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.
  1. 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 = 50 INR.

  2. 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 cost.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. The setups can be used to teach not just control systems theory, but also microcontrollers, embedded systems, mechatronics, and robotics.

  6. 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 this laboratory.

  7. The setups help perform hands-on experiments in addition to simulation-based ones.

  8. The setups do not need the user to be an expert at programming. Only a basic comfort with programming is assumed.

  9. A detailed lab manual, developed and constantly being updated at IIT Kanpur, is available for the setup.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.