanpur and helped save
more than half a crore rupees on 25 setups in 2010 when 1 USD =
- We have used these setups since the past six years. The
setups have served us well. The only maintenance cost we have
incurred in 5 years is on components: at most INR 10 - 20
thousand a year. All repairs are done by our own lab in-charge
(Mr. Uday Mazumdar).
On the other hand, when a commercial setup goes bad, the company
is invariably called in for service and repairs, entailing a huge
- We have made all the schematics and circuit diagrams
"open-source". So, the colleges can build this setup on their
own, as well as something on top of this setup, create their own
experiments, and be creative with how they want to use these
setups in their laboratory.
We have been solving research problems using these setups.
Similarly, with minimal investment, the colleges too can develop
good research programs of their own using these setups.
The setups can be used to teach not just control systems theory,
but also microcontrollers, embedded systems, mechatronics, and
- We have offered an undergaduate control systems lab course
module (EE380) at IIT Kanpur six times so far using this
laboratory. In a student feedback from the first two offerings
of this module, a good majority of the students felt that this
lab module helped them gain confidence in building control
systems, in addition to discussing them theoretically. Details
of the survey are presented in the following paper
Gunasekaran, M.; Potluri, R., "Low-Cost Undergraduate Control
Systems Experiments Using Microcontroller-Based Control of a DC
Motor," Education, IEEE Transactions on , vol.55, no.4,
pp.508,516, Nov. 2012
Students from other colleges too could similarly benefit from
The setups help perform hands-on experiments in addition to
- The setups do not need the user to be an expert at
programming. Only a basic comfort with programming is assumed.
- A detailed lab manual, developed and constantly being
updated at IIT Kanpur, is available for the setup.
- Because the PMDC motor control setups are relatively
inexpensive and have a small footprint, adding setups to the
laboratory is only constrained by available space.
Our Control Systems Laboratory has 18 benches, with at most 2
students working at each bench. Nearly all the benches are used 4
days a week.
- Do you have money and are you considering spending it on
inverted pendulums and ball-beams, or some such complex setups?
Then, you may like to consider our experience working with
these complex setups.
In our experience, even the PMDC motor control setup is
challenging to control and debug, despite the fact that it is
one of the simplest control setups. The inverted pendulums and
ball-beams are an order of magnitude more challenging. We have
seen institutes stock their control sytems laboratories with
these complex setups, and then not know what to do with them,
or where to start.
We believe that these complex setups are best used for research
or for a postgraduate control systems laboratory, not in an
undergraduate laboratory. Further, in the price that you pay
for one off-the-shelf inverted pendulum and one ball-beam
setup, you could build 10 -- 20 of the PMDC motor control
setups (we could help you). So, by organizing your control
systems experiments around a laboratory such as ours, you end
up getting good value for your money.
Document dated: 31-12-2014.