6.302 iLab Homepage

A WebLab for Signals, Systems, Circuits, and Control

Frequency-domain techniques are among the most important concepts that students learn in courses in signals, systems, circuits, and control. Simple laboratory assignments illustrating these techniques provide students with both crucial learning opportunities and practical experimental experience. These experiments encourage both sustained student interest and subject retention. Unfortunately, experimental work by students requires laboratory space, stocked with test equipment and staffed by teaching assistants. Many engineering classes do not include a lab component because of the significant expense involved.

This remote laboratory project provides for much more efficient sharing of expensive measurement equipment. Students can conduct the experiments from any computer on their own schedule, instead of in a specialized lab on the lab's schedule.

In this weblab framework, students use a Java-based Lab Client to configure system parameters and submit jobs to the Lab Server. The Lab Server computer and a dynamic signal analyzer (an HP 3562A, as shown at right) take frequency-response measurements of the system-under-test. This weblab system allows the measurements of electronic, electromechanical, mechanical, and thermal systems.

The Java-based Lab Client runs in any web browser, and the Lab Server and laboratory hardware can be located in any remote location. Communication between the Client and the Server is mediated by the iLab Service Broker (developed by the MIT CECI and iCampus). In a typical student experiment, the student provides the system settings and measurement parameters (1). The Lab Server sets up the system under test (2) and drives the dynamic signal analyzer (3). The analyzer measures the frequency response of the system (4), and returns the data to the Lab Server (5). The Lab Server forwards the measured data to the Client (6), which displays the information for the student.





Sample Files

  • XML Experiment Routine: used by the course staff to specify the experimental routines to be run by the lab hardware connected to the Lab Server. It is also used to specify what inputs need to be provided by students when running their experiments from the Lab Client.

  • XML Lab Configuration: this file is generated dynamically at the Lab Server based on the Experiment Routine. It is used to populate the Lab Client's dynamic UI components. These components include the input text fields and their corresponding labels, the lab description, available offline results, and the schematic diagram for the current experiment.

  • XML Experiment Specification: this file consists of the experimental parameters specified by the user through the input text fields at the Lab Client. The Lab Server uses these experimental parameters to set up the experiment hardware appropriately when running the user's experiment job.

  • XML Experiment Result: this file consists of frequency, magnitude, and phase vectors of results for the user's successfully completed experiment.

  • XML Offline Data: experiment results from previously run experiments that are made available online for public consumption through the Lab Client.

  • XML Saved Setup file from client

  • Client exported files: Matlab format, comma-separated values, screen shot (jpg)

  • Graphic files: block diagram and complete schematic


Related Links



Laboratory experience is an irreplaceable component of education. The purpose of iLabs is not to replace laboratory work by students, but to insert experimental work where none existed before.

Professor del Alamo's Microelectronics Weblab for 6.012 is a perfect example of this philosophy. Before the weblab was deployed, there was no laboratory work in the class. Providing students with laboratory space, stocked with equipment, and staffed by teaching assistants would have been impossible for a traditional lab. However, with the iLab architecture, students can now gather real transistor data without the prohibitive expense of space, equipment, and staff.

This page has been accessed at least several times since July 2004.
Last updated: 27 April 2005, by Kent Lundberg.