Computer control system is an approach that is used to control and monitor specific parameters of substances within laboratory settings remotely. The elements of a control system include two important parts; data acquisition instruments that enable monitoring of desired parameters and microcontrollers intelligent instruments that are essential for controlling the desired parameters (Hebert, 2007). In this paper we are going to briefly discuss the functioning system of one control system used in regulating temperatures for liquid substances among other variables in a laboratory setting; the iControl system.
The advantages of using iControl systems within laboratory settings are many and numerous; most important is the fact it enables control and monitoring of key variables in a laboratory environment that might pose risk where hazardous substances are involved (Hebert, 2007). In addition, the iControl system enables monitoring and control of parameters over long duration of time thereby saving on costs associated with personnel that would have been required to achieve the same objective (Hebert, 2007). Another advantage includes the consistency of data collection and overall data quality that is detailed and well organized since it is computer generated (Hebert, 2007). Finally, automatic remote control and monitoring of parameters saves on time and effort that would be required by personnel to physically implement desired changes (Hebert, 2007).
IControl is an advanced microcontroller system that is installed in a PC and capable of controlling and monitoring laboratory parameters wirelessly on a 400 MHz signal. In this case the iControl system is designed to control and monitor temperature variables of a hazardous liquid within a laboratory environment as well as other parameters such as smoke and light. The iControl software is run by Labview program that enables the system to function at the desired level, monitor parameters and control processes (Sparkfun.com, 2010). The essential components of an iControl design system are two microcontrollers, sensors, peltier heater/cooler, H-bridge, and Analog to Digital (ADC) converters.